It’s time for the next instalment in my series of blog posts about Croatia, following my trip there earlier this month with Just You – the holiday company that cater for solo travellers. In my last blog post, I talked a little about the journey from my home to the first hotel I stayed in, what my group of people were like and why I went in the first place. In this blog post, I want to share some gorgeous photos of the first few cities we visited, along with a little bit of information that I learnt along the way.
So after a good night’s sleep at Hotel Pinija in Petrcane, we had a hearty breakfast (Croatian bread and pastries are amazing), and headed off to Zadar on the coach. Zadar is only a 20-minute ride away from the hotel, and it’s known for the Roman and Venetian ruins of its Old Town. As we approached the town, we parked by the harbour, which was full of gorgeous boats and yachts. I made a short Facebook Live video whilst I was there and you can see that HERE. It will just give you an idea of what the harbour is like.
We were blessed with the weather, and made our way into the Old Town, walking through the port’s marina harbour gate at the edge of the city wall.
We walked along old Roman, cobbled pedestrianised roads to meet our tour guide, Tea, (Tay-a, not Teee), who took us for a walk around the town, the promenade, around St Donatus church and then along to the Sea Organ. As we walked, I noticed that the air was scented with a Jasmine-like scent, which I think was a small, white flowered bush called Pittosporum that seemed to be dotted around the town – it was very lovely.
(ST DONATUS CHURCH)
The Sea Organ was incredible. Which is a strange thing to say when it’s not something you can see, but only hear. We gathered by the edge of the water, and hoped that the wind would blow in the right direction and sure enough, at that very moment, on cue, it did. For those of you that haven’t heard of it before, and there is only one of its kind in the world (the architect didn’t want to recreate it, even though many a city asked), it’s a series of tubes located underwater, that play a song of sorts if the waves flow over the tubes in a certain way. It really is like nothing else I’ve ever seen … or rather heard. (The sea organ is situated just to the left of this photo, by the steps.)
We looped round and ended our tour outside the best ice cream shop in town. That’s big boast but actually, after thorough research (three scoops no less), I can confirm that the ice cream was incredible! The beer was lovely too. We were then given 2-3 hours free-time to roam around the town on our own. Some people paired up, a lot of us just went our separate ways, and then chatted with each other when we bumped into one another in a shop or on a park bench.
There’s a lot more to say about Zadar but my advice, as it will be for every city/town I visited, would be to go and see yourself just how wonderful it is. Also, bear in mind, I was only in each place for a few hours, so this is a snapshot, and I have no doubt that Croatia has so much more to offer than I can fit into a blog post. Here’s a short video to give you a glimpse into this fantastic town.
Before I talk about the next day’s activities, a quick word about how the evenings worked with my Just You group of new friends. We normally got back to the hotel between 6-7pm, had enough time to shower before we met in the bar for a pre-dinner drink and then went into the restaurant at around 7.30pm. Of course, you don’t have to eat with everyone – there’s no reason why you can’t eat when you like, and on your own, there’s certainly no pressure, but it is nice to sit with different people each night and chat over dinner. I was lucky enough to hear lots of life stories that I’ll always treasure, and the great thing about being with such a varied group of people is that everyone has led a fascinating life – not that I would, but there’d be lots of great material for a book!
I would have dinner and then head up to bed as I was still working whilst away, but I liked the fact that I could spend as much time on my own as I wanted – and I think I found a really good balance during my time away.
KRKA NATIONAL PARK & BIBICH WINERY – OPTIONAL TOUR
This trip was an optional extra and, unlike other companies I’ve travelled with, there was no big, hard sell. Our guide told us about the trip, although there’s plenty of information on the Just You website to read beforehand, and if you wanted to go, you could pay in the UK or on the day. No pressure whatsoever.
Most of us decided to go on this trip, and it was lovely to have everyone there. It’s funny, but I just checked my notes whilst writing this and realised that I didn’t write anything for this day trip, and when I looked at my photos, I know why. Krka National Park is stunning. Full of trees, flowing rivers gorges and waterfalls, and it took my breath away so much I didn’t write a thing! But this is an absolute see-it-to-believe-it attraction, which includes the famous Skradinski Buk falls.
The walk we took was approximately 1 mile, and easily accessible with a wooden walkway most of the way around. There were a couple of sections that required walking up and down steps, but you could sit that out if you wanted to, and our guide gave us lots of notice about this so we had the choice. Something to think about if you’re a little less mobile. There’s also a handrail all the way round, so it’s safe, and it’s nice to stop occasionally and listen to the frogs singing – really, it was quite remarkable!
The water, as with everywhere in Croatia, is crystal clear and had it been in summer, I’d have liked to have gone for a swim, but we stopped for an ice cream instead halfway round, whilst taking copious amounts of waterfall photos. It was a photographer’s dream.
Hopefully, the photos will give you an idea of how beautiful the park is, but I can highly recommend it this tour.
Here’s a video I’ve made of the park, hope you like it.
Once back on the coach, we headed over to Bibich Winery, for what turned out to be a most pleasant afternoon – sipping different wines and eating the amazing tapas-style food that had been laid out for us.
Sime, the sommelier, was friendly, knowledgeable, with impeccable English and a definite twinkle in his eye, and as we chatted afterwards outside on the patio, with another glass of red wine in my hand, and a bottle of something fizzy in my bag (bought from the on-site shop), I felt so incredibly happy. A combination of the wine and company I think.
I’m not a big wine drinker but Croatian wine is gorgeous. Unfortunately, they don’t export to the UK (yet), but if you can ever get hold of some trust me, you will love it.
Again, we got home at around 7pm, changed quickly then had dinner together. I think I was asleep by 9pm, but the rest of the group chilled in the bar area afterwards and shared a few drinks together – I think there may have been some live music laid on that night, but I was dead to the world.
In my next blog post, I’m off to Split and Dubrovnik! Until then.