Category Archives: Croatia 2014

Our 10 day backpacking adventure up the Dalmatian coast August 2014.

Croatia: 2 days in Rijeka

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Rijeka was both a relief & a slight disappointment. A relief because it felt good to be out of our drenched clothing. After Plitvice we jumped on the last bus at 9pm and headed to Karlovac to jump on another bus to Rejika, needless to say we arrived at our hotel in the early hours of the morning. We had spent over 12 hours in cold, damp clothing and we were desperatley looking forward to hot showers. It was a disappointment because the weather for the last 2 days of our holiday were gloomy, our hotel was noisy and there isn’t much to do in Rijeka. However when we booked our flights we knew Rijeka was going to be our least favourite destination, we booked to fly out from this place because it was cheap and it enabled us to travel up the Dalmation coast in order to visit amazing places around Croatia. Ideally we would have loved to have finished up in Zagreb which is the capital but flying out from Zagreb was expensive.

For our last 2 days we opted to stay in a Botel (a boat converted into a hotel) we thought this would be a quirky aspect to our trip, I mean it’s not everyday you get to say you stayed in a botel! It was a cheap novelty but so noisy, not only did we unfortunatley have a room opposite the most vocal family ever known to man with an energetically loud tween and screaming toddler (this toddler continued to cry & scream during breakfast-clearly very spoilt) but right next door on another boat, someone decided to have a giant, extravagant birthday party in the middle of the week until 4am! The manager of our botel was as surprised as we were and told us “That party boat doesn’t usually allow for parties until the weekend” and he did go over there to try and tell the party to turn the music down. It would not surprise me in the slightest that that boat party was hired by some spoilt rich kid celebrating their 18th and has absolutley no care for anyone else but themselves. However me being the up-beat & positive person in the relationship I always look on the bright side and to be honest, no holiday is perfect, things go wrong and you just treat it as a learning curve. It was fun to stay in a Botel and there were aspects to Rijeka that were charming and therefore it is worth visiting this city for a day or two.

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I think if the weather remained sunny & warm then memories of Rijeka might have been better, although I am aware this part of Croatia boarders Slovenia and Austria so it is bound to recieve changable weather. Rijeka is quite classy with it’s baroque architechture, quaint art galleries and lush cafes giving it a glamourus Italian feel. Jon & I spent 2 days wandering about some exhibitions, gorgeous book shops and enjoying plentiful home made chocolate cakes with hot chocolate which to you might seem sickly but after our very watery time in Plitvice we welcomed some indulgence and warmth. We also discovered a beautiful Tea shop which I fell in love with as it housed all kinds of tea from around the world, the way everything was presented, displayed and packaged was a delight for the eyes, I would love to own and work in a cute little shop like that. That is something great about Croatia and Croats in general. Croats have a sense of class and style which I believe comes from their culture being closly aligned with Italians. Croats enjoy everything to a high standard from making the most delicious cake, to creating a well presented art exhibition to owning a beautiful shop. These people are avid readers, jazz and blues music can be heard everywhere and numerous individuals value having a crafty hobby whether that is to paint, make jewellery or write songs. Croatia to me is my slice of cultured heaven, I could live here and feel safe, enjoy the climate and immerce myself in the elegant and artistic lifestyle.

One hightlight for Jon was our discovery of a shop turned museum created by an avid collector of vintage & retro toys, games and technology. His museum is called “Peek & Poke” and should be on tripadvisor for places of exellence to visit. I enjoyed viewing old children’s books and vintage dolls and Jon was extatic to be allowed to play on a retro PacMan game! This place was created out of love and the owner was a delightful, cheery man who got excited when we asked him to give us a tour. He genuinley loves this museum that, like most Croats, started off as a hobby which then became too big and he was unable to keep everything in his own home so he decided to turn the project into a mini museum to share with others. Now many Croats and people around the world donate retro toys to his place and it is constantly growing and changing. Most Croats have a love for creativity and whimsy and some start up a buisness or project out of their passion for their art. Many artists own art shops, writers own cute book shops and jewellery makers can be seen selling their one-off pieces on a little stall in a market. I just adore the way of life here, Croats are just incredible people!

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After 2 days in Rijeka it was time to fly back to the UK but we were already planning our next adventure to Nepal. We loved the laid back pace of Croatia, this holiday was needed because Morocco was so fast paced with early starts, many activities and late nights we came back to the UK exhausted (in a good way) but then we went straight back to work! We needed a holiday to relax from Morocco! This is what Croatia was for us. Croatia was a good balance of adventure because we travelled up the Dalmation coast but it was also relaxing because we spent plenty of time swimming in the sea, sun bathing and pottering around galleries, art markets & the old towns. We also managed to visit a whole other country as well, Montenegro is also worth visiting if you have time. It was overall a peaceful holiday and Croatia on the whole is absolutely stunning, I highly recommend visiting here for a glamourus European break, for a honeymoon or charming, quiet family holiday.
If you missed previous Croatia write-ups click on the links below:
Four days in Dubrovnik.
Day trip to Lokrum Island.
Day excurision to Montenegro.
Three days in Split.
Day trip to Milna on Brac Island.
A night & day in Plitvice Lakes.

Soon I will be posting about our 18 days backpacking around Nepal which also includes a video!
I am also on TripAdvisor.

Croatia: Plitvice Lakes

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Plitvice (Pronounced Plitvica) Lakes National Park is one of the oldest national parks in Southeast Europe and the largest national park in Croatia and in 1979, Plitvice Lakes National Park was added to the UNESCO World Heritage register.
The national park was founded in 1949 and is situated in the mountainous karst area of central Croatia, at the border to Bosnia and Herzegovina. The national park is world famous for its lakes arranged in cascades. Currently, 16 lakes can be seen from the surface. These lakes are a result of the confluence of several small rivers and subterranean karst rivers. The lakes are all interconnected and follow the water flow. They are separated by natural dams of travertine, which is deposited by the action of moss, algae, and bacteria. The lakes are renowned for their distinctive colors, ranging from azure to green, grey or blue. The colors change constantly depending on the quantity of minerals or organisms in the water and the angle of sunlight.

Through different climatic influences and the large difference in elevation within the protected area, a multifaceted flora and fauna has been created. The national park area is home to many endemic species. Those species that prevailed at the lakes before the arrival of man still exist. I have been to numerous National Parks around the UK & parts of Europe & I believe Plitvice Lakes is the most beautiful place I have seen. Plitvice is place from a fantasy novel.

We travelled to Plitvice after our 3 days of Split, we very nearly did not go, almost opting for another day mooching around Split. However at the last minute we changed our minds and stayed over night in a Cabin-like guest house in the woods of Plitvice Jezera. This part of Croatia has a very Austrian feel to the culture as oppose to the South where Dubrovnik is situated which has a very Italian feel which makes sense considering the South of Croatia has been very popular with Italian tourists and the further North you go in Croatia it boarders Slovenia,Hungary & Austria.

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Plitvice is enchanting. The downside to visiting this place is the rain. Much like the Lake District in the UK, it rains frequently and heavily. We were there for 6 hours and within 5 minutes of getting out the car we were soaked alongside my suitcase that I was putting in storage. The great thing about being there when the weather is not great is the price, prices fall when it’s terrential rain so we pretty much got the whole park to ourselves other than a few groups of Japanese tourists merrily walking about in their brightly coloured ponchos and Hello Kitty umbrellas. We were fortunate that it rained so much, it was a blessing in disguise because Plitvice is a huge tourist destination and this place overflows with tourists when it’s dry and sunny, more than 1.2 million tourists visit the park every year. I’d rather be soaked to the bone & avoid spoiling my day being around vast amounts of tourists because it ruins the entire scenery. However I will say, as a person I ususally persevere when things are challenging but after 4 hours feeling like a drowned rat, I gave up and attempted to curl up in a towel, at a cafe with some hot chocolate. Jon however ventured back out into the national park to walk around another trail, he was gone for another 3 hours. Even though Plitvice is beautiful, we were glad to leave because we desperatley needed hot showers.

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If you do decide to visit Plitvice (Which I highly recommend-it is definitely a bucket list destination) do check the weather forecast as well as your bus time schedules to get out of the park, it is very easy to get to the park from Split but Plitvice is not geared up to helping you leave so make sure you find either a day trip excursion pack that is pre-paid for by an agent in Split or know where your nearest bus stop is and know the times of all the buses you could catch. we opted to travel up alone so that we could stay over night, spend the entire day there and catch the last bus out of Plitvice which is risky-if we missed that bus we’d have been stuck there another night and the national park is miles away from the nearest guest house. The day excursion takes you there in a mini van or tourist coach with a group of other holiday-makers and brings you back safely to Split. Also pack water-proofs, walking boots, spare pair of shoes & thermals for just in case.

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If you missed other Croatia write-ups, click on the links below.
Next week is my last blog post, stay tuned for Rijeka!
Soon I will be writing about our 18 day adventure in Nepal!
Four days in Dubrovnik.
Day trip to Lokrum Island.
Day excurision to Montenegro.
Three days in Split.
Day trip to Milna on Brac Island.

I am also on TripAdvisor.

Croatia: day trip to Milna

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Milna is a small village on Brac Island off the coast of Split. We chose this beautiful sleepy village for a day trip instead of Bol because Bol is a massive tourist destination and hundreds of people would have been clogging up the beach and ruining the surrounding natural beauty. I do always try to avoid Touristy hotspots as it tends to ruin my day. Who wants to spend hours contained in a place full of screaming children, tomatoe burned Brits and miles of trash all over the sand? Not me. As an unconformist, I tend to try and venture to places unspoiled and peaceful.

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Milna is a short ferry and coach ride away but do keep checking the time in order to catch your coach back to the main port otherwise you will end up having to stay overnight. There are other cute villages on Brac Island alongside Bol & Milna so if you have the time or have a longer stay in Split I do recommend visiting them. Milna is situated in a deep bay oriented towards the island of Mrduja and Split Channel, on the west, meaning you get breath-taking views looking out to sea and the added quietness due to little or no tourists around. This place is a local secret, this is where Croatians like to go to (like me) avoid the tourists. Here you can potter about, enjoy some home made icecream, take a dip in the azure waters and sun bathe without a care in the world.

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Both Jon & I agreed that if we had the money and the means to support the cost of living, this would be an ideal place to live. From the look & feel of this place I’d imagine reasonably wealthy families & retired couples live here. And who can blame them? It’s a beautiful place! I began to day dream what it might be like to buy & renovate a potential appartment/Dance Studio to run workshops and retreats, oh the possibilities! The crystal clear sea, domestic healthy food, ideal condition for diving, sailing, fishing & fast connection to the main land make it an ideal place to emigrate and enjoy a beautiful lifestyle.

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If you missed previous Croatia blog posts visit them here:
Four days in Dubrovnik
Day trip to Lokrum Island
Day excurision to Montenegro
Three days in Split
Next week I will blog about our time in Plitvice lakes!

I am also on TripAdvisor

Croatia: 3 days in Split

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After Dubrovnik we hopped on a coach and travelled up the coast to our next destination: Split. The distance between Dubrovnik and Split about 215 km following the coastal road and can take between 4 to 6 hours depending on traffic. We based ourselves in Split for 3 days and one of those days we ventured to a nearby island called Brač which I will blog about separatley next week. Split, upon first arrival appears modern and geared towards families on a budget holiday or for the individual who enjoys the nightlife. Along the promanade lie a row of take-away food stalls & souvenir shops selling plastic buckets and spades, beach balls and keyrings. On the opposite side of the road display an impressive port where large ferries and ships come to dock-I have never seen such huge ships up close and wanted to compare my tiny physique against such a grand vehicle.
Our holiday appartment was clean and modern and very spacious. The landlady gave us a complimentary bottle of wine on arrival plus had the cleaning lady do our washing at no extra cost. Split is perhaps a little rough around the edges and has a very contemporary & young feel to it in comparrison to Dubrovnik. It is quite vibrant at night with numerous bars and cafes playing loud music to entice tourists to enjoy a few cocktails and stalls & the art market remain open until 11pm; whereas Dubrovnik, (other than Jazz and Blues bars) calms down as the sunsets.

Croatia Split

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Split is a very down to earth city, probably not as charming & elegant as Dubrovnik due to it feeling more urban. Many walls and lamp posts are graffittied upon plus there are numerous damanged billboard posters dotted about making Split slightly loose it’s allure. However once you walk into the main area of the old town there are a few hidden gems to find that demands your attention. The main square is small but grand and again like Dubrovnik, the floor is made from shimmering marble slabs. Facing the harbour, Diocletian’s Palace is one of the most imposing Roman ruins in existence and where you’ll spend most of your time while in Split. Don’t expect a palace though, nor a museum – this is the city’s living heart, its labyrinthine streets packed with people, bars, shops and restaurants. Split, in general does offer a wealth of museums and Roman ruins under a dramatic mountain backdrop that opens onto a vast expanse of sea.

things to do in Split

a lovely holiday in Split

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It was a lovely relaxing three days here, surprisingly Jon & I didn’t do much but explore the main square, enjoyed a little bit of shopping (I bought a pair of funky Harem Pants), walked around the promanade in the evening, marvelled at the art market & ate some yummy food. This is unlike us but after trying to jam pack a few activities into our stay in Dubrovnik we actually enjoyed winding down and being at a slower pace here in Split. It was just lovely waking up in the late morning thinking “what shall we do today?”, we had no immediate plans, we had no day excursion to be up a dawn for and we leisurly mooched about Split to appreciate some historical buildings. As an Art History geek, I do delight in learning about certain features of a place and will go to numerous museums, galleries, exhibitions & ancient architectural or archeological places to really soak up as much information of an area as I possibly can. There was also a wonderful little antiques market on the way from our appartment towards the main square every day until late at night.

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tourism in Split

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Croatian holiday, our time in Split

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On one of our days here we ventured up to Marjan (pronounced “MARyan”) is a hill on the peninsula of the city of Split and it is covered in a dense Mediterranean pine forest and completely surrounded by the city and the sea, making it a unique sight. Originally used as a park by the citizens as early as the 3rd century, it is a favorite weekend excursion destination and a recreational center for the city. It is also the setting for numerous beaches and jogging trails as well as tennis courts and the city Zoo, all surrounded by the scenic forest.

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Split tourism, things to do

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Climbing to the top of the clock tower to embrace the breath taking views of Split was astoundingly peaceful, although I do recommend maybe trying to do this early in the morning or just before closing in the evening to avoid a build up of tourists. It is doing simple pleasures like this that really make you appreciate life and the beauty of living. Soon after that we enjoyed watching traditional Croatian music called “The Klapa” which is a form of a cappella singing and some instruments are included. This was a wonderful end to our time here. But before left we had our photos taken touching the big toe of a statue of a saint (currently being renovated) for some luck-we saw many passersby and tourists doing this and thought to join in.

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enjoying a holiday in the sun, a week in Split

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Split over all is a lovely place, it’s relaxing and full of things to do and see. From Split you can opt for day trips to nearby islands and quaint towns and there is always an art or antique market being displayed for your viewing pleasure. If you are looking for a holiday on a lower budget in Croatia then Split is your answer, you can definitley enjoy an idle week away here soaking up the sun, history, culture, nightlife and sleepy way of life here. Split also offer a number of Yoga classes and retreats which is something Dubrovnik strangley didn’t advertise to tourists. The people of Split are probably slightly more geared up towards welcoming outsiders than Dubrovnikians, perhaps because Dubrovnik wants to preserve it’s beauty whereas Split wants to continue to modernize and share more with tourists from every spectrum. I would say, a number of upper middle class families or retired couples celebrating their aniversay may opt for a holiday to Dubrovnik whereas perhaps lower middle class and working class or maybe students would opt for Split because with Split, not only can the average person enjoy the beauty of Croatia but you can also let your hair down and enjoy time away on a budget.

Next up I will be blogging about a day trip from Split to a village called Milna on Brač island so stay tuned for that next week!
If you missed other Croatia write ups here are their links:
four days in Dubrovnik
Day trip to Lokrum Island
Day excursion to Montenegro

I am also on TripAdvisor.

Day trip to Montenegro from Dubrovnik

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It’s not very often you get to say that whilst on holiday in a very beautiful country that you get to spend a day in another very beautiful country; But that is what we did. On the third day of staying in Dubrovnik we decided to book with an excursions and tour company to go on a day trip to Montenegro, we were not disappointed! Croatia is stunning and Montenegro is similar to Croatia however it’s beauty is magnified by hundred, this place is a little piece of heaven surrounded by lush mountains and lakes. Even the locals here are beautiful, their beauty is effortless and organic, no wonder many Montenegrin women become models! We almost booked another day trip to Bosnia however we sadly ran out of time plus needed to keep to our spending budget. During the day trip we spent time in three separate places and it really gave us a taster of what Montenegro has to offer. That being said, our guide even stated that Montenegro is rather small as a population in comparison to the country and it’s civilians are proud of that because they try to keep population numbers under control to prevent further industrialization or development of towns, they want to keep Montenegro largely unspoiled and natural. The majority of Montenegro is covered by lush mountains, epic lime stone peaks, glacial lakes and nature reserves with only a few small towns dotted in between. So it is safe to say we did actually get to see the majority of Montenegro in the space of one day however I do recommend slightly longer stays if you fancy going further afield and trekking in the national park where wildlife such as bears and wolves are dwelling.

Our first stop was a pit stop to view ‘Our lady of the Rocks’ which is one of the two islets off the coast of Perast in Bay of Kotor, Montenegro. It is an artificial island created by bulwark of rocks and by sinking old and seized ships loaded with rocks. The Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady of the Rocks is the largest building on the islet; it has a museum attached. There is also a small gift shop close to the church and a navigation light at the western end of the islet. According to legend, the islet was made over the centuries by local seamen who kept an ancient oath after finding the icon of Madonna and Child on the rock in the sea on July 22, 1452. Upon returning from each successful voyage, they laid a rock in the Bay. Over time, the islet gradually emerged from the sea. The custom of throwing rocks into the sea is alive even nowadays. Every year on the sunset of July 22, an event called fašinada in the local dialect, when local residents take their boats and throw rocks into the sea, widening the surface of the island, takes place.
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Next we spent four hours in and around the town of Kotor which is situated in the secluded part of the gulf of Kotor. This town has a population of 13,510 and has an old Mediterranean port surrounded by fortifications built during the Venetian period.Together with the nearly overhanging limestone cliffs of Orjen and Lovćen, Kotor and its surrounding area form an impressive and picturesque Mediterranean landscape. In recent years, Kotor has seen a steady increase in tourists, many of them coming by cruise ship. Visitors are attracted both by the natural beauty of the Gulf of Kotor and by the old town of Kotor. The town is now a world heritage site and is so pleasant to walk around, cafe’s, restaurants and fashion boutiques are plentiful, as are sweet little catholic churches the size of one room and can only fit 5 people at time are dotted around the cobbled streets. You feel safe and relaxed here and life in this place enjoys a slower, peaceful pace. Many wealthy families live or travel here, even Madonna has plans to build a casino on the sea front and numerous massive yachts and boats owned by millionaires glimmer like huge white doves on the shallow waters of the bay.

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During our time in Kotor, Jon & I attempted to climb the serpentine steps up towards the fortress Sveti Ivan. It is situated above the bulwarks of the Kotor’s Old town and at the very top of the fortress it is 280 m above sea level. Walking up and looking down, the views are out of this world, there are no words to describe how beautiful everything looks. I actually didn’t make it to the top simply because the day’s temperature was baking hot and I dehydrate rather quickly, I managed to make it over half way and then let Jon continue without me, I waited for him to walk back down whilst resting, drinking plenty of water and enjoying the views.

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Soon after Kotor we headed to another town called Budva. In Budva our visit lasted about three hours and again it was another quaint medieval town with cobbled narrow streets, street performers and artists selling their work, beautiful women owning and working in boutiques and a lovely promenade to enjoy home made ice cream, basque in the sea and soak up the sun. Budva, like Kotor is situated on the coast of the Adriatic sea and has some stunning views along the sea front with a backdrop of rich green mountains. Budva is 2,500 years old, which makes it one of the oldest settlements on the Adriatic coast. The Old Town of Budva is situated on a rocky peninsula, on the southern end of Budva field. Archaeological evidence suggests that Illyrian settlement was formed on the site of the Old Town before Greek colonization of the Adriatic. The layout of the town is roughly orthogonal, although many streets deviate from the grid, resulting in somewhat irregular pattern, with many piazzas connected with narrow streets. Today, the entire city within the walls is pedestrian-only.
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Our day trip in Montenegro was refreshing, we are restless souls (Jon more so than me) and we do love change, we essentially spent 3 days leisurely walking around Dubrovnik and Lokrum and it was just so exciting waking up at 6:30am to go on a day’s adventure and be surrounded by something different. Needless to say, Montenegro is ravishing and elegant and there really is no place like it.
After four days based in Dubrovnik we ventured over to Split and stayed there for three days, tune in for next weeks blog post about our time there.
If you missed any previous blog posts about Croatia so far, here they are:
four days in Dubrovnik
Day trip to Lokrum Island

I am also on Tripadvisor.