We’ve just returned from Croatia.
Even though I’ve travelled to 61 other countries!
It was better than I ever hoped.
My plans for 2017 (in alphabetical order) were:
- Czech Republic
- Germany (of course. Ho! Ho!)
- Ireland for TBEX (the Travel Bloggers Exchange Conference)
Let’s see how we’ve done so far.
- How to visit Austria: Introducing Vienna – the most civilised city. Ever!
- Vienna – the world capital of music, music everywhere!
- ‘Just because I don’t drink coffee. ‘Doesn’t mean I can’t have coffee culture with hot chocolate, in Vienna!
I went skiing!
I haven’t quite got around to writing about skiing in the Czech Republic this year yet, but this is what I previously wrote!
- The time that I fell off the ski lift in the Czech Republic!
- I didn’t kiss a girl but I ate fried cheese in the Czech Republic. And I liked it!
- I went skiing in a little Czech village in the middle of no-where: Introducing Rokytnice nad Jizerou!
- How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager!
- How to visit Amsterdam: Introducing Zaandam – a Dutch traditional town with windmills!
- Dutch food & waffles: what to eat in Holland!
Now, to be frank, most people have never heard of Croatia.
Game of Thrones?
I love that show by the way…!
Isn’t it somewhere in Eastern Europe?
It can’t be both surely?
Well, geographically, it’s one of the previous communist states.
However, in recent years, Croatia has managed to re-invent itself, so that even though it is actually in Eastern Europe, it’s marketed as Central Europe too!
LET’S GET A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY!
Croatia, otherwise known locally as Hrvatska, or officially – the Republic of Croatia – is a sovereign state between Central Europe, Southeast Europe, and the Mediterranean!
Croatia covers 56,594 square kilometres (21,851 square miles) and is on the Adriatic Sea coast, which contains more than a thousand islands!
Croatia’s population is just 4.28 million, and the capital city is Zagreb.
The Croats arrived in the area of present-day Croatia way back in the early part of the 7th century, before becoming two Duchies in the 9th century.
Croatia became a kingdom in 925 and remained so, for almost 200 years!
After World War I in 1918, Croatia was included in the unrecognized State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs which seceded from Austria-Hungary, and merged into the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. In 1991, Croatia declared it’s independence which sadly, between 1991-1995, became a bloody war with Serbia, then known as part of the ex – Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia!
However, Croatia won it’s independence and since 2013, has also been a fully fledged member of the European Union!
WHY GO TO CROATIA?
Well, Croatia is in Europe!
It’s on the map where East meets West.
It’s entwined with civilizations, history and culture, that goes back centuries!
It boasts numerous architectural jewels and a world heritage that make parts of Croatia enviable. And UNESCO locations filled with buildings, marked by world history of thousands of years, that made me practically salivate when I saw them!
It’s modern, but also traditional with folk customs, rural traditions that are still adhered to.
In fact, we were all given traditional Easter eggs and Easter cake, handed out as gifts. And I can’t even tell you how many random people (many of them old), waved and smiled at me, on passing by!
Croatia is near the sea.
It’s pretty cheap by West European standards.
Fairly developed in services and infrastructure.
And I’ve never been to the Balkans before!
Because Game of Thrones!
Now when I pitched Croatia to my husband – The Music Producer – he wasn’t initially convinced.
He thought that Croatia would be too far into Eastern Europe, leading into the throngs of Albania, Romania, and Bulgaria.
He wasn’t excited at all!
I was so excited to be visiting their country, and they were wonderfully helpful.
Thanks so much!
Is it any wonder that The Music Producer was caught up with my enthusiasm too!
I have a lot of things to write about, and you’ll see them all.
TAKE ME THERE?
We had planned just ten (10) days in Croatia – three (3) days in Zagreb, three (3) days in Split, and four (4) days in Dubrovnik.
We wanted to spend at least 14 days (yes, please!) but school commitments meant that the German Easter School Holidays this year, only catered for ten (10) days! But as I always advocate, be smart, use all the weekends, and make it work!
Our outward journey from Berlin Tegel (TXL) to Zagreb (ZAG) with a stop-over, took 6 hours and 20 minutes. Our return journey from Dubrovnik with a stop-over, took just 4 hours.
However, you don’t even need to fly, as you can either take a cruise ship in from the Mediterranean States, a ferry from Italy, take a bus-coach from anywhere you like, or simply rent a car and drive from Austria or Slovenia!
Note: There aren’t a lot of inter-city trains. In fact, there’s no train station in Dubrovnik at all!
If you’re on a tight budget then many bus-coach companies such as MeinFernbus / FlixBus also go to Croatia. But do be aware that the fastest routes are usually only sold in Croatia itself.
We decided to use the coach-bus between Zagreb – Split and Split-Dubrovnik.
Zagreb – Split was a straight-forward ride, and took 6 hours and 20 mins. Cost: €24.00 per person.
Split – Dubrovnik proved problematic, as the coach-bus actually went backwards in the direction of Zagreb, then dropped us in the backwater town of Benkovac, at the Benkovac Busbahnhof!
Benkovac was yucky!
As soon as I saw the “bus station,” I wanted to get the hell out of there!
It was practically deserted and every “room” was boarded up.
We had a 1 hour stop-over at 10:30, and the next decent place was a bar. So we ran to it and ordered a few (non-alcoholic) drinks there!
It’s 10:30 in the morning remember.
Not that it stopped any of the local punters. Ho! Ho!….!
Our journey took 8 hours and 30 minutes, but the bus was 45 minutes late, so make that 9 hours and 15 minutes instead!
We probably should have rented a car, and be done with it!
Cost: Split – Benkovac €12.00. Benkovac – Metkovic €7.35. Benkovac – Dubrovnik €5.65 per person.
IS IT GOING TO BE CROWDED?
Not in the Spring it isn’t!
In fact, there were very few tourists around as it wasn’t yet “the season,” and many a restaurant were luring customers in with 10% discounts.
But in the summer, prepare to gird your loins, and fight your way through!
Zagreb is the capital city in Croatia, and it’s very small!
Split and Dubrovnik are even smaller, and receive up to 3,000 guests per cruise ship, in the summer!
I haven’t a clue how many cruise ships sail by, but it won’t be pretty.
Having said that, if that’s the only time that you can travel, don’t let anything get in your way, as most cruise visitors are only in town for half a day, so that evenings will all be yours!
WHAT IS CROATIA LIKE?
We were only there for 10 days, but Croatia definitely made an impression on me.
It’s of historical and architectural interest, the food and wine is impressive, the waters are clean, green-blue, and crystal clear.
And it’s very, very pretty!
I DON’T SPEAK CROATIAN.
Not. A. Problem.
It’s amazing how many languages a typical European speaks.
Most speak a minimum of three (3)!
If you speak English, German, Italian or Korean, you’re good to go.
Besides, everyone pretty much speaks English too!
AM I GOING TO LIVE IN A HUT?
Ha! Ha! Not unless you want to!
I’M ON A BUDGET. WHAT SHOULD I DO?
Croatia isn’t cheap-cheap.
If you’re from the UK or the US, it’s as cheap as chips.
We pretty much spent a large amount of time drinking a few glasses of wine, whilst people watching. And a few more!
And on this trip, we decided to book apartments instead of hotels or hostels.
We had great difficulty with personal space in Madrid last year, as The Tall Young Gentleman has recently turned 15 (OMG!), and is very tall. We decided to either book two (2) hotel rooms, or a large apartment instead.
Prices are low, and the quality and standards of apartments available, are exceedingly high. I’ll write more about it in the next few weeks!
Frankly, if you’re paying between €45.00 – €60.00 per night, for huge apartments with terraces, working kitchens, and a piano, you simply can’t go wrong!
Book ahead to get good prices.
I’M LOOKING FOR SOMETHING A BIT DIFFERENT. ANY IDEAS?
Too many to write at the moment.
More next week!
WHAT ABOUT TRANSPORT POSSIBILITIES?
All of Croatia is pretty small, so every city we visited was quite walkable.
In most cases, cars are not allowed into the Old Towns!
However, you could take the bus, the tram, or simply walk!
If you’re travelling to Dubrovnik, note that there’s a tiny strip of road that’s actually in Bosnia! It only takes about five (5) minutes, but make sure that you have your passport with you.
The motto in Croatia is to relaaaaaax & not rush things.
I think we did that rather well!
We all loved it!
Croatia has got art and culture, and has a vibrant history.
Because, Game of Thrones!
Or am I?!
You know nothing Jon Snow…..!!!!
For many international visitors, Croatia isn’t a destination that immediately comes to mind, but if you’re in the Balkan area, make it a point of duty to spend a few
weeks days, in as many cities as you can manage.
If you’re looking for a new destination that isn’t really on the beaten path, say hello – CROATIA!
WOULD I COME AGAIN?
Croatia is a sunny dream, and I can’t wait to visit again.
Let’s do it!
HOW TO VISIT THE BALKANS: INTRODUCING CROATIA – THE DREAM OF GAME OF THRONES!
This article is not sponsored, and all opinions and the delightful cobbled walks that we happily rambled through, are my very own!
In April & May, I’ll be writing more about Croatia, and visiting Sweden & Finland!
I’ll be there. Will you?
If you’re not in Berlin in April, you’re quite mad!
April is going to be superb!
Watch this space!
Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.
I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond, WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!
Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!
A win-win for all!
Thanks a million!