Summer came and then the question arose. Where are we going in August and only with a month in advance? After a look at flights, prices, hotels and finally, we found our destination. Croatia is a destination that had always caught my attention. At 16.30 we were already in the humid heat of Split.
I admit that I did not know much about Split before going there. And above all, I was far from thinking that this seaside resort, close to the Croatian Islands, was such a historic cradle having seen the Greeks, the Romans, the Huns, the Venetians and even the French. And it's also the second largest city in Croatia, but unlike Zagreb, the country's largest city, Split is much more visited.
We went to the rental company, which we had hired through the web. They gave us a new car with just 7000 km and the adventure began. To be honest it was one of the few trips where before going I had not read almost anything about the city because I wanted to let myself be surprised and that's how it was.
After leaving things at the hotel, we went to the old town. Everything was spectacular, with shops, restaurants, and bars. Every corner was worth seeing or photographing. From the seafront, we cannot miss the great Roman wall, which corresponds to one of the sides of the Diocletian Palace, an imposing Roman building.
On the corners are towers. The access is through several doors called Golden Gate, Silver Gate, Bronze Gate and Iron Gate. We enter through the Bronze Gate, in the port side. We end up in the basement, called Podrum, which is home to many shops. But the majority of basements are grouped into a museum. On the opposite side of the palace is the Golden Gate and the large statue of Gregory of Nin.
Inside the palace, many old stones are still standing. For centuries, Split citizens have rehabilitated the interior of the palace, as well as today. This place is home to part of the old town of Split of Venetian architecture, still inhabited. The access to the palace is therefore free, but access to various interesting places are paid such as museums, the Temple of Jupiter, the Saint Domnius, known locally as the Sveti Dujam.
The old town, as well as the outskirts of the old town are listed as World Heritage by UNESCO. Speaking of the Diocletian's Palace where they were just doing a kind of play, in a word I was absorbed. It was a slap to discover that Split is home to the largest Roman building in Europe.
After getting an idea of the incredible city that is Split we decided to have dinner in one of the restaurants we had read in tripadvisor. It is a restaurant whose kitchen is Mediterranean and where they serve fish and seafood at a great price. Croatian cuisine is Mediterranean cuisine, influenced by Turkish and Italian cuisines. On the coast, fish is at the rendezvous and olive oil is omnipresent.
Italy is just on the other side of the Adriatic Sea, and there are many Italian specialties such as pasta and pizzas. We have the possibility to dine on the street or inside and the place is great as well as the attention, not to mention the food. I ordered some tagliatelle with scampi and some fettuccini with tuna both spectacular dishes with a glass of wine and a beer.
After a pretty good breakfast (not really much quantity but there was a lot of variety), we took the car and headed from Split to the famous Plitvice Lakes National Park. It was one of the places that I really wanted to see. After 3 hours of driving on good roads and at 130 km/h, which is the speed limit of Croatia, we arrived at the hotel where we would spend the night.
It was 13.30 and they still did not have our room ready. The super nice staff kept our bags and told us where to go to buy the tickets of the lakes. The ticket office was less than two minutes from the reception of the hotel. We took tickets and opted for one of the longest tours of the park.
The price includes the boat trip on the largest lake, and the trip in a kind of tourist train from the parking at the entrance of the park. The frequency of these two internal means of transport is approximately every half hour, and they only work in summer, from April to September. Inside the park there are restaurants, drinks shops and ice creams but we chose to take a sandwich and so we can stop where we would like to.
After about 4 hours seeing lakes, fishes, waterfalls, boat ride and tourist train we arrived at the hotel exhausted. We take a nap. When we woke up it was almost night. We go to the hotel restaurant for dinner. There is nothing expensive and is of good quality. We loved the cevapi, scented ground meat like sausages and grilled and the typical dessert of there and go to sleep.
We get up relatively soon and after breakfast we go again to see the impressive lakes to take the last pictures. It took us an hour and a half and being early there were almost no people. So the photos were better than the previous day.
After that we took the car to Primosten. It was worth the stop and so we were hesitating between that and visit the famous waterfalls of Krka, but we read that in August it is almost impossible to visit. There are too many people and it is overwhelming. Perhaps the name is not as heard as Dubrovnik or Split but nothing has to envy them, as it is a small fishing village.
The environment, adds a collection of islands, bays, coves and beaches of turquoise water. Among them, the Raduca beach is one of the most beautiful in Croatia. The medieval center preserves the tranquility of yesteryear, a peaceful fishing village where the construction of a church (Sveti Juraj) stands out on what was once the island, today connected and linked by a street.
We stop to eat. On our terrace, we enjoyed an Olympian calm, only lulled by cicadas and seagulls. We have a bath in that wonderful beach and rent a kayak with transparent bottom and take a ride by the sea. At about 4 we returned to the car heading to Trogir. Although it seemed beautiful it was impossible to park and stop to see the city. We head to the port to catch the ferry to the Brac Island.
Some will ask you why we chose that island instead of the Hvar island, which is famous. The answer is that there is one of the most famous beaches in Croatia called Zlanit Rat, known as the golden horn.
We bought the ferry tickets to Supetar and we took round-trip tickets. Once we got on the ferry we parked the car in the cellar and climbed to the top to enjoy the small cruise. In the cafeteria we have something refreshing. After 50 minutes, we arrived at Supetar and headed to the town of Bol where our apartment would be.
It was years back when I visited Rava, a small island between Dugi Otok and Iz island in Croatia. The island completely depends on the local boat connection with Zadar which touches the island twice a day and stays overnight.
Day 4 - Zadar
At 2 o'clock we were in Croatia, near Opatija and we stopped for a snack and to book rooms for one night on the return trip to a grill along the way. The road from Rijeka runs along the coast that descends steeply to the sea. It is a sort of coastal road up to Zadar. We see few inhabited and many coves with houses directly on the sea.
There are no beaches but the view is breathtaking for the calcareous rocks that at sunset are pink and for the islands that flank the coast, absolutely devoid of vegetation. At 5 o'clock we were in Zadar and we went near the port to the travel agency.
They managed to find rooms in a hotel outside Zadar, 6 or 7 kilometers south, near the Marina Sukosan. Back in Zadar, we toured the streets of the center. The city is full of life, shops, and bars, but above all crowded with boys and girls of all ages. We had dinner at the restaurant.
Day 5 - Rava
We opted for a rental boat to visit the islands north of Zadar. At 1pm we left for Rava island. After passing the canal between Uglian and Pasman, at 4 pm we were in Rava, a small island between Dugi Otok and Zut Otok. We enter Vela Rava a small bay with a beautiful little town. The owner of the house was waiting for us.
The house is directly on the sea, with its pier, double bedrooms, living room and a terrace for outdoor dining, and a barbecue. We have a beautiful view. The Rava island is not longer than five or six kilometers. It has two small groups of houses on the sea with Vela Rava and Mala Rava and a small village on the top.
Later a sailboat arrived with young people. They were from Slovenia on holiday in a charter sailboat. We helped them and they gave us a beer. After a dinner at the barbecue with octopus and grilled fish we collapsed on a room overlooking the stars and the sea.
Day 6 - Zman
We skirted the islets in front of Dugi Otok, and we stopped just in front of the village of Zman. After a swim we left again, heading south. We went to Zut Otok in the northernmost bay of the island, where there are three mythical little houses and emerald water. The seabed is rich in oysters and truffles.
We wandered all day in the villages of the Zman area. We bought the chicken to have a barbecue in the garden. Then we got to the bay of submarines, a bay near Bozava, on the island of Dugi Otok where there are the remains of a submarine. We went around walking and it was very nice.
In the afternoon, around 3 o'clock we find some wind from the North, but it was not such as to create problems. We arrived at the old town that is on the hill of Rava and is very characteristic, in stone, gathered around a square with the church.
The ascent to the village itself is quite steep. The village has some 50 houses. Renault 4 is the preferred vehicle of most islanders of this archipelago! It is enough to pull a load of olives or grapes from the distant fields.
There is a hole in the center of Rava Vela where used to be a big tree. Legend has it that that place is the center of the world and the locals even had a custom of pouring olive oil into the hole to make the earth spin easier. The most interesting part of the village to me is the old school. Long empty of the children, now it is more like a silent monument to the Zadar archipelago. In the evening we get back and had dinner on the terrace.
Day 7 - Dugi Otok
Skirting Dugi Otok and Zverinac we reached the southern tip of Molat. We stopped for a swim in the Ujakinska, a beautiful bay with a beautiful backdrop. We took a bath and prepared for lunch. Then we saw that the wind grew that shot from the north. We decided to go from the east side and passed between Tun M and Tun V.
We arrived in the bay to the north between the island of Molat and Iz where we find a shelter from all winds. We docked at the pier of the village north of the island of Molat and we went down for a walk along the road that led inside the island. After a few bends, the road reached up to a plateau. Here is a rather old-fashioned atmosphere. We see some women dressed in black mow the grass among flocks of sheep in the sunlight.
From Molat we went out along the Iz coast and the west coast of Iz, we continued north along Skarda and we arrived until Premuda. We stopped in Premuda and Hripa, in front of the village of Premuda. It is a place with a very nice backdrop and we stopped for a swim. After Premuda we headed to Silba, but along the west side and the southernmost tip of Silba to see Olib.
We decided to focus on the rocks between the islands of Silba and Premuda. We stopped at Greben where we would not believe anyone saw the place, but there was also a sheep. Departing from Iz we sailed along the coast west of Molat. We stopped at Brguljski, a small islet close to the ground with very beautiful waters, and mythical transparencies. We then stop for lunch in a bay north of Dugi Otok.
In the afternoon we skirted Iz and we headed towards the Marina. In the bay of the port of the country, the water was very nice and clean. We found a place on the quay near some snobbish Italian yachts. On the summit of the island of Iz, there is a very nice little church and gives a wonderful 360 degree panorama.
The village is rather strange. It stands in a narrow between two bays and therefore has an outlet to the sea south of the island and one to the north. The wind during the evening has dropped. We return to Rava and have pizza at home and then went down for a coffee in the only bar in the country.
Day 8 - Levrnaka
We go down to Mala Rava in the bay north of the islet and we walked back on the paths of the island. In Rava, there are no paved roads and the paths that cross it are very beautiful, surrounded by the Mediterranean. We climb the steep road that leads to the old village, high up on the hill, after crossing the small open space near the church until at the cemetery.
A little further on, we arrive at the highest point of the island from where there is a magnificent view of the Srednji Canal, on Iz, on Ugljan Otok and further on the Velebit mountains. We headed to Zaglav on Dugi Otok and then go to Kornati. We entered the park passing near Katina and we stopped immediately at the entrance to a beautiful bay to make truffles.
We decided to go south without visiting the bay of Telascica and along Kornat we wandered to Levrnaka. In Kornat we stopped for a swim and to eat. In the afternoon we returned to Levrnaka and after having moored in front of the restaurant we went ashore and walked across the island. There are no lands, just another grill and a beautiful bay to the south.
Wandering among the Kornati, Rasip, Piskera, Kosela, Kakan we decided to reach Kaprije. On some islands, there is a small house with a small pier, on others nothing and with the sunlight, the landscape assumes splendid colors. In Kakan we moored in the usual bay, in front of the islet of Borovniak.
Kakan is part of a group of islands located in front of Sibenik, between Sibenik and Murter, and is very similar as a landscape to the Kornati. In the islands, however, there are small villages inhabited and then as in the Kornati, there are houses scattered here and there by the sea with their pier as in a crib.
After a stop in the village of Kaprije where we bought tomatoes from a local boat, we turned around Kakan and Zmaian. We stopped for a swim in Tjat, and then we took the river up to Sibenik and up again to Skradin Marina. The sea was calm but in the river as usual we met a storm. Arriving at the marina after a ride in the village we get chickens for dinner. We wandered around Skradin.
After a visit to the waterfalls, and then with the boat to the park, we arrived in Visovac where there is a small monastery. Still up we go to the old mill for a snack. Back in Skradin, we stopped over the waterfall and we could take a quiet swim in a place where nobody was there. We did the shopping and we left with the wind in the stern, quite strong, so much so that we broke the awning and went down to the sea.
From Tjat we decided to navigate below and we headed to Tisno. The coast is not very steep and there are many bays and villages. We thought to reach Murter, but the bridge of Tisno is too low and we had to give up and go back. The sea is very calm. We stopped in a bay on the outside called U Kosirina, on the Murter coast for a swim.
Then we reached Vrgada, which has a beautiful bay to the south and a very special red sand bay to the north near the village. We are back in the bay to the south. After a stroll through the small islands near Vrgada, to the south where there is a safe mooring bay, we headed north through Ganguro, a very pretty island with a tiny village, Zizani, and Kosara.
Then we approached Sit and we had a couple of stops to do the baths, one in Murvenjak and in the evening we came back to Rava. The sea looked like a lake. Night falls, there are no more lights and we went to dinner at the restaurant on the island. We have a spectacular ricotta lasagna and a delicious chocolate cake with cream cheese.
Day 9 - Rijeka
We left at 7. The sea was spectacular. During the navigation, the crew devoured a watermelon at breakfast and we met a herd of dolphins. The return was dramatic as we battled the stormy seas increasing by the minute. Luckily, Rava is a short sail from Zdrelac and the calm waters of Pasman channel are like a bathtub compared to the rest of the Adriatic.
After passing the navigable canal between Uglian and Pasman we arrived in Zadar. Around 12.30 we left and along the usual coastal road, we arrived as far as Fiume. The weather is very beautiful and the sea is still. Walking along the road the landscape is wild and beautiful. From Rijeka, we arrived up to Opatija that I did not like very much.
There are miles of beautiful villas on the seafront but many are in a bad state of conservation. We then had a dinner with fried potatoes and beer. We slept in a private home, near the restaurant where we had dinner. Rava was well worth the visit. The silence was simply captivating. Here the scent of the earth and the sea combined in a wonderful perfume.
We have seen incredible places and people. We never thought that this adventure would be as beautiful as it has been. We have been almost in pure inhabited islands or minimally inhabited. We do not know which is the next destination. Maybe we go to the north of Croatia or in one of those we go straight to the south, to Greece and then to Turkey.