Croatia: Road Trip Leg 7 & Dubrovnik

Sunday, June 14th, 2015
Agriculture of the Neretva River Delta

Agriculture of the Neretva River Delta

Our final view of the Dinaric Alps meeting the Adriatic Sea

Our final view of the Dinaric Alps meeting the Adriatic Sea

The epic views of the Dalmatian coast continued on our seventh and final leg of the Croatian Road Trip. The Dinaric Alps kept crashing into the Adriatic, and a smattering of little islands were always to the west. A new element in this section was the introduction of agriculture to the delta of the Neretva River just after we passed through the small coastal section of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The river has been damned in multiple locations upstream to take advantage of its flow for hydroelectric power, and it has been distributed throughout the delta for irrigation resulting in a green and blue patchwork of farm land.

At the southern tip of the country, Dubrovnik is our final destination in the Mediterranean. Every day has been sunny and mostly dry with average daytime temperatures of 80-85˚F so we spent the first few days ducking into the shadows of the old town with frequent stops at mini markets for cold beverages and ice cream. Then we spent a couple days in the sea swimming and kayaking. Then we spent a day walking around the newer sections, and today we have stayed put in our air conditioned apartment.

The old town is better than I expected, but the city as a whole is geared to tourism much more than I expected. This made it easy to get around and comfortable to be in, but it certainly wasn’t a glimpse into the average Croatian life.

The city within walls

The city within walls

Dubrovnik & Lokrum Island

Dubrovnik & Lokrum Island

Old and new terra cotta roofs

Old and new terra cotta roofs

Hiding from the sun

Hiding from the sun

Construction

Construction

He brings his own shade

He brings his own shade

Fishing nets wrapped and ready

Fishing nets wrapped and ready

Beautiful door

Beautiful door

I love people

I love people

The Onofrio Fountain

The Onofrio Fountain

Photo bomb

Photo bomb

Walking on walls

Walking on walls

The Stradun of Dubrovnik at night

The Stradun of Dubrovnik at night

Dubrovnik Cathedral in the distance

Dubrovnik Cathedral in the distance

Inside Lovrijenac (St. Lawrence Fortress)

Inside Lovrijenac (St. Lawrence Fortress)

New Dubrovnik

New Dubrovnik

Swimming

Swimming

Kayaks for the open Sea

Kayaks for the open Sea

Before their arms ache

Before their arms ache

Cold Drinks...aka Buza Bar

Cold Drinks…aka Buza Bar

The cliff side of Buza Bar

The cliff side of Buza Bar

I have a feeling that this might have been the last time I will swim in a huge body of water this year. I’m going to miss it.

Alone

Alone

Croatia: Road Trip Leg 6, Makarska Riviera & Hvar

Monday, June 8th, 2015
The Coastal Route

The Coastal Route

After Leg 5 of our Croatian Road Trip, we were supposed to switch to public transportation. The plan was to drive along the coast and explore Paklinica & Krka National Parks, then return the car at the Split airport before taking a bus the rest of the way down the Dalmatian coast to Dubrovnik. That plan changed when we saw the road wind along the base of the Dinaric Alps as they dropped into the Adriatic Sea when we left Krk Island. How could we pass up the chance to drive the entire length of a coastline like that? We couldn’t.

Random fortification wall

Random fortification wall

Guard rails

Guard rails

Makes me wonder what it was like new

Makes me wonder what it was like new

He's in abandoned building heaven

He’s in abandoned building heaven

The Million Dollar View

The Million Dollar View

Abandoned children's resort in the middle of a functioning campground

Abandoned children’s resort in the middle of a functioning campground

Trogir - Tvrđava Kamerlengo

Trogir – Tvrđava Kamerlengo

Trogir - Tvrđava Kamerlengo

Trogir – Tvrđava Kamerlengo

Cloister garden

Cloister garden

Drainage

Drainage

Chapel

Chapel

Trogir

Trogir

Trogir

Trogir

Former palace courtyard

Former palace courtyard

Stone

Stone

Because we decided to keep the car all the way to Dubrovnik, the options for where to stay after Šibenik opened up and I discovered an area called “The Makarska Riviera”. It is 60 kilometer stretch of coastline in central Dalmatia around the town of Makarska. The slender region is cut off from the rest of the mainland by the Biokovo mountain range (part of the Dinaric Alps) and has only one main access road connecting a long string of small towns with populations of 300-1500 people each. Many of the former fishing villages have developed tourism economies where there are up to 4 beds to every inhabitant. The attraction to the area for tourism is obvious…beaches, dramatic landscapes, and fantastic weather. We were there for a full week at the beginning of June, and the average daily temperature was about 75˚F. Perfect for lounging on the beach and swimming in the sea.

We chose to stay in the town of Podgora because we found an amazing seaside apartment. It was within walking distance of several different beaches and any service we needed. I expected we would try out a different beach every day, but we ended up going to the same one for 3 out of our 4 beach days. The reason is that it was in a small secluded bay away from the road with a view of the dramatic coastal landscape and plenty of shade trees.

Our view

Our view

Sunset

Sunset

Nik in the Adriatic

Nik in the Adriatic

Ahhhh

Ahhhh

The only excursion we took from Podgora was a trip to Hvar island via the car ferry from Drvenik to Sućuraj. Once on the island, we drove its entire 82 kilometer length to Hvar city with only a few detours along the way. We parked the car in a paid lot on the outskirts of town and walked through the main square to the port. From what I read before the outing, I expected the city to be lavish and glitzy because this is where the rich and famous came to vacation. On the Friday afternoon we were there, it was just like any other small historic coastal Croatian town with a few extra yachts in its harbor.

After lunch, we began the drive back to Sućuraj with the hope of finding a nice secluded beach along the way to spend the afternoon. Our first try near Zaraće didn’t work out because there was no obvious beach and the road to get there was extremely steep and windy. Our second try took us on a meandering route through the towns of Vrbanj, Svirče, Vrisnik, and Pitve before we entered the most bazaar one-way, rough-cut car tunnel there ever was. At the end of the road, we were in the town of Zavala where we parked and walked along a coastal path to the perfect inlet with just enough level beach to spread out two towels. After relaxing in the sun a bit, we took the plunge into the cold water and enjoyed our seclusion. Five minutes later, a family of 5 plopped down to share our tiny beach. I couldn’t blame them. It was perfect.

After about an hour, we were getting tired and we knew the drive back up the hill and through the tunnel wouldn’t be easy, so we packed up, got in the car, and began our return trip to the ferry. Just before we got to the car, it started raining and we were amazed that we timed it perfectly. The steep uphill road was fairly empty, but we did have to play chicken with an oncoming car in the tunnel. That is not an experience I ever want to repeat.

By the time we pulled up to the Sućuraj ferry port 20 minutes before departure, the sky was dark with storm clouds. I ran up to buy our tickets while Nik waited in the car in line. As I got back into the car, the rain and wind picked up and a perfect rainbow formed an arch over the truck in front of us. We sat and watched the lightning and wondered if the boats would still cross in this weather. The answer is yes, but the rain stopped shortly after we boarded and we were able to go up on deck and watch the storm from a distance as the sun set.

Passengers enjoying the view

Passengers enjoying the view

Goodbye mainland...we'll be back in a few hours

Goodbye mainland…we’ll be back in a few hours

Where the Dinaric Alps meet the Adriatic

Where the Dinaric Alps meet the Adriatic

Rails

Rails

Chill

Chill

Hvar Island from the south

Hvar Island from the south

Farm town on Hvar Island

Farm town on Hvar Island

Abandoned children's resort pool in Jesla

Abandoned children’s resort pool in Jesla

Rooms of the resort

Rooms of the resort

Hvar city

Hvar city

Blue, Yellow & Red on Stone

Blue, Yellow & Red on Stone

Hvar Theater

Hvar Theater

Croatia knows how to do boardwalks

Croatia knows how to do boardwalks

Nik chomping on Carob

Nik chomping on Carob

Construction ramps

Construction ramps

Hvar hilltowns

Hvar hilltowns

Lightning

Lightning

Useful Info:
The listing for our apartment
Our AirBnB Croatia Wish List
Makarska Riviera Beaches
Great Hvar Restaurant: Dalmatino
Croatia Ferries: Drvenik-Sučuraj

Nik’s Blog: Abandoned Hotels and Beach Days in Podgora, Croatia

Croatia: Road Trip Leg 5, Šibenik, and Krka National Park

Sunday, May 31st, 2015
On the road

On the road

Small factory town

Small factory town

After a short 96 km drive from Paklenica, we stopped in Šibenik for two days/three nights to see the falls within Krka National Park and explore the small city. We started our park day pretty early and were one of the first cars to pull into the lot near Skradinski Buk. It was a warm day, so we were thankful for the shade along the steep path down the hill. Once at the water’s edge, an educational trail of wooden boardwalks criss crossed the falls and gave us the chance to watch fish, frogs and lizards in the clear water below. The walk would be great for kids, but Nik and I enjoyed it all the same. At the end of the trail, we had a simple lunch while watching visitors swim in the wide pool at the base of the waterfall. We originally planned to jump in ourselves, but the water was frigid and we decided to drive to a couple other falls within the park instead.

Krka National Park

Krka National Park

Fish in crystal clear water

Fish in crystal clear water

Frog camo

Frog camo

Slap (waterfall)

Slap (waterfall)

Natural edges

Natural edges

A beautiful and cold swimming hole

A beautiful and cold swimming hole

Swimmers and spectators

Swimmers and spectators

Skradinski Buk

Skradinski Buk

Swan and swanling

Swan and swanling

Necklace Falls

Necklace Falls

Manojlovac Falls

Manojlovac Falls

The city of Šibenik was the first historic coastal town in Croatia where it seems the old town is appreciated as much by the locals as it is by tourists. Perhaps this is because the old town is flanked on three sides by more modern development making it easy for locals to simply cross through town. Or maybe it is because there is not a huge tourist interest in Šibenik because Krka National Park is an easy day trip from Split or Zadar rather than a destination on its own. Regardless, it is well worth staying there for a few nights because the evenings in town are magical, the buildings are graceful, and the water’s edge is beautiful and full of life.

Sunset from our Šibenik apartment balcony

Sunset from our Šibenik apartment balcony

Šibenik Cathedral

Šibenik Cathedral

Statue & shutters

Statue & shutters

Šibenik street lamp

Šibenik street lamp

Steel handrail

Steel handrail

Stone laundry pole hangers

Stone laundry pole hangers

Nik in Šibenik

Nik in Šibenik

Nik’s Blog: Three Days in Šibenik and Krka National Park, Croatia

Page 1 of 3123