Dobar Dan! Croatia is for sure one of the the friendliest countries with complex history and mixed identities. I decided to go there with a friend as we went to our friend’s wedding in Florence. It was nearby and the natural wilderness it offers is irresistible.
We traveled across the Dalmatian coast around the Adriatic sea of Croatia. This is my itinerary with the main attractions and spots I went in each city during the beginning of May 2017, which was perfect timing to avoid the crowds but many places were closed due to low season (even ferries was limited). We went island hopping in these cities:
- Dubrovnik: walk around old town, take in the city view from the cable car, kayak from Pile Gate to Lokrum island (unfortunately we had bad windy weather that made this impossible)
- Pelješac Peninsula: climb Mali Ston, eat oysters
- Korčula: cycle around the island through Lumbarda and wineries. Walk around the famous beaches. I should have stayed more days here to go to Vis island where there are boats towards the Blue Cave (grows fluorescent blue from 11am-12pm on sunny days) and Green Cave or Green Grotto on Bisevo Island.
- Split: I only made a quick stop here as a transfer point
- Zadar: see the sunset at the sea organ
- Plitvice: visit Plitvice National Park
- Rovinj: visit small towns of Opatija, Bale, and Svetvincenat with political past and buildings affected by the war, take the ferry to Venice for our flight back to Chile
Other places that I was recommended but didn’t have time to visit is the island of Mljet for its beautiful national park and Zagorje for the mountainous northern area.
Photos from my trip:
The most memorable places for me personally were Korčula and the little town of Bale, the mixture of nature and encounter with the local people made it that much more special.
The little jazz bar Kamene Priče (it also offers accommodation) in Bale caught my eye, I walked in and curiously asked the young barman if jazz was a popular style of music the locals liked. Since the country is quite new (breakup of Yugoslavia was 1980-1991, and the last war with the Serbs ended in 1995) with a history of various conquests, I thought that most of the people held traditional values and were less inclined to follow foreign music. The young Croatian man was very enthusiastic and happy to share his views of the local values. He told me that the owner of the bar has travelled all around the world and loves jazz, which is becoming popular in the country. Croatia has a very sad history and the older generation went through harsh times. He told me that the elders are so affected by the war and still torn with vivid memories of the war. The young generation, on the contrary, are tired of being reminded of the tragic past and only want to focus on the present, they are encountering identity crisis and tired of politics.
Here is an interesting story of Tomislav Pavleka, the owner of Kamene Priče on how the jazz bar was born: http://www.everthenomad.com/creative-corner/ex-blog/local-voices-croatia-tomislav-pavleka-kamene-price/
One of the most beautiful souvenirs I received on this trip was a catalog of Bale the young man at the jazz bar gave me, it is about the beauty and history of Bale, written and printed by the owners of the jazz bar themselves. This was at the end of my trip and what made this experience more unforgettable. All the Croats I met are genuinely friendly, from Zac the man I met at a restaurant in Korcula who offered me a free ride to cycle in mountains, to the two water taxi drivers I met on the beach in Lopud who told me about their experience diving in the caves nearby, and the charming young man in Bale with valuable insights of jazz and his country. Croatians are very proud of their nation, natural beauty and folklore traditions, and I definitely recommend this country that has everything.