Monday, 16 July 2018

A Quick Guide to Croatia

I recently came back from a trip to Croatia, and decided it would be a good idea to make a mini guide for you.

I'll eventually also do a more detailed guide to each place I visited which I'll link to here, but this post will serve as a quick summary for those of you who are just beginning to contemplate whether or not Croatia is the sort of place you might quite like to go and visit.

It's odd to me that when I first really wanted to go to Croatia it was about ten years ago - back then it seemed to be a place that nobody really went to, the budget airlines didn't touch, and I got a confused look if I ever said the name. Now - helped largely by Game of Thrones, presumably - it's one of the big name European destinations of the moment.

A Balkan country on the Adriatic coast, Croatia is opposite Italy but surrounded by the likes of Slovenia, Montenegro and Bosnia & Herzegovina. I had expected Croatian food to be similar of that of Italy, but found it was actually far different than I had predicted. The main Italian influences that I saw was the love of wine (although you'll find far more white wine in Croatia - something that made me very happy! They are also rather fond of their own wines, which is lucky as it is delicious) and the frequent appearance of colourful Vespas' in the bigger cities - which again, was a welcome appearance although it did mean I consistently missed my own Vespa (which didn't get stolen while I was away. Hooray!) The pizza is more American inspired than it is Italian, and sadly the bread just isn't up to the same standard.

While we're on the topic of food in Croatia - breakfast isn't really a thing. Your quick lunch stops that you'd get at Pret or Costa aren't a thing either. Croatia is absolutely filled with cafes in large outdoor squares giving you lots of people watching time and an escape from the heat - but somewhat oddly, it rarely actually includes any food. You'll have a hard time finding any typical brunch choices over here, and what you do find won't taste very nice. And it's unfortunately true what you hear - Croatia IS expensive, particularly the more south you go and of course anywhere where a cruise ship is likely to approach.

Public transport? It does work, but it isn't very frequent. The long distance buses are very affordable, but they're not the most frequent so you will have to essentially plan your days around them. The ferries are a good price but again, not very consistent, but there's no real way of getting around using them unless you happen to have brought your own yacht with you. You can buy tickets online or in person and it is straightforward.

When you think of Croatia, you'll probably think of beautiful blue beaches and fairytale villages, and both are correct. However, don't expect to go and sit on a lovely sand beach - the waters are a perfect shimmering blue, but the beaches are formed of the far less comfortable rocks and pebbles. If that doesn't bother you, go right ahead, but it's not the kind of beach I can enjoy. The towns and cities are as beautiful as the photos tell you they're going to be, and it's interesting to walk around a location that feels like it's straight from a fantasy novel - but we'll go more into that on the individual posts. And make sure you're not forgetting the beautiful Plitvice Lakes National Park - easily in my top 3 national parks that I've visited and absolutely worth a visit.

Check back soon for individual posts on Zagreb, Plitvice Lakes, Split, Hvar and Dubrovnik - and feel free to ask if you have anything you're curious about in the meantime!


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