A Travellerspoint blog

Hvar, Croatia

Hvar, Croatia
June 20th - 24th

We took a 6 hour ferry from Dubrovnik to the island of Hvar and then drove the 20 minutes to our apartment in Milna. Milna is a very small town (two parallel streets lining the seafront) and our apartment is on the third floor overlooking a beautiful inlet. We had dinner at a konoba on the beach and when the owner told us a storm would be hitting in 20 minutes we scambled back to our room and the rain and wind came in force right as we shut the front door.

Our first full day on the island we spent a lazy morning in the apartment and went up the road to get pastries for breakfast. After a our slow start we went into the town of Hvar and spent a nice day walking through the streets, visiting a Franciscan monestary/museum and having a great lunch on a terrace in the welcome sunshine. Hvar is as beautiful and charming as the other Croatian seaside towns we have visited.

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The following day we lazed around again in the morning enjoying fresh pastries (we could get used to this!) and then went to Hvar town again for a walk recommended by mom's friend, Bob. We walked along a nice paved trail next to the sea, stopped to play in a playground, and had lunch at the Hula Hula Beach Club. We loved the Snack Tower which was full of appetizers we all loved (quesadillas, chicken satay, etc.) and our mock- and full strength-cocktails at the seaside setting. Gracie and Lucy enjoyed running from the waves as they crashed against the rocks below the restaurant.

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We were greeted by a cloudless sky on our final day on Hvar and decided we needed to spend the day at the beach and swimming in the sea. After getting our fill of sunshine we went indoors to watch the US vs. Algeria game and were all thrilled when we found out the US would be going to the Round of 16 and the next game would be on Gracie's birthday. In the evening we had a delicious fresh fish dinner sitting on a deck next to the sea about 100 meters from our apartment. It was a long, leisurely dinner and a perfect way to end our time in Croatia.

The next day we headed to the port city of Stari Grad on Hvar and after lunch and walking around the city we boarded the Marko Polo, our overnight ferry. Our cabin was quite small but it was a great way to travel to the north of the country. We arrived in Rijeka at 7am and after departure we were on our way to Venice. Our funniest event of the morning was at the Slovenia border (we had to pass through the country on our way back to Italy). The border guard was nice to us when he thought we were from Italy (our Italian plates) but once we handed our U.S. passports to him he became quite formal and rude. As we pulled away we smiled knowing he was just angry that our game vs. Algeria two days before had kicked his country out of the World Cup. That's just the way it goes :)

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Posted by k2arevalo 10:10 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

Brac and Dubrovnik

Brac (continued)
June 14th - 15th

Are those of you following us getting sick of looking at us in the same clothes?!?! We are very tired of them but it certainly makes it easier to get ready in the morning. We have come to appreciate every washing machine we come across in our accommodations and we truly value the sunny days we've had to dry our laundry outside.

On our second to last day on Brac we spent the day walking into the town of Bol on a lovely tree lined (SHADY) walkway along the sea and had a nice lunch overlooking the Adriatic. The afternoon was spent in the pool and the evening sipping our "free" wine while watching World Cup soccer.

The final day was spent back at Zlatni Rat beach where Gracie and I rented a kayak and G'mama and Lucy had their own adventure getting down to the beach via the "short cut" carrying the blow-up dolphin and ring. It was a great way to end our time on the island.

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Dubrovnik
June 16th - June 19th

Once again we set out in our car for a ferry adventure. We now know what line to get into and the 40 minute ride was a breeze. As you can see in the photos, the cars are packed tightly together and it was very fun to back out when we got to port.

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Our drive down the coast to Dubrovnik was scenic with the Adriatic still in view. About 1/2 way through the trip we came to the border with Bosnia & Herzegovina and spent a pleasant 10 kilometers in the country. The border was a bit lax and we only really realized we were in another country when G'mama spotted a different flag hanging on the pole. We were soon back into Croatia via another quite lax border crossing and we continued our journey.

Dubrovnik in a small city with a beautiful, walled old town that is picture perfect. The walls are all stone within the old city and the roofs are red terracotta. The buildings have dark green shutters as well. In 1991 there was a six month period when the Serbs were bombing the city and you can see reminders of this seige in many locations. Although the old town has been restored, the red tile roofs are brighter and the stone whiter where the repairs had to be made after the war.

The weather on our first full day was quite hot (mid 90's) and the reflection of the sun on the white stoned streets made it feel even hotter. We ended up having a nice lunch overlooking the old harbor and then high tailed it back to the apartment and our air conditioner.

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The next day was spent at Lapad Beach which was sandy and was a welcome change from the rocky beaches we have been going to in Croatia. After an afternoon of lounging on the shore we headed to a bar to watch the US vs. Slovenia game.

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Today, June 19th, we took the bus into the old city again and walked along the top of the wall that surrounds it. The weather was cooler and the views were spectacular. We ducked into an Irish pub for lunch and of course I had to get a Guinness and the girls were able to make their mustaches like we did on our trip to Ireland. In the afternoon we went to an interesting photo gallery that was devoted to photographs from war-torn areas. There was an exibit on conflicts within the Islamic world and an entire room dedicated to the war in Yugoslavia in the 1990's. It was a very moving museum and it led to some great discussions with the girls about war and the fact that people are still persecuted for their religious beliefs in may parts of the world.

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Tomorrow we leave Dubrovnik via another car ferry and head to the island of Hvar for 4 nights. From there we will be taking an overnight ferry to Rijeka at the north of the country and then heading over to Venice to celebrate Gracie's 10th birthday in style. Time to sign out - G'mama just filled my glass and we are heading out to watch the sunset. Ciao for now...

Posted by k2arevalo 10:30 Archived in Croatia Comments (2)

Zadar, Split and Brac - Croatia

Enjoying the Adriatic Sea

Zadar
June 6th - 8th

We left Camp Lanterna after long goodbyes to our new friends and headed out on our 5 hour journey to Zadar. the Istrian Peninsula is lush and we passed through many pine forests. We drove on a relatively new highway and it was smooth sailing in our Mercedes sedan. As we neared Zadar we drove through a 5km tunnel and emerged surrounded by a more arrid landscape and beautiful views of the Adriatic.

After our arrival at our hotel we took a water taxi into Zadar and once again enjoyed some good pizza and cheap, delicious wine. It's going to be quite a change for us when we get home and the girls don't get soda pop with every meal and we don't eat pizza every other day! After dinner we walked to view the totally cool Sea Organ and Greeting to the Sun by artist Nikola Basic. They are both powered by the waves and the after dark light show powered by the sun is a treat.

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Our apartment is very spacious with a large balcony overlooking the town of Zadar and a bay. The second day we took the water taxi again and spent the day exploring the town (and of course shopping and eating gelato!) and even spent an hour at an Internet cafe with backpackers and punk rock music blasting through the speakers. I felt like a 20 year old backpacker all over again. That afternoon we spent by the pool at our hotel and cooked in.

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On our final day in Zadar we gave into the girls pleas and visited the Adventure Park. There were billboards all along the highway as we entered town and for two days we heard their pleas and all decided it would be a fun diversion from sightseeing. The park has only been open 8 days and it is a ropes course with challenging courses (better for the muscles then Pilates) and fun zip lines.

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Afterwards we opted to go to a Thai restaurant we saw in Zadar and were pleasantly surprised to meet Thai women living in Croatia and serving delicious food at a poolside setting. That evening we watched the 4th game of the basketball championship of Croatia between Zadar and Zagreb. Zadar ended up losing the series but it was fun to be there during the finals of a game that is so popular in this country.

Split
June 9th - 11th

The journey to Split was a quick 2 hours on the new highway and we stayed in a great little apartment that was once a Dalmatian villa a block from Diocletian's Palace. IMG_4854.jpg

The Palace was the Roman emperor Diocletian's retirement home. He left Rome because he was worried about being assassinated (not a far fetched idea considering the 12 emporeres before him were all killed in Rome) and spent his final days living in the beautiful palace on the sea. He was a emperor known for persecuting Christians and it was interesting that he died one year before Constantine made Christianity the official religion of Rome. Once that happened the Christians made Diocletian's crypt into a beautiful church and destroyed his sarcaphogus.

We toured the Palace on the first night and enjoyed a gelato (of course!) on the steps in a square. On the second day we hiked to Marjan Park for a nice view of the city. It was uphill and very hot and we really appreciated a cold drink at the top of the hill. Afterwards we had some lunch at a seaside cafe and then continued our hike in the hot sun to the Mestovic Gallery. Ivan Mestovic built the villa as a home for his family and there are over 100 sculptures displayed inside the home and in the garden. He is the only artist to have a "one man show" at the NY Met and we were looking forward to viewing his work. Although is was hot and it was ANOTHER MUSEUM we actually ended up having a great time imitating our favorite scupltures. Afterwards we headed to the Green Market for some fresh fruit and went to a surprisingly good Mexican restaurant for dinner. That day we also found time to rub the toe of the statue of Bishop Ninski for good luck and Lucy mastered blowing bubbles with her gum and telling time.

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On our third and final day in Split it was another hot day (in the low 90's) and we thought a day at the beach was in order. We walked to Bacvice Beach after buying ferry tickets for the rest of our trip. The beach is the "spiritual home of Croatia's Summer Sport - Picigin". Many people - mostly teenage boys - were playing the game in the shallow sandy water. You basically hit a small ball with your hand to others in the circle and the object of the game is to keep it out of the water. It was a little like hacky-sack in the water and using your hands instead of your feet. It was fun to watch everyone and we even bought a ball and played it for several hours in the crowded water. The World Championships of the sport were being held at the beach the next day. We had a lovely dinner in a small courtyard within the palace surrounded by locals and agreed that Split was definitely a city we would recommend.

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Bol, Brac
June 12th - Today, June 13th

We were proud of ourselves for getting on a car ferry with little problems (except being in the wrong line and people yelling at us in Italian because of our Italian plates and us looking at them with completely blank expressions). It was a one hour ferry to the island of Brac and then we drove to the town of Bol. Our hotel is an all-inclusive family hotel and we were happy to see other kids, a large pool, wine and beer were included in the "all-inclusive", and that we are close to Zlatni Rat (the most photographed beach in Croatia). The World Cup started on the 11th and it is VERY big here and they even have a football corner in the lobby where the schedules and scores are posted. We happily cheered on the US team as they tied England. To all of our English friends we have to say that we were thrilled with a tie and look forward to beating you in our next match against each other!

Today we spent the day at Zlatni Rat beach and swam the day away in the Adriatic Sea. We also toasted our good friends this evening because it was their wedding day back at the Rose Garden in Oakland. Congratulations to Michelle and David (and of course Ella and Kyle too)!

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We are here for another two days and will then be heading to Dubrovnik and then back to the island of Hvar. Croatia is a beautiful country and the people and atmosphere are very relaxed. They advertise that the country is the "Mediterranean as it used to be" and I have to say that it must be true. It is truly a magical place and we continue to enjoy the adventure. Until next time...

Posted by k2arevalo 13:06 Archived in Croatia Comments (2)

Trieste, Italy and Istrian Peninsula, Croatia

Trieste, Italy
May 29th

We left our villa and good friends on a somewhat overcast day and drove almost 5 hours to our destination for the night on the Italian border, Trieste. Arriving in the town tested our limits - I was sick with a fever, it was a Saturday night in a busy city and mom doesn't like driving in unknown cities, it was pouring rain, and we were tired of being in the car - so of course we passed the hotel several times, drove around large blocks and spent time bickering (ahhhh.... travel can be so much fun!). Luckily after check in mom and the girls were able to go out and walk around and enjoy a nice dinner.

Istrian Peninsula, Croatia
May 30th - June 6th

We awoke to light rain and it only got worse as the day progressed. We heard lots of thunder and saw lightening too. We reached the Slovenian border about 20 minutes outside of Trieste and luckily our hotel told us to stop at a tabacco shop to get a permit to cross the border. We were only in Slovenia for 30 minutes and then arrived at the very lax Croatian border. The border guard barely looked at our passports or into the car and didn't stamp them either. I guess we all looked innocent enough.

The countryside is beautiful and lush and very rural with wildflowers in bloom everywhere. We passed through several small towns with stone houses and cobblestoned streets. We were all thrilled to arrive at Camp Lanterna, a large camping resort on the Adriatic Sea between Novigrad and Porec on the Istrian Peninsula. At the check-in we heard stories of flooded tents and were happy to get into our 2 bedroom caravan. There are several Naturist camp grounds nearby and we have had lots of chuckles imagining what their campgrounds (and camping activities) are like :)

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The weather this week has been a mix of rain and warm sunshine with temps in the mid 70's. The Adriatic is a beautiful shade of turquoise and is warmer than the Pacific. The beaches are rocky and it makes the water crystal clear. We visited three picturesque fishing villages - Porec, Novigrad and Rovinj - and enjoyed walking around and especially going into some of the art galleries. We even got in some go-cart racing one afternoon and had a memorable late night fashion show with our pals from England.

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We will be heading down the coast over the next two and one-half weeks and look forward to seeing more of this beautiful country. Do vidjenja (good-bye) for now...

Posted by k2arevalo 08:44 Archived in Croatia Comments (1)

Camping in Croatia by Gigi and Lulu

These few paragraphs are about camping at Camp Lanterna in Croatia. We stayed in a trailer with two bedrooms. It rained very hard the day we arrived but was warm and sunny most of the time.

One of our favorite things at Camp Lanterna was meeting new friends from England and Poland. Their names are Ava, Hannah, Mabel, Freya, Iris, Alice, Daniel and Peter. Our second favorite thing was playing soccer (football) with them all. We also loved going to the bakery every morning because the goods were baked that morning and they were warm and chewy.

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The pools were awesome! One had a giant umbrella with water going off of it and one had something like a disco ball with water squirting every which way from it. The children's pool had water slides and another water umbrella.

We also liked the beach and playing in the Adriatic Sea. There was a diving board into the ocean. We went fishing and caught something that looked like an octopus. It squirted out electric blue strings as it's protection. We saw red sea urchins in a town called Rovinj and had big ice cream sundaes by the sea.

Posted by k2arevalo 08:41 Archived in Croatia Comments (1)

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