I’ve just spent a week in Croatia, as a guest of Just You, the holiday company that caters for solo travellers, and it’s hard to know where to begin when it comes to sharing just how fabulous this trip was with you. I just don’t know if my words will do the trip justice. But I’ll try. In summary, we visited six different cities, sailed on a boat to two beautiful islands, walked around the city walls of Dubrovnik, re-lived many a Game of Thrones scene (the PG ones, don’t worry) and drank wine. Lots of wine. So I think it’s best if I just start at the beginning.
But first, a little background into why I chose to work with Just You. I came across the company last year when I was researching holidays for someone like me. And when I say ‘someone like me’, I mean single, although you don’t have to be single, 40+, although you can be any age, and with one child who has flown the nest, and another who is a typical teenager (God love him) I was sort of child-free. So, suffice to say, the idea of a holiday on my own really interested me.
(Windswept at Gatwick.)
But, although I love the idea of travelling on my own, especially because I settled down at such a young age (I was married at 20), and I never got to do it back then … I wasn’t sure if I could do it totally on my own. Can you relate to that? So I found myself ready to explore the world, at the ripe old age of 46 but didn’t quite know how to go about it. How would I stay safe? Would I make new friends? Oh God, more organising – I’ll have to organise everything! Day trips, accommodation, transport …. And I know I’m not alone in feeling torn between wanting to travel on my own but not quite being confident enough to do it. It felt like Just You was the perfect solution.
Regular readers of this blog will know that I’m always honest with you. I went as a guest of Just You, but everything I’ve said so far, here and on social media, and going forward, are 100% my own thoughts and feelings about the holiday. There really is no point in me not being truthful with you, so if you have any questions about any part of the trip, that I haven’t covered, do drop me a message and I’ll answer them as best as I can.
Right … the background out of the way, let’s go.
I arrived at Gatwick at a very sociable hour – the times of both flights were in the afternoon, which was perfect. Never again am I flying in the early hours! Just You also kindly arranged parking for me as well, another great add-on service they offer, so it was a case of just dropping the car off and going straight to the terminal. Stress-free so far. I was met at check-in by two very helpful Just You reps, easy to spot with their clipboard, and they made sure I checked-in OK. Had I thought about it, I could have looked along the queue to see other people with a Just You luggage label on their bag – it would have been a good way to introduce myself – but, being a slightly nervous flyer, I just had my headphones in until we took off. So I hope people didn’t think I was being rude, I was just ‘in the zone.’
Went through security with no issues – oh, apart from the fact that I got frisked, but that happens every time. I must just have one of those dodgy looking faces! But seriously, apparently it was my knickers that set the alarm off! Don’t ask. Had a leisurely coffee or two in Pret, did some work, flight got delayed by an hour but it wasn’t a big deal, I just ordered another cake! And before I knew it, we were boarding.
(Obligatory toilet selfie.)
Everything ran so smoothly. I didn’t have to worry about a thing. So far, so good.
As I mentioned, being a nervous flyer, this wasn’t the bit I was looking forward to, but I sat next to two guys who were excellent company, gave me their aisle seat, and kept me entertained all the way. I believe the flight was just over two hours, but it flew by (pun intended). Croatian Airlines were brilliant – we were given a couple of free drinks, some snacks and they were very professional. No issues with the luggage or security when we landed in Split and once we were all through and out the other side, it was time to meet the group of people I would be travelling with, and our guide for the week, Alen.
I looked around, and I appeared to be one of the younger people in the group (that’s definitely a first!), and as it turned out, the ages actually ranged from 39-82. There were approximately 33 of us, and the ratio of men/women was I’d say, 8/25. The men were definitely outnumbered, not that I think they minded! I have some photos of my group, but wouldn’t want to post anything without their permission, so suffice to say, they were a gorgeous group of people.
The transfer from Split to our first hotel, was quite long, about two hours, but it gave us all an opportunity to get to know each other. I would say it’s a good idea to sit with different people each time on the coach journeys if you can, but some people naturally gravitated to people they’d already met on the flight, or some ladies had come with friends they had met on a Just You holiday years ago – and they holiday together every year. I probably told my entire life story to about six different people, but they certainly didn’t show they were bored, they were very polite.
(Hotel Pinija – was very glad to see this bed!)
Our first hotel was based in Petrcane, approximately 20 minutes from the nearest main city of Zadar, which would be our first visit the next morning. Hotel Pinija is a 4* hotel, it was spotlessly clean, very comfortable, with very big hotel rooms. My room had a balcony overlooking the sea and although the room had air conditioning, every night I left the bedroom window open and fell asleep to the sound of the waves gently rolling up the beach. It was pure bliss. When we arrived at the hotel at about 11pm, the hotel had kindly laid out a small plate of cold meat, cheese and bread for us which we were all grateful for. But bed beckoned, and I was out like a light. I’m not one of these organised people who unpacks, I live out of a suitcase quite happily!
(The view from my balcony.)
There was a great selection of breakfast available, everything you could want, and even the coffee was lovely! A true test of a good hotel. Most of the other guests were German, and there weren’t any children there of course, as we were here at the beginning of May and, as much as I love my children, there’s a lot to be said for going on holiday when you know it’s going to be a child-free experience. We had a section of the restaurant cordoned off for us every day, so that we could always sit together, but again, I made sure I sat with someone different every day as it’s the perfect way to get to know each other.
A quick word about my fellow travellers. I would imagine some of you may be reading this thinking that it would be quite daunting to meet a fairly large group of new people, especially if, like me, you tend not to meet many new people in your life back home. But I can promise you this, if my group is anything to go by, you have absolutely nothing to worry about. Yes, we were from all different backgrounds, and we were all different ages, but we all had one thing in common – a love of travel, a passion for exploring a new country, and a desire to all have the best time. And we really did. The varied age range turned out to be a massive positive for me and I hope they won’t mind me saying it, but having lost Mum 12 years ago, I felt at times, like being surrounded by lots of mums – it was lovely. I also hope that I brought something different to the group too.
I hope his blog post has whetted your appetite and given you a little background into the journey from London to Croatia, the people on my trip and the hotel. In my next blog post, I’ll be talking you through our trip to Zadar, Krka National Park, Bibich Winery and Split. Until then.