The past week has seen us drive from Plitvice Lakes to Split, then ferry to Hvar, Korcula and Dubrovnik. A Croatian dream it has been.
Plitvice Lakes were exciting and rare. We felt caught up in a film, the discoverers who had chanced upon a hidden world of aquamarine, blue topaz and emerald. It blew our minds that earth itself had formed these feats of cascading waterfalls, expansive lakes, and rounded rock formations. Astonishing what Mother Nature accomplishes without the heavy hand of (wo)man. Visiting the lakes was definitely the best tourist attraction we have partaken in, made better by being the first and near only ones at the park’s early morning opening.
Scott Dixon then drove us to Split. Like eels with their internal navigation systems honed to find the sea, it felt good to head towards and then lay eyes on the ocean. Maia successfully navigated the city’s one way streets (picture Wellington hills), only driving up the wrong way twice (making 50 point turns look easy). Thank goodness for air conditioning because it wasn’t just outside that saw a surge in temperature. It was a relief to throw our keys back to Hertz and enjoy the passivity of a ferry ride after that!
The ferry landed us at hot, hot Hvar, where we spent two nights with day trip to Palmizana island by water taxi. Hvar is a happening place (great for singles and partygoers), with a great range of eateries and bars enclosed within the walled old city. It is pocket sized, easy to walk around, and the laid back vibe is quickly caught. George greeted us at our fabulous accommodation with homemade vino and great big smile. We could have happily stayed a week, and loved our leisurely, relaxing and tan-aiding time on this rocky isle.
Next up was Korcula, supposed birth town of Marco Polo (also a great childhood pool game). The island seems to have cleverly waxed tourists off with just a few remaining strays. It has got a low key feel and thankfully, reasonable prices. We caught the bus to Lumbarda, the first sandy swimming beach of the trip, and enjoyed a lazy day in the sea. That night, with the sun dropping fast, we sprinted up the fortress tower where Maia nearly knocked himself out in eagerness and a gust of wind blew my dress up around my shoulders as we ran, but we didn’t mind one bit as our cocktails arrived via the pulley system just in time for the sunset.
Our last Croatian pearl of the Adriatic is Dubrovnik and although it is now a mega Game of Thrones tourist trap (the merch shops are out of control and Maia’s seen two people he knows from Hawke’s Bay), it is also a worthy one. The old city with its ginormous walls is enchanting and awe inspiring (~68% had to be rebuilt after the 1991/2 bombings). It is quaint and lovely, even better in the early evening. We went to hole-in-the-wall bar last night right on the cliff where brazen kiwis leapt off the highest of rocks while Americans and Aussies watched on well impressed. A spectacular possie to farewell the day.
For our last night here we are going to walk around the old walls, before onwards to Montenegro tomorrow (edited: these photos now added).
Pictures en masse below.
P.S. Happy birthday Maia! It’s a privilege to share life’s adventures with you.