Catching an overnight ferry from Italy to Croatia cost €95 (Blueline Ferries) and provided us with fantastic first impressions of the country we were to spend the next week exploring. We arrived ridiculously early, however it took us longer than expected to find Adriatic Hostel (great location) which was tucked away amongst the huge market that was full of delicious fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts and other goodies. After being informed by the Irish guy at reception that there was nothing to do in Split except for drink, we went for our own exploration with our recently found friend Parker. We walked through the Old Palace, before heading up the steps along from the water to a great lookout point over the city. We accidentally ended up going for a bit of a bush walk (much resembling NZ) and then picking our way back through some extremely naked people at the beach! We stopped for a swim and sunbathe ourselves, before slowly making our way back to the hostel, picking up another American, John and heading down to watch the football on a big screen at the waterfront. Having Sommersby cider again was such a treat, and we ate burgers between the games next to the water, where we challenged ourselves to see who could spot the most dead rats. The second game saw an old Croatian man give me flowers, and another old man pedalling away on his stationary bicycle, completely oblivious to the odd looks that were coming his way.
James arrived late that night, and the next morning we revisited the viewpoint from the day before, before finding another beach to spend the day at. The water here was quite dirty, although still enjoyable, and after jumping off the rocks for a bit, we all headed back to watch the football. Throughout the day we had been approached by numerous pub crawl companies trying to promote their tours, so whilst we were at dinner James cheekily baited a girl working for one of these companies, who had just stopped for dinner with her friend, and asked the rest of us “What are we going to do tonight?” – needless to say we got the desired response, and consequently signed up for her crawl. The meeting point was on a boat, from where we caught a ‘5 minute walk’ bus to some remote bar where an open bar saw us meet some interesting Kiwis who were planting slugs in each other’s drinks, some heartbroken Mexicans (who’d just lost to the Netherlands) and the consumption of far too many Jagerbombs!
The next morning I invested in a banana and blue powerade before climbing aboard the €10 catamaran to the party island of Hvar. Feeling a little worse for wear, I spent the better part of the trip in the toilet, and was definitely the most happy of us when we finally arrived. After figuring out how to telephone the owners of Curin Guesthouse we got picked up and taken to our accommodation, which was private and only about 10 minutes’ walk from the beach; however it lacked the promised ocean views! We spent the afternoon on a rocky beach, getting told off when we moved some ‘private deckchairs’. The night was spent recovering from the one before; James and Danielle were happy watching the football on our rooms own TV, so I set about making us some good old homemade hamburgers.
The following day saw some good exploring, eating and of course swimming. We caught a ferry across to Carpe Diem (40KN each, but we got it for 100KN for all of us) which is known as the ‘party island’. We weren’t in togs, so we were sunbathing on the beach, sipping our cocktails in our sports bras. That evening we had a taste of the Hvar nightlife – watching the football at a packed American diner as USA played Belgium, whilst devouring the ‘best burgers’ James had supposedly ever tasted.
The next morning we all had to research how we were going to get to Dubrovnik (me from the bathroom, and the others from the luxury of their beds) as it was proving harder than expected. In the end we caught a ferry to Korcula followed by a bus from there to Dubrovnik (which was preferable to a ferry back to Split and a bus from there). It was a bonus seeing Korcula, a pretty wee island where we had lunch and went for a swim.
An inactive phone number meant getting to Nicky’s Guesthouse proved to be rather difficult, however the help of a strangely friendly Croatian man in a bar saw us eventually arrive. The Guesthouse was wonderful; everyone was super friendly, it had a welcome homely feel and the facilities were great. The only downside was that it was at the top of a huge hill, with about a 10 minute walk down to the Port (with a few restaurants and bars), and 25 down to the Old Town (where most of your time should be spent).
It was love at first sight as we arrived at the Old Town. Danielle and James agreed, they were especially excited because it is the home of King’s Landing (from the Game of Thrones series). It cost about €10 to walk the city walls; money very well spent. The views were incredible, the day was divine, and the city itself was wonderfully quaint. Afterwards we had a gelato break (Croatian gelato has nothing on Italy!) before climbing the fortress, which we ended up doing twice because I successfully left (and lost) my wallet up there. Opting for another (‘500km!’) walk in the searing Croatian sunshine (as opposed to catching the funicular) coupled with only a few snake scares along the way, saw us reach the top of a huge hill which provided far fetching views over the neighbouring country of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The next day we hired kayaks from the bottom of the fortress (165KN for 1 double and 1 single for three hours) and ventured out for a paddle around the island. We did a bit of swapping around and my solo exploration saw me discover some epic caves before we stopped for lunch at a nudist beach. Our leisurely pace resulted in a mad rush back to shore, where we parted ways for James to go and watch the football, and Danielle and I went on a wee shopping expedition for dinner – we decided on satay, visited three supermarkets in search of vegetables and bought cashews from a prostitute before getting wickedly lost on the way home. Despite a popcorn kernel fight that night, and James’ alarm going off numerous times, we all managed a good nights sleep on our last night in Croatia – which was also mine and Danielle’s last night together for a while.
A hearty breakfast of chocolate pancakes, croissants, juice and coffee resulted in a belly well filled for a stressful ride to the airport as the bus kept getting stuck in traffic. On arrival I had to bolt to the check in queue, whilst Jim was left to bring the bags. Thankfully we made it, even having enough time to buy a block of Toblerone with our leftover Krona. Watch out Greece, here we come!