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An Adriatic Odyssey, Adventure in Golden Lands

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Imagine Golden Sand, Medieval villages and charming narrow alley's, step back into another world and time ,and head for the countries that grace the coast of the Adriatic Sea. The Adriatic is the northern most arm of the Mediterranean Sea. The countries whose magnificent coastlines grace the Adriatic are Albania , Croatia, Montenegro, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and last yet not least, Italy. The easiest way to visit these countries would be on either a ferry or a Cruise Ship. One of the main ferry lines that travels to all the various ports is Azzurra Lines.

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Ferries are not the only option for travel throughout the Adriatic, many of the Cruise lines offer cruises varying from 7 days to 14 days in length. Most departing from the ports of Venice, Bari and Rome. Cruises can be a great option, especially when you have limited time and just want a taste of this marvelous region.

Of the many ports that are called in, one of the standouts would be Kotor, Montenegro. You might want to awaken early when pulling into port, as the scenery is beyond words. Cradled in a magical fjord valley, kotor is a dream. Hugging between two mountain ranges, coupled with Kotor’s ancient history and dramatic scenery this majestic town is a well kept secret. Walking along the ancient walls, you will ascend to the fortress along a steep path. For those who have great endurance and good quality walking shoes this is a must do while visiting here. Kotor is small enough to explore in a day, and the narrow paths that rind through the town will take you back several centuries. For the quiet pace of small villages, Kotor is a must stop on your Adriatic itinerary.

Continuing along the Adriatic coastline, next stop is Croatia. The two main port towns are those of Spilt and Dubrovnik. Spilt is the second largest coastal town in Croatia, and boosts marvelous beaches and a famous palace. The famous palace of the Emperor of Diocletan's is in the center of town, built by the Roman's in the 4th century a.d. is an impressive structure that is a centerpiece of Spilt. Here you will find Palm trees that line the main street and there is also a fabulous market place with vegetable vendors as well as clothes and souvenirs. When you feel the need to escape to a smaller place, try catching a local bus to the ancient sea town of Trogir. Nestled on a small island, there are two gates that gain you entrance into this fortress town. Only a ½ hour bus ride from Spilt, Trogir is easily explored on foot in a couple of hours. If you have the time spends a week in this area in spring or early fall, which will offer the chance to explore the many beaches and small villages of this area.

Dubrovnik is one of the ten most well preserved medieval towns in Europe. Despite being heavily bombed during the Bosnian War, much of the damaged structures have been restored. Much is to be explored in this walled city, where you can walk the entire wall or portions of it. There are several entrance gates to the wall, and a fee of 13 Kuna will be collected to embark on this trek. Make sure to have a map, as this will come in very handy when exploring Dubrovnik. Some of the main highlights along the wall are towers, bastions, and the separated Kazmeta fortress. Entrance fees to the wall are 70 kuna for adults and 30 for children. The entire length of the walls is 1940 meters. When you begin to tire, there are restaurants and shops to stop at.

For those who can brave heights and a steep ride ascending a mountain, The Dubrovnik Tramway is a must do. A short ride, yet very steep will take you top of Mt. Sryd which commands a full panoramic view of the city. Well worth the money, this is a must do, especially for photographers. At the top you will find a restaurant, restrooms and glorious views everywhere you turn. Spend a bit of time up here because the views are more than well worth the ride. Dubrovnik has become increasingly popular with tourists in recent years, so if you are planning a longer stay in the height of tourist season book well ahead. The town’s streets are lined with café’s and dozens of shops, although more
Expensive than ten years ago, a big drop in cost from more popular destinations such as Italy. Even though they are a member of the European Union, the country still maintains their own currency of the kuna and if you are traveling from the USA, a much better exchange than that of the Euro.

One of the Adriatic Gems is Malta. An island nation of Southern Europe lying only 176 miles from Tunisia . Malta is an exotic blend of many cultures. Such cultures as the Phoenicians, Greeks, Arabs and Italians have influenced this Island country. Malta’s geological origin is composed primarily of Limestone, hence the golden hues of her buildings and beaches. Coming into Valetta, the capitol, you will notice the bright colors that adorn the buildings and a feeling as though you have literally stepped back in time. When you have limited time, the best way of exploring the island is by hop on and off bus. Start early and you can ride the entire length, then go back and get off where you would like. Glorious spots include the Golden Bay Sandy beach. Even on a late fall day, the sun was out and the air warm enough to try a dip in the sapphire blue Adriatic Sea. The beach has several café’s and a hotel, so this could even be a spot to spend the night and enjoy. Another highlight would be to visit the original capitol and ancient city of Mdina. Nestled atop a hill, Mdina is a place that will transport you back to a medieval time and the sight of the filming of the Maltese Falcon. In Mdina you will see evidence of the Arabic influence of Malta. Narrow alley’s and streets with yellow buildings sparkle in the sunshine.

An adventure along the coast of the Adriatic cannot be complete, until you have visited Sicily and the Italian portion. Beginning with the most famous being that of Venice. Since many of the cruises that travel to the Adriatic embark from here, Venice is still a journey into the mysterious. Hosting one of Italy’s most famous celebrations, Carnavale, despite in recent year’s problems with overflowing, Venice will delight anyone’s senses. Try to get off the main streets, yet even though a tourist Mecca, Venice with her Baroque architecture, and famous Mask shops is still a place of beauty. The Italian Riviera of the Adriatic has some of the most beautiful coastal towns in all of Europe. Ravenna another stop on an Adriatic Cruise is small and unassuming. Located in the province of Emilia-Romagna. Ravenna’s most famous son deserves a visit as well. Dante Alighieri, author of the Divine Comedy is interred in Ravenna. Then comes Ravenna's other known contribution to the history of Italian decor, here are the mosaics. Take a peak back into Roman history and be in awe of the art that has stood the test of time in the form of floors, wall panels and church ceilings.The amazing fact that these masterpieces of Mosaic art have withstood time and history is in itself incredible.

There are many places to explore on an Adriatic journey and hopefully one will have the time to take in all the glory and history it has to offer. For anyone who adores good food, art and ancient history, The Countries and towns of this majestic region is awaiting you.

Websites to visit for more information:

http://www.meetdubrovnik.com/dubrovnik-getting-around/visit-dubrovnik-wa...

http://www.dubrovnik-guide.net/walls.htm

http://www.new.visitmalta.com/

http://www.visit-montenegro.com/cities-kotor.htm

http://www.visit-croatia.co.uk/split/

http://www.visiteurope.com/Discover/Where-To-Go/Adriatic-Coast

http://www.villasanraffaello.com/free-time/marche-beaches.html

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