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Back from 13 Nights in the Beautiful Country of Croatia

Back from 13 Nights in the Beautiful Country of Croatia

Old Sep 27th, 2020, 06:50 AM
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Back from 13 Nights in the Beautiful Country of Croatia

Hi everyone. I am back from 13 nights in the stunningly beautiful country of Croatia and wanted to share a brief trip report with all of you. Some of you may recall that my original trip plans for this year included a 4-country swing through Eastern Europe, involving Prague, Budapest, Bosnia & Herzegovina and then the final four nights in Croatia (2 each in Dubrovnik and Split). Coronavirus put a hard stop on those plans, and so when Croatia decided to be welcoming to the world, I took it as an opportunity to spend all 13 nights there and more fully explore the country.

Let me state upfront: I will not engage in shaming discussions about traveling at this point, particularly in coming from certain countries. I took TWO coronavirus tests immediately prior to arriving in Croatia, which is like two more tests than the vast majority of the world's population has taken. If you can't respect my intensive planning and respect for my hosts and myself that went into doing that, then please keep your opinions to yourself as they are not welcome here. End of that story.

Let me first start off by offering thanks in particular to KarenWoo for the inspiration gained through her trip report (and stunning photographs!) from last year that contributed to my agenda and preparation for my Croatia trip, as well as to rialtogrl for her considerable guidance and advise during the latter stages of my trip preparation.

My agenda was as follows:

3 nights in Dubrovnik
2 nights on Korcula
2 nights on Hvar, which included a day out on speed boat through the Adriatic, stopping along the coast of Vis as well as visiting the Blue Cave on Bisevo)
3 nights in Split, including a day trip to the pretty Venetian town of Trogir
1 night in Plitvice Lakes (staying at the Hotel Miric, following in KarenWoo's and rialtogrl's footsteps)
2 nights in the Habsburg capital city of Zagreb

Rather than posting long detail about my trip, I'm going to share some general impressions about Croatia and in traveling through it in 2020:

1. The country is stunning, south to north! So much beauty, both Mother Nature and man-made.
2. Traveling in 2020 provided a once in a century opportunity to see the country in the summer months when it was not mobbed with tourists. What a treat to see Dubrovnik and Plitvice Lakes in particular in this manner.
3. The south and the islands seemed very Mediterranean, Italiante-influenced while the north, as expected was much more Austro-Hungarian.
4. Throughout my trip, I enjoyed reading a terrific book on Croatia's history titled "A Traveller's History of Croatia" by Benjamin Curtis. It added immensely to both my knowledge and enjoyment of this gorgeous country.
5. The wines are pretty dang tasty. Don't expect Puligny Montrachet or Barolo, but Grk, Posip and Plavak Mali are all eminently quaffable. I brought a couple of bottles home with me, as well as a bottle of Croatian olive oil.
6. I would estimate nearly 100% of all the Croatians under the age of 50 speak pretty decent to fluent English. I had hoped to have the opportunity to use my Italian while in Croatia (I'm not fluent but I'm better than decent) but only had that opportunity once with a harbor worker down at the port of Split.
7. Everyone should see the breathtaking city of Dubrovnik once in their lifetimes. Very few cities exceeded the high expectations I had for them in terms of beauty. Istanbul was one and Kyoto a second. And now Dubrovnik is a third.
8. The women in particular smoke a lot.

Am I glad that I wen this year? ABSOLUTELY! There was an incredible amount of planning, checking, re-scheduling of canceled flights and hotels etc. in the weeks leading up to my departure but it was all totally worth it to see this beautiful country under these extraordinary circumstances.

Here are some of my favorite photos from Croatia. Happy to answer questions or respond to comments.

MB

The Stradun in Dubrovnik at sunset on my first night.

This photo hit me hard at the War Photo Museum in Dubrovnik. It shows a Bosniak man pleading for his life while being held at gunpoint by Serbian paramilitary during the civil war in Bosnia & Hezegovina. I asked the museum curator is he knew what happened to the man. The curator knew the photographer as it turned out. The Bosniak man was subsequently taken to the police station where he was thrown out the second floor window.

The walled city of Dubrovnik from the cable car station at the top of Mt. Srd.

The wild rosemary grows like weeds at the top of Mt. Srd. (Wished I could do this in Minneapolis...)

While walking the Dubrovnik walls. This reminded me just a bit of Santorini.

The old city of Dubrovnik from the walls. L to R: The Clock Tower, the Cathedral and the Church of St. Blaise.

The beautiful old town of Korcula from my apartment at Villa Tea. Korcula island.

Looking out over the vineyards of Lumbarda. Korcula island.

Orthodox monastery of Dominikatis at sunset. Korcula.

I brought home a bottle of Grk and a bottle of Plavac Mali

Main square of Hvar Town. Hvar island.

One of the national dishes of Croatia, Risotto Nero, made with cuttlefish and cuttlefish ink. This tasted much better than it photographed. Restaurant Divino. Hvar Town.

Inside the Blue Cave. Bisevo island.

City of Split from the Riva promenade.

Narodni trg (main square) with the 1000 year old clock tower. From my hotel room. at Palace Judita. Split.

The Peristyle (main courtyard) of Diocletian's Palace. Split

The famous Ston oysters. Adriatic Sushi and Oyster Bar. Split.

The pretty island city of Trogir.

One of the lower lakes and waterfalls at gorgeous Plitvice Lakes.

The big waterfall. Plitvice.

Oh look, another emerald green lake at Plitvice! The waters really ARE this turquoise green!

St. Mark's Church, arguably the symbol of Zagreb.

I almost didn't go down the little alley that led to the promenade that provides this stunning overlook of the lower town of Zagreb. Glad I did.

The Croatian National Theater, a good example of the Austro-Hungarian architecture you'll find throughout Zagreb.

Black pig pork chop with white truffle sauce and crispy shaved celery root. Le Bistro restaurant at Hotel Esplanade. Zagreb.
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Old Sep 27th, 2020, 09:10 AM
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How wonderful. I envy your experience so much.
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Old Sep 27th, 2020, 11:09 AM
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Lovely. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and photos.
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Old Sep 27th, 2020, 01:09 PM
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Oh, I want to be there right now....
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Old Sep 27th, 2020, 02:19 PM
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MinnBeef, thank you for mentioning my name. I love writing trip reports even though they are time-consuming, so I am always happy to hear that my reports help other people plan their trips. I really on other travelers' trip reports, too.

I envy you traveling through Croatia without the crowds! Your photos are gorgeous! You have a good eye for composition and details.

I agree with your descriptions of southern Croatia and the islands, and with your comments about Zagreb. One thing I really enjoyed about our trip last year was the diversity amongst the places we visited.

Just curious. Did the Miric Inn serve dinner? I seem to recall that earlier this year some people reported that they stopped serving dinner. If that's true, that's too bad.

Did you have a favorite place? I know it's hard to choose one or two, but just curious.

Did you meet other Americans traveling through Croatia? And did you rent a car? Or did you travel by public transportation?

It's so enjoyable to read about one's trip this year and see photos instead of always posting about cancelled trips and COVID-19.
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Old Sep 27th, 2020, 04:25 PM
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Originally Posted by KarenWoo View Post
MinnBeef, thank you for mentioning my name. I love writing trip reports even though they are time-consuming, so I am always happy to hear that my reports help other people plan their trips. I really on other travelers' trip reports, too.

I envy you traveling through Croatia without the crowds! Your photos are gorgeous! You have a good eye for composition and details.

I agree with your descriptions of southern Croatia and the islands, and with your comments about Zagreb. One thing I really enjoyed about our trip last year was the diversity amongst the places we visited.

Just curious. Did the Miric Inn serve dinner? I seem to recall that earlier this year some people reported that they stopped serving dinner. If that's true, that's too bad.

Did you have a favorite place? I know it's hard to choose one or two, but just curious.

Did you meet other Americans traveling through Croatia? And did you rent a car? Or did you travel by public transportation?

It's so enjoyable to read about one's trip this year and see photos instead of always posting about cancelled trips and COVID-19.
Karen, thank you so much for the nice compliments on my photos. In all aspects of my life, I am very Ēleft brainĒ with little artistic talent, which is why I respect it so much in those who have it. But I think left brainíism may actually help with photographic quality because, as you said, composition is such a key piece of good photography, And as we both now know, with a subject matter as beautiful as Croatia, itís easy to take great photos!

The Miric did not serve dinner. I recall your photo of dinner at the Miric (in fact, I looked at it drooling the night before I left Split for Plitvice) and asked about it when I arrived. I met Boba, Liliís mother who said they did not serve dinner and directed me to a pizza and sandwich shop in town. Maybe it just got to be too much work for them?

Re. favorite place, I would have to say Dubrovnik for itís breathtaking beauty as well as history, both past and recent, along with Plitvice which was just stunning.

I did hear a few American accents along the way but not many. I did everything by public transportation (ferry and bus) because as a solo traveler, I find it a hassle to rent a car. You are driver and navigator and so do not get to enjoy any scenery. The one time Iíve done was a couple of years ago in the La Rioja region of northern Spain as I needed it to travel through wine country.
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Old Sep 27th, 2020, 05:15 PM
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MinnB, thanks for sharing your adventures in Croatia. I'm so ready to fly away somewhere but my pragmatic brain tells me to wait. Great photos.
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Old Sep 27th, 2020, 08:46 PM
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Thanks very much for your TR and pictures, MinnBeef! Very much enjoyed it all.

Looking forward to planning my trip to many of the same places next year.
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Old Sep 27th, 2020, 11:29 PM
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I am so glad you enjoyed your trip MinnBeef. Sorry to hear Miric Inn was not serving food! Maybe there are not enough guests. What a bummer.

Since you were here there has been volatile weather in Dalmatia for days.. Krilo cancelled catamarans last three days and now they took their Dubrovnik to Split route down completely, not available starting Thursday. So you had excellent timing. I am so happy to see Zagreb cathedral looking so beautiful. I was there to see the earthquake damage to the south tower and watched them blow up the damaged north tower and remove the other spire. Wonderful to see it repaired.

maybe next year, Istria and Bosnia-Herzegovina!
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Old Sep 28th, 2020, 02:12 AM
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I assumed you had a car, wonder if you might run through your transportation in more detail, bus routes and links to schedules, etc?
We only use public transport, so some destinations go down the list because of lesser bus and train infrastructure (too spoiled by Switzerland!)
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Old Sep 28th, 2020, 06:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Treesa View Post
MinnB, thanks for sharing your adventures in Croatia. I'm so ready to fly away somewhere but my pragmatic brain tells me to wait. Great photos.
Thank you Teresa.
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Old Sep 28th, 2020, 06:37 AM
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Originally Posted by joannyc View Post
Thanks very much for your TR and pictures, MinnBeef! Very much enjoyed it all.

Looking forward to planning my trip to many of the same places next year.
Good luck with your planning, Joan. Itís a gorgeous country.
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Old Sep 28th, 2020, 06:41 AM
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Originally Posted by rialtogrl View Post
I am so glad you enjoyed your trip MinnBeef. Sorry to hear Miric Inn was not serving food! Maybe there are not enough guests. What a bummer.

Since you were here there has been volatile weather in Dalmatia for days.. Krilo cancelled catamarans last three days and now they took their Dubrovnik to Split route down completely, not available starting Thursday. So you had excellent timing. I am so happy to see Zagreb cathedral looking so beautiful. I was there to see the earthquake damage to the south tower and watched them blow up the damaged north tower and remove the other spire. Wonderful to see it repaired.

maybe next year, Istria and Bosnia-Herzegovina!
Thank you again for all your guidance, rialtogrl. It was very helpful. That must have been quite a sad sight with the Zagreb Cathedral earlier this year. Unfortunately the interior was still closed off to visitors, as it seemed many of the Zagreb churches were. E.g. St. Markís Church in the old town- I must have passed by it 3 or 4 times and the doors were always closed.

Sounds like my timing to Dalmatia was perfect. The weather was absolutely gorgeous. In Fahrenheit, it was in the 80s throughout my entire trip, other than perhaps in Pltvice and Zagreb where it was a tad cooler.

BiH is in my 2021 plans as well, along with Prague and Budapest, my originally planned 2021 trip. Hereís to better travel luck for all of us in 2021!
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Old Sep 28th, 2020, 07:14 AM
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MinnBeef, when you start planning for Bosnia-Herzegovina make a note - Funky Sarajevo Tours in Sarajevo and I-House Travel in Mostar. I did tours with both outfits last year - and both were great. In Budapest one of my best friends is a wine tour operator. When you are ready to start planning let me know if you want her website info. Sorry to go off topic but I know how it is when you get home from one trip and start thinking about the next one. Onward!
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Old Sep 28th, 2020, 11:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Adelaidean View Post
I assumed you had a car, wonder if you might run through your transportation in more detail, bus routes and links to schedules, etc?
We only use public transport, so some destinations go down the list because of lesser bus and train infrastructure (too spoiled by Switzerland!)
I did not use a car as I noted above because as a solo traveler, one ends up being both driver and navigator with the car and it takes all of the pleasure out of the journey. I used public transportation the entire way. For ferrying from Orebic to Korcula, I used Jadrolinija. For ferrying both from Korcula to Hvar and Hvar to Split, I used Kapetan Luka. There is also Krilo whom I did not sure. You can easily Google them to reach their websites. For bus travel (Split to Plitvice and Plitvice to Zagreb, I used GetbyBus, a ticket broker.
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Old Sep 28th, 2020, 11:57 AM
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Originally Posted by MinnBeef View Post
For ferrying both from Korcula to Hvar and Hvar to Split, I used Kapetan Luka. There is also Krilo whom I did not sure..
Krilo and Kapetan Luka are the same.
https://www.krilo.hr
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Old Sep 28th, 2020, 12:13 PM
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Thanks! Good to know.
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Old Sep 28th, 2020, 10:38 PM
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Lovely, breathtaking Croatia! Thanks for posting!
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Old Sep 29th, 2020, 12:31 AM
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MinnBeef, I am so happy to hear you had a great time in Croatia. What a beautiful country!. Your pictures are so lovely.

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Old Sep 29th, 2020, 05:24 AM
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Originally Posted by cafegoddess View Post
MinnBeef, I am so happy to hear you had a great time in Croatia. What a beautiful country!. Your pictures are so lovely.
Thank you cafegoddess. It was a wonderful trip and as Iíve noted, a treat to enjoy it in this season of significantly fewer tourists.

As I recall, your own trip comes up in a week or two. Re your COVID test, remember that:

1. It MUST be a PCR test to quality for entry into Croatia
2. Your life will be easier if your paperwork says PCR on it and you are able to print the results out prior to your arrival at the border
3. It cannot be more than 48 hours old from the time of sample to the time of arrival. If it is, youíll be allowed entry but youíll have to self quarantine until you would take a PCR test locally and be able to produce the negative results.

I look forward to reading about your trip soon!
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