51 things to do in Ljubljana. That’s right!

Having a most scrumptious ice-cream at the Triple Bridge!
51 things to do in Ljubljana. That’s right!

Yoo Hoo!

So Slovenia!

What a most beautiful country!

Last week, I wrote a five (5) minute introduction to Slovenia!

I hope you like it?

Myself in Ljubljana – A 5 minute introduction to Slovenia!

I was intrigued to be visiting Slovenia so we based ourselves in the capital city of Ljubljana and spent a whopping seven days.

Seven (7) days!

And you know what?

It wasn’t anywhere near enough!

I know!

If you’re just joining, don’t forget to subscribe by either using the pop-up that you see if it’s your first time visiting, or simply clicking the “Following the British Berliner” tab or any of the social media icons on the side bar.

Yay!

SO WHAT WERE WE DOING IN LJUBLJANA?

Me drinking bubble tea in Taiwan because I’m weird and I like going to interesting exotic places!

Because I’m weird and I like going to interesting exotic places!

Seriously though, the reason why I wanted to go to Slovenia is because I’d heard such a lot of wonderful things from practically everyone! And remember, just two years ago, I hadn’t heard of any of the Baltic or Balkan States. In fact, I couldn’t even pronounce them!

But the other reason that I wanted to visit was because of Ljubljana. I was hearing mixed messages and that some “experts” were saying that Ljubljana wasn’t worth more than a few hours!

When I hear things like this, it makes my blood boil!

The ignorance of people constantly astounds, and annoys me.

However, I am a strong supporter of Europe, and I have a weakness for tiny countries in the middle of beyond! Besides, I had such a wonderful time in Croatia, why wouldn’t I want to go to it’s “sister country” – Slovenia – too!

How to visit the Balkans: Introducing Croatia – the dream of Game of Thrones!

We spent a jam-packed week in Slovenia, and not once did we get anywhere near bored!

Slovenia is a very green country and like Croatia, amazingly beautiful. I wanted to spend some quality time with The Tall Young Gentleman, and I think Slovenia was the perfect place to do it.

Book your hotel here!

51 THINGS TO DO IN LJUBLJANA. THAT’S RIGHT!

Dragons in Ljubljana – Slovenia, can be seen literally everywhere!

Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia and has a population of just 278,789 people!

It was first mentioned at the beginning of the 12th century and was the historical capital of Carniola, a Slovene-inhabited part of the Habsburg Monarchy from the Middle Ages, until the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918!

The symbol of the city is the Ljubljana Dragon!

The dragon is believed to be adopted from England’s patron saint – Saint George – who is also the patron of the 15th century chapel in the Ljubljana Castle!

The dragon is found on the top of the tower of Ljubljana Castle, on the Ljubljana coat of arms, on the Dragon Bridge, otherwise known as Zmajski Most, and can be seen literally everywhere!

We had a very fine time using the Ljubljana Card.

We wanted to spend some time rambling through the cobbled streets and running from one museum or local attraction to another, using the Ljubljana Card.

Thanks very much!

Here’s what we did:

We rushed out & went for a stroll & a bit of a ramble in Metelkova City in Ljubljana – one of the most successful urban squats in Europe!
  • Ljubljana is tiny. Go for a walk! After checking into our hotel – Hotel Park – Urban & Green – we rushed out and went for a stroll and a bit of a ramble around the local area, poking into every nook and cranny!
  • Eat Slovenian meat!
  • Check out Metelkova Mesto! Metelkova City is an abandoned army base and one of the largest, and most successful, urban squats in Europe!
  • Go on a Ljubljana city tour. We were lucky to have a private guide so that we could get inside knowledge from local experts on the things that interested us. However, regular Ljubljana city tours usually include a walk around the historical city centre, exploring major attractions, an opportunity to taste traditional Slovenian dishes as part of a brief tasting session, a return funicular ride to Ljubljana Castle, and a visit to the outer part of Ljubljana Castle!
  • Visit street and food markets! One particular evening, we were passing through the Central Market and saw one person pick up a fiddle, and start playing! And then a few people just sort of joined in and started dancing! We were the only tourists present so I didn’t take any photos, as it felt slightly intrusive!
At one of Ljubljana’s most iconic points – the Triple Bridge by Jože Plečnik!
©D.wedam – Ljubljana Tourism
  • Do a walking tour of Plečnik’s Ljubljana: Jože Plečnik was a native of Ljubljana and considered one of the world’s most important pioneers of modern architecture with buildings not only in Ljubljana, but Prague and Vienna too!
  • Make sure to visit the Triple Bridge: You’ll see why!
  • Go to the Town Hall: It’s one of Ljubljana’s most striking Baroque monuments and if you’re lucky, you might even see one of the guides dressed in Slovenian traditional costume!
  • Visit the Antique Flea Market: It’s held every Sunday on one of the bridges further down the street!
  • Take photographs of the splendid buildings in the Old Town!
The Tall Young Gentleman & his almond-covered ice-cream in Ljubljana – Slovenia!
  • Have ice-cream! There are many ice-cream parlours and the servings are huge! Yum!
  • Get free WiFi! You can have free wifi access anywhere in the city for up to 60 minutes a day! In fact, if you have the Ljubljana Tourist Card, you can have free access for 24 hours with the code on the card! Mind you, we found logging into the WiFree Ljubljana network directly on your phone far easier!
  • Explore the history and architecture of Ljubljana which you can see all over the city!
  • Join in the free open-air festivals! We went in June and saw the biggest festival of all!
  • If you’re broke, make your own independent walking tour, go to any of the two Tourist Information Centres (TICs), pick up maps, and as many booklets as you need, then take off!
“The Tall Young Gentleman” at the elegant 19th century University of Ljubljana – Slovenia!
  • Be impressed by the elegant 19th century University of Ljubljana!
  • Visit the very grand-looking national museums and galleries. And if you use the Ljubljana Card, many of them are free!
  • Marvel at the many palaces, not only in Ljubljana, but in the surrounding area too!
  • Hike up the 900 year old castle hill, and be amazed by Ljubljana’s main attraction!
  • Or take a ride up the funicular, and take in the city view
One of the costumed characters / castle guides at the Ljubljana Castle in Slovenia!
  • If you do nothing at all, make sure you go to the Ljubljana Castle. We spent half a day there and really had a fantastic time. It’s free with the Ljubljana Card!
  • One of our highlights at the castle was a costumed characters castle guided tour of the Ljubljana Castle. We went on the Behind Bars tour, and it was great fun! It’s not included in the Ljubljana Card, but we only had to pay €4.00 more!
  • If you’re at Ljubljana Castle and have a bit of time, I highly recommend the Museum of Puppetry. Even though I was travelling with a teenager, he found it interesting and fun. And so did I!
  • Have a gourmet lunch on the Archers’ Tower of the Ljubljana Castle wall! Whilst there, we noticed a fancy restaurant – the Strelec Restaurant – and decided to spend our last night spending the rest of our money! The food was fantastic and the service attentive. I’ll tell you more about it in a few weeks!
  • Fill up your bottle with fresh water! Unlike many countries in Eastern / Central Europe, you can actually drink water from the tap!
Hang out with the guides & locals in Ljubljana! Good times!
  • Relax and take a break at Ljubljana’s largest and most beautiful parkland at the Tivoli Park!
  • In fact, if you’re really into stuff, you can go on a guided tour of the Tivoli Park too ‘cos it’s huge!
  • Hang out with the locals! We had such a great time with our guides, that we went out for drinks and met other locals! Thanks Urban. Good times!
  • Have a seafood lunch! Ljubljana is surrounded by water and restaurants that give you a front-side view of the river.
  • If you’re worn out after all that excitement, call for a free ride using Ljubljana’s electric-powered vehicles referred to as Kavalirs, which are a free city centre public transport option! Cool or what!
Slovenian sausages & wine, as part of our “Taste Ljubljana culinary tour.”
  • Indulge yourself on a most delicious food tour with the Taste Ljubljana culinary tour. Because food. More on that in a few weeks. Yum!
  • For ultimate excitement, try horse burgers! Yes, horse!
  • Splurge on cocktails. Prices are cheap. Oh go on. You know you want to!
  • Help yourself to a couple of cold beers at the many Slovenian restaurants and bars
  • Try as many Slovenian dishes and delicacies as you can. Prices are low and won’t hurt the bank!

Book your hotel here!

Sail across the waters on a river cruise in Ljubljana – Slovenia!
Experience many of the numerous museums & galleries in Ljubljana – Slovenia!
  • Experience many of the numerous museums and galleries. If you use the Ljubljana Card, entrance is free!
  • Make sure you check out the Museum of Illusions that turned out to be one of our favourite museums and such a lot of fun! Go there, and you’ll see what I mean!
  • Go to the City Museum of Ljubljana and learn about the history of Ljubljana, which we enjoyed very much, but had to rush as we had spent too much time at Ljubljana Castle!
  • Check out the National Museum of Slovenia and learn about the oldest musical instrument in the world which I told you about last week!
  • If you’re looking for something different go on the Union Experience Brewery Museum and tour! We didn’t go, but I believe families are welcome!
Myself in the mountains of Kamnik on a day trip in Slovenia!

One of the amazing things about travelling to a country that is extremely small, is that you can do day-trips to other regions of the country, fairly easily!

  • You can be a craftsperson for the day, and learn how to be a herdsman or a shepherd in the Velika Planina. More about that next week!
  • You can hike up the Alps, mountains and waterfalls in Kamnik. More about that next week!
  • You can take a bus or train out to Lake Bled. More about that in a few weeks!
  • You can go to the beach or even go wine-tasting!
  • You can get off the beaten path and discover the unknown parts of Slovenia. Even with 7 days, we didn’t have time to do that, but if you’re determined, YOU certainly can!

And lastly,

  • You can do all the activities above and more, or do nothing at all, and simply enjoy the moment! Why not?

Book your hotel here!

TAKE ME THERE!

Travel through Europe by FlixBus – the bus-coach company!

The best way to travel to travel to Slovenia depends simply on where you’re coming from!

If you’re flying in, Ljubljana is connected by air with flights from most major European cities flying into the Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport (LJU), also known as the Brnik Airport!

If you’re coming from Italy, Austria, Hungary or Croatia, you can either take the train or drive.

I like excitement and making things more difficult for myself, so we decided to take the fourteen and a half hour (14.5) hour journey by FlixBus – the bus-coach company!

OMG!

BY BUS!

I must be mad!

Book your hotel here!

Myself at the coach-bus stop in Austria!

And I am because the coach-bus was delayed in some places, although we had a nice stop-over in Austria!

I’ve written about the FlixBus company already and even though the very long journey was quite enjoyable as it was sunny, it’s also quite exhausting!

I’ll continue to take bus journeys. But shorter.

Or trains!

She says!

51 things to do in Ljubljana. That’s right!

That’s it for now.

See you next week.

Book your hotel here!

51 THINGS TO DO IN LJUBLJANA. THAT’S RIGHT!

The padlocks of love on Butcher’s Bridge in Ljubljana – Slovenia!

This article is part – sponsored, and even though I’m working in partnership with Ljubljana Tourism, absolutely all opinions, and the tremendous time that we had, are my very own!

I’ll be spending the summer in Germany!

Will you?

A busker at the Triple Bridge – 51 things to do in Ljubljana. That’s right!

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!

51 things to do in Ljubljana. That’s right!

Have you ever been to Ljubljana? Was there any activity that surprised you? Let me know in the comments below!

See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

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Have you ever been to Split in Croatia – Bring out the dragons!

Croatia has such a Mediterranean vibe, that you could be in Italy or Austria!

So last week, I continued my writings about Croatia.

C-R-O-A-T-I-A!

If you’re just joining, this is what you missed:

The Music Producer in Zagreb. Geographically, Croatia is one of the previous communist states!

At the beginning of our journey, I told you that this trip was a family holiday along the coast of Croatia.

We had planned just ten (10) days – three (3) days in Zagreb, three (3) days in Split, and four (4) days in Dubrovnik.

Isn’t it thrilling?

How to visit the Balkans: Introducing Croatia – the dream of Game of Thrones!

Croatia is the first time that I’ve ever been to the Balkan States, my 62nd country, and the first (1st) new country for 2017!

It was better than I ever hoped.

Yay!

I would love to be able to write loads more about Zagreb, but that would take me months!

So sadly, we have to move on to:

SPLIT

Daenerys Targaryen and her biggest dragon in Game of Thrones!

I absolutely loved Split!

And it seems that I just can’t resist putting in some sort of reference in connection to Game of Thrones.

I’m a freak!

LET’S GET A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY!

Have you ever been to Split in Croatia – Bring out the dragons!

Split is the second-largest city of Croatia and the largest city in the region of Dalmatia!

It lies on the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea and is a link to numerous Adriatic islands and the Apennine peninsula.

Split is one of the oldest cities in the region and considered to be slightly over 1,700 years old, founded as the Greek colony of Aspálathos  in 295 A.D!

It later became the ancient capital of the Roman province of Dalmatia, otherwise known as Salona, and thereafter, a Byzantine city.

In the 10th and 11th centuries, Split came under the rule of the Croatian kings.

Red Srebrnog Zmaja – The Order of the Silver Dragon
@Maja Homen

In the 12th century, it became a free commune under the Hungarian-Croatian king, and by the 15th century, the medieval free commune was replaced by the Venetian administration until the 18th century!

In the 19th century, Split was entangled with Napoleon and the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, Italy, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, the ex – Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and finally, as an important part of an independent Croatia!

WHY GO TO SPLIT?

Have you ever been to Split in Croatia – Bring out the dragons!

Split is a great little place.

It’s also the imperial city with a huge palace that was built by the Roman Emperor – Gaius Valerius Aurelius Diocletian – in 295-350 A.D. In fact, the palace is the city of Split!

The transformation of the palace into the town began in the 7th century, and is very Mediterranean in feel and pace.

There are little town squares, al fresco restaurants, palm trees, open-air markets, and classical seating under the arms and guises of historical buildings.

Split in Croatia, isn’t just a town full of old bones and ruins!

Everywhere you move is connected to the historic core, such that the historic town of Split and the Palace, is protected by UNESCO as a World Heritage site!

Not only that, but I was hugely impressed that Split was not just a town full of old bones and ruins, but that the city is actually growing out of the palace!

Split in Croatia, isn’t just a town full of old bones and ruins!

The market stalls are made from the bricks, the flea-markets are on the promenade, the restaurants are under the huge Roman columns, and the city gates are romantic meeting points, and places where everybody “hangs out!”

There’s a reason that I spend a lot of time travelling to old parts of Europe.

I like traditions.

And I like history.

And I really like the town of Split.

I was in awe!

Gasp!

Myself & Roman soldiers in Split – Croatia!

I even managed to get myself a couple of Roman soldiers!

Book your hotel here!

TAKE ME THERE?

The huge bronze foot of Gregory, Bishop of Nin, in Split – Croatia!

It’s not possible to fly non-stop from Berlin, so we flew with Lufthansa, via Munich on the way in, and Austrian Airlines, via Vienna, on the return leg.

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’s a tiny little train station in Split, but it isn’t very regular so you’re better off by road!

Trains aren’t very regular in Split, so you’re better off by road!

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.

My husband – The Music Producer – doesn’t like driving on holiday, so we decided to use the coach-bus between Zagreb – Split.

Zagreb – Split was a straight-forward ride, and took 6 hours and 20 mins. Cost: €24.00 per person.

IS IT GOING TO BE CROWDED?

It can be a little tight as Split – Croatia is tiny!

Nope!

But it can be a little tight as Split is tiny.

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!

Plan well.

Book your hotel here!

Split – Croatia is v. small & receives up to 3,000 guests per cruise ship, in the summer!
I can’t imagine where they would put them, but it won’t be pretty!

Zagreb is the capital city in Croatia, and it’s very small!

Split is even smaller, and receives up to 3,000 guests per cruise ship, in the summer!

I can’t imagine where they would put them, 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 the evenings will all be yours!

Book your hotel here!

WHAT IS SPLIT LIKE?

Myself at one of the beautiful lakes in Split – Croatia!

It’s lovely!

We were only there for 3 days, but we could have stayed for an extra day, making it four (4).

It’s of historical and architectural interest, the seafood and wine is impressive, and the waters are clean, green-blue, and crystal clear.

You simply can’t go wrong!

I DON’T SPEAK CROATIAN.

There’s no need to talk in Split – Croatia. The pictures can speak for themselves!

Neither do I!

It’s amazing how many languages a typical European speaks.

Most speak a minimum of three (3)!

If you speak German, Italian or Korean, you’re good to go.

Besides, everyone pretty much speaks English too!

AM I GOING TO LIVE IN A HUT?

You don’t have to stay here in Croatia, if you don’t want to!

Ha! Ha! Not unless you really want to!

I’M ON A BUDGET. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

Split – Croatia isn’t as cheap as chips, but the seafood is bloody marvellous!

Split isn’t cheap-cheap, but if you’re from the UK or the US, it’s as cheap as chips.

If you’re from Germany, prices are the same as in Berlin, and you can eat at gourmet restaurants, at budget prices!

And the seafood is marvellous!

We pretty much spent a large amount of time drinking lots of wine, whilst people watching. And a few more!

And on this trip, we decided to book apartments instead of hotels or hostels.

Book your apartment here!

Prices are low, but the quality & standard of apartments available in Croatia, is exceedingly high!

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 standard of apartments available, is exceedingly high. I’ll write more about it in the next few weeks!

Book ahead to get good prices.

Book your apartment or hotel here!

I’M LOOKING FOR SOMETHING A BIT DIFFERENT. ANY IDEAS?

I’ve got plenty. More next week!

You betcha!

Too many to write at the moment.

More next week!

WHAT ABOUT TRANSPORT POSSIBILITIES?

The best way to see Split – Croatia is to simply walk!

All of Croatia is pretty small, so every city we visited was quite walkable.

Cars are not allowed into the Old Town!

For the day-to-day, the locals used some sort of cart!

The best way to see Split is to simply walk.

We were lucky to get a private customised city tour courtesy of the Split – Dalmatia County Tourist Board who paired us with an expert guide called Dino Ivančić.

Our Split-Croatia guide – Dino Ivančić – was lovely & so, so funny!
Image ©london-unattached.com

Dino was lovely & so, very funny!

In fact, Dino is a bit of a local star himself. Not only is he a qualified expert historian, but his Split – Croatia roots (not his hair. Ho! Ho!) go back more than 1,000 years! And he’s a hit with journalists & bloggers from all over the world!

Game of Thrones in Meereen, but really in Split - Croatia!
Game of Thrones in Meereen, but really in Split – Croatia!

I was interested in getting the low-down on Game of Thrones.

I know. I know!

This is where Ser Barristan Selmy was murdered by the Sons of the Harpy, in the streets of Meereen, but really in Split – Croatia!

And he very kindly obliged, showing us not only the Roman remains, but also where bits of the series was filmed.

I was so excited, running around and pointing out where the former Slave-Masters got stabbed to pieces, Grey Worm and the Unsullied got attacked, and Ser Barristan Selmy was murdered by the Sons of the Harpy, in the streets of Meereen!

This is where Daenerys Targaryen locked up her dragons when they became too large to control in Meereen, but really in Split – Croatia!

The Music Producer and The Tall Young Gentleman looked on in gentle despair, but to their credit, listened with enthusiasm as I babbled on, throwing Dino question after question.

About historical culture of course!

We really got a wonderful insight into the people and history of Split, and fantastic guidance around the world heritage that is the Diocletian Palace.

Thank you so much!

ANYTHING ELSE?

Split has nothing at all to do with bananas or a banana split. Yuck!

Split has nothing at all to do with a banana!

MY VERDICT:

How to visit the Balkans: Introducing Croatia – the dream of Game of Thrones!

Split is superb!

It has astonishing culture, and the sea is gorgeous.

Because, Game of Thrones!

And there be Dragons!

WOULD I COME AGAIN?

Myself at one of the beautiful lakes in Split – Croatia!

All the way!

The city of Split is a living monument, alive and brimming with history.

I can’t wait to visit again.

Let’s do it!

Where we stayed: Luxury Guest House Roman Horizon – We paid just €45.00 per night however, there was a mix-up in the apartment that we booked, and the apartment that we received. I booked a huge apartment with a communal roof-top terrace, and got a studio instead!

It was border-line uncomfortable for 3 people. I’m still trying to settle our differences on whether the description quoted was wrong, or whether I misunderstood the description!

UPDATE! I’ve sent in my thoughts to booking.com who were great. It seems that some other guests had the same complaint! However, to be fair, the apartment would have been fantastic for TWO (2) people rather than for three (3)!

My recommendation: A great apartment for two (2) people (and a small child) only.

Book your hotel or apartment here!

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TO SPLIT IN CROATIA – BRING OUT THE DRAGONS!

Have you ever been to Split in Croatia – Bring out the dragons!

This article is not sponsored and even though we received a complimentary city tour courtesy of the Split – Dalmatia County Tourist Board, all opinions and the delightful ruins and lakes that we strolled through, are my very own!

In May, I’ll be writing more about Croatia, and visiting Sweden!

I’ll be there. Will you?

If you’re not in Berlin in May, you’ll miss all the fun!

May is going to be exhilarating!

Have you ever been to Split in Croatia – Bring out the dragons!

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!

Have you ever been to Split in Croatia – Bring out the dragons!

Have you ever been to Split? Do you like bananas! Let me know in the comments below!

See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

If you like this post, please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!

How to visit the Balkans: Introducing Croatia – the dream of Game of Thrones!

How to visit the Balkans: Introducing Croatia – the dream of Game of Thrones!

We’ve just returned from Croatia.

And OMG!

Even though I’ve travelled to 61 other countries!

Croatia is the first time that I’ve ever been to the Balkan States, my 62nd country, and the first (1st) new country for 2017!

It was better than I ever hoped.

Me in Dubrovnik – Croatia!

My plans for 2017 (in alphabetical order) were:

  1. Austria
  2. Croatia
  3. Czech Republic
  4. England
  5. France
  6. Germany (of course. Ho! Ho!)
  7. Holland
  8. Ireland for TBEX (the Travel Bloggers Exchange Conference)
  9. Poland
  10. Romania
  11. Russia
  12. Slovenia
  13. Sweden

Let’s see how we’ve done so far.

Mozart & Vienna are adorable!

AUSTRIA:

CZECH REPUBLIC:

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!

HOLLAND:

Dutch children in traditional costume.

CROATIA:

  • Yay!
Because Game of Thrones!
Because Game of Thrones!

Now, to be frank, most people have never heard of Croatia.

Game of Thrones?

Yep!

I love that show by the way…!

But Croatia?

Isn’t it somewhere in Eastern Europe?

Yes.

And No!

It can’t be both surely?

The Music Producer in Zagreb. Geographically, Croatia is one of the previous communist states!

Well, geographically, it’s one of the previous communist states.

Don’t worry.

Breath!

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!

Croatia has such a Mediterranean vibe, that you could be in Italy or Austria!

In truth, it has the vibe of the Mediterranean, and you’d be hard pressed not to think that in certain parts of Croatia, you could actually be in Italy, or dare I say it. Austria!

I know!

Book your hotel here!

LET’S GET A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY!

Ceremonial Officers in Zagreb – Croatia

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.

A traditional Busker in Zagreb – Croatia!

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?

How to visit the Balkans: Introducing Croatia – the dream of Game of Thrones!

Why not?!

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!

The Tall Young Gentleman at the sea in Split – Croatia!

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!

Because Game of Thrones!
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!

The Tall Young Gentleman & The Music Producer were pretty excited once they got to Zagreb – Croatia!

However, one of the things that changed his mind, was the personal contact that I made with the Zagreb Tourist Board at the ITB travel trade fair in Berlin!

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.

I promise!

No worries!

TAKE ME THERE?

Take me to Croatia by ship!

As you all pretty much know by now, I’m a great believer in train travel. However, Croatia is quite far from Germany, so we flew!

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!

It’s not possible to fly non-stop from Berlin, so we flew with Lufthansa, via Munich on the way in, and Austrian Airlines, via Vienna, on the return leg.

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!

There actually aren’t a lot of trains in Croatia 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!

I didn’t like Benkovac in Croatia, at all!

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.

An early morning shot of vodka in many East European countries, is believed to be quite healthy!

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?

Croatia isn’t crowded in the Spring – Locals in Zagreb – Croatia!

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!

Plan well.

Book your hotel here!

Zagreb is the capital of Croatia, and it’s very small!

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!

Book your hotel here!

WHAT IS CROATIA LIKE?

Croatian food is most delicious!

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.

Our guide speaks at least four (4) languages. Possibly, even more!

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?

A stone house in Croatia!

Ha! Ha! Not unless you want to!

I’M ON A BUDGET. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

This plate of Cevapcici was certainly pretty cheap. Ho! Ho!

Croatia isn’t cheap-cheap.

If you’re from the UK or the US, it’s as cheap as chips.

If you’re from Germany, prices are the same as in Berlin, and you can eat at gourmet restaurants, at far cheaper prices!

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.

Book your apartment here!

Booking an apartment in Croatia is by far better, than booking a hotel!

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.

Book your apartment or hotel here!

I’M LOOKING FOR SOMETHING A BIT DIFFERENT. ANY IDEAS?

The Adventure Begins – More next week!

Absolutely!

Too many to write at the moment.

More next week!

WHAT ABOUT TRANSPORT POSSIBILITIES?

A vintage car, ‘cos modern cars aren’t allowed in the Old Towns, in Croatia!

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!

ANYTHING ELSE?

A Bosnian waitress - Don't forget if you're travelling to Dubrovnik, you'll have to go through Bosnia!<br /> ©Photo Adam Jones - adamjones.freeservers
A Bosnian waitress – Don’t forget if you’re travelling to Dubrovnik, you’ll have to go through Bosnia!
©Photo Adam Jones – adamjones.freeservers

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!

MY VERDICT:

You know nothing Jon Snow except that Croatia is pretty brilliant!
You know nothing Jon Snow except that Croatia is pretty brilliant!

We all loved it!

Croatia has got art and culture, and has a vibrant history.

Because, Game of Thrones!

Just kidding!

Or am I?!

You know nothing Jon Snow…..!!!!

But seriously.

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?

How to visit the Balkans: Introducing Croatia – the dream of Game of Thrones!

Totally!

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!

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!

How to visit the Balkans: Introducing Croatia – the dream of Game of Thrones!
How to visit the Balkans: Introducing Croatia – the dream of Game of Thrones!

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!

How to visit the Balkans: Introducing Croatia – the dream of Game of Thrones!

Have you ever been to Croatia? Are you a fan of Game of Thrones? Let me know in the comments below!

See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

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