Sailing Away in Croatia

Last year, our friends Jason & Leah booked a yacht through MedSailors at a travel expo (which meant a free upgrade to a premium boat) and we managed to fill it with our closest friends. This was our last big trip of 2013 and we couldn’t think of a better way to spend it than island hopping in Croatia for a week. We did nothing but swim, sun bathe, read, take photos, visit various islands, drink, and eat for a week and it was glorious! We were all able to relax and recharge from our busy lives and really enjoyed each others company. 

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Our skipper was from Austria and he looked after us for the week. As he said, it was his job to make sure we enjoyed our holiday so he would make us breakfast and lunch each day and we had to force him to let us help with the cleaning up. He tried to teach us how to sail as well but after the first day, we lost interest and preferred to sun bathe instead.

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Overall, MedSailors were awesome but I also think we lucked out with a great skipper (some of the other boats had complaints about theirs) and filling our boat with friends who all had the same approach to the trip made all the difference. If you do find yourself wanting to take a similar trip, definitely look them up! Now, since a picture is worth 1000 words, I’ll share a few of the 1200 I took that week. As someone who is partial to landscape photos, I was in heaven in Croatia. Sunset photo, anyone? I took about 500.

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This bug was 50 years old. It was a beast.

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When our week was done, we said goodbye to Borat (our nickname for our skipper…can’t remember his real name) and drove to Dubrovnik to spend a few days there before going back to London. There’s a section of the highway along the coast that belongs to Bosnia so we made sure the driver stopped there so we could check another country off our list (although we’ll go back properly one day)!

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*As always, there are more photos on Flickr

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Plitvice Lakes

We’ve been neglecting the blog a bit lately and I had actually forgotten we hadn’t finished our summer holiday blogs including our Croatia travels so here we are.  It’s a bit bittersweet thinking back on all our awesome travels this summer when we are now stuck inside with it pouring rain outside.  I’ll do my best to avoid getting depressed as I write this while looking forward to a long hard winter with only one more trip away…

Our Croatia itinerary started with flying in to Zagreb for a night before joining Cath and Jono for a road trip to Split with a stopover at Plitvice lakes on the way.  We would then be getting on a boat for a week of sailing around Croatian islands.  We were pretty excited for this one.

We arrived in Zagreb on a Wednesday night and turned up at our accommodation ready to dump our stuff and head out for a drink and meal.  We had booked a private room at a hostel which was pretty cheap so weren’t expecting much.  Fortunately for us the hostel had made a mistake and booked us for the wrong night so they had to work something else out for us.

We ended up being transferred to a huge modern apartment right on the main square (Flower square).  Apparently the richest person in Croatia has an apartment in the same building.  The best part was that it was the same price as our cheap hostel room – I love free upgrades.  Seriously, if we ever get upgraded to business class flights I’ll probably hug everyone standing near me.

Kitchen

Stairs to the second bed

Bedroom/lounge

View from our room

View from our room over Flower square

After dropping our stuff and looking around our huge apartment (there may have been a few Step Brothers quotes thrown around “we have so much room for activities!”) we ventured out for the night for a drink and some food.  Zagreb was great for that as there is street after street lined with comfy seats and tables made for eating outside on a summer evening (as you can see in the photo above).

We woke up the next morning and headed over to what would have been our accommodation for the night to meet Cath and Jono.  Eventually we found each other and hopped in our ride for the next few days to get on the road to Plitvice.   A GPS was key (Jono and Cath had brought one with them) – getting out of Zagreb was hard enough even knowing what lane you were supposed to be in.

Our ride in Croatia

Our ride

Plitvice wasn’t too far away so we arrived early enough in the afternoon to head out and start exploring.  Plitvice lakes have been set up really well with a couple of different options to get around and see everything.  We chose to split it up and do one half the first day and leave the second half for the next day.

Plitvice Lakes

Our accommodation in Plitvice

The whole area is filled with beautiful lakes and waterfalls so we were busy taking it in whilst trying to avoid stepping off the track which is mostly built over the water.  The transport around the area is great with a few different options of taking tram-like buses or boat rides combined with walking.  It would have been perfect if you didn’t have to share it with hundreds of other tourists.

Map of the Lake

Plitvice Lakes

Plitvice Lakes

Plitvice Lakes

Plitvice Lakes

Plitvice Lakes

Plitvice Lakes

Plitvice Lakes

We refueled that evening with pizza and beer before getting up bright and early to explore the second half of Plitvice lakes.  There was a great little hotdog stand at the entry so we got our third hotdog in 2 days for breakfast and then set off.

Plitvice Lakes

Plitvice Lakes

Plitvice Lakes

Plitvice Lakes

Plitvice Lakes

Plitvice Lakes

The whole Pltivice area was beautiful and a really nice break from the City.  The air’s fresh, the lakes and waterfalls are beautiful, the whole place seems like it has been designed by a great team as even the buildings and hotels are all really similarly designed and just sort of fit.  Definitely glad we put this on our 100 Things List.

After we finished the trek we hopped back in the car to continue on to Split.

The GPS worked great for the whole scenic drive but once we got to Split it decided to start having fun with us.

We wanted to go to a supermarket to load up for the boat the next day whilst we still had a car.  We were seeing loads of signs for supermarkets so thought it was going to be easy but to be safe we entered one of the local supermarkets in to the GPS so we could follow the directions and be 100% sure.  It seemed to start off quite well and the GPS confidently shouted out directions.

It was only when we noticed we were getting quite close to the port that we thought something might be up.  Nevertheless, we continued following the directions for a few more turns before the GPS calmly instructed us to continue for 200 metres before boarding the ferry.  So we didn’t get to that supermarket but it did give us a good laugh.

We gave up on the GPS in the end and did successfully find a supermarket (although it took forever, it didn’t involve any trips on ferries).  We got to the castle like area that is the Old Town in Split (seriously cool, you walk through the gate in the castle walls and down in to winding cobbled lanes – makes you feel like you’ve travelled back a few hundred years) and had another struggle with finding the meeting point to get keys to our apartment.  Eventually we got there and set off to explore Split a bit as we were hopping on our boat out of there the next day.  But I’ll leave that for Dayna to talk about next time!