A Travellerspoint blog


Split to Dubrovnik

Watch Out For Space Invaders

sunny 27 °C

Back on the coast into Split (pop approx. 200 000), Croatia’s second largest city and the weather looked good. Mum was more than happy to guide us to our destination which, luck upon luck, was about 80m from the action. We had scored a gorgeous 1 bedder apartment right up the road from the main drag for $625 for 9 nights.

After unpacking and settling into our new home we headed into town. Split is a major hub for a number of the Dalmatian Islands and the ferries across to Italy (Bari, Venice) so it is a busy little place. Watch out for scooters!! This is one place where Aussies are a dime a dozen. Along the promenade is the Diocletian Palace which, surprisingly enough doesn’t cost anything to visit because it now houses a lot of the locals and is intertwined with all the non-palace streets or lanes. More and more of our time was spent aimlessly wandering the myriad of lanes to see what was ‘just around the corner’. We were now guaranteed a wardrobe of thongs, sandals and shorts and were happier than pigs in mud.

With ten days up our sleeve and a chance to rest up after all that heavy duty travelling and sightseeing we felt it imperative we visited our local beach as soon as possible. Bacvice (Bach visee) Beach is the ‘big’ one because it is sand, however it is a browny colour and did not appeal to us. The rest of the ‘beach’ area was large slabs of concrete and rock, welcome to the Mediterranean! After realising our backs were just not going to take it we purchased ourselves cane mats to put under our towels and wait for it…..aqua shoes. They are the dorky looking ones you need to walk over rocks, made out of wetsuit material. Everyone over here owns a pair but let us tell you it doesn’t stop you feeling like a nerd wearing them.

Visiting the islands is a must do so we did it and in style as well. We decided to visit two of the islands, Brac and Solta (pro Brach and Sholta) and hired a scooter for three days to make zipping around on the islands easier and of course fun. The ferries are the massive car ones and it took us about 50 minutes to Brac, the bigger of the two, and we hooned around leaving the main beach area, known as Bol, until last after being dedicated tourists. On arrival at Bol we found ourselves at the nudist end of the beach, hence Angela’s shocked look in the photo. Did you ever notice the majority of people who like to frequent nude beaches are the ones that probably shouldn’t? Keep it to yourself I say. Bol is a rocky patch of coast that changes shape with every tide, it generally takes the shape of an upside ice cream cone. We have noticed one thing about Europeans though and that is their lack of need for personal space. They have no issues parking their towels or bodies within 2 metres of you when there is 50 metres of beach to choose from. Even walking past almost requires them to touch you; it is probably the most difficult thing we have to get used to. Hooning around Bol on a scooter was not all it was cracked up to be and after 3 or 4 hours it felt like 3 or 4 hours of sitting on concrete so needless to say we slept on our tummies that night.

Our second day with the scooter we raced (ha ha) up to Trogir, a small town about 32km from Split. It had been recommended to us by a couple of people and word of mouth is always reasonably reliable so off we went. Loved, loved, loved it….small but pretty. It’s easy to say that most of these places are similar in aesthetics but each has a different feel or ambience and in some strange way, upon arrival, it seems you can judge how much you like somewhere. After cruising the streets of the old town (which all these places have) we went to …….yep you guessed it the beach. Deckchairs for 20kuna so no rocks that day, what a treat!

Solta was our third day with the scooter and a very very very very very quiet island, that about sums it up. If its peace and quiet you want, this is the place. Fishing villages rule. The rest of our days were spent drinking coffee in the mornings, ambling through the lanes and sipping wine in the afternoons. We did ration our eating out at night with only 5 dinners out and cooking in our own kitchen the other four, which was fun.
Split took a couple of days to really grow on us but it definitely did. After the quieter places we had been the ‘touristyness’ of Split took a bit of getting used to. It was sunny with lots of shops (shoes especially) and plenty of people watching to entertain you. The water was chilly to swim in but definitely refreshing and crystal clear. The beaches, as far as Aussies are concerned, sucked but it still has a magic about it. Europeans seem to have less body consciousness and ‘elderly’ women are happy to sunbake, even topless (a little bit gross). Ten days were over in a flash.

Our next stop was an unknown, Makarska, gateway to the Makarska Riviera, was another small apartment, two nights and three days to explore. After about fifteen minutes we were congratulating ourselves on yet another good decision. What a little gem!! It is a fishing town with an absolute winner of a beach. We spent two days with deckchairs and an umbrella basking in the sunshine and swimming in the gorgeous waters. Seafood platters were the order at dinner and spotting people who had been near us on the beach during the day, including our own personal favourite, Tomato Man; so called because of his shape and the absolute redness of his skin and his complete oblivious state to it. His armpits were the only part of his body not red, oh and the small folds of skin on his back, he was not a looker.

Dubrovnik, the great walled city, was next on the agenda. Seven nights in the beach area, Babin Kuk was booked with the world’s friendliest receptionist who offers you shots of aperitifs while she explains how the buses work. The aperitifs were so good we bought some of them, can’t promise they’ll make it home though. Dubrovnik is truly an amazing place, a structure. The workmanship and skill it took to build it is mind blowing. The walls are 5-6m thick on the land side and 1-3m thick on the ocean side. We splurged and did the city wall walk where you climb up and can walk around the top of the walls. It was definitely well worth it. Between the sea of red roof tiles and the valleys and hills of stairs you can’t help but be awestruck. How many stones did they use?? The busy season is just about to kick in and we are glad we are not there for it. Dubrovnik, being walled, would be a scorcher on really hot days and small lanes don’t go well with lots of body heat, so we are happy with our scheduling.

We decided to do a three island cruise. It is a one dayer with three of the Elafiti islands to explore. Usually we are hesitant to do some of these organised things because of the twits you might get stuck with for a whole day but we took a chance and booked. There ended up being only six other people on the cruise with us, which was great. Another of the couples were Aussies, from Melbourne and so it was really nice to interact and socialise with people who just sort of ‘get you’. The weather was perfect and the captain gave out homemade wine in plastic bottles, as much as you wanted. The last island had a three hour stop and we hired bikes to get us over to the other side of the island rather than take the golf buggy. It will be decisions like that, we think, that could be the difference between a pot belly and a hot belly. We had a great day and went home happy campers.

The old city is not somewhere you can really spend all day so we spent the mornings at the beach which we could drive to, chill for a couple of hours and eat our homemade sandwiches. Then we would head home, refresh and head into old town on the bus about 3-4pm every day for dinner. There were some bars on the outside of the walls overlooking the water which was a top spot for a pre-dinner drink. A cable car runs just outside old town that can be caught to the top of the hill (mountain??) and gives a great view. It really is somewhere that needs to be viewed from above or from the water to give it some perspective. Seven nights was enough though and we were ready to move on. Dubrovnik was our last stop in Croatia which means we cross over into our tenth country. Montenegro is booked for the next twelve nights and is our last chance for coastal action before we get to Turkey.

Posted by Ange and Adam 14:01 Archived in Croatia Tagged dubrovnik split makarska brac solta Comments (0)

Croatian Cocktails

sunny 22 °C

Ahead is the border, yay our first 'real' border crossing. Is it nerdy to be excited about getting a little stamp in a book? (Ang: Now I know why the kids at school love stamps.) We were stamped leaving Slovenia and then the Croatian guy didn't even check our photos matched our passports. Thank God Angela says as she is sure looks nothing like her photo, much prettier :-)) We drive to the small (pop 14 200) town of Rovinj (silent j). Similar to Piran but larger with more swimmer friendly rocks. Checking into our accommodation was again an adventure in itself. When you base your accommodation decision on location, parking, and a couple of photos it can be a bit of Russian roulette however we (finally) managed to find our little patch of Croatian paradise in a ten minute walk from town in a fully self-contained apartment above someones house. Savana, sylvia, salvana, saliva, we are still not sure of her name, welcomed us warmly and I'm sure would have jumped off a bridge if we had asked her.

Rovinj is a fishing village that is also extremely touristy. Once again all cobblestones and pastel coloured buildings. We don't think we will ever get sick of them. It is located on a peninsula directly across the Adriatic from Venice. In these towns we have found ourselves just 'cruising' around, soaking up the ambience and the gradually warmer sunshine. We have made a joint decision of sorts that we don't want to spend all our time traipsing in and out of museums for a variety of reasons, the main one being we just want to be outside. After time spent doing the mandatory wandering of the lanes, we spied a nice warm patch of rocks at the top end of the town. So like a couple of snakes we basked in the Croatian sunshine for an hour or so on a spring afternoon. Jealous? We headed home via the market, which Adam is obsessed with as every town we visit he HAS to visit the market, and spent the evening drinking wine and eating a home cooked meal.

Day two is getting down to business day, so tourist equipment required, camera, hat, money, thongs. We had already decided we would be snakes again and Adam was determined to go for a swim. So after a leisurely morning of laundry we headed in for coffee and lunch. NOthing exciting today, we thought, just a sandwich. Believe it or not sandwiches are actually quite difficult to get in Europe. Full baked meals, especially involving pork are easy; as are ice-cream and pastries. We spot a menu advertising a Turbo Sandwich, yes thats right TURBO. It sounded good to us and the picture looked delectably tasty. Two of those bad boys please mate. After a very brief period of waiting, out come our sandwiches; they were a slice of processed meat,a pale and small slice of cheese that may have covered half of the roll, one slice of tomato and a lone lettuce leaf on a hamburger roll with zero condiments (ie no butter, mayo, mustard). The only thing turbo about the sandwich was the speed in which it came out to us. (Just realised we have a food story with every blog, could it be because essentially our day revolves somewhat around our next meal).

After a revitalising lunch we headed to bask in the sun again and Adam dived in (briefly) for a dip. Dive in, splash around for a few minutes and then climb out again. It was too icy for Ang to swim so she just cheered him on and admired his courage.

We joined the locals on Saturday night for a few beverages and remembered why Australia is so good for banning smoking in bars and clubs. The company and atmosphere was great but my god we stunk when we left. Lucky we were too happy to care until we smelt our clothes the next day. Our pre-dinner drinks consisted of cocktails at the most amazing cocktail bar. It was positioned down on the rock face of a part of the peninsula with cushions scattered over the flat rocks and mood lighting, jazz music and madamesque type hosts. The view straight out was over the Adriatic and with a price tag on the drinks to suit, so definitely not where the locals go. The experience was fantastic and if we had had more time we would have gone for a third night.

Onto Zagreb...the unpolished second cousin of Budapest. The clouds came rolling in and brought with them their friend, the wind. Together they made cold. Big jackets came back out, swimmers away. Our accomm. was a guesthouse, so our own bathroom and bedroom but a shared kitchen. The first night we (allegedly) were sharing with three Russians. However even with Ange doing her regular ear to the door and head around the corner routine, (Adam call it Mrs Kravitz busybody) we never set eyes on them. The only real visible evidence they were there was the mess in the kitchen in the morning. There were clues everywhere as to what might have happened to them but nothing was ever proven.

Zagreb was reasonably unexciting except for the cleanest trams yet. Bright blue and sleek looking. We did our compulsory exploring and found all the central sights. The city was large but didn't have anything real pizazz or emotional impact on us they way all the other places have had. One thing we have found over here is the amount of daylight hours. Even though we are still only in Spring, there is daylight before 5am and up until about 9pm. This is good for us with everything we want to do.

Our next destination is Serbia. Stay on the paths all the brochures say.....there are still landmines around. This is one piece of advice you can be assured we will follow.

Posted by Ange and Adam 09:21 Archived in Croatia Tagged zagreb rovinj Comments (0)

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