The Grand Tour of the Adriatic Coast
I love Croatia. I travelled there 10 years ago with 4 friends, going first to Berlin and Prague and then finally to Istria, the northern peninsula once occupied by Italy. In fact we went to Italy twice on that trip. But I digress. It was 2 months after my mother died and we put a lot of miles on our two rental cars. I remember driving along with tears uncontrollably streaming down my face, alternatively experiencing pure joy at the beautiful landscapes around every single corner.
So when we started hatching a plan to travel out of Marrakech for the month of Ramadan, err, I mean June, we originally started planning a tour of Scotland. Having been there in March I was (and still am) desperate to go back and see more. But alas, we accidentally bought tickets to see Adele at Wembley Stadium on June 29th and blew the whole months budget before we got started. SO.
Planning was a simple matter of following the guiding principles of two well travelled women with enough money to have standards, but not enough to just go crazy. No connections and no layovers and avoid Casablanca at all cost. Pretty simple you’d think, but not so simple when you get down to it. We had a pretty sweet trip planned around Portugal and bit of Spain but could we get to London from there? No. So. In the end we ended up with the flights we ended up with and it all fell together. Given that we had a whole month, we needed some place very reasonably priced to hang our floppy hats and that’s how we got back to Croatia. A country I always swore I would return to and I don’t regret one minute of it.
So here’s a quick blow-by to give you a taste of the places we visited:
Copenhagen : 3 nights
- Wet. Not only is it on the water but it was raining a fair bit.
- We stayed in the only hotel of the whole trip was mediocre at best but the room was SUPER comfortable with a good view and an AWESOME shower so…
- Interesting place. Saw some nice things. Expensive.
- Been there, checked off the list. Prob won’t return.
Berlin : 4 nights
- Our AirBnB was directly across from the Mall of Berlin – you want to see two retailed deprived women lose their minds in 30 sec. there you go.
- We shopped. We realized we need nothing. We didn’t buy much. But we shopped anyway.
- The grocery store across the street held more of our attention and captured some serious cash in take home product.
- We did three Free Tours – one city tour, one to Potsdam nearby suburb, one alternative tour (the Berlin you don’t see when you are focused too much on history) – all were fantastic, only one was free.
- Our apartment was a dream. Large, two huge bedrooms, awesome lounge, good wifi. Shower that sucked balls. But hey…
Split, Croatia : 5 nights
- Mid size city south-ish on the coast. Old part and new part. Tons of tennis clubs. And boats. (Coastal) and some more tennis clubs.
- Lovely. Lots of tourists but not so many.
- Day trip to Trogir which was magnificent.
- Our apartment. Iris was our host. The apartment was a main floor two bedroom dream cottage with an espresso maker, comfortable sofa, two great bedrooms and AWESOME showers. We love Iris. She had the best place.
- We loved Split. We shopping (IN A MALL) one day.
- I’d go back to Split any day. A N Y D A Y.
Dubrovnik : 2 nights
- An amazing city. Especially when you consider its history both long gone and most recent and the brutal damage it sustained during the Homeland War.
- HOLY CRAP is it crowded with tourists. Too much! TOO MANY PEOPLE.
- We managed to get a driver who took us to the top for the view shot, to the bridge and to a river – two bonus things you don’t see on the cable car route.
- We missed the crowds on the city wall by waiting until the cruise lines left. That is a MUST do when in Dubrovnik though – must do.
- Our apartment was great. No real lounge area but a huge bedroom with two bigs beds for lounging and a decent if not spilly shower. Too much curtain – you know what I mean.
- Downstairs we had a nice, quiet, excellent restaurant with 15% off from our host and I am thrilled to have been there. It’s beautiful.
Budva, Montenegro : 2 nights
- I honestly expected Montenegro to be indiscernible from Croatia. SO WRONG.
- Montenegro is a STUNNING country. Much more mountainous. Many more beautiful bays and inlets. A lot of drama. (Oops. I was listening to the S-Town podcast on that bus trip. Drama may have been mine alone.)
- Very Russian in its influence. From the war. And I later learned that they invaded Croatia from the south. So not the same. At all.
- Beautiful old city. Nice beaches and waterfront. Home to the rich and famous. And by rich and famous I mean Russian oligarch. Russians everywhere. Very very different from Croatia.
- Our apartment was great. Olga our host spoke not one word of English but returned my emails like a champ. (???) She also had a stripey cat.
- The shower – definitely 2 out of 10. And I give it 2 because it had 1 – water and 2 – warmth. ‘Nuf said.
- Would consider going back there and seeing more of the country. But not during tourist season, and different cities.
Stari Grad, Hvar Island : 3 nights
- WOW – so pretty. Hvar Island is not to be missed. I loved Hvar town more than Stari Grad because it had more action. But Stari Grad was sleepy and cute and homey and relaxed and SO beautiful. I would go back and rent a place in town and write a novel. If I had a novel in me.
- Apartment was good. Not excellent because 1 – it was up a GIANT hill that was not to be avoided, and 2 – Internet issues. And no coffee maker.
- There were a few local restaurants that were so good we went back to both again. And the path that leads all the way around town in both directions is delicious.
- Decent shower except it had double doors that opened like a theatre curtain so I had to shout TA-DA every time I wanted to get out.
Zadar : 3 nights
- Maybe my favorite. Fighting for first place at least. Loved it.
- We stayed in a cold war apartment bloc (only word for it) across the bridge from the old town so it was really convenient. Lovely apartment. One of the better showers in that it had a spout over head that was taller than me and did not have to be held in one hand all the time.
- Our host Nada picked us up at the bus station which was Uber lovely (see what I did there) but her car had no working windows, and no a/c so it was a long bumpy ride home. Oddly the car only had 78,000km on it. I would have guessed it had 178,00km. Must have been a lot of hard roads travelled which I don’t doubt.
- Loads of shops and restaurants and great sights to see. The sea organ and the Greeting to the Sun were highlights as was one of our only great sunsets.
Zagreb : 3 nights
- WOW! What an amazing city. We arrived at night and in the rain so it was a little bleak I won’t lie. Our building looked like it had not seen a coat of paint since 1945 (and indeed it may not have) but once inside the apartment – excellent. Great bedrooms, good kitchen, decent shower (hand held nozzle)
- The city is outstanding. Turn after turn it has amazed and delighted. It is modern sometimes, historic at other times. It is the victim of an awful war on one block and the master of gardens on another. I love it. I love this city, I love it. I love it here.
- We had the good fortune of planning our transit day around a day trip, so we went from Zadar to Plitvice National Park (my only repeat from my original trip) and we got a transfer from there to Zagreb. Long and wonderful day seeing the park. Loved it.
London, U.K. (for now) : 3 nights
Still to come. We are about to leave this magical land of inexpensive things, of the most beautiful weather, scenery, historic sights. We have to go. We leave tomorrow for 20 degree London. Big city London. Adele. Friends from Toronto and British people.
I will write more on that later. When I am back home and it’s 50 degrees and I have seen the face I can’t WAIT to lay eyes on. When I have slept in my own bed and unpacked my things. Then I will write about London. Stay tuned. ( I hope it has a good shower!)