Where the sea meets the palace
Just came back from a beautiful tour around Croatia. Starting in Zagreb, continuing to Plitvice Lakes and Paklenica National Park and from there to Adriatic coast. Small coastal towns, deep blue sea and green islands, you can not stay untouched. The tour has finished in Dubrovnik, the pearl of Dalmatian Coast. For 12 days, Asian family and I became one organism, moving smoothly from one place to another, enjoying the beauties of Croatia in the best possible period.
The capital is the capital, so you can not just skip that. The Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb attracts people from everywhere and everybody talks about it. Definitely, it is something different, mostly regarding the theme. You can get shocked by all those stories, however it is hard to read them all through. Our next stop was Plitvice National Park. Due to heavy rain in the last days there was abundance of water everywhere. The atmosphere was magnificent; water was loud, wild and powerful, rushing through the canyon without brakes. Plitvice waterfall was one big water curtain. We have made a round tour by starting in the canyon, visiting Plitvice waterfall and Lower Lakes, and then return back on the scenic path that runs above the canyon. Unfortunately the Upper Lakes were closed, since the water damaged wooden bridges on the path.
A walk through Zadar old town has introduced us into rich, turbulent history of Adriatic Coast. Besides numerous cultural and historical monuments of ancient and medieval times, Renaissance, there is also a special place at the end of Riva dedicated to contemporary art, Greetings to the Sun and the first Sea Organs in the world. Take time, sit and just listen to the deep, natural sounds coming from the sea through 35 pipes. Zadar Market is another great place to get in touch with the land and people you are visiting. Fish Market was quite a challenge for my vegetarian friends. Therefor we have spent some more time around cherries, apricots, asparagus, artichokes, tomatoes, strawberries, nuts… From Zadar you can also make different boat tours, discovering the channel, stopping at nearby islands, where you can swim, walk around, have an ice-cream and catch another perspective on Zadar and the coast.
Paklenica National Park is worth of visiting if you like to walk and explore the nature. The canyon is very popular among climbers, since it offers a great variety of routes of various difficulties and lengths. There are also walking paths leading towards the cave Manita peć, Mountain Hut and as far as Mala Paklenica George. Visiting island Pag on our tour, we have entered a different world again. Rocky island, moon island, offers special experience comparing to other green island following later on our route. Find out about delicious local Paški sir, Pag cheese, which you can not afford not to buy, or at least try.
On the way to Šibenik, we have stopped at one more karst phenomena, Krka National Park. There is a beautiful walking path in the park taking you right in the hearth of this amazing water organism. White water lilies, small ducks discovering the world, yellow irises among all around greenery and never the less all pervasive sound of river rushing. If you like water ambients, the sound of river running, waterfalls, lakes, this again is something not to be missed. From famous Skadarski buk and lively walking path, you can continue by boat to the peaceful island Visovac with Franciscan Monastery and a church. It is one of the places, where time stops. If you drive further inland, you enter a canyon with rocky walls on both sides. At the end of it there is another wide lake with another barrier, Roški slap, Roški waterfall. On its left bank there are few watermills restored, offering an insight into cultural history of this area.
It is time to visit coastal historical towns with valuable UNESCO Heritage. Šibenik’s Cathedral is one of those sights, that enchants me each time I find myself in front of its main portal. Jurij Dalmatinac, the main master taking over the construction of the cathedral is also the one, who designed and created the baptistery – its gentleness and beauty strikes right into your heart. Another thing I do not want to miss in Šibenik is the view from the St. Michael’s fortress – the view on the channel toward St. Nikola’s fortress, on St. James’ Cathedral below and the soundings. There is a great short documentary movie about the history of the town in the St. Michael’s fortress, but you have to be lucky to see it.
Trogir is definitely one of the Adriatic jewels. Small and charming, it lies on the small island. It boasts high concentration of palaces, churches, towers and a fortress created under influence of Greeks, Romans, Venetians, Croats. Due to the remarkable example of urban continuity from Hellenic era onwards, the historical town of Trogir is protected by UNESCO Heritage. Take a walk through the narrow streets with renaissance balconies, small shops, galleries, restaurants and cafes and just enjoy the Mediterranean lifestyle. There is a great view on the town and surrounding area from the nearby fortress as well as from the tower of Saint Lawrence’s cathedral.
Split is another grand adventure back into the times of Romans. Just imagine walking on the same stones as Roman Emperor Diocletian. Imagine Roman citizens gathering in Peristyle from where Diocletian, with 3500 years old Egyptian sphinx on its side, was ruling his world. And the greatness of his mausoleum, the vastness of walls, the magnificence of the Golden Gate, Porta septemtrionalis, where only his family was allowed to walk in… Next to it there stands the imposing character of Grgur Ninski, Gregory of Nin, a great work of famous Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrović. Also the Substructures and Split Riva are not to be missed since all the life is happening where sea meets the palace.
Going inland, before leaving the coast for a while, we drove to Cetinja river to do a river tour with ATV Quad. My guests have really enjoyed it. The inland offers different experience of Croatia. It is in a way more wild and less populated, less touristic, hard to say more authentic, but different. Fore those, who are not so much into outdoor sports, just sitting next to the river, listening to the birds singing, can be worth of a drive. On the way we have stopped also at Klis fortress, one of the locations of Games of Thrones, offering a great view on the city of Split.
We have continued our trip by visiting the islands of Hvar, Korčula and Mljet. All different in its character, they share the maquis, vineyards, olive trees, wild and rocky Adriatic coast, small bays, deep blue sea and small seaside towns. Find a good location from where you can look at the old town of Hvar and Korčula from bird perspective, take an evening walk in the town and enjoy local cuisine. When driving through wild inside of islands, stop at some local farms and try local wines and olive oil. Regarding the sea, islands offer great opportunity for you to experience Adriatic sea itself, from swimming, kayaking, diving, sailing… There is a great variety of boat excursions also, among which Blue and Green Cave Excursion with a stop at Pakleni Islands is not to be missed. Mljet National Park is a great place to do some cycling, since there is no traffic around the lakes.
On the way to Dubrovnik we have stopped at the small town of Ston. We hiked the Ston Walls, the second longest stone wall in Europe (5.5km), which protected Dubrovnik independence for centuries. And finally, our last stop, world wide known Dubrovnik. A remarkable Old Town, protected by UNESCO World Heritage and surrounded by 1940 meters of unique medieval wall. Nowadays it attracts numerous tourists as well as world’s film production industry. Do not miss a beautiful view from Srđ, small hill above Dubrovnik, which can be reached by foot, by cable car (right now not working) or taxi. There is also a restaurant there with a magnificent view on the Old Town.
The tour was organized by Life Adventures, Slovenija, and guided by Nina, Edlothia.