Chapter Fourteen: Croatia

Sorry I’ve been MIA for some time now. As my European leg of the trip wrapped up and I stopped over in Toronto for the wedding of my good friend, Susie, I lost track of this blog!! Well, you can all stop holding your breath now, I’m back 😉

So, Jasper and I left Sarajevo to take the eight hour bus trip to Zagreb on a Saturday. We spent two days together before he left on the same plane that had just brought my friend Sabrina in to take his place as my travel companion for the next two weeks.

Full of beautiful, historic (and mostly yellow) buildings, Zagreb is a walkable city as developed and modern as any of its western European counterparts. Visiting Croatia, in general, you would never know that they had been part of a nasty war in their recent past. The economy and tourism is booming! Sadly, that meant slightly busier cities, costlier stays and less cultural diversity than I had been expecting. Nonetheless, it is a beautiful country with plenty to offer.

The highlight of Zagreb was catching the first Eurocup match that Croatia played, and won, in the central square. The celebration that followed would make you think they’d won the series, if you didn’t know better. Jasper and I walked the whole of the city in a day, which I again did with Sabrina two days later. Aside from another meal of Cevapi and burek, we did not find many local specialties to eat. When it came to drinking, however, Croatians take their rakija very seriously. And, as obliging tourists in need of some local culture, I joined both Jasper and Sabrina in an uncertain amount of shots.

What followed our last night in Zagreb was a shaky bus ride to Plitvice National Park. This is a must-do in any Croatian vacation as it is truly stunning. The park  is mostly composed of cascading waterfalls and streams with several boardwalk options depending on how much you’d like to walk. We opted for the 4-6 hour route and the day flew by.

Approximately 10,000 photos later, we hopped on a bus to make our way to the small party city of Zadar. An evening and a morning was enough time to explore this artistic and lively city, where the highlight really is the sea organ, which is exactly as it sounds. Built into the boardwalk, the organ was engineered to use the waves of the sea to create music. It is both soothing and haunting – particularly at night.

From Zadar we made our way to Split, which was a tie (with Dubrovnik) for my favourite stop in Croatia.  While still very touristic, Split had a very unique feel to it and a lovely (though slightly smelly) waterfront. We happened to be there on yacht week so there were parties everywhere and lots of fun to be had. This led to a somewhat painful ferry ride to Hvar island the next morning…

Sabrina and I had been hearing everywhere about the world renowned beaches in Hvar, which, I must say, we were hard pressed to find. Mostly large rocky waterfronts, we were not overwhelmed by what we saw. We still had a great time and got the sunburn to prove it, but I would say the beaches fell a bit short of expectations. No matter though, as long as you have great company!

Our final stop in Croatia was Dubrovnik. After approximately 500 steps up a steep hill, backpacks on, we arrived at our room. The view of the harbour from our balcony was the payoff. We scooted in to King’s Landing – I mean the old city – to have some wine and explore. If you removed the tourists and ice cream signs, you would think you’d landed right in the middle ages. Dubrovnik was absolutely teaming with tourists but is a must-see if you can handle the heat. It was over 40 degrees when we went- so hot that our towels literally burnt from the beach sand, which, I guess can be considered a souvenir. ❤

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