Whenever we told people we were going to Croatia for a holiday, we got one of two responses: “oh you’re going to love it, it’s so beautiful there”, or “I’ve heard it’s really beautiful there”.
Luckily they weren’t wrong.
After three solid weeks (and I’m not exaggerating: 21 straight days/evenings) of painting, during which the arthritis in my wrist flared up to the extent that I couldn’t bend it anymore, we were so ready for a break. Even more so when our timetable for the three days before we flew out was a day of early morning sanding followed by a wedding, an entire day of sanding followed by a 30th birthday barbecue and then yet another entire day of sanding.
So when this greeted us on arrival, I was very happy.
Diocletian’s Palace, Split
We flew to Split, had an evening there, then drove up to the Plitvice Lakes, a stunning area in the north east of Croatia. It was a long drive but worth it: crystal blue water, stunning scenery, night skies so free of light that you could see the Milky Way and one of the best Air BnB places we’ve ever stayed in.
After three days of walking in the national park, eating homegrown vegetables, hanging out with our hosts and their super-cute pets and visiting the local beekeeper to sample honey cakes and honey schnapps, we sadly said our goodbyes and headed down to the Dalmation Coast.
Staying in another Air BnB place about 40 minutes from Dubrovnik, we were extremely pleased to find that our little apartment had a private beach.
The sea wasn’t the warmest, but we made the most of it.
Visiting Dubrovnik was on the plans, but I think the weather gods didn’t want us to. We had about three hours there before heavy rain started, and the worst storm I have ever seen was ushered in. It lasted for about 12 hours in total, with dramatic forked lightning, torrential rain and ridiculously loud thunder. After attempting to wait for it to pass, we realized this was futile, so had to drive back to our apartment. I genuinely thought we wouldn’t make it: all I can say is thank goodness S was driving and thank double goodness that Croatian drivers are nothing like Italian ones.
Two days later we attempted another visit to Cavtat and then Dubrovnik, only for the same thing to happen: insanely torrential rain. We got soaked to the skin, took refuge in a restaurant, and then ended up helping the waitresses and other customers keep the rain off the awning with broom handles and umbrella poles. But we managed to see the funny side of it, and the carafes of white wine the waitresses handed round in thanks certainly helped.
We also, en route, saw plenty of Game of Thrones locations, including the gardens at Trsteno where the Kings Landing garden scenes are filmed. Trsteno’s harbour was beautiful, and after our visit we realised we had been to the very spot featured on the cover of our guidebook. I also loved climbing the fourteenth century walls at Ston, and rewarding myself with a piece of Ston cake afterwards – a delicious combination of nuts, honey and pasta.
Channelling my inner Margaery Tyrell
So despite the inclement weather, the rest of Croatia certainly made up for it, and after ten days of beer, sun, sea and peanut puffs (my favourite Eastern European snack), I was ready for the final push on the house.