CROATIAN BLOG

Oh dear I’ve been on holiday and I don’t have the holiday blues, I have the Manchester greys instead!!

 

Hello fellow readers, 

 

So little interesting story about me (and him), After several months of pondering and resisting we finally succumbed to the overwhelming juggernaut of magnificent TV known as Game of Thrones,

 

However when we booked this trip to Croatia, we were completely unaware until somewhere in the middle of season 4 *spoilers* (Goffrey’s death) that we found out that the show was filmed in Dubrovnik/Split….oh where did we book our hotels… oh yeah Split and Dubrovnik (EEEEE)

 

Well, I’m still trying to stick to my roots with this site and I will give my own personal experiences and hints and tips on getting around while being on a shoestring budget but I have to confess, I’ve gone from traveller to tourist in less than 5 holidays. 

 

I’ve gone from staying in rooms of 12, where I want to be mates with 2 of them and kill 4 of them to now staying in 4 star hotels with one amazing man who I sometimes want to strangle 4 times a year (it must be true love), 

 

 

You wanna know what really cemented the tourist status,I now have a dainty camcorder bag which at one point contains my hotel key, half my preplanned spending money and a camcorder loaded with 25% actual useful material, 50% delete fodder photos, 20% nostril cavity photos and 5% Instragram fodder. 

 

Seriously, just hand me a visor, a walking drink bottle and call me Pam from Ohio “oh my god Mel look at that, everything is so old and small over here”

 

Back to Croatia and since I live in Manchester, I used Manchester airport funnily enough and no more than 2 hours into the trip I not only turn in to Pam the American tourist and I’m now that nagging old wife who doesn’t mind shouting orders at their other half. Yes I have fallen a long way from what I used to be. At some point during check out I shouted “ ANDREW TAKE THE BAG” much to his embarrassment and the pain of the flight attendant’s ears.

 

So off we go to Croatia, it’s 3 hour flight, thankfully I have a Nintendo switch, water and patience while, Andy has company with a lovely couple from Sheffield, the wife unfortunately scared of flying , so she holds Andy’s hand. I know I should be concerned, she may be reaching for his love zone for all I know or puking in her bag from all the drink (she actually did this) , but I’ve got a really tough boss to beat in I am Setsuna, I’m very busy! ( blowing finger nails).

 

More fun facts for you, the currency in Croatia is Kuna, although some stores will accept Euros but I advise HaKUNA Matata (sorry nonsensical joke), 

Fun facts about Croatia - Alfred Hitchcock once called the sunset in zadar the most beautiful in the world, the Dalmatian dog origins can be traced back to Croatian Islands but don’t let the fact they have something called Dalmatian ham put you off, it’s just the name of the area. 

And there’s more Croatians living outside of the country then in and there’s over 1200 islands but only 66 are inhabited. Maybe if they put some Barrett homes on the islands, more Croatians could come home to this great country.

 

The first place we stayed was called Villa Arka (https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g303804-d3840786-Reviews-Villa_Arka-Cavtat_Konavle_Dubrovnik_Neretva_County_Dalmatia.html ), it was a small private apartment only 2 miles away from the airport as we had a late flight. But I’ll say this now, if you’re with one of those people who says “Oh that’s not far we can walk”, take the bags off them, give them a hug, let them go, and get a transfer! Anything outside of the UK & US, the roads are way longer and windier than you expect and probably have no sidewalks/pavements. My left ankle and Andy’s patience can testify, I’m not to point fingers at who had the “bright” idea to walk in the pitch black late at night. It’s only 2 miles!!

 

The apartment was fine and decent size, was around £30-40 an apartment, however for everything good we get in Croatia something bad needs to happen, handy tip if you see a bus for Dubrovnik/Pile/Babin Kuk, get it, it’s always cheaper than get a taxi, we learnt this the hard way, our taxi from the apartment to town centre was 300 Kunas (£25, the bus is £1!!) which I’m gonna have to put a pin in that cost for later.

 

If you plan on travelling around Croatia you mainly have 2 options, coach and ferry, maybe a 3rd if you have someone in your party to drive, car rental is quite cheap here like £20 a day. 

However, I think everyone learnt their driving skills from Wacky races, there was loads of unnecessary skidding, harsh braking and reversing going on. Actually one day we walked down a road and a woman was reversing all the way down and then honked her horn and the driver behind her to keep going, Umm lady, thats not how traffic works! “I’M REVERSE DRIVING HERE IT’S THE NEW CRAZE”

 

 

 

As we went during off season, we were limited on departure times for the ferry from Dubrovnik to split which is just over 200 KMs, you can ever go 7:30 in the morning or 4pm,  its around 200 Kuna or 130-180 for coach depending day of travel. Ferry is quicker but buses are more regular, least one an hour and you get go via Bosnia so 2 countries in one, TICK! Remember that pin,We spent 300 kuna on a 25 mins journey to town!!

 

The coach from Dubrovnik to Split is about 4 hours depending on traffic, I advise a Switch, lots of fluids and patience for this journey.

 

We arrive in Split and oh my lord, it’s beautiful, I dare say it’s nicer than Dubrovnik, everything is a bit more central and easier to get round.

As I commented earlier, I’m now a  tourist but I’m a traveller at heart, so managed to nab a swish 4 star hotel Hotel Solana Palace (http://www.salonapalace.com/home) via hotels.com (sign up for the deals, it helps) it was very modern and very new as well since it was built in 2017. The staff were very friendly and very insistent on speaking English, actually this is probably the first holiday where someone hasn’t insisted on us talking their language , even hello in Croatian wasn’t even taught to us, I feel so stupid, when they say they know 8 languages 

 

[Reception Manager]“I know English, Croatian, Russian, Spanish, German, French, Korean, Japanese

[ME] (bamboozled look on my face) “right”

 

The hotel was great even had a spa, health centre with gym, sauna etc and all mod cons basically, although the pool was always cold, like “Good Jolly, Miss Molly” cold!

 

You have a shop opposite the complex and there’s a couple of bars/restaurants 5 mins down the road. But that does raise the only issue you’re in a residential /industrial area so you are limited on what to do outside of the hotel, as it was that it’s a good couple of miles from main district and again road rules apply here, 2 miles equals 5 miles of winding roads and stairs. (again avoid that optimistic walker) “uumm non no” 

 

So our first day was great we get to look around the town centre and it’s got this great mix of old romanesque walkways and buildings but cosmopolitan shops and bars sprinkled throughout. There’s a hidden yet grand crafts market near the Marina restaurants  And my lord, if you ever want to stare at beautiful people, you got it! Know that vaguely foreign looking footballer or exotic model you fancy and can’t place where they originate from, they probably come from Croatia! HOLY SHIT, our first bus ride to town was like a model convention, there was an air of “I know it’s crappy bus but I look like I own it”  and considering I’m from a country where buses are for wankers, I’m surprised these girls weren’t flown on private jets after posing for Prada, I had to reconsider my options. (Fan self off) SPLIT IS HOT!! And I’m not just talking about the fact it’s 27 degrees in October 

 

Now Split is a great hub if you want ferries to other islands or to go further in land, there’s loads to do, our second day involved going to, Krka.. KR KA KA Krka… oh I give up it’s now called KitKat National waterfall park.

We booked the excursion to the waterfalls for £15 each but you basically get transported there (1.5 hour journey)and you need to pay entrance to the park, maybe shop around before buying excursions as some of them include entrance fee and lunch in their costs but that’s around £35-40 per person. 

We might have been ripped off but we picked the company with the prettiest booking agent!

 

Now this place is PICTURESEQUE, its probably better to come when it’s hotter as you can swim in the lagoon area but don’t be fooled by the brochures, it’s got images of people swimming in the water and standing  over the waterfall but that’s not an indication you can jump from the waterfall, this isn’t the DiCaprio Beach movie! 

If you are into nature walks and photography and dipping your toes in, you’ll love this. I do advise bringing a packed lunch as they have high prices for the huts and restaurants in and around the park. But what’s a crepe amongst friends!

 

The following day, we ventured out for a Ziplining trek and anyone that followed my Canadian blog, it’s a fun experience but this one was still fun but felt old school. After we got picked up in Split by the Croatian Justin Beiber, my red flag started to rise. I know he has a sweet voice but what is this kid gonna do when I’m plummeting to my death?? The zip trek point is about 45 mins out of Split and its kind of short for lines but spectacular views. The company operating the zipline were fun and professional but the equipment was proper basic.

I remember from Whistler that you could sit in the harness and do what you want pretend you’re Spiderman, Batman…UGH CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS!!, This equipment you basically had to have your hands near the wire to operate the brake and eyes forward which kind of missed the point, you go for zip lining to scream for the first 3 lines and then enjoy the view for the rest of the lines. I would recommend this, if you are an adrenaline junkie or just want to see the nearby mountains and lakes with a different perspective. 

 

And like any normal holiday you need to go stuff your face, so I highly recommend Restaurant Fife buffet, they have massive portions and so do the waiters, and they are reasonably priced, the food not the waiters! It was around £30-35 for 2 course meal that was too big and that includes drink and tip. There’s a mixture of different restaurants along the Marina but most were Italian or too pricey for what they were selling.

 

So far, if you had to get me to describe Croatia on the whole, I’d have to say it’s like if Russia, Greece, Spain and Italy decided to have a key party and had a magical baby that somehow had a remarkable mix of Russia’s sexy sternness, Greece’s Charm and cats (seriously there’s loads), Spain’s beauty and rustic qualities and Italy’s elegant architecture and boom Croatia!

 

After a pleasant and active few days in Split, We have 2 options to get a ferry but sailed at 7:30am…ummm I need my beauty sleep, plus after all that ziplining…. So coach it is! Again Switch, patience and water for me! 

 

However this time round the coach driver had either the world’s worst cough and microphone or he was eating a burrito while wearing a my mask while he talked because, everytime he talked on the PA system we couldn’t hear what he was saying! We missed loads of gap stops but when I eventually asked him personally when we were stopping, he repeatedly said “10 minutes, 10 minutes only” “10 minutes, 10 minutes only” alright “10 minutes, 10 minutes only”

 

OK OK … 15 minutes later!!

 

Now I can’t stress this enough read, read ,read your confirmation for private hotel/apartments as they have rules on their check in policy, reception times etc as they are not as well staffed like 24 hour hotels. We stayed at apartment Villa Katrina in the Babin Kuk area (https://www.villakatarina-dubrovnik.com), We unfortunately missed the part about check in as no later than 1 minute in the apartment we got shouted at, because we arrived 90 mins late checking in. He constantly yelled we’re late and it’s rude, it was a proper, you’re 9 years old and broke the vase with the football and mum is having a bad day / that time of the month combo shouting at!! Now I know this shouldn’t cloud my judgment but at no point should you EVER shout at someone who is paying for their accommodation in a foreign country if your place is meant to be 4 star!!! He told us several times my information was false and after I explained to him my confirmation goes to my

work email address and my number was on there, I don’t think he got the concept that I’m from Britain and you need to change the country code before dialling. At the time I was mad but now reflecting back on it I’m madder and confused. After shouting at me about my false information I just think, why would I give him false information, I paid upfront and may I add more than it’s worth, why would I pay and give false information “ I paid, take my money, I’m not coming, jokes on you!!”

 

With that out of the way, I will still recommend this place if you want somewhere with a spectacular view, at a reasonable price and decent apartment, although he decorated in Ikea and old lady paintings so I felt like I was at my grandmothers, so that didn’t ring 4 star to me. Plus the bed wasn’t that comfortable, wait, why am I recommending this place?

 

 

Oh yes the elegant surprise at the bottom of the road, you’re near a fantastic bay filled with a long strip of elegant local restaurants, cafes and bars, there’s even a beach, sun loungers and pools at your disposal. It was a bit of shock as we saw 2 bars and thought, oh well that’s it and then BAM waiters and placards with menus on as far as the eye can see!! 

There’s even shops so good if you are in an apartment and need to do a shop, don’t get confused and go in the nearest shop you see, there’s a massive Tommy (equivalent of Tesco/ Walmart) behind the mall. Some idiot thought “lets go in this small shop that must be it” Also in Dubrovnik, a “short cut” is normally 14 flights of rocky stairs, or you can do the sensible thing and walk around the street until you get to your destination.

 

Another thing I need to comment on is that Dubrovnik is a bit more expensive but somehow felt smaller than Split but you’re paying for the luxury of the bay and  port area and game of thrones location, which is located in Old Town, you can get a number 5/6 bus to get there from Babin Kuk (AGAIN can’t say these words so it’s called babadook in my head)

 

Speaking of I know what you are intrigued about the filming location of game of thrones, old town is how it sounds and is a MAJOR tourist attraction, that houses loads of old citizens and tourists, oh wait a min, who is that mature blonde lady with a pink visor? OH IT’S PAM!! 

 

Yes, for you GOT fanatics then you’ll know a lot of it is CGI’ed, it’a lot smaller than compared to the small screen show but it’s still amazing and a bit of a maze. Although most of the castles and large buildings are not there but loads of neat streets and homes that are nicely decorated and well preserved considering some of it was built in 11th century, especially the old churches, towers and port. Also I need to alert you of something, even though it’s old town and it’s a historical site, people still live here and modernised it.

 

Thankfully the special effects team of GOT are on the ball when we saw the “ye old basketball court” and “come hither to archaic kids playground”

 

As I mentioned Dubrovnik had this ludicrous idea that several flights of stairs equates to a shortcut, I advise trainers at all time, no high heels lads! Its super busy and there’s loads of walking tours too so try your best to avoid the main routes the cross junctions. Andy unfortunately had a run in with an elderly Scottish lady when they got in each others way, some cross words came from her “You better watch where you’re going before you start trouble” oh dear those two need to fight, I know he meant nothing it by it but I know what he was thinking (insert “ancient bitch from 30 rock”), Also if you want to go on the defence wall walkways you need to pay but that’s up to you, I just went to the highest point and jumped up with a camcorder (Footage not found or useful)

 

Again loads of restaurants, bars and cafes and all that tourist jazz, I can’t really recommend a place as they were all quite similar, so go by price or the shallow option, how tight the trousers are  on the waiter!

 

By the way I forgot to mention everywhere you go coffee is cheap like £1.50 however their “large” coffee is the equivalent to our small, if Starbucks come here, everyone is going to go out of business or need to flee to IKEA for upgrades. Just say Croatia, bigger is better, IT’S COFFEE NOT A 8 YEARS OLD TEA PARTY! 

Also mentioning the cost you pay a tourism and city tax you need to pay goes to……I don’t know, perming the seagulls hair, it’s definitely not to fix the broken pavement, that be crazy.

 

And before I go I have to give this a black people moment, yes its all cool here, as I said in my Bulgaria blog, I felt like a celebrity there, like a fat woman stops eating and drops her cutlery to look at me (probably thought I was actual chocolate) while in Croatia they are like “ oh look at that silly tourist with the dainty camcorder bag” they had Pharrel Williams posters up and a small ghetto in each town, I think they’re clued up!

 

On the whole I recommend Croatia to anyone but mainly adults, not a lot for kids here in terms of activity, if you can try and do some island hopping as that’s where the sandy beaches are, I’m dubious about leaving details for the 3rd place but that’s to your discretion and curiosity and if you’re a massacist for pain and embarrassment. 

 

Till Next time followers, Aye aye from your Croatian lover.

 

 

Croatia Vlog

We "Split" to Dubrovnik....

Hey All

Hope you like the new video I'll be hopefully doing more of these on both sites, now that i FINALLY have a camcorder and more of an idea of what I'm doing....almost!!

Please like, share and comment ... there's more to come :)

Here's the links to all the places/ activites during my trip to Dubrovnik/Split, Croatia. Disclaimer prices may vary from season and may go up (or if lucky down) from what I stated!!

 

Villa Arka - https://www.expedia.co.uk/Dubrovnik-Southern-Dalmatia-Hotels-Villa-Arka.h12844250.Hotel-Information

Hotel Salona Palace - http://www.salonapalace.com/home (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED)

Villa Katarina -https://www.villakatarina-dubrovnik.com (NOT SO RECOMMENDED)

Krka National Park (aka KITKAT Waterfall Park) - http://www.np-krka.hr/en/

Zipline Split -http://zipline-croatia.com

GOT Walking Tours - https://www.dubrovnik-walking-tours.com/scheduled-tours/game-of-thrones-scheduled-walk/ (if you have a real boner for GOT trivia)