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Plitvic Lakes

semi-overcast 18 °C
View Croatia Trip on Libbytes's travel map.

On our second full day in Croatia, we started early with breakfast on the balcony again before setting off to the famous Plitvic Lakes. This was the real reason why I had always wanted to come to Croatia, the pictures of this place are spectacular...

After a bit of research we found that most of the motorways charge in toll booths along the way, but that there is another route from Zadar to Plitvic which avoids the tolls and goes via the D1, so we charged the phones, set the maps and set-off for the mountains in our boat!


The journey was incredible, the views over the Mountains and valleys was really something. The roads were great too, we had to watch out for some speed cameras, and overtaking in our boat was a little tricky and required a run-up, but that was all part of the fun! Pete just kept saying "ahh... imagine these roads in your car" but we did come to love our little boat.

The journey to Plitvic didn't take that long only around 2.5 hours, so we went straight to the National Park and got some food and rest before setting off the see the sights.

Spotting the first waterfalls...

There are only so many adjectives to describe something so beautiful and amazing as this place, so I won't try to, I'll just put the photos here and say that the park was so well maintained - the walkways were superb, steps up over a waterfall and wooden walkways over a sheer drop or the lakes... Stunning.

Some parts of the journey started with a boat







Pete kept winding me up saying the best bit was the fish...

The walk ways were relatively quiet, I think the overcast weather and the month of May helped, because I had read that this place gets very busy in high season. But actually we found it very peaceful... especially when we got to a bit that was closed for repairs and 'out of bounds'... it looked fine so Pete and I decided to sneak over the barriers and continue the journey to the tallest waterfall in the park.

This risk paid off as we found ourselves in pure serenity and only bumped into 4 other brave adventures who also dared to climb the barriers!! In fact, this part of the closed off park was also the most beautiful...







After a full afternoon of walking the park we were drained and so headed back to a local village 'Korenicko' to find our guest house 'House Ines' which was lovely and toasty warm when we arrived! That evening we ate at a local restaurant in 'Rudanovac' - 'Vila Velabita' - we were recommended to go there by the owners of the guest house, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, it was awful...

We had booked to stay in Korenicko and around Plitvic for another full day and night, but when we woke the next morning the weather was awful, very cold and raining. The forecast was grim for the rest of the day too... so... I literally googled 'where is the hottest place in Croatia today' and it suggested Split.... Luckily, I had planned the next leg of our journey to be to the island of Hvar, and Split is the port which runs ferries to Split, so off we popped to Split - A day early!

Posted by Libbytes 16:16 Archived in Croatia Tagged nature lake waterfall beauty plitvic korenicko Comments (0)

Boating in Hvar

sunny 23 °C
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Hvar, along with the Plitvic Lakes, was the other crucial place I wanted to visit, mainly because of what I had read about the Pakleni islands and the natural beauty of the ocean here.... It did not disappoint and Pete and I had our best days in Croatia here.

We arrived on the ferry into Stari Grad, the major port on the island of Hvar. This wasn't the plan, but we went with it and fortunately, there was a lot of onward travel waiting to take us to Hvar because of the cancelled cats. There were 2 tourist coaches that were slowly filling up... Pete looked at me with fear in his eyes, we didn't come to Croatia to get on a tour bus, so I scouted the area and luckily, there was a small 10-seater minibus which was ready to take any overspill from the coaches... we pushed to the front and got the best seats :P

We finally arrived in Hvar town and again, thanks to being off-peak, we found peace and serenity.


I'm sure these streets will be full in summer...

We checked into our guesthouse; 'Hostel Vila Zorana', where I think we were the only guests, half of the town was shut! Our room had been upgraded to the apartment - although we never used it...

View from our balcony out over the Pakleni Islands

The first day in Hvar we rented mountain bikes from one of the shops in the town and headed out to some of the beaches on the South side of the island. they were quiet, peaceful, stoney and COLD! I didn't dare go in the water deeper than my knees; it was freezing!



When we got to basically the end of the road, we turned around and went back into the town and out to the beaches to the West of Hvar town. This area of Hvar was more developed, but all the restaurants and hotel resorts seemed to be preparing for summer, painting, building and fixing the seats ready. We felt so lucky to have most of it to ourselves.



Again we reached the end of the road, so this time we decided to go North out of Hvar and up the steep hills up to the view point of Hvar Fortress, this was my favourite bit, as you got the most incredible views out over the Pakleni Islands and the town. It was also lovely and cool up there in the wind.




Making friends in the jail of the fortress!


If Pete and I were totally honest, the food that we had experienced in the whole of Croatia up to this point was below average... we had been hoping for a taste of the med almost, the climate is similar and most of the places we visited were on the coast so fresh fish and salads got us excited... but it really wasn't the case. We really struggled with food, despite always checked TripAdvisor along the way...

So, in Hvar town we decided to change that, up our budget and splash out on some good food. We tried Dalmatino Restaurant, just in Hvar town and it was amazing, well worth the 40euro we spent there for the next couple of evening meals! The service was amazing and they brought small aperitifs and liqueurs between every meal. My tripadvisor review is here.

Dalmatino Beef Gnocchi

The next day we had always planned to hire a boat, we got one for £25 for the day from a friend of the Hostel owner; which I thought was a bargain.
The whole day was amazing. Pete got to play captain and he was amazing at it, and I got to sit on the front of the boat and look at everything enjoying the sights!

We drove out to the Pakleni Islands, stopping at a few of them to visit the beaches.





However, the boating wasn't all rosy as we had some issues when it came to anchoring... The first place we stopped was Palmizana, where the idea was to park the boat and walk up and over the island to a nice beach on the other side where there were nice restaurants. When we arrived there was a long Jetty to moor on, so we did, before someone shouted that we would have to pay to moor there... being the ultimate thrifty travellers we moved to somewhere else and dropped the anchor.... Then we saw that there was a small boat house which was free to use and had a lot of similarly sized boats in it... unfortunately, when we tried to move we realised we were stuck! The anchor was completely wedged in a chain on the bottom of the sea. We tried to break it free for about 15 minutes before Pete decided there was only one last resort before cutting it off and leaving it there; he stripped off and jumped in! Using the anchor rope for guidance he shut his eyes and dove to the bottom to free the anchor! It worked! He must have dived 10 metres. He got back in the boat shivering - the water was NOT warm. But my hero Peter saved the day!

Preparing to dive

From here we then maneuvered into the tiny boat house - (it was great team work!) - and walked up and over to the beach. It was beautiful, but nothing special compared to other beaches in Croatia we had seen...


Unfortunately, the beach wasn't sandy and the rocky ones aren't the most comfortable!

We then headed over to Jerolim island which apparently had a nudist beach... but sadly there was nobody else there except some repair men working on the restaurant - fortunately their clothes were intact!!


Pete was excited to visit this beach

When we returned to the boat from this beach, the anchor was once again stuck, but this time much deeper than before. It was also later in the afternoon and a lot cooler - needless to say, Pete did NOT want to be a hero again. So instead we maneuvered the boat to try and dislodge the anchor. Luckily, the water was so clear you could see exactly what you were doing and after around 15 minutes we were free!


All in all, it was a great day on the boat, the Pakleni islands were peaceful and beautiful but maybe they would have been more interesting with a few more people and some open restaurants!

The next day was sadly our last day in Croatia, but our flight home was late at night, so we decided to take a nice leisurely trip back to Zadar via some of the coastal towns along the way.

The catamaran was running again, so we got the first one out in the early morning back to split directly. We picked up our car which had stayed safe in the back streets of Split and headed out on the coastal route to Zadar.

We headed first to Sibenik and stopped for lunch at a lovely little vegetarian cafe before heading up towards Skradin where we planned to visit the Krka national park which was supposed to be like Plitvic. However, the entry fee was very high and it seemed much more touristy than Plitvic and not as nice, so we decided against it and continued on the coastal road.


View from the road

We stopped at a few more places along the way, but we spent the longest in Sukosan, walking through the village and having an above average meal for once! We spent the rest of the evening trying to hit a buoy with stones on the beach.



As a whole, Pete and I loved Croatia. I split the trip up into 3 parts really, trying to capture Croatian architechture and culture, natural beauty and relaxing adventure. I think we certainly achieved that in the very short time we had; we really got the most out of our trip. Although we both agreed that without Dalmatino restaurant, our opinions of Croatian food would have been very low. The salad on the first day and the pizza on the last day were the only other saving graces... But really what I will take away from this holiday is the beauty of this country. The natural landscapes are incredible and the architecture and style of the towns makes for very pretty pictures.

Would we come back to Croatia?
I think the priority to return anytime soon falls below our desires to explore new places. So, for now Croatia, we'll see you around. ;)

Posted by Libbytes 10:10 Archived in Croatia Tagged boat bike beauty hvar bike_hire dalmatino_restaurant Comments (0)

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