Croatia Travel Blog

DCIM105GOPRO
October 1, 2017

Croatia – Splitsko Dalmatinska in 10 Days

Day 1

After a cozy night’s sleep at Summer Lime Real BnB, we were awoken to the sound of city church bells. After a quick omlette – the ‘Jess’ Special’, we hopped on the bus outside our BnB and were in town within ten minutes. Our first purchase was no more than ten metres from where the bus dropped us off. A pair of masks and snorkels from the markets for 60 kuna. Eight euros was a cheap price to pay for what was yet to come on our ten-day adventure.
We wandered through the fruit markets and picked up a freshly made acai-bowl from the promenade, lapping up the gorgeous sunshine on this 26 degree Autumn day. The streets were narrow, winding this way and that, with restaurants, botique shops and icecream parlours nestled below the three and four story town house apartments. We were in search of up, after hearing about Majan lookout which overlooked the city of Split. The views were fantastic and my go-pro had it’s first official work-out of the trip.spli
Bikes were next on the menu, and for 80 kuna we were able to head off wherever our hearts desired. Of course, we headed to the beaches. We took a lap of the Park Suma Marjan, stopping at Joe’s Beach Lounge and Bar at Kasuni Beach for a tuna steak and burrito. After an hour or two of swimming in the crystal clear water, we pedalled off to Bene beach for a Mojito and Spritz.DCIM105GOPRO
Dinner was at a cute restaurant nestled amongst the maze of old city streets where we tried the infamous Cevapcici sausages. Cevapcici are skinless sausages, served with a simple salad and a traditional capsicum salsa, called ‘avjar’. Although originating in Bolivia, the Croats have certainly taken this dish as their own, serving it at almost every bar and restaurant in town.
As the sun went down, the air began to chill and we found ourselves tucked up in bed before 10pm.

Day 2

We wanted to go exploring. Although Plitvice National Park was high on the priority list, it also took 3 hours of driving to get to. We were off to Hvar that evening so we decided to save these incredible blue lakes and rivers for the latter end of the trip. Instead, we chose white-water-rafting with Go Adventure Tours.
Both Jess and I had never been white-water rafting, so this was certainly on our bucket-lists. With the Cetina river said to hold Croatia’s best white water rafting course, how could we resist
It was an absolute blast and were were happy to be able to see another side of Croatia as the rivers weaved inland for 11 kilometres through ever-changing scenery, finishing at a magnificent gorge. A leap of faith from an eight metre cliff at the end of our rafting experience was certainly a highlight, especially seeing Jess facing her fears and taking the plunge with hardly a hesitation!jumpIMG_3801
We had booked
a ferry for 3pm to take us to the island of Hvar, assuming this would allow us plenty of time, Unfortunately the proposed 2-3 hour activity didn’t include the 1.5 hour drive-time which meant Jess and I running at full pelt with suitcases along the promenade to the ferry upon arrival into split. After thirteen minutes of rising panic levels, we made it with two minutes to spare. We had saved approximately five euros. It felt like a world title.
This ferry was a short one and took us straight to Hvar Port within an hour. The Port of Hvar was absolutely beautiful, postively gleaming in the sunshine. We were relieved to hear that our next BnB, Marija’s Old Town Rooms was only a five minute walk from the harbour. That was until we saw the steps. All 150 of them. Not only were there 150, but they were all odd shapes and sizes, with differing distances between them. I know a few people who would struggle to lugg a 17kg suitcase up these in a short space of time.. myself included! I may have needed three or four breaks, but needless to say, it was worth it. Marija’s rooms were fantastic. Such a cute homely room and ensuite, with everything we needed.
We were starving. All of this running around had meant we didn’t have time for food and hadn’t eaten since breakfast. Within an hour we were washed, changed, recharged (bodies and devices) and into some nice clothes for an early dinner.squid
We headed straight for ‘Hula Hula Bar’ – an awesome bar on the beach, about fifteen minutes walk from the port. We ordered the seafood platter to share and boy, this was a great decision. Three tiers of fresh seafood, overlooking an endless ocean as the sunset threw shades of red and orange as far as the eye could see. We had read about Hvar’s sunsets and were rewarded with a dazzler on night one.IMG_3897
Next came the mojitos, the Long Island iced teas and then the gin and tonics. Just as we were about to head down to the dance floor we discovered the bar closed at 9:30 as the summer had come to an end, so the local bars along the port of Hvar became our final destination. Small bars, cheap drinks and fantastic music saw us dancing well into the night.IMG_3844

Day 3

Yes, only day three. We had done so much and it was only day three. Feeling a little under the weather.. (lol) we walked down to the promenade to a fantastic smoothie/breakfast bar we had spotted upon arrival. After living in Italy and Girona for the last seven months, the opportunity to go out for a real, Aussie breakfast was rare, so Vita Health Food Bar’s incredible smoothie, juice, and breakfast menu had us hook, line and sinker. Their selection of wild, heart starting, eye popping, sinus clearing vegetable/spice/superfood health shots shots soon became a necessity to start the day. We needed to detox and give our bodies a bit of lovin’IMG_4067
Whilst finishing breakfast at the comfortable hour of 11am, we noticed a big, funky, double storied boat pulling in. “Pakleni Island Day Tour”, was written on the board. With bikinis already on and no plans for the day, other than to find a beach, we hopped straight onto the boat for 200 kuna (25 euro).
We couldn’t wait to go! But seriously, hurry up and move this boat. The more we sat stagnant, swaying to and fro, the more our bellies tried to undo the good we’d put into them just minutes before. Thankfully, all stayed put and we were off!
First stop was a quick thirty minute dip in one of the coves. We jumped off the top deck, masks and snorkels in hand, and were off to explore. Just before we headed back in, I dove down three to four metres to pick up a shell. Right beside me, something moved and I saw two eyes beaming up at me. It was an octopus! I couldn’t believe it. I swallowed a mouthful of water as I tried to surface and yell “Jess!” at the same time. We were stoked. It was worth ‘seizing the day’ and getting on that boat.octi
Next stop was what we really wanted. We pulled into a port and had to walk along a small path around the port, past a few cute, small restaurants and a tiny grocery store. We walked up the path lined with cacti and down the other side to a beautiful, small set of beaches. After limited sleep, all we wanted to do was float in the ocean and lie on the beach which is what we did for the next few hours. Due to the beaches being quite rocky, a lot of places make money by selling beach lounges to tourists. The locals are prepared with their own, foldable mats, but today we weren’t in the mood for a pressure point massage through our thin, travel towels, so we went against our inner values and paid 100 kuna (13 euro) each for comfort.
The weather started to turn, and due to our sporadic decision to jump on the boat, we were slightly unprepared. We spent the third and final stop at a cafe overlooking a tiny bay, drinking tea to warm up. It was still such a lovely day out on the water and the Pakleni Islands were another activity we could tick off our to-do list.IMG_3949
We had dinner at 4 Palms. It was a little restaurant, tucked in the corner near our accommodation. I ordered the steak fillet with truffle and gorgonzola sauce. Coming from a very-rare-its-almost-mooing steak-eating family, I was particular when I ordered. Our waiter nodded his acknowledgement and I was not disappointed. This was sensational. So, so delicious with such a reasonable price. I was obviously very satisfied considering I’m mentioning it in this blog! Jess was also approving of her squid, accompanied by ‘Blitva’, a traditional spinach and potato side dish. We tried but were unsuccessful at refusing our complimentary apertif, and were also pleasantly surprised by the gratis apple liquor.
An early night for me whilst Jess did some wandering around, photographing the glowing city by night.

Day 4

Feeling a lot more fresh and rosy this morning we decided to head back to Viva to get the morning started. Some more smoothies, breakfast bowls and health shots and we were off up to the Fortress overlooking the city. Just a short thirty minute walk from the centre of town led us to some sensational views. The price was 40 kunas to enter the fortress and explore the dungeons. Definitely worth doing.DCIM105GOPRO
The Team Time Trial World Championships were on today in Bergen, so we headed to the local sports-bar. Unfortunately soccer and motorsport dominated the several TV’s and the staff weren’t too keen on the idea of swapping just ONE TV to “cycling”. I get the impression cycling isn’t very big in Croatia. Thankfully I had brought my laptop so we headed back to our apartment and managed to find a livestream.
As the sun set, we wandered through the old, narrow streets until we found a cute restaurant and ordered the fish platter for two (this sounds familiar). We had tuna, sea bream and freshly caught squid for a fabulous price of 260 kunas (approximately 35 euro). You wouldn’t get that in Australia!

Day 5

Our only planned activity this trip was Ilirio’s Three Caves Hvar Tour. After searching through countless offers on Trip Advisor, this seemed to me to be one of the best options. Capped at eight people, this smaller sized tour was perfect. It was a much more personal tour than some of the bigger boats, allowing us to get as much information from the guides as we wanted.DCIM105GOPRO
We left Hvar Port at 9am in a tiny, blow-up jet boat (which we were assured was completely stable in rough seas as it was designed by one of Croatia’s Olympic sailors) and returned at 5pm, after visiting the famous Blue Cave, Stiniva Bay, Monk Seal Bay and many others. We thankfully braved the fresh water and swam with swarms of fish, duck-diving under rocks into smaller caves. We went cliff jumping off Vis Island and checked out an old submarine tunnel from World
War 2. It was a fantastic day. Despite the weather being
a little fresher than we’d hoped (22 degrees), it was worth every second. Eight hours of activities around the Adriatic sea for a grand old price of 75 euro. Unreal.IMG_4426IMG_4373
We changed our accommodation to have an extra night in Hvar as we were knackered from another jam-packed day, and headed out to Trip Advisor’s number one ranked restaurant in Hvar, Lola Street Food and Bar. We were recommended to come here by one of the couples from our boat trip, and were simply amazed. It was incredible. Jess and I chose the spare ribs with coleslaw salad, rice paper wraps with vegetables and the steam buns with pulled pork. We couldn’t chose a winner. Fifteen euros each made for a happy wallet too. –The mojito and gin basil smash were also bloody good..incase you’re wondering 😉street foodIMG_4367

Day 6

We’re off camping! This was the first place Jess booked whilst looking at accommodation in Croatia; a brand new, self-sustainable eco village on the Southern side of Hvar called Cast Away. AirBnB’s first search result on the Island of Hvar, the image of a hammock with the ocean in background was hard to avoid. Half Croat, half Belgian owner Didier opened the village in May this year and has since had over eight hundred visitors. It’s no wonder why. We stayed in one of the ten wooden huts overlooking the ocean with countless hammocks, chill out zones and day beds with incredible views, kayaks, bikes, snorkelling equipment, access to cooking facilities, rain-water fuelled ‘bathrooms’ and self-flush-with-buckets-of-sea-water toilets. With five kilometres of red dirt separating us from the closest seaside village, this beautiful camp was such a nice escape from the business of Split and Hvar, allowing us to recharge our batteries, both mentally and physically.
Travel once again was incredibly simple. We caught a thirty minute bus from Hvar Port’s bus Terminal (a ten minute walk from our BnB) to Starigrad where we loaded up on two days of food supplies and hopped into the Cast Away van with Didier. Another thirty minute journey along an edgy tunnel through a mountain and down the coast saw us pulling up to the doorstep of our new home for the next two days.
Despite the fresh weather brought in by an approaching thunderstorm, kayaking had been high on our priority list. We donned our bikinis and headed out for a couple of hours. Snuggled up in blankets, we watched our first fantastic sunset roll in from the camp, compete with moody clouds. We whipped up a fresh stir-fry for dinner.
The sound of the rain upon our cosy huts was a lovely end to our first day at the Cast Away oasis.DCIM105GOPROIMG_4399

Day 7

Awoken to the sound of the ocean, I rose at around 8am. With the majority of the camp still sound asleep, I helped myself to a bowl of muesli and sat in a hammock overlooking the ocean for well over an hour. I was soon joined by a relaxed Jess and by 10:30 we had somehow managed to pull ourselves from this tranquillity to go exploring and hike along the coast. A lazy lunch and a late snorkel saw out the remainder of the daylight.IMG_4425

Day 8

At 8am, two very sleepy Australians packed their bags, filled themselves up with hot porridge and jumped in Didier’s van, off to the next place on the menu; the Island of Brac. A late night with great camp company, guitar playing, gin drinking and a possible sunrise skinny dip  could have influenced the ‘sleepy’ part. Needless to say, a lack of sleep was not going to deter the two travellers from climbing Vidora Gova, the highest point on the Adriatic Islands. A twenty minute car trip to Jelsa, then a one-hour ferry ride across to Bol on Brac for five euro each saw us checking in to our new BnB by 11am.
Bol was beautiful; smaller than Hvar, less touristy, but just as pretty. The port was lined by a handful of great bars, classy restaurants, cute little boutique shops and a dazzling, bright blue ocean. We unpacked, threw on some walking gear and headed up the mountain from our accommodation. It took us 1 hour 15 minutes along a fantastic gravel path with steep rocky sections to hit the top at 778m altitude. It was certainly not a stroll in the park, but was worth every second. The famous Zlatni Rat beach was positively glowing beneath us in the sunshine.vg
By the time we had headed home, put the feet up for thirty minutes and headed down to check out this peculiar beach, the wind had picked up and only the wind surfers seemed to be enjoying the waves. A change of plans saw us have an early dinner at Taverna Riva (as recommended by our AirBnB host). The food was fairly pricey but it was incredible. Jess and I hadn’t splashed out on food for a while – what better excuse than to celebrate our final night in Croatia together. I chose monkfish carpaccio and the spider-crab gnocchi. I’ll say that again, ‘monkfish carpaccio and spider-crab gnocchi’. Wow. They tasted just as good as it sounded. We shared an indulgent chocolate fondant and some deep fried icecream for dessert. Oh my gosh. Mind blown. That’s all I can say!DCIM105GOPRO

Day 9

After an much needed eleven-hour sleep, homemade porridge with fresh pomegranate (picked on yesterday’s hike) was for breakfast, served on our terrace, facing out towards the ocean. We were staying in a 3-bedroom BnB with a shared kitchen. With no other travellers we had this beautiful house to ourselves for $35 Australian dollars a night. A big honey, ginger and lemon tea was also a priority as the lack of sleep and newfound, crazy lifestyle was starting to catch up on us.IMG_4597
We had one priority today, and that was to check out Zlatni Rat beach, which due to opposing tidal movement, extends 500 metres out into the ocean. Just fifteen minutes walk from town, we arrived at around 11 and the water was calm and inviting. It was the clearest I’d ever seen. Our guide on our cave tour told us that the Adriatic was the second most salty ocean in the world (after the Dead Sea) which is why the ocean is so clear.DCIM105GOPRODCIM105GOPRO
By 1pm the wind had picked up significantly so we headed back home via some cute boutiques and of course, the icecream parlour. Two huge scoops of chocolatey-hazlenutty goodness for around two euro. Ermagerd.
Jess’ flight wasn’t for a few more days, so she decided to head back to Cast Away to top up on some more ‘zen’, heading off by ferry at 5pm. I had two options. Stay one more night in Bol, catch a morning ferry to Split, arrive 12:30 and rush to the airport for a 2:30pm flight. Option two was to travel to Split tonight, on a one-hour bus to Supetar and then a one-hour ferry, sleep in and make my way to the airport. Wild Nettie would normally be happy to take the risk but sense drove her to take the second option, just incase the ferry was late.
You never know in Croatia, most ferries are on time, but ‘most’ means that occasionally they’re not. One of our ferries was 15minutes late, but my bus to Supetar, however was early. Due to the end of summer, word was that the number of buses servicing the island were reduced. The bus from Bol to Supetar came every two hours, but as Supetar was Brac’s main port for ferries to and from Split, it’s no wonder my bus was packed. I arrived at the bus station at 4:10, twenty minutes early, by chance. The line up was already pretty long so I decided to hop on to make sure I got a seat. Once all the seats were filled, people continued to file on. More and more. The bus was a well and truly on the limit. There would have been close to one hundred people on this bus, standing like sardines for this fifty-minute journey. The bus left at 4:27 when no more people could fit on. This was certainly a note of warning for me. I’m always a relaxed traveller, rocking up with minutes to spare, but this time I was lucky. Perhaps ‘Organised Jess’ had finally rubbed off on me!
Once again, travel was easy. I turned up at a cheap hostel room by 8pm and met up with a friend from Friday’s water-rafting for dinner.

Day 10

A big acai bowl from Jess and my local was my first priority before a climb up the bell town in the centre of town. Jess and I had run out of time to do this on the first day and had been meaning to come back for it. The views of the city were great. I did whack my head on a very low archway whilst trying to step up the 50cm high stone steps on the way up, but at just 20 kuna, that’s a bell-tower-head-whack bargain I’d say!str
A city bus at 12pm from the main bus and ferry terminal took me back to the airport for five euro, where I was met by some huge queues. The security line wasn’t much shorter and by the time I got to the gates I was glad I had brought some food with me because I wouldn’t have made it to the front of the kiosk by the time my flight finished boarding. It was an absolute zoo. Whilst the terminal was small, there were thousands of people. There wasn’t even a place to sit. All chairs were taken, all benches, ledges, everything. Thank goodness my flight boarded after fifteen minutes of being in that area. It was terrible. Another travel tip for Nettie, who has travelled constantly since 2009; just because it is a small airport, doesn’t mean you’ll go through quickly.
Needless to say, I was on that flight and up in the air before I knew it, absolutely ruined from a wild, exciting and memorable time with my fantastic travel buddy, Jess Allen. The only thing I would have liked to have ticked off the to-do list was Plitvice National Park… but that just gives me an excuse to come back! Hvala Croatia!
 hvala

ABOUT ME

Annette Edmondson (born 12 December 1991 in Adelaide) is an Australian cyclist who races on both the track, and on the road as part of Australia’s professional women’s road cycling team, Orica-AIS.

Annette recently won gold and silver medals at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow alongside her younger brother Alex. Annette also competed at the 2012 Olympics where she won bronze in the women’s omnium.

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