A Travellerspoint blog

Zagreb

Plitvice National Park

First of all, for those who have been following my blog all along, I added "Day 2 in Dubrovnik" out of order, so although the dates now match up, a lot of people might have missed that entry! It has had a lot fewer views than the other entries and I think that is why. If you are interested you can go back and read it!

After our great week on the boat, we said our goodbyes to our new friends and got off the boat at 9 am the next morning. We caught a bus to Zagreb at 11 am for our last days in Croatia. It was an excruciating 4 hours to Zagreb, which was the only interior town of Croatia that we had planned on going to. We got there in the afternoon, walked around a bit, and went to bed nice and early. On our only full day there, we went to the Plitvice National Park, which was heralded online as a "can't miss" experience. It is a Unesco World Heritage Site and extends to the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina. The main north-south road that passes through park connects the Croatian inland with the Adriatic coast. The place was definitely beautiful, but whoever wrote the reviews online clearly had never been to British Columbia before! The park was full of lakes, vegetation and waterfalls. Again, it was very picturesque, but it was really nothing better than we get back home. It was a little frustrating because this park was pretty much the only reason we went to Zagreb, and it cost us more money and more time than it was worth. However, a bright point would be that when we got back to Zagreb from the park, we took a good walk around and it was a very cool city. It is the capital of Croatia and the city dates back to Roman times. The architecture and various monuments probably did end up making it a worthwhile stop. We called it a night early as I was still fighting off my cold, and we were still tired from our week on the boat!

Posted by geoffboulton 08:45 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

Mljet and Makarska

Last 3 days of Croatian coast cruise

On our 5th day of our cruise we stopped in a small town on the Croatian coast called Mljet. Being 4 nights deep into this busy party cruise, it was an appropriate time to have a lazy day off. I had started to catch a cold and I was feeling pretty sick, so I stayed on the boat after it docked and just suntanned and went to bed early. The rest of the boat went to the beach for a swim and also had an early night (well most of them, at least). There wasn't much to do in the town, so it was a good opportunity to chill for a day.

On our 6th day, after our swim/lunch/debrief, we stopped in a town called Makarska. It was a tiny little town, with a few options for paid excursions. We didn't care to pay for ziplining or a walking tour, so we headed to the beach and had a good afternoon cooking in the sun. Don't worry, Mom, I wore lots of sunscreen! The water was still a little chilly, but since it was so hot out, it was really refreshing. That night, we headed to a small bar in the town that wasn't that great, so I left pretty early to save up all my energy for our last night on the boat.

Our last stop was back where we started in Split. Even though we were back to where we had first boarded the ship, we still had one last night onboard. Our day in Split consisted of walking around the palace and the markets, and going for a swim at the beach. We had one last “family dinner” with everyone from our boat, which ended up being more of a family “2 for 1 cocktail happy hour”. We later went back to the boat for one last night of hanging out and playing games. A bunch of people went out after, but I called it a night because I was still not feeling 100%.

Posted by geoffboulton 15:35 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

Day 2 Dubrovnik/ Montenegro tour

Kotor and Budva

Since we had toured around the city quite a bit the day before, we opted to do a day tour to the country of Montenegro the second day of our stop in Dubrovnik. The morning was a little rough since we went to bed at 4 am and had to be on the tour bus by 7! We did have a 2.5 hour bus ride to catch up on some sleep, before we got off to do anything. Our first stop was in the town of Kotor, which like Dubrovnik is a walled city and is a World Heritage site. It was a nice coastal town that was fortified by big walls (higher, but not as long as those in Dubrovnik) and surrounded by mountains and the sea. We did a nice walking tour through the town, hearing lots of facts that I may or may not remember (I seem to recall that it was settled in the 7th century). We stopped for a great lunch before heading to the city of Budva, another walled city right about the middle of the Croatian coast. Our guide on our boat told us that there weren't any spots to swim on this tour, so none of us brought our bathing suits, but then we got to Budva and there was a beach! We jokingly got mad at her when we got back to the boat, but we actually did end up going for a swim in Budva in our undies, so it was totally fine. We also took a walk around the medieval town, which was pretty cool – it is the oldest town on the Adriatic Sea as evidence has been found of a settlement from 2500 years ago! We had a couple of drinks while sitting on a wall listening to a street musician play guitar. When we got back to the boat the guide who told us not to take our bathing suits felt so bad about it that she promised to let us jump from the top deck of the boat, which we had previously been told was not allowed!
That night we had a cheap pizza dinner and then headed back into old town Dubrovnik. We went to a couple of bars that weren't overly exciting, but were fun nonetheless.
This night ended a little differently because some of the people we were hanging out with had found a better and safer cliff diving spot, and we were eager to give it a go. Only Colby and I and three others were keen to jump, while all the Australians stood around and watched because they were chickens! I'm sure my mom is not going to be happy about me swimming at night OR cliff diving, but I survived and it was a great night!

Posted by geoffboulton 15:19 Archived in Montenegro Comments (0)

Day 1 in Dubrovnik

Third day of cruise

We kicked off our third day of our Croatian coast cruise with ... wait for it... a swim, lunch and debriefing! We arrived in Dubrovnik for our two night stay, and the first day we opted out of any of the offered excursions as it seemed like a place we could figure out for ourselves. A couple of people from the boat did either the “Game of Thrones” tour or an historical walking tour. I know some of my friends or family would gasp at the fact that I don't watch “Game of Thrones”, but I don't and that's how it is! Apparently the tour was very good, and was run by an extra/one line actor from the show that was quite knowledgeable, but we enjoyed our self-guided tour. We decided to walk from the port to Old Town (which was kind of far), and explore the city ourselves. Dubrovnik is surrounded by stone walls, some parts of which are over 1500 years old! They were added to throughout the Middle Ages protect the city from invaders. Ironically, the walls kept most enemies at bay over the centuries, but the worst damage done to the city was in recent times, during the Croatian war of independence in the early 1990's when two thirds of the buildings were damaged. They have mostly been repaired, but you can still see some ruined buildings and numerous bullet holes in the walls. We walked the whole of the wall, about two miles long, and it provided us with some really nice views and good photo ops. After that we walked around the main square and found some cheap ice cream and mojitos before we headed to the water to go for a swim. We were hoping for some cliff diving, but we were uncomfortable with the amount of rocks. We did see a local find a good spot to jump from 18 meters into the water. None of us were even close to brave enough to do that though!

After watching the cliff diving, we wandered around some more, then had dinner and drinks before heading to another bar! This bar had the same type of drinking vessel that they have in Thailand, called a “bucket”. If you need a visual of what it is, imagine a child’s beach pail with alcohol in it and you're there! It was a good night involving lots of dancing, and then some other tourists offered us a ride back to the boat in their rental car. Unfortunately, we didn't know where the boat was, and neither did they, so they ended up dropping us off even farther away! We made it home, though, after a long trek and it was very gratifying, but it made for a very late night!

Posted by geoffboulton 13:37 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

Split, Hvar and Korcula

Croatian coast cruise

We flew in to Split, Croatia the afternoon of May 8 after a reunion with our Aussie friend, Dallan, on the plane. We knew we had an "upbeat" week ahead of us on our cruise, so we decided to take it easy the rest of the day. We had a nice afternoon walking around, going to the beach and jumping in the water (and we might even have had a couple of beers!) We spent that night at a hostel in town.

We were starting our cruise along the Dalmatian Coast the next day, and we got to our ship at about noon. The company running the tour is called Sail Croatia, and the ship did have a mast, but this was by no means a sail boat. The boat was just like a luxury mini cruise ship! The cabins were pretty nice, the beds were comfortable, and they had full ensuite bathrooms. The cabins were on the bottom 2 floors (one of which was underwater), the third floor had the dining room and an outdoor area for socializing, and the top deck was more or less just a flat roof with sun chairs. We spent most of our mornings either sunbathing on the deck, or jumping off of it into the water, and we spent most of our evenings in the outdoor socializing area playing games. Each day had pretty much the same schedule. Breakfast was around 10 am and then the ship would stop at around noon so we could go for a swim (which was usually pretty cold, but very refreshing). They'd serve us lunch at 1 pm and it was always a pretty delicious 3 course meal, during which time they would brief us on our next stop and it's available excursions. Dinner was not provided, so we always ate on shore.

The first thing we did when we got on was get introduced to the other passengers (and have a welcome shot!). That was the point we knew it would be an awesome week. There were only 15 passengers on board, mostly from Australia and all between the ages of 22 and 30. Everyone was super chill and down for a good time. After our first swim, lunch, and debrief, we stopped on the island of Hvar, the longest (and apparently sunniest) island off Croatia. We walked around town and took the stairs up to the hill overlooking the city. The view was breathtaking, looking down over the city, the mountains, and the Adriatic Sea. There were also some really neat 7th century ruins to walk around. While we ate dinner in the main square, in sight of St. Stephen's Cathedral, there was a very large procession of people singing hymns in Croatian. Turns out that day was the feast of Saint Prosper, the town's patron saint. That night we went to a bar on shore along with the passengers of a couple of other boats before giving our cabins their first test.

On the Sunday, after our daily swim/lunch/debrief, we pulled into the port of Korcula where we had signed up for a sea kayaking excursion. The sights from the kayak were beautiful, although I have to admit that the most notable part was the excessive amount of garbage in the water. The tour guide blamed it on the Albanians, as apparently they dump their trash in the sea and the current takes it to the Croatian shores. The tour had one stop at Pebble Beach, which was just a rocky beach, before going back the other way. We walked around the town, found some nice beaches and the town square, and ate some delicious gelato. For dinner, we had pizza with an egg on it, which was both an interesting and delicious idea. We again went out to the bar after playing some games. This bar had a weird concept of projecting a live video stream of the dance floor on the wall outside on the street. So as you were dancing, you knew you were being watched, which was a bit unnerving! The bar closed early because some locals got in a little tiff, so we went and sat on the beach and chatted, which was just as fun!

Posted by geoffboulton 01:12 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

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