Sunday, August 19, 2012

Croatia, Bosnia, and the Dalmatia Coast

It's been a very busy summer with the German, Christian, moving to Scotland and hosting various friends at our flat. We decided that for our last ho-rah of the summer we would take a beach holiday to someplace new and exciting that neither of us had visited. I had heard from a few people that Croatia and the Dalmatia Coast was one of the most beautiful places to visit, and we finally got to experience it for ourselves.

From the moment we landed the heat hit us, and boy have I been missing the summer weather while living in Scotland. Now don't get me wrong, we have lots of sunlight in the summer, but when I stepped off the plane into the 85 degree heat, I knew we were going to have a great week! The drive from the airport to our hotel in downtown Dubrovnik took about 30 minutes. The coastal road prepared us for our "playground" of hidden pebble beaches, caves, and turquoise water so clear you could see fish below. As soon as we got to our hotel we dropped our bags and headed to the beach.

The "beach" wasn't what we were use to, as it was mostly rock and pebbles. We wouldn't have survived without our water shoes, which was the best investment we made all week! It's a totally different experience going to the beach without sand, and I must say it was great not to come home all sandy after a day in the sun. 

The area where we spent most of our time had lots of cliffs for jumping. I unfortunately didn't have the best luck while attempting to dive off, as my water shoes  were a bit too slippery and I paid the price with a few cuts and scrapes. I retired mid-week from attempting to jump due to my injuries. 

The coastline was absolutely gorgeous! I think the pictures speak for themselves. 

We definitely enjoyed our fill of fresh seafood. Calamari, mussels, prawns, we couldn't get enough! 

Christian enjoyed cevapcici, a local meat dish with red sauce and onions. It reminded me of a mix between hamburger and sausage. 

We heard from a few locals that the best way to see Dubrovnik was from the sea so we planned a kayak excursion. We were able to explore a lot of hidden caves and areas we would have missed, so I definitely recommend renting a kayak or boat for a day!

You can see the walls of the Old City behind us in the picture below. 

After a few hours we took a break from our kayaking to snorkel in the waters of a hidden cave. 

The water was so clear you could see fish all around, and sea urchins. 

Christian with his new friend

We also spent a lot of time exploring the rocks at sunset. 

The view was one I will never forget!

The old city was very crowded as it was peak season, but we also enjoyed walking around it at night to see the city lights around the water. 

One of our favourite things to do each day was get ice cream and people watch. It was so cheap, only $1 a cone!  

Walking around the old city

The alleys in the old city had really great places for dinner. I do love the Mediterranean cuisine!

The sun was super hot, and after a few days on the beach we needed a break, so we decided on a day trip to Mostar, Bosnia. The drive there was pretty spectacular, 100 miles of coastline followed by mountains up to the city. 

I remember when I was little I heard a lot about the Bosnian war, so it was interesting to go to a city that had a lot of damage and was still rebuilding. I learned a lot about what went on in the early 90's and it was a very eye opening experience. It's hard to believe so much fighting can go on in beautiful places like Dubrovnik and Mostar. 

The "Old Bridge" had to be rebuilt after the war. We saw videos at the war museum of the day the bridge was bombed and destroyed. Mostar is still rebuilding, and tourism seems to be one of the city's major methods of income. 

It's also one of the hottest cities in Europe. I felt like I was going to melt even with my enormous hat! 

 View from the old bridge. 

The visit to Mostar was a good break from the beach, but after a few hours I was ready to get back to the sea. On the drive back we saw every kind of boat you can imagine. We also heard from a local that if you see a yacht and it doesn't have a helicopter on the back then you're not that important. Apparently Tom Cruise, Rihanna, the Sultan of Oman, and Roman Abramowitsch were all visitors of Dubrovnik this summer. 

I really loved this pirate ship!

Dubrovnik is also famous for it's city walls which you can walk around to take in the surrounding views. We decided to check out the walls in the late afternoon since it was in the upper 90's mid day. 

We discovered this cliff side bar that we re-visited later in the evening. There was a live band playing on the cliffs- I don't think there is any venue better in the world!

The walls also allowed to see the layout of the city. Dubrovnik was also attacked during the war, but with the money come in from tourists it was rebuilt a lot faster than other surrounding cities. 

The beach right outside the city walls was also quite posh. 

Private cabana rentals 

We also decided to take the cable car to the highest point of the city. During the war it was used as a fort for the army, which is now the war museum. 

Cross at the top of the hill

The views were awesome! 

Chris and I with Dubrovnik below. 
There was a great restaurant at the top where Christian enjoyed his beer and I had an iced coffee. We watched the sun set from the top of the hill and it was one of the best sunsets of the week!

The week flew by, as most vacations do, and we really had a fantastic time! Next stop, the Amalfi Coast in mid October! 

Until next time, we'll see you on the internet.