Overall, Croatia has been a blast! A country rich in history, beautiful people and the rich and famous. However, I have to say, and I will get backlash for this, but my god are Croatians rude! I would say 90% of everyone we have dealt with here has been a complete dick. We went to the bus station today and the bitch behind the counter yelled at me – ‘Lady, I have told you blah blah blah’ – what an obnoxious asshole.
Anyway, we have found this with most, which sucks as the country is beautiful and RELIES on Tourism so why these people choose to work in a field which they clearly hate I will never know.
So, after the bus stop incident we made our way to Lovrijenac, aka St. Lawrence’s Fortress — I had seen photos online and it looked like the perfect spot to view the old city and also, I was hoping for a perfect lunch spot as well, as I had made us a beautiful little picnic. I would highly recommend going here on your own without a tour as it was our fav spot in Dubrovnik! The fortress is cool on its own, but it’s an incredible place to get shots of the old city and some amazing shots of the surrounding coves and beaches! ANNNNNND, we found the perfect lunch spot as hoped!
We are now in Dubrovnik, and after a 3 hour catamaran trip, a shit our pants moment when we thought our boat was cancelled and a full blown argument with a nasty old French lady which nearly had me in tears…we.are.here.
Old town, tourists, wandering, beach bar, beers, TOO many tourists, heat, bakeries and the most delicious dinner I have ever cooked. This was our day…wanna hear more? Read on!
So many people have frothed when talking about Dubrovnik as it is ‘thee place to be’ in regards to Croatia but I have to say, it’s a little overwhelming. Mostly because it is so goddam busy with tourists. However, upon arrival at the dock we walked to our Apartment which is lovely. It’s called Apartment city Getaway and we managed to snap it up for $150NZD for 2 nights. Little pricy but it goes for $400NZD a night in the Summer months so we got a good deal. It’s lovely, well equipped and in between the new port and the old town so it’s a clear winner.
From there we headed off to the nearest bakery to grab some lunch and ventured into the ‘Old town’ which has become a world travel hotspot after it was seen as the backdrop for King’s Landing in Game of Thrones. Dubrovnik is a fantastic place to visit and we were amazed from the second we were able to view the walled, orange-roofed old city perched above the Adriatic Sea with so many islands in the background – it’s simply beautiful.
We are here in October which is considered ‘off season’ but the old city is small to begin with and when you add enormous crowds of tourists, it becomes overwhelming — it feels like Adriatic Disney…even in October we felt cramped from the second we entered. However, we powered through and took some lovely shots of the city before making our way to Buza Bar – one of the coolest spots in the walled city. You can’t miss the enticing sign ‘Cold drinks and the best views’ , this little hole in the wall bar simply blows your mind upon entering! We stopped on the rocks and sat, baking in the afternoon sun but it is a great spot for swimming and cliff jumping.
I’m not to sure why, but it has been a recurring pattern that the day we arrive in a destination is bloody beautiful and the sun split’s the sky, then the only day we have in the destination itself, the weather sucks! Well today was kinda like that. We woke up to dry weather but no sun and decided after much thought to hire a scooter and explore the island. We had been told that it would be 300Kuna for the day minus fuel, which works out about $75NZD which to be honest is incredibly reasonable. Just across from our Air B n B we found a place that rented them for 200Kuna so jumped on that deal straight away. It pays coming in off season for sure!
After picking up our little 50cc red rover and signing our lives away we hopped on, equipped with a map and some suggestions from our host and off we went. The first stop was Dubovka, voted the best beach in the island and about 20 minutes from Hvar. We arrived and we were the only ones there apart from an old local man feeding the fish with some bread. Right enough the beach itself was truly stunning with some of the clearest waters we have ever seen… we were just missing the sun and the heat.
Step aside Split as Hvar has just blown you clean out the water! We arrived here and my aw nearly touched the floor…wow, just wow. Firstly, some logistics. It takes about 50 minutes to cross to Hvar via fast ferry and we bought our tickets from Krillo, costing $35NZD each. You can buy these online or from the ferry port.
Upon arrival we were greeted with crystal clear water, beaming sunlight which made this ancient town glow with vibrancy and charm. We are staying in and Air B n B again costing $34NZD per night and it’s about 2 minutes from the old town, and to be honest when we arrived, I already knew it’s made the top 5 for accommodations so far!
Hvar is Croatia’s sunniest capital and in the town are white-stoned Venetian renaissance buildings full of precious artworks, and you can potter around Hvar’s galleries, boutiques and cafes or stare open-mouthed at the gleaming super-yachts moored in the harbour. Lonely planet – my go to for quick explanations describes Hvar as ‘The island’s hub and busiest destination, Hvar Town is estimated to draw around 20,000 people a day in the high season. It’s amazing that they can all fit in the small bay town, where 13th-century walls surround beautifully ornamented Gothic palaces and traffic-free marble streets’ – Yup, pretty accurate. Luckily, we are traveling in Low season so it’s busy but not too busy.
We set out on an adventure to the Spanjola Fortress, a pretty well preserves castle that we can see well from our bedroom balcony. Really easy to get to as you pass through the Porta di Datallo, you can ascend the steep stairway where we passed so many stopping to pant and then you will arrive to this Venetian fortress from the 1500s. It’s in very good shape considering its age, with walls, towers and tunnels to check out, however it costs $25NZD to enter so we admired the beautiful views for free from outside the castle.
So, we slept through a horrible thunder and lightning storm last night which resulted in today being a miserable weather sorta day! However, it looked like it would clear up that arvo so we set out on a missing to ‘Marjan’. Just steps from Old Town Split, Croatia is Marjan Hill, an expansive nature retreat. It’s best to hike Marjan Split, Croatia when the sun is shining, the sea is shimmering and the heavy scent of pine and fresh earth is in the air but for us, it was cloudy, very windy and looked like it was about to pish it down with rain, but we needed the exercise so headed there anyway!
We made it to the top just as the rain started so I apologise in advance as the photos taken do not do this beautiful park justice, but it was cold and wet and our smiles are definitely mostly fake at this stage. It seems beautiful though and on a sunny day with more time, it is exactly the kinda place I would love to visit more in depth.
So, to get here was a bit of a mission as we found super cheap $50NZD flights from Lisbon to Split but it involved a 14 hour stopover in Toulouse…so that’s right , we spent the night in Toulouse but at the Airport ‘Hotel’ (more like hostel at best) for $45NZD which worked out well and allowed us some much needed sleep before arriving in Croatia.
We flew with ‘Volotea’ – yup, I had never heard of them either but despite this, they were great. We had 35 people on our flight and only 5 checked in baggage so 1 hour and 40 minutes later we were off the plane and 3 minutes after that we had our luggage, were out customs and waiting for the Airport bus!
For all those arriving into Split and wondering how to get to the city – there are 4 ways – Taxi, Uber, local bus or Airport bus. They all range in price from $140NZD, $60NZD, $4.50NZD and $9NZD for the 30 minute Airport shuttle, which we opted for as it was the best for time and money. Try and grab small bills as the bus driver is not a happy bunny if you pay with large Kuna…which we did until I asked if he would take Euro, which he did begrudgingly.
From the bus stop we walked to our accommodation, which is essentially a tiny house located in the old town but close to everything and just what we needed (mind you, it’s making us reconsider living in a tiny house as it’s cramped)
Now, back to Split itself. Lonely planet describes Croatia’s second largest city of Split as : ‘a great place to see Dalmatian life as it’s really lived. Always buzzing, this exuberant city has just the right balance between tradition and modernity. Step inside Diocletian’s Palace (a Unesco World Heritage Site and one of the world’s most impressive Roman monuments) and you’ll see dozens of bars, restaurants and shops thriving amid the atmospheric old walls where Split has been humming along for thousands of years’ – Sounds pretty epic right?