It was a good but quite a hectic and hurried vacation. Equally sad when my camera refused to work! I was carrying over 10 kgs of equipment and not enough clothes to stay within weight. Lol. But then it was also super fun at places and meeting super nice people.
For Aparajita it was her Mediterranean fantasies coming true, featuring balmy days by sapphire waters in the shade of ancient walled towns. It was not her first holiday destination but Croatia quickly turned into a popular vacation spot. More than 3,500 miles of coastline, including its 1,200 picturesque islands, offer pristine hideaways and raging party towns.
Croatia (Croatian: Hrvatska) is situated in Southeast Europe and a perfect holiday destination for everyone. It is to the east side of the Adriatic Sea, to the east of Italy. It is also bordered by Slovenia to the northwest, Hungary to the north, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the southeast, Serbia in the east, and Montenegro to the south.
Croatia’s splendours extend from the deep-blue waters of the Adriatic coastline, encompassing more than a thousand islands crossed by waterfall-laced mountains of the Dinaric Alps and dotted with medieval Castles..
Its inland capital, Zagreb, is distinguished by its medieval Gornji Grad (Upper Town) and diverse museums. From Dubrovnik’s walled city where baroque buildings are surrounded by centuries-old forts to the lively islands of Brač and Hvar, this Central European country is an exciting blend of glamour and tradition.
Croatia’s vibrant, historic cities, sprawling vineyards, gorgeous beaches, and thousand-plus islands give travellers plenty of places to dance, sip wine, sail, and soak up the sunshine.
Dubrovnik is indeed amazing and is Croatia’s number one tourist attraction, a rare example of a medieval walled city and one that is visited by millions of people every year. I knew it would be nice, but before I first stepped through the city gates I had no idea just how nice it really is. Turns out all of those tourists are on to something; Dubrovnik is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever visited. If I thought Zadar evoked images of Game of Thrones, Dubrovnik went even further since several scenes from the series were actually filmed there. BesideAside from the familiar scenery, the city is beautiful in every way. The best way to really see Dubrovnik is by walking along the city walls, affording a bird’s eye view of the labyrinthine alleys and streets of the old city. So if you were thinking of skipping Dubrovnik because it’s too touristy, don’t! You must see it; you must live it in order to truly understand what makes it so very special.
The moment you set foot in Dubrovnik, you feel awed or rather overawed and you feel magically drawn into the old walled city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
As you walk on the walls you will be mesmerized by this city that breathes within and the bright blue waters of Adriactic Sea that surrounds it. You perhaps won’t even want to even blink, lest you might waste a second not seeing it…. .
You will be walking by people’s houses, with their front porches sometimes opening bang on the walkway. Just imagine how irritating it would be to sit on your porch and just see thousands of tourists walk by your house some even clicking pictures.
If people know anything about Croatia, it usually includes the famous Plitvice Lakes National Park. An undeniable natural wonder, images of these cascading lakes are the stuff of travel dreams for millions.
Situated about two hours from the capital city of Zagreb, Plitvice National Park is one of the most beautiful and best preserved national parks in the country. This is why the entire lakes and surrounding area were declared a national park in 1949 and are listed on the UNESCO`s list of World Heritage Sites because of its exceptional beauty. It is a valley situated between high forested mountains in which lie, one below another, a string of sixteen beautiful lakes of crystal blue and green waters. Fed by small streams and brooks, they spill into each other in 92 foaming cascades and thundering waterfalls. The lakes themselves cover about 2 square kilometres and the entire national park covers 200 square kilometres. The Plitvice lakes` scenery will simply delight you regardless whether you are walking the paths and wooden bridges, taking a boat ride or just taking photographs.
Hvar is the longest and the sunniest Croatian island and one of the most beautiful islands in the world and is estimated to draw around 20,000 people a day in the high season. It’s odd that they can all fit in the small bay town, where 13th-century walls surround beautifully ornamented Gothic palaces and traffic-free marble streets, but fit they do. Visitors wander along the main square, explore the sights on the winding stone streets, swim on the numerous beaches or pop off to the Pakleni Islands to get into their birthday suits, but most of all they party at night.
There are several good restaurants here and a number of great hotels, but thanks to the island’s appeal to well-heeled guests, the prices can be seriously inflated. Don’t be put off if you’re on a lower budget though, as private accommodation and a couple of hostels cater to a younger, more diverse crowd.
Split, a town on Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast, is known for its beaches and the fortress like complex at its center, Diocletian’s Palace, erected by the Roman emperor in the 4th century. Once home to thousands, its sprawling remains include more than 200 buildings. Within its white stone walls and under its courtyards and galleries are shops, bars, cafes, cathedrals, hotels and several houses.
The walking tour starts with a visit to the cellars of the Palace that are still very well preserved. The cellars offer a good view at how the life in the Palace was organized. The Cathedral St. Duje is a complex of a church, formed from an Imperial Roman mausoleum, with a bell tower; strictly the church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and the bell tower to Saint Duje. Together they form the Cathedral of St. Duje.
Zagreb is the capital and the gateway to Croatia. Zagreb grew up on two neighbouring hills: Kaptol – the centre of spiritual and religious life of north-western Croatia and Gradec – the commercial centre of skilful tradesmen and craftsmen. Take an easy walk with your guide, visiting the Upper Town with its Gothic Cathedral, the beautiful and ornate St. Catherine’s church or the massive St. Mark’s church with its famous color-tiled roof. Continue to the medieval Stone Gate and “Dolac”, the open-air market which are a must for all visitors.
Besides Dubrovnik, Hvar, Split other places of interest include Pula – biggest town in Istria with the Roman amphitheatre (commonly called Arena), Osijek – capital of Slavonia and an important city, Rijeka – Croatia’s largest and main port, Varaždin – Croatia’s former Baroque capital and Zadar – biggest city of north-central Dalmatia with rich history
According to Aprajita, the two rare commodities in Croatia she figured out were – authentic Croatian food & authentic Croatian Music!!!! Italian food has taken over the world and she did not complain as she loved pizzas and all that’s Italian to eat but her friend wanted to eat this dish called Peka and the week she spent in Croatia she went from one restaurant to the other hunting for it, only to be told that unless she gives the order a day in advance, she isn’t going to get it. Ok not that it was that rare but the preparation took that much time!! And music was everything from Clapton to Bryan Adams to Floyd… In the week they spent their they failed to hear anything remotely traditional.
If you’re lucky enough to cross the tourist/guest barrier and be invited into a local’s home, you’ll soon become acquainted with the refrain ‘Jedi! Jedi! Jedi!’ (Eat! Eat! Eat!). It’s little wonder that sharing food and drink plays such a big part in the culture here, when the country is blessed with such top-notch ingredients from the land and sea. Simple home-style cooking is a feature of family-run taverns, but increasingly a new breed of chefs are bringing a more adventurous approach to the table. Meanwhile Croatian wines and olive oils are making their mark on the world stage, garnering top awards.
For Aprajita it was a perfect tourist destination which besides its snow peaked costal range and crystal clear coastline had vineyards and olive groves stretching across the fertile valleys, ancient walled cities, roman ruins, thriving nightlife, and national parks. And it’s no wonder the tourists found Croatia. Still, you can find secluded beaches and sleepy towns if you know where to look.
Courtesy Aprajita Shaha