Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Dovidenja, Croatia!

Sorry for the riveting suspense caused by the delay since our last post. I know all 3 of you reading this are wringing your hands. Don't fear, loyal few, lets move on with our story:

After our time in Split, we jumped over to the island of Hvar. All we had heard of Hvar and its main town of the same name was that they were the most ritzy of Croatia's island towns; a yachting port of glitz and glamour. It certainly lived up to the former; A LOT of yachts - some so over-the-top they must have been sailing advertising campaigns.

Hvar did have a certain younger-EU sparkle to it. It was 99% tourists but, thanks to ferry size, not overcrowded. And while there were less tourist shops, it was definitely geared towards visitors, just ones seeking electronic-music clubs instead of tchotchkes.

We checked into our place and per our lovely hostess's recommendation, decided to walk to a place that served lunch on the rocks... and offered Bill more time in the Adriatic. At 4 p.m., I was starved and would have eaten anywhere, and this was the walk-to location she recommended. I expected a beach hut serving the usual pizza slices but when we walked up, I was surprised by what we found: a-for-all-intensive-purposes beach club. Little cabanas and chaises dotted the rocks and young swimmers tanned waterside with their drinks in hand. A total change of pace from our usual Roman ruins.

Now normally, this would not be our scene. We would turn up our noses at dub-step-accompanied sunsets and alcohol-rich, American cocktails but this time we didn't. We embraced it.

It wasn't a Roman ruin, after all...

So we grabbed a chaise, ordered tortilla chips and salsa off the menu (yep!) and I ordered not 1, but 2, pina coladas (yep, a pina colada. In Croatia.) and we watched the sunset, swam and tanned next to 21-year-old hostel stayers. And it was freaking amazing! So amazingly relaxing that we didn't take a single picture...

Thanks to these people

After tanning and getting intoxicated next to youngins, we stumbled back to our room, grabbed this pic from our window and got glitzy for our dinner out.

The next morning, after catching a ferry back to Split and our car, we started down towards Dubrovnik. It was a pretty standard drive, though we did have the excitement of crossing into Bosnia for a few miles (Croatia's southern most tip is disconnected from the rest of the country) and hoping we didn't look suspicious. We were carrying a lot of truffle foods... 

Dubrovnik is called the "Jewel of the Adriatic" and there's no surprise it got that moniker. Though we should have been jaded of white-walled cities, there was no denying that Dubrovnik is breathtaking. 

Its a large old city perched on rocks and cliffs hugging blue waters. But if that wasn't enough, the city is still enclosed by its original medieval fortress walls. 

These fortress walls are massive. Pictures probably won't do them justice. Even video doesn't! In fact, Game of Thrones shoots here A LOT. Its the backdrop of their capital city but even the grandeur of the show does't do these things justice.

Luckily, you can actually walk them!

A real drawbridge!! 

The walk atop the walls allowed for some pretty incredible views

And also some pretty incredible chances to reenact Game of Thrones scenes...

(Top pic is the real thing, bottom isn't - a little CGI addition and gondola boats make it Kings Landing) 

Just add a big, red castle! 

And, of course, Bill and I's favorite... 

Thanks to Bill... 

No one reading this gets this, so I'll just move on, but that character looses her dragons and has to find them in this building. Don't you hate it when that happens??!


Dubrovnik did have some pretty fantasy-inspiring architecture. It is an obvious set for medieval, Renaissance or fantasy fables. 

And then there is this guy... 

This was actually pretty funny. It was a cat sanctuary. They had so many stray cats so someone took a tiny courtyard and turned it into a cat bunker with food, little beds, water, tons of plants to get shade under, etc. But they had to fund it some how so they put this random guillotine prop in there for photo ops and asked for donations. Odd mix, but hey, whatever works... 

After a hot, lengthy walk around the walls, Bill took another dip in the Adriatic off yet another cliff-side cafe

He thought about trying to scale the walls.... 

... but even Bill wasn't going to break Dubrovnik's record for never being breached

Dubrovnik also had a plethora of live, extremely-talented musicians. There were a ton of free concerts set in these beautiful white stone museums and churches. And, fitting the romantic atmosphere, all the concerts had candles leading guests to them. 
But we did spend a few evenings walking around, listing to pianists, Spanish-guitarists, string trios, jazz bands and piano mans. 
(Ok, "men", but that doesn't rhyme, does it?) 

A few more good meals, a final museum tour and Bill's final dip into the sea ended our next day in Dubrovnik before we had to catch our flight back up to Zagreb. It was also our fond farewell to Cherry Bomb. :-(
Heavy sigh.

We got back to Zagreb and were lucky enough to have our next host schedule a private pick up from the airport. Our driver was a barely-speaking-English man in his middle-years who used to be a famous folk dancer in Croatia. Of course he was!

Our place this time in Zagreb was right in the middle of old town, which was perfect as we were only there for one more evening before our long trip back home, early the next morning.

The view from our apartment's window. The cathedral, apparently, is under constant construction because each original stone is slowly being replaced. 

We walked the very short but very pretty Stossmayer Promenade, but since it was so bitingly cold (and we without much in the way of a jackets), we didn't snap a pic. So thanks to this person for this picture. But its a very romantic, chandelier-lit walk with a little wine kiosk and benches, which, if it weren't for the cold, we would have probably taken advantage of.

Instead, we finished our trip back at our (at least my) favorite restaurant

It was a wonderful end to a truly wonderful vacation. It definitely scratched the travel itch I had and was a great experience together. 

Even if Bill had to have me be a back-seat driver in another country and give him this face at pretty much every picture... 

William! Did you eat my share of the cheese plate!?

Haha, just kidding. I probably ate his. ;-) 

El Fin! 

Thanks for joining us on our tour of Croatia.