Tag Archives: Croatia

Zagreb, Croatia

We flew from Dubrovnik to Zagreb. It was about an hour flight and both airports were pristine. They were clean, new, and mostly empty. It made flying feel special.

Zagreb is the university city of Croatia, from what I understand. It had an entirely different feel. First, it was the first city we visited that wasn’t on the coast. Second, it was older. The architecture was older and the people were younger. There were so many young people from so many different places. This was the first city where I saw (and appreciated) the bookstores. They were full of great books, stationery, etc. I was in heaven.

A few photos from our day there, including a tour of the botanic garden:

The hotel we stayed at was taken over by the Nazis during WWII. The historic books in each room showed black and white photos of Hollywood stars prior to WWII, and then the building of course changed. It felt eerie to be there. It was also a beautiful hotel, and the city feels like it has a youthful revival happening. Live music, dancing on the streets, great food, etc.
More great food, enjoyed on a patio with local wine. We were relishing the last dregs of vacation. The food in Croatia is so much better, I think, because it is fresh. That cold pea soup was one of the best things I ate on the trip. This is the only vacation I’ve ever had when I didn’t have a single bad meal. Croatias know their food!
The botanical garden was beautiful. It was a warm day and everything was fragrant. We enjoyed a quick walk through the grounds, which serve as a lab for the local university.

Oh, Croatia. I miss you. I can’t wait to return. Thank you.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

This took a bit longer than expected; I’ve been distracted with other travel. But I don’t want to forget the details of this trip to Croatia! The sun was about an hour from setting when the yacht pulled into port. We jumped in a cab and headed to the Hilton near the walled old city, featured in Game of Thrones.

The view from my hotel terrace. While I didn’t watch this program, I appreciated the beauty of these buildings all the same.

We spent two days in Dubrovnik. We toured the walled city, visited the oldest synagogue in Europe, ate at a fancy restaurant, and continued to enjoy each other’s company.

A few more photos to capture this beautiful place:

Hearing my friend Josh sing prayers at this synagogue left me crying. It is a remarkable place, with a remarkable story of survival.
More ancient, remarkable churches, squares, buildings inside the walled city. I took hundreds of photos.

I can’t wait to travel with these goofballs again soon.

We finished our trip in Zagreb, flying from Dubrovnik an hour north. That’s next.

Yachting in Croatia

The night before we left Hvar, we were having dinner at a local pizzeria and in comes a table of loud Americans. They were from South Carolina and you could hear them across the room. Their tans were golden and one woman wore a glitter bra top. There was nothing subtle about their presence.

Soon enough, our tables began chatting. They were in Hvar only for the evening and for this dinner. They were participating in “Yacht Week” and staying on a boat.

We were polite and said hello and immediately got outside and held our sides at the idea of “yacht week.” I mean, really? The bigger reality was that we were all intrigued but no one wanted to be the first one to admit it.

Flying across the world to celebrate friendship, staying in former palaces, eating and drinking like royalty and yet we were shy about admitting that being on a fancy boat sounded like fun. Until John, our host, said he was interested. We already had tickets for the high-speed ferry the next morning, heading south to Dubrovnik. (For you Games of Thrones fans, you’ll know this town as Kings Crossing.)

John said he wanted to see if he could rent a yacht for a day. We’d meet for breakfast with our bags packed read to take the ferry in case his plans didn’t work out. Dear Reader, the plans worked and we spent the day on a yacht, which came with a captain and a skipper for the day. It was ridiculous, luxurious and fun. Here are a few of the photos from the day, including coming into Dubrovnik. (More on our time in the city later.)

There wasn’t a slip big enough in Hvar, so they parked at the end of the public pier. It was immediately so funny to us that this is how we’d be traveling. You’d expect us to be cool. Chill. You’d be wrong. We were giggling idiots, so excited to be ON A BOAT!
Told you. Full on idiot mode!
The captain took us into coves you can’t otherwise reach and we were all googly-eyed. The colors of these rocks reminded me a lot of Sedona.
These babes were meant for yachting, am I right?
We are drinking this delightful Croatian version of a summer shandy, but with more lemon. Emily is one of my forever friends and this trip was honestly the most fun because we had a week to chat and chat and chat. I would have walked across the country for this time together.
But if we had walked… I wouldn’t have had the chance to dive off of the back of a yacht into the Adriatic. The water was so cold, I felt like I’d been punched in the chest. But man, was it worth it. I loved being able to swim there! (The other women thought I was nuts.)
Yacht life isn’t so bad, friends. If you get the chance, take it!

For lunch, the captain took us to a small coastal village where the restaurant owner helped guide the boat into a slip. We were ushered upstairs on a patio, shaded by their olive trees. We had several courses of seafood and pasta with wine and gin and tonics. It was my favorite meal of the trip, namely because we had all day to be there and yet we knew we’d likely never have this chance again. It couldn’t have been more perfect.

Korčula, Croatia

Korčula is a 20-mile long island an hour away from Hvar by high-speed ferry. It is also newly one of my favorite places on earth. There are 6,000 residents year-round on the island, and nearly all families have their own wine grapes. I fell in love with the island and its people.

The island has a long history, including yet another fortress built by the Venetians in the 1400s. The island was taken by the Germans in WWII and has gone back and forth between Italian, Croatian, and British rule over time. But really, by this point in the trip we were like, “ooooh. Another turret. Where’s the wine?”
I’m kinda kidding. The walk along the fortress was ridiculously cool and interesting. Marco Polo was born on the island. We walked by his house too, but there was not much to see.
You do, however, feel the Venetian artistic presence. The flourishes on the fortress buildings, including lions, are apparently very much their style. I would like to read more about how the island rebuilt itself after the bombings in WWII. It took a beating. The Yugoslavian war of 1991-1994 did not reach the island, although our taxi driver said many men left to go fight to the south in the city of Dubrovnik.
Trinkets and a bag of sponges — for sale in the little shops in the fortress. We didn’t buy much other than t-shirts.
On one end of the island is a community called Lumbarda. We took a taxi to a local winery here and this is the view from their porch. Those are their grapes, orange trees, olive trees, oh and yep. That’s the Adriatic Sea — right there.
I get how silly food photos are — but let me explain the significance here. This is why I fell in love with Korčula. The woman who served us explained her husband’s family has been on the land for more than 300 years. These are olives from their tree. Proscuitto she hand cut. Cheese they made from local dairy. We listened in wonder as we shoveled homemade bread dipped in their olive oil and drank their wine. It was unreal how fresh and wonderful everything was. And sincerely, as a bit of a wine snob, some of the best wine I’ve had in my life.
In my dream life, I spend my summers on this island writing and wandering. We rent one of those homes with a red tile roof, befriend our neighbors, have long meals over great conversation, and relax in the Mediterranean sun.

Korčula alone is worth visiting Croatia. As fas as logistics go, getting to the country from Arizona is not the easiest. However, beginning next month, there will be direct flights from the East Coast of the US to Dubrovnik, the major city to the south. This would take considerable time off of the trip considering my route involved three flights each way. (I’d do it again tomorrow given the chance! What an adventure!)

Next up: Dubrovnik and the Game of Thrones nerds I was traveling with’s delight.

Split, Croatia

The beach in Split. With tourism just starting to return, many of the public spaces previously crammed with visitors are now being used by residents.
Split, Hvar, Dubrovnik, and Zagreb were walkable. We stayed near the water or the city center and were able to walk most places.
The food was excellent. Croatia sits just across the Adriatic from Italy. The seafood was fresh, the eggs yolks orange, the olive oil, wine, cheese, and proscuitto made on site.
Split, Hvar, and Dubrovnik have centuries-old fortresses that we walked through. All were build with rock from local quarries, by hand. At one point, if you were traveling to one of these cities from the rural areas, you were required to bring stone with you. Being in these ancient buildings with their tiny passageways and stone arches reminded me of being in Old Jerusalem.
The day we were wandering Split was a Sunday morning, and first communion for some of the children. It was sweet to see so many families out with their kids. The church bells were ringing.
High speed ferries are common transportation between the larger coastal cities. They are reasonable. Depending on the distance, tickets cost $8-$20 or so. We took several of these and it was remarkable just how fast they go.
I couldn’t get over just how old everything was.

More on Hvar, Croatia next.