Croatian Me Crazy
I'll be honest, Croatia was never on my must visit list, but last May I had the chance to jump on a plane & fly across the Atlantic to explore this Mediterranean country. It turned into an experience that I'll never forget!
Croatia lies on the east coast of the Adriatic Sea, northeast of Italy & south of Slovenia. The country has countless natural breathtaking views including 100+ foot waterfalls and lakes the color of Mountain Dew's Baja Blast - not to mention the absolutely delicious food!
We stayed in the most perfectly located Airbnb in the town of Split. If you're traveling abroad, I highly recommend looking into staying at local apartments, condos or homes available on Airbnb verses staying at an overpriced hotel. It gives you a unique local-like perspective into the world you're visiting. Our host Vana was so welcoming and had tons of information regarding the best restaurants, shopping, and locations to visit during our stay.
On our first day, we ventured into the city and stumbled upon what looked like an endless staircase toward the heavens. Thinking it would be a quick ten minute detour, we started our way up. Mind you I was wearing Jack Rogers & a denim dress - clearly not the most ideal attire for a mountain climb, but when in Croatia, do as the Croatians do! 45 minutes later, we finally reached the summit! The scenery was unlike anything I had ever seen before. On one side, you have the coast - sailboats and yachts line the sea. The other side offered views of the mainland - a sea of green with mountaintops touching the clouds. *Side note, I was extremely proud of myself for making it all the way up what I now know to be the Marjan Hill in sandals* We ended the day enjoying gnocchi at a small sea-side restaurant, looking forward to what the next four days would bring.
The two days that followed were filled with trips to two stunning parks - Krka National Park & Plitvice Lakes Natural Park. Both are home to waterfalls and have some of the bluest lakes on this planet. By the way, when I say 'stunning', I am not exaggerating! The entire time I walked around, the TLC song Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls played in my head. I ABSOLUTELY recommend chasing these waterfalls, time and time again! Our first stop was Plitvice Lakes where we had the chance to hike right next to cascading pools of what looks like a real life Baja Blast factory. The twist and turns led to a 3-tier waterfall of enormous proportions. *Steps back and takes in the view* Krka was the second park to check off of our list. Get ready to experience all the feels in this truly subversive environment. From the nearly 360-degree views of waterfalls to the sub 60-degree crystal-clear water you can take a dip in, this park is unlike any other! Let's rewind, YES you can SWIM in this beautiful cascading water for as long as your body can handle the freezing temps. During our time taking a dip, we were joined by two white swans - which were unlike the typical 'get-away-from-me, hissing-type' swans I'm so used to in the states. Talk about the perfect photo opportunity!
The take away: when visiting Croatia, you have to visit both of these magical parks! My best advice is to set aside two full days - that way you have one day per park to fully enjoy the beauty! I also highly recommend bringing a sweatshirt or jacket that you can take off mid-way through your hike. Due to the elevation changes and cold water temps, the air temperature can feel pretty chilly. I'd also recommend bringing/ wearing a bathing suit or sports bra that you don't mind getting wet. Sneakers are a MUST!
We spent our fourth day touring a few islands right off the coast of Split. We booked a high-speed boat & wine tasting excursion via Viator & highly recommend it!! The trip includes an exhilarating ride out to the blue & green caves - each known for their unique and mesmerizing color. We also visited the Blue Lagoon & had a private wine tasting tour at a small family-owned vineyard that's been in business for over 100 years!
Fun fact: Croatia is known for their olive oil, lavender and wide array of fresh-caught seafood. At the Blue Lagoon, we were lucky enough to enjoy all three Croatian delicacies as we were treated to a home-made lunch of olive oil tossed mussels & pasta. Oh! & I can't forget to mention the bottomless glasses of white wine we sipped on while taking in the aroma of the local lavender. The day concluded on the island of Hvar where we were welcomed to taste the red, white, & grappa recipes of centuries before us.
We spent our final day exploring the old town of Split. While there, we climbed a Romanesque bell tower that dates back to the 4th-century, sampled the finest gelato, and purchased souvenirs at an underground market.
Looking back, I can't imagine how Croatia never made it onto my bucket list in the first place. If it's currently not on yours, what are you waiting for?! The Adriatic coast is calling! Happy traveling.
XO, The Future Miss You