From Montenegro we headed noth to Croatia for our next adventure. I’ve wanted to go to Croatia for years so Katie put me in charge of planning our route, lodging, travel, etc. She has taken on the majority of our travel logistics from the beginning (weird) so this gave her a nice needed break plus gave me a chance to flex my chops at the helm. Obviously this meant it was going to be the best.trip.ever or a complete disaster.
Kicking off in Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik was our first stop and only an hour and a half drive along the Adriatic coast from where we stayed in Montenegro. The city is famous for its old town which sits within a giant castle wall. The city itself has been a destination for traders, merchants and travelers for centuries, but tourism has exploded in recent years with it being featured prominently in the hit TV show, Game of Thrones. The main city in the show, King’s Landing, has many different sets throughout Dubrovnik so watchers can now explore the real city and see all the GOT sights.
The other interesting thing about the city is the traces of the 1992 war where the city was bombed by Serbia and Montenegro military forces following the break up of Yugoslavia. One in three buildings were damaged in the attacks and many historical sites were destroyed and forced to be rebuilt. You can still see shelling marks on numerous buildings.
The city is absolutely stunning and gives you the feeling that you have stepped back in time. The medieval architecture, stone streets smoothed by generations of foot traffic, ancient churches, quaint shops and everything enclosed within the massive castle walls. We stayed in an AirBnB within the walls about 50 meters away from the famous Buza bar. Side note, the bar is pretty awesome. You have to walk through a small hole in the castle wall which takes you all the way through the wall then you will find the bar on the outside of the castle. It has great views of the water and you can have a drink while watching people dive off the cliffs. It’s a must if you are in Dubrovnik.
The only downfall to Dubrovnik was the walled city has become a massive tourist trap. Almost all streets are maximized for restaurant space so there are tables and chairs for dinning down almost every path. Combine this with the 10,000+ tourists who visit daily in August and you just have a giant state fair. It’s understandable though as the city really is worth seeing but makes it tough to get pictures and move around easily. To avoid this and the scorching heat (95 degrees when we were there), Katie and I approached our days a bit different. We would wake up really early and go explore, take pictures and get breakfast. Then we would go back to our place and do trip planning from late morning to late afternoon. Once it started to cool back down, we would head back out to explore more and grab dinner. While this wasn’t ideal it helped us avoid crowds and get awesome pictures. Best time to take them was around 6:30am which is after garbage pickup but before the tourists. It gave you empty streets (pictures below).
While in the city we also hiked up Mt. Srd. This is the hillside overlooking Dubrovnik which you can access either by an hour hike or a 4-minute cable car. While this might seem like a no brainer to use the cable car we chose to do the hike because it gave us a workout, saved $25 and got us up there before the tourists could ride the first cable car up at 9am since we started at 7am. Worked out well and was a great hike!
Last but not least we were able to meet up with friends, Lauren and Nick, from Seattle for a nice dinner. It was great seeing them and catching up as they too are on a massive world trip and had great advice for places we are headed.
Hanging out in Hvar
We took the ferry (www.krilo.hr) from Dubrovnik to Hvar. The ride was beautiful and only took about four hours. The island of Hvar is stunning and really a cool place to spend a few days. You can find people working on their tans on just about any surface they can find as there are no real sand beaches here. There usually is just smoothed rocks to lay on between the manicured stone paths and the stunning blue sea. Lots of lodging options can be found and we just went with a nice AirBnb right inside the main city (about 5-minute walk from the ferry drop off). All in all, not a lot to do here other than eat, drink and sunbathe so I will let the pictures below do the talking here.
Strolling through Split
Our final destination in Croatia was the coastal city of Split, just about an hour ferry ride from Hvar. We spent four nights here in a great Airbnb studio. By now we needed a break from the sunbathing life (I know, we are jerks) so it was good to be in a city with more things to see and do vs. just lay around. While the weather didn’t cooperate on two of the days, the other two we spent walking around the beautiful city streets, trying local dishes at restaurants like Fife and taking a long hike through the Śuma Marjan park. We tried to book a trip up to the Krka national park to see the waterfalls but between the late planning and weather, it stopped us from making it up there. I think this is why Katie is the better planner. I have a feeling that if she was in charge we would have ended up going there. So final conclusion as you all expected from the start: Katie was and still is the team captain and MVP.