It’s been a long day, and we have just landed in Edinburgh. Of course, it’s a lot colder here, but thankfully it’s not raining, as it was when we left here this time last week.
I have had a dodgy stomach for the last couple of hours. At first I put it down to the tired ham and cheese sandwich I had in Split Airport before we boarded, but on second thought it is more likely to be a result of the mussels and octopus stew I tried last night for dinner.
So, holiday over, but a highly recommended destination. Croatia is an exceptionally beautiful country with stunning scenery that wowed me every day, and I would gladly visit there again.
But now… bed.
Today was a fairly lazy one. It’s our last full day here so we decided to take it easy. We had been wondering about the assortment of buildings on the opposite shore for most of our time here, and after a little investigation last night we discovered it was a village called Brodarica, just a few miles away.
We took the short taxi ride there this morning, but there’s not much to see beyond the crystal clear waters we have been spoiled with this week. What there is though, is an island 300 metres away called Krapanj which is renowned for its sponges. Yes, sponges.
Now, we had intended to pay for the five minute ferry ride to go check it out, but before we got to the dock an old guy with a taxi boat offered to take us across for the same price. Come on, it’s a taxi boat – of course I said yes!
There’s not much on Krapanj either, except one hotel (where we enjoyed a really good lunch) and a couple of souvenir shops that specialised in sponges because, you know, that’s their thing.
Cars are not allowed on the island which is quite nice and gives the place a more old-fashioned feel, and there are no bridges connecting it to the mainland, so once we were ready to leave… we had to wait for the ferry or that same dude with the little boat to show up.
Well the old guy showed up first, so taxi boat it was!
It took us three hours on a boat to reach the small dock at Kornati National Park, but – as with every other destination this week – it was a trip worth taking. It was the hottest day of the holiday so far, so the cool breeze we felt while we were moving was welcomed.
The focus of the trip, beyond sailing between the 89 protected islands and witnessing the stunning sea views, was the salt lake just ten minutes from where we docked. The Fiancée© gave it a miss, but I was happy to get in and see what all the fuss was about.
I had never been in a salt lake before, and it’s really quite the novelty. I lay on my back, hands behind my head, closed my eyes, and just drifted away, with no intervention on my part. It was very calming and the closest thing to truly floating I have ever felt.
The journey back took a slightly different – but no less visually appealing – route, but I think the salt water sapped my energy to see it as I was quite tired by then. Of course, being under the heat of the sun for several hours probably added to my lethargy.
I had been advised (shame on you, internet) that Zadar was one of the hidden gems of Croatia, because it was largely undiscovered by tourists, so this seemed like a good way to spend our Thursday.
While I soon discovered that the ‘largely undiscovered’ part of the recommendation was horseshit, it didn’t matter, because Zadar is a great place to visit, with a lot of character and an unending maze of side streets that always lead to a plethora of souvenir shops, ice cream parlours, or restaurants…
… and on that note, despite the fact that there were at least a thousand places to buy a cappuccino, and a thousand more to buy a pizza, there was apparently only one place to get a sandwich for lunch. Zadar has a lot of things going for it but the ease with which you can find a cheese sandwich is not one of them.
The Fiancée© and I listened to the strange sounds of the Sea Organ, and watched the lights of the Monument to the Sun once the real one had set – a sunset which has the reputation of being spectacular. I have seen the sun go down in many places, but I have never seen such a large crowd gather to watch it happen.
A great end to a great day.
It’s hard to describe just how beautiful a location Krka National Park is, because you will very soon run out of superlatives. This is one of dozens of photos that I took, and The Fiancée© took dozens more – each one seemingly more picturesque than the last.
We got on a boat this morning to cover the rather short distance to the waterfalls at Krka, but a fifteen minute trip on land took us about two hours on the water. All perfectly fine because the landscape to get there was stunning. I even got a little tipsy drinking the local grappa.
Visitors have the opportunity to swim in the fresh water at the base of the waterfall, and despite being warned that the water was not as warm as we may have expected, I wasn’t about to miss the chance to get wet in the shadow of such a natural marvel. Even The Fiancée© dipped in… and the temperature wasn’t all that bad either.
Walking through the park was a joy, because there was another stream or fall at every turn, each one a vital cog that contributes to the overall majesty of Krka.
After yesterday’s postponement, we found the official bus to take us to Sibenik this morning.
We didn’t have a plan. The idea was just to make our way around the town and see where the streets took us, as long as we got to see something worthy of the journey.
Sibenik is home to four fortresses, and we made our way to two of them. St. Michael’s Fortress overlooks the mouth of the River Krka as it flows into the Adriatic Sea, and it offers one of the most stunning views I have ever seen. Of course, the weather was fantastic, so that helps, but truly it is a view worth the price of admission to the fortress alone.
We went from there to Barone Fortress, which is at the top of an extremely steep climb, and it took a little longer to get there than the ten minutes suggested by the ticket seller at St. Michael’s. But again, great views and a nice refreshment awaited once we arrived.
Our wanderings then took us to The Cathedral of St. James, which was an impressive piece of stonework, within shouting distance of the water, and a seemingly endless row of expensive and elaborate yachts.
The bus journey home was brief but eventful, because Croatian drivers never seem to have both hands on the wheel, or their full concentration on the road. They are either talking on the phone, texting, waving to someone they know, or a combination of all three.
The initial plan for today was to spend it in Sibenik – seeing the sights, and doing the regular tourist kinda things. However, after being directed to the bus stop (which wasn’t really a stop, as such: it was more just a place on the roadside for people to stand), and then catching sight of the driver, who was behind the wheel of a seven-seater mini-van with a crudely written notice on the windscreen saying ‘Sibenik’… I decided to give it a miss. Going with him would have felt a bit like paying someone to kidnap me.
So with that idea postponed, we decided to go to Aquapark Dalmatia – the waterpark that was baked into the resort. We got there just after it opened, and for about an hour we had the place to ourselves. We were like celebrities. No exaggeration. We were actually the only guests until we sat down for lunch, and a few people began to trickle in. But even at the peak of the day, there were never more than a dozen guests there.
There wasn’t much in the park – a few water slides, a few jacuzzis, and a lazy river, but to be honest it was perfectly fine for the relatively inexpensive entrance price. The Fiancée© stayed out of the water as much as she could, but then, I already established on our trip to Drayton Manor a couple of months ago that she doesn’t handle water very well.
I have not been overseas for five or six years, so this little excursion to a section of the former Yugoslavia is a welcome break from the daily grind.
So, after a three hour drive to Edinburgh, a three hour flight, and a coach trip that was the guts of an hour and a half, we arrived at our apartment just outside Sibenik, on the Dalmatia coast.
We even got a cheeky upgrade because The Fiancée© told them we had just got engaged… and who doesn’t enjoy towel swans and rose petals on their bed?