My Latest Travels To Slovenia, Croatia and Beyond

When I met Mira, Ladka and Hermina on the Camino de Santiago in 2013, I had no idea that we would be friends for a long time and three years later I would visit their country of Slovenia.  I invited them to Canada but they couldn’t make it,  so they invited me to their country and I’m one to see new places with great friends. So bring it on! Four countries in two weeks.  Landing in Austria, travelling to Slovenia and Croatia and Italy and spending time with many old friends and new!

I left St. John’s on September 8 and flew across the Atlantic to London and on to Vienna.  There were some funny incidents and I will share these with you now.  I carried a small Heys suitcase and a tiny knapsack, as I was trying to travel light. I carried with me my ipad and my iphone6, but could have left the ipad home as my phone is my number one little computer.

I had a few worries leaving home.  How do I get from Vienna to Maribor? Then Hermina found a Mr. Declan who would pick me up at terminal one and drive me for 20 euros. I thought that was a bargain and I took it.  But where was the place to meet him?  I could find terminal 1 but the board Hermina mentioned was no where to be found.  Oh, my!  I had a three hour wait which is very tiresome after taking two flights already. The terminal had a few benches to sit on, but they seemed to be   reserved.  It was a hot day so standing outside was uncomfortable and not being able to find the sign was disconcerting.  I knew the taxi was a big black newish car, so when I saw the first black car, I asked but the man was annoyed and didn’t even answer.  The second black car had a driver who was eating his sandwich and didn’t seem to be looking for a Canadian woman!!! But I was looking for him.  I asked if he was waiting for a Canadian woman.  My friends Judith or Donna would have a good laugh at that!  The man kept on eating and shook his head.  But he didn’t know my pigheadedness! I asked if he was going to Maribor and he nodded yes and produced a sheet with the names of all his passengers, and there was Hermina’s name! That’s me, I said.  All of a sudden I had become Hermina.  My second worry was that What if I have to use the washroom during that two hour drive?  We had a two hour wait for the other six passengers!  And Mr. Declan could speak not a word of English and I could speak no Slovene!

With the very tight driving and  manoevering through the busy streets of  Vienna, I was feeling quite anxious and tired.  I was freezing with the air conditioning and wishing someone else was cold too.  I was offered gum by the driver and to calm my nerves, I chewed to beat the band. When we got close to Maribor the driver stopped at a small store and I hoped to use a washroom but none was visible.  I bought some wine and got back into my front seat, hoping I could make it before I made a fool of myself by wetting the new seat.

I got a little worried as I thought the driver was dropping us off at our destination at various addresses, but no, it was a bus stop.  I didn`t have a chance to worry too much as a tiny lady was running towards me and I thought it was Ladka.  But as I tend to do, I got the names mixed up and it was Hermina.  I had them confused in my mind.  Ladka was the mountain climber who had 300 euros stolen on the camino. Hermina was the lady who lived alone and was a tiny little woman who was very friendly and accommodating. Mira was the retired nurse.  I was elated when I saw Hermina`s face!  Was I glad to finally arrive at Maribor and use a washroom at last.

I was welcomed by this small lady and given her huge bedroom with a view of the city and the biggest meal I`d ever eaten! I couldn`t consume it all but I put a good dent in it.  I was so happy to start the two weeks in this wonderful country, the land of 100 castles and 265 churches.  It was the best holiday ever, with each day and meal planned by my three friends.  I visited four countries and stayed in a resort town for four days , and viewed Triglav, the highest mountain in Slovenia.  I saw the salt flats, the wonderful cities of Piran and Pontorose and many other places. I walked around Lake Bled and Bohinj, visited a Dahli display, got tours of many ancient cities, stayed in an apartment in Croatia and swam in the Adriatic Sea,  picked mushrooms on a mountain, visited caves and castles.  I attend opera and ballet, tickets provided by friends of my friends.  I will fill in much more detail in future posts. But all in all it was a wonderful holiday with the best of friends.






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In Da Loop Pub and Restaurant, Fermuse

After the beautiful views all along the shore I was famished for fish and chips in Fermuse. Did I mention that I’m obsessed with finding the best fish and chips in Newfoundland? Service was a little slow due to several people arriving within a 15 minute time frame. I found a menu and then after 10 minutes asked to be served. The welcome was wanting but the gentleman came and took my order and was chatty enough then. I kept imagining the decor without the flashy red mirrors and the multicoloured wall lights, and more of Newfoundland artifacts for decoration. I could imagine nice Newfoundland vests or aprons to add a touch of nostalgia. I wore tartan uniforms at Xavier HS in Deer Lake for years! The framed and canvass pictures, nice dark hardwood floors and beautifully chosen tables and chairs were very tasteful. I didn’t realize there was a deck or I would have eaten there. It reminded me of how I paid more to eat outside in Spain. 

The one piece of fish arrived and it looked like three pieces all in one huge piece! Homemade tartar sauce would have impressed me a lot. The fries and fish were greasy which I remedied with my napkin! But the taste was awesome. Kudos to the cook!

I asked to pay immediately and was presented with my bill. No surprises there. So all in all the server was stretched thin although two ladies did help with bringing out the orders. I would have liked a little more conversation but for $10.40 what can one expect? The service was respectable but I did not feel overly welcomed. On a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is top notch customer service, this place gets a 7! 

Pauline is a Camino walker and author. She has walked three caminos de Santiago with over 2000 km hiked. Her book Strong Camino Woman is available at Smashwords and Apple. 

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Erin’s Pub on a Sunday Afternoon

This past Father’s Day I treated myself and hubby to some sweet music at Erin’s Pub on Water Street, St. John’s, Newfoundland. The sign proclaimed that the band Generations was playing from 4-8 pm. The first time we just read it and walked on by as it was only 3 pm. But the second time after a beer at Shamrock City, we were going in for some toe tapping jigs and reels! The accordion player was someone we had heard before at the Ferry Last Pub in Portugal Cove. 

A few seats were free near the windows so we got ourselves comfy and settled down for a couple hours. There were old ones and young ones all up stepping it out. There was one eighty+ year old lady who was a real beauty asking everyone to dance, including my old man!  She was charmed to get male or female up dancing with her.

 A photographer showed up while three different drummers tried their well honed skills on the drums. There were only two accordion numbers in the 120 minutes but they were simply grand. The accordion player’s parents and grandparents were swinging it around the small dance space. I noticed a handsome young girl eyeing the 21 year old musician. 

Never saw a single person drunk but I did witness some fancy steps going down. The old fellers from the Ducats were playing like they were teeny bobbers! Everyone had a fine time.  I had play by play commentary as a woman to my left knew the band and their relations!

Needless to say we hope to return many more times to come to hear the Generations and many other local bands. 

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The Correct Hiking Poles

During my Camino Del Norte in a village in Spain called Markina my Black Diamond z poles were stolen and I was broken hearted. A call of nature in a beautiful cafe separated me and my expensive poles. I left both my backpack and poles outside the locked bathroom door. Some pilgrims said I was lucky both had not been stolen. It was very emotional to have to go on without the trusty sticks that supported my knees so well. Since I am 5’4” the length at 110cm was perfect. These poles were foldable and easily fit inside my small Gregory Jade. And very light at 13 ounces. 

If you are buying hiking sticks it is important to hold the grip so that your arm is at a 90 degree angle. You can get the poles in 100cm, 110 cm, 120cm etc. Some are adjustable. I’ve been told to follow manufacturers’ advice on websites or ask a store salesperson. Try many until you get the ones you like. I’m on the lookout for a sale to replace my z poles.

As an end to this story I should mention a German girl who gave me her poles as she was finishing up her hike and was going shopping in Santander. I felt blessed to have met such a kind hiker.



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The Traditional Coffee House and Deli Opened in Torbay, NL

I couldn’t believe a cafe opened its doors in Torbay two weeks before I found it! It looks like a house along Torbay Rd. until you see the sign. There’s parking for about 10 cars in front of the gray building. I really had to look for 1496 before I knew I had arrived! If you’re trying to find it, it’s located past the post office and before Foodland .

Having been there twice this week I want to say it’s a very cozy cafe with fine fare.  The coffee is delicious;however, I would like a second cup for free or a loonie! One is never enough as I’ve noted from hundreds of visits to coffee establishments. I purchased a tomato and sausage soup to have with my supper but it got woofed down immediately after arriving home. And it was very good! I sampled the brownie and raspberry croissant as well, one per visit! Also memorable and yummy! You can find quite a variety and one to sample. 

The young people who work there are very friendly, and I hope to enjoy their company more often in the future. The owner, Tina Ricketts, works in the cafe and answered my questions in an energetic manner. I noticed a CD of her son Allan’s music and one of his paintings. I don’t know about you, but I expect friendly workers when I frequent a cafe and  it’s something that shouldn’t change because if one does not feel welcomed there are many other Tims and Starbucks around to feel not at all entertained or wanted! Since I love people watching and writing, I expect to spend many hours in this  establishment!  The free wifi is a draw for friends and visitors alike. 

Another positive for the cafe is a list of art classes offered in the mornings. 

So far very good. The sandwiches and salads look healthy and encouraging for yet another visit. Nice to see this new business in Torbay. I would be happy to see boutiques and restaurants pop up here, to draw more visitors to our spectacular town. A jewelry store and a thrift store would get me out and about more often. I’m still hoping Codys will reopen its doors or reinvent itself.  Perhaps a joint bookstore & coffee place would be another draw. I’m happy to say we have several good salons with very friendly workers. It can only get better from here! 


I have visited this cafe with several friends since writing the above blog post. The customer service is very good with friendly banter each time I frequented the place. I tried a breakfast sandwich and would prefer that it was made while I wait, not just warmed in a microwave. Perhaps sandwiches could be done on the spot, with fillings prepared in advance. People do like choice, with or without mayo, different breads etc.  I met Allan and found him to be a good businessman with a warm demeanour. Some music has been played by various artists.  (Some were announced on the Facebook Page. I’ve heard that Dave Panting played there!)

All in all, this cafe/deli is a wonderful addition to our town and like most new businesses there is room for simple changes to make customers happier and keep them returning.

Some suggestions:

1. A senior coffee or loonie fill up for coffee/tea( There is a card to buy 8 and get one cup free)

2. Half sandwich with cup of soup for $5.99  or half sandwich and small salad for $6.99. (Speaking for myself and a few friends, a $10 lunch would be a big draw!)

3. To sell more baked goods, some cheaper $1 cookies 

4. Some lower priced items for hikers who are on a strict budget

5. A suggestion box for new ways to improve

Good luck to the owners!

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St. Shotts Book #2

I’m still aiming for 100 stories and 100 photos. To date I have about 25 stories and 10 photos. I’m giving a deadline for August 1,2016 as my final deadline. Whatever stories I have by then I will decide to publish or not. There are about 40 of Book #1 left.  If there are any businesses that would be willing to sell some or all of the remaining copies, please email me at  

Thanks to all the people who helped with our first book.  I consider it a big success to sell over 560 copies. The only failure is not to try at all. Many new writers saw their stories in print and the stories cannot be lost to future generations. 

If you have 1,2 or three stories, please print them off and send to me at

1 Mary Catherine’s Lane

St. Shotts, NL

A0A 3R0

Please put your name on back of photos, and list people in photo as well as date or event. I can also accept digital photos in July. 

If you’d like a copy of the first book, you can get one for the sale price of $10 with an extra $5 for postage.  The book makes a nice birthday gift or welcoming gift for visitors to our province. 

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Book of Poetry About My Three Caminos

It might take a year for me to get it all together but it’s bringing back a lot of memories. My Greenland friend who helps me keep safe the first night in Bayonne when we couldn’t find my expensive hotel. My angel intervention by a deceased friend who sends a person from her own Irish county with the same last name to protect me the last week of my third Camino. So many stories in between!

With six books on the go, you might be waiting a while! All ideas for a book of poetry are welcome. 

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