Croatia. A special place, no doubt about it. And luckily for us, we were joined by some of our best friends to share this wonderful experience. In fact, this blog entry is a bit different than the rest as we’ve asked our friends to share their thoughts. Yeah, we know you think we’re being lazy, but we figured you all needed a break from our words and deserve the fresh perspectives of some others…
We often travel to find balance. A balance in our lives between work and play, or everyday routine and adventure. I find it ironic then, that many vacations tend to lack the very balance we set out to find. We've all heard (or been guilty of saying), "I need a vacation from my vacation" ... well, Croatia to the rescue! Lusting for old European history, castles and cobblestones? Check! On the hunt for relaxed island vibes, vibrant blue waters and soaking up the sun? Check! Just sample the local gelato or sea bass in Split. Enjoy laid back beach vibes or Miami-like nightlife in Hvar. Go wine tasting on the Peljesac Peninsula or clubbing in a castle in Dubrovnik. We are living proof that it's possible to accomplish such a varied mix of epic adventures on one single trip!
A good first stop for any Croatian visit as it's easy to get to from the airport and easy to leave via ferry boat or rental car to any of your next destinations. The city is small, but the local vibe made it a relaxed, casual and easy place to visit. Our AirBnb was adorable and the terrace proved to be the perfect perch for us all to come together and catch up after too many months apart! Split is a port-side city with gorgeous private yachts harboring in and out. Although there are beaches, they are nothing compared to the other Dalmatian cities as we would soon find out. But of course we paid them a visit anyway! After a long hot walk to the rocky beach, we ran into the mostly clear water and treaded the current until we were sufficiently cooled off. The city itself seems to be covered in wall-to-wall pink and white marble, which glistens off the steamy sunny days. Between all the reminiscing and story-telling we squeezed in some history with a visit to the fortress-like center, Diocletian’s Palace, erected in the 4th century by the Roman emperor. We also enjoyed to dine on some amazing Branzino and pasta to fill our tummies from all the walking and swimming, and just like that it was time to head on our ferry for Hvar Island!
Hvar had an even smaller-town vibe than Split, with an incredibly tropical vacation-y feel. As you’re arriving in the port, the town is dotted with palm trees, crystal clear beaches and a sprawling stone fortress atop the highest hill. After a little apartment confusion and lugging our six suitcases up a steep driveway, we shoved our bags in our rooms and were eager to hit the beach. Beach Pokonji Dol did not disappoint! As we hiked, billy goat-style, down a rocky path in our flip-flops and beach bags, we were welcomed with the most pristine turquoise water below. We collectively agreed this is one of the most beautiful beaches we all had ever seen. The afternoon slowly drifted by with tons of swimming, cold beers at the beachfront Konoba and some giggle-inducing card games. Day one in Hvar could not be topped… or so we thought. Bright and early the next day we met Captain Edi for some sailing on the Baltic. Although the winds weren’t conducive to sailing, it was a perfect day of jumping in every cove and cave surrounding Hvar Island. A completely memorable spot was swimming in The Green Cave where there is a natural sunlight, creating a gorgeous emerald spotlight. Edi sailed us into downtown Vis to grab some lunch, topped off with a glittering glass of champagne. Literally the bottle of bubbly was shimmering with edible crystals. A day on the open seas was so enjoyable, we booked Edi’s friend for a private speedboat the next day. Matthias pulled up the next morning in a supersized dingy that sliced through the waves, with all of us hooting and hollering and one friend in the bow soaking in the best view and bumpiest waters. We were able to explore farther this day and visited the glowing Blue Cave, which is created by sunlight coming underneath the water from outside the cave walls. Absolutely gorgeous! Our day was spent hunting for coves to enjoy, remote islands where we wine tasted and dined at family restaurants and a beach bar built tree-house style where the seating was perched in the branches. We boated back to Hvar Town as the sun was setting and smiles plastered on all of our faces.
Upon first glance down at the ancient city from the freeway WAY above (on a treacherous cliff) we could not wait to get into the city to start exploring! Dubrovnik (minus the suitcases some of us had to carry!) quickly lived up the hype of one of the most unique cities in the world. It was hard not to marvel as we walked through the polished floor corridors or look up at ancient castle walls. Luckily, the crew happened upon a hole in the wall that lead down to a cliff side bar called Buza, which turned into the perfect place to enjoy a sunset view and refreshing cocktail. Our first full day was spent lounging by the seaside pool at Grand Villa Argentina that featured one of the best pool views we've ever seen! The next day a few of us ventured to do the famous castle wall walk which surrounds the full city. What the wall lacked in shade... it made up for in tourists and stairs! Luckily, the views were beautiful both inside and outside the walls and seeing the city from above almost helps you envision the city as a working castle back in the day. The afternoon was spent tasting the delicious wine of indigenous grapes in the Dubrovnik Mountains at small family vineyards, along with freshly made cheeses and breads. On the trip back to town, we stopped off at a little village to take a tiny boat with fisherman Mario to shuck fresh oysters with some homemade vino. What. A. Day.