Croatia Part 1

Day 46: April 27, 2018

Early wake up for us (6:00 am) to head to Croatia. My nose has been running like crazy and stopping me from sleeping.

We packed up the rest of our stuff and Marta arrived at 7:00 am. She made us tea, eggs with sausages, juice, bread and a heart-shaped cake. She took a picture of us with the cake and then in front of the house. Her place wasn’t the best and her food was okay, but she did everything we love. It made our stay very special. We gave her hugs before we left and drove to Ljubljana.

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Cake from Marta

We returned the rental car right beside the bus station in Ljubljana. Our bus arrived a bit late, but we weren’t in a big rush. I was able to catch some z’s on the ride. At the border we had to get off the bus twice to get our passports stamped: Slovenia and Croatia.

The bus took us to Zagreb bus terminal and from there we took an Uber to the car rental office. They always try to up sell you on everything there. I’m glad that Danny handles it. Our new car is a Renault Clio. The first thing Danny does when he gets in a new car is touch the dash and doors to see the quality. Then the first twenty minutes of driving he gives a full assessment. I think he watches too many “Regular Car Reviews” on YouTube.

We found a parking garage in the downtown and went out to check some things off our to-do list. I found a book store and bought a new journal and fiction book. Around 3:10 pm we found a barber that could cut Danny’s hair at 4:00 pm which gave us time to buy groceries for the next couple of days. We returned to the barber and when she looked at the back of Danny’s hair she was shocked. Remember the chunk of hair I had zipped away. His hair looks much better now. It’s one of the best hair cuts he’s ever had.

We walked back to the car and headed out of Zagreb. Traffic was awful and I was feeling worse and worse. I couldn’t breathe out of my nose or my mouth because I was so stuffed up. We drove about three hours to our Airbnb in Starigrad, north of Zadar. We hadn’t heard back from the host so we weren’t sure about check-in. It turns out she lives downstairs so it wasn’t a big deal. She didn’t speak much English, but showed us in. We sat on the balcony and had supper with a view out to the bay.

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View from our balcony in Starigrad
Day 47: April 28, 2018

Danny made me breakfast in bed. I still wasn’t feeling well. I stayed in bed while Danny walked up the road to the store looking for some juice and popsicles for me. He returned with apple juice and pudding. I guess popsicles aren’t a thing here. We ate salad for lunch and did some planning. Danny made fish for supper. I Googled the type of fish and it turns out it was a small shark. It was very tasty. I went to bed fairly early and Danny stayed up a bit.

Day 48: April 29, 2018

I slept in again. I think I was feeling worse than the day before. My nose wasn’t running as much, but I had the start of a cough and my throat was sore. Danny really wanted to go and do things, but I was just too sleepy. He brought me yogurt for breakfast and I went back to sleep until noon. We had salad for lunch then decided to head into Zadar at 2:00 pm. He had been pacing all morning and really needed a walk.

We parked just outside the old town and walked in through the Land Gate into Five Wells Square.

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Five Wells Square, Zadar

We walked around to the market, but it was closed because it was a Sunday. We saw the Sea Gate then had some ice cream. It was another super hot day in Croatia. We went on to see St. Anastasia and St. Donatus churches and the Roman Forum. We walked along the water to the Sea Organ which didn’t sound as pretty as I imagined, but the idea was pretty cool. They also have “The Greeting to the Sun”, but it’s only cool at night I believe.

We walked back into the streets and found somewhere to eat. We ordered olives to start. I love olives and they are so fresh here. Danny had sea bass with sautéed Swiss chard and I had pašticada which is a slow roasted beef with gnocchi in a red wine gravy. It was very tender and delicious.

From there, we walked back to the car through the gardens. We decided to drive to Vir, an island just north of Zadar. We went right out to the point and pulled the car over. The quiet was amazing and the view was gorgeous. You could see out into the Adriatic. The water and the sky blended together.

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Adriatic Sea looking north from Vir

We sat on the rocks and stuck our feet in the water. The rocks were quite sharp and the cray fish kept tickling our feet. After our bums started getting numb, we drove back home and went to sleep. Danny was thinking we had an extra day here, but I think our day in Zagreb and my sick day messed it up. Tomorrow we head south in Croatia.

Day 49: April 30, 2018

We woke up, had breakfast and packed up. I broke a glass while washing it last night, but the lady said not to worry about it. It seems most Airbnb hosts understand that things do break. We drove to Krka National Park. We tried to drive in, but were stopped and told we had to park and walk in or drive back a bit and take the boat. Both were the same price, 110 Kuna per person. We walked the 4 km along the lake. It wasn’t very scenic and it was very hot.

We arrived to the main area of Skradinski buk waterfall and it was super busy. It was a long weekend so that could have added to the number of people. We did the walking loop around the falls, but didn’t enjoy it that much. There were people everywhere. The view would have been very pretty with all of the little waterfalls, but we were just annoyed.

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Walking around Krka National Park

We had planned to go in the water, but were debating not because there were so many people. We thought we would regret it if we didn’t so we stripped to our bathing suits and climbed in. It was rocky until you went out deeper so we kept our flip flops on. The rocks were not very sharp. The view with the falls in the background was beautiful.

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Danny swimming in front of Skradinski buk waterfall

We exited the water and walked to wait for the boat which was leaving in fifteen minutes. We arrived back in town another fifteen minutes later. There was a huge line up of people waiting to get on the boat to go out to the park. The walk back to the car took about ten minutes.

We drove on to Split, mostly so that I could see Froggyland. It hosts a set of 507 taxidermy frogs set up to represent the lives of our ancestors. It was created between 1910 and 1920. Some of scenes include a school, a circus and a blacksmith shop. Honestly, I was a bit disappointed. I don’t know if I expected them to be bigger. It was cool, but I wouldn’t say it was a must see.

We walked around Split a bit and saw the sea side. From there we went through a market beneath Diocletian’s Palace and then to the outside. The palace was gorgeous. We also saw a statue of Gregory of Nin who introduced the Croatian language to religious services. Previously, services were held only in Latin.

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Statue of Gregory of Nin, Split

We walked back to the car and drove the coastal road to our Airbnb in Tučepi. It took us awhile to find the place. We came up and unloaded our things. Danny was in a grumpy mood which doesn’t happen very often. He was disappointed that we didn’t get to see much around Zadar and mad at himself for not venturing to the National Park up the road from us on my sick day. I try to preach all the things I’ve been learning recently about it being human to make mistakes. After talking about it, Danny felt much better.

Danny had our leftovers for supper and I had some salad. I ate two buns at lunch and it was just too heavy for the heat. We couldn’t get the wifi working and realized that we forgot the travel adapter at the last place (another reason for Danny’s bad mood). We will have to buy a new one, even though the one we had was amazing.

Day 50: May 1, 2018

Danny booked the ferry to the island of Brač the night before. We weren’t sure how far in advance we needed to show up. We went to the dock around 7:30 am for the 9:00 am ferry. There was no real indication of where to go so we ended up driving around a bit. We found the booth where you buy tickets, but it didn’t open until 8:00 am. We decided to go to a couple of grocery stores to look for a SIM card. The reloading of the Slovenian one didn’t seem to work. The grocery stores didn’t have them, but we found them at a newspaper stand. I figured out the install fairly easily. Luckily the instructions were in English because it was a tourist SIM card.

At 8:00 am we went back to the ferry booth and found out where to line up. I bought some pastries and we sat on a bench by the dock waiting for the ferry to board. At 8:45 am we loaded onto the ferry. It was fairly small, maybe 30 cars. We sat up top for a bit then went and stood at the front. The ferry took about an hour to get to Brač.

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Arriving to Brač

We drove off the ferry and headed to where the hike for the Dragon Cave started. Danny had read about the Dragon Cave on some travel websites and it seemed really interesting. We asked a local where the trail was, but he didn’t seem to know what we were talking about. We walked up where we heard some English. It turns out the English was coming from four Canadians also looking for the Dragon Cave. They had walked around the hill, but not found it. They said to try the trail through the gate straight up the hill.

We went there and hiked up and up and up. We reached a ruin house and it got very steep and we weren’t sure which way to go. I Googled the cave and someone had written that only one guy has the key to the cave and you have to book a tour. I was a bit frustrated at that point. Danny was fine with just getting out and hiking, but I wanted it to be for something! We did have a nice view to the Adriatic since we were so high up.

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View to the Adriatic Sea from our hike

We slid back down the hill and back to the car. We drove to the beach in Bol. We were expecting a sand beach, but it was rocks/pebbles. There were quite a few people there, but it wasn’t packed. I imagine it would be quite full on a weekend.

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Beach in Bol

We found a spot near the water and stripped to our swim suits. The rocks hurt a bit on the feet and later they were pretty hot. We went into the water right away to wash off the sweat from our hike. The water felt cold, likely because we were sweltering. It was around 30 degrees out. The water was super clear. You could see some fish if you looked down. The ground dropped quite rapidly so you didn’t have to go out far for a swim. There were a bunch of boats anchored fairly close to the shore. We went in and out of the water a couple of times and had our salad lunch.

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Merai swimming in the Adriatic

Danny and I had talked before about going to a nude beach. I didn’t know if I would be able to just strip down and bare it all, but the idea did sound freeing. Seeing the nude beach the other day made me think, “Okay, I could do that”. We read that to the west of the main beach was the naturist beach so we climbed over a couple of rocks and there we were. There were maybe two couples and one lady there when we arrived. We laid down our towels, then we laid down and stripped. We laid there for a bit not feeling ready to stand.

Finally we decided we just had to go into the water as it was so hot. Once in the water it was spectacular. We swam around quite a bit and then walked back out. After that a barrier was broken and we were fine. Some more women showed up and even a grandmother, mother and daughter. No one there cares what you look like and you don’t care what they look like. You’re just humans. It was amazingly liberating. We’ve decided only naturist beaches from now on.

We stayed there a couple of hours going in and out of the water. Around 4:00 pm we decided we should head back to the ferry. There was a momentary freak out on the drive back when I looked up Croatian ferries and it said the last one was at 3:30 pm. I looked at the ferry company’s website and it said 6:00 pm. Whoo.

We drove back and there was already a line up. We were a bit worried we might not get on the last ferry of the day. We parked and walked around the town, but there was really nothing there. We sat back in the car and had some snacks.

At 5:30 pm we started boarding. We were maybe halfway through the line up that got on the boat. We watched as they told the last few cars they weren’t leaving the island today. The purchase of the tickets was a bit misleading because the ticket we bought online said “guaranteed departure”, but if we hadn’t been in line early enough we wouldn’t have gotten on; we would have been sleeping in the car.

We stood at the front of the ferry again. Back in town it was quite busy. We tried to find somewhere that sold adapters, but no luck. We then tried a couple of grocery stores because we had a ramen craving. No luck with that either. We drove back to our place in Tučepi and made pasta with eggplant for supper. We turned on the air conditioning because the night before was so hot and the noise out on the street was too loud with the door open. Danny planned our drive to Mostar then we went to bed. Both of us are looking very red from the beach.

Next up is a road trip through Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro. We are a bit nervous as we aren’t sure what to expect. After our road trip we head back to Croatia to visit Dubrovnik. My sick days definitely made us feel that we missed out on some of Croatia. Those times are bound to happen when you are traveling for a year so we are taking it in stride.

M

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