Split & Dubrovnik, Croatia

After my girls trip to Croatia last year, I knew I had to go back. I really enjoyed the small towns of Rovinj and Pula, so I knew the bigger cities must have something great to offer. Croatia seems to me a bit like the Mexico of Europe. The Croatian coastal towns have a relaxed vibe, everything moves a little slower, prices are a bit cheaper, and rules aren’t meant to be followed. We were ready for a break from the rules so we booked ourselves a five night trip; one day/two nights in Split, one day scenic drive, and three nights in Dubrovnik. 

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Split was our first stop. Because of my lack of planning, I didn’t read the part where it said just fly into Split and leave shortly there after. Don’t get me wrong, there was plenty to do for a day, but it was a bit underwhelming. We checked out the Diocletian palace and walked through the markets in the old town. We spent some time at Bacvice beach, which was the most crowded beach I think I’ve ever been to. Croatia is known for their rocky beaches but this is actually a (man-made) sand beach, hence it’s popularity. You can stand in the water for about a football field’s length because it is so shallow. This makes it the perfect spot for kids because they can be out far and still stand and a great spot for water sports. If we were with a group of friends, we could have played the “keep the ball above water game” that all ages seemed to be fixated on. But for a couple without kids, I prefer something a bit more relaxing. We stayed long enough for a swim and headed out. We went back in the late afternoon hoping for less crowds, but when we returned, the crowd grew larger which I didn’t think possible. 

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The one great part about Split was the food. We don’t get much (good & reasonably priced) seafood in Switzerland, so you better believe we were going to eat it at every meal we had by the sea. We turned to our friend Ricky (aka Rick Steve’s, the travel guru) who advised us on a great restaurant right outside of the main area. I walked in and was very close to turning around and walking out the door. It was dark and dingy which didn’t seem like the spot to be when it was beautiful outside. But, I put my trust in Ricky and sat down in the booth. We had seafood risotto and shrimp fettuccine and much to my surprise, it was the best meal we had all trip. Food trumped atmosphere on this occasion. 

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We packed up and headed out of our airbnb apartment to hit the road. I rented a car for us and I thought the drive from Split to Dubrovnik was about 2 hours. Well, my math was off and it was actually double that. I got some ridicule for my travel planning (or lack thereof) but the tables quickly turned when the ridiculer conveniently forgot his drivers license! Good thing I had mine, or we would have been taking the ferry to Dubrovnik (though probably not a bad option). We winded through the coastal road and fortunately for my sake, we were amongst fellow relaxed beach drivers. We stopped at practically every potential snorkeling spot, as well as two towns called Omis and Ston. Ston just so happens to be the home of the second largest wall behind the Great Wall of China.

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And why have we never heard of it?! We walked up the wall and at the top you had a view of the salt mines and the oyster farm. 

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Arriving in Dubrovnik was a pleasant surprise. We had to park a distance aways from where we were staying in the Old Town, because there are no cars once you entered the walled area. We dragged our luggage down staircase after staircase, through Pile Gate, and into our quaint and unique three-story apartment. Floor one was the bathroom, floor two was the kitchen, and floor three was the bedroom and living area. I wouldn’t say it was the most convenient layout, but it’s authentic charm made up for it. So authentic, we even hung our laundry out the window. 

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After dropping off our bags, we started wandering the streets of Dubrovnik. The cobble stones, random stairs, steep hills, and dead ends are meant to be explored. We stumbled upon an unassuming bar entrance and decided to grab a drink. Once we entered, I realized it was a bar that had been recommended to us.

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We walked down the stone steps and were happily greeted by the sun setting over the water. We ordered drinks and kept walking down the levels until we reached the jumpers. Turns out, this bar has a famous rock that courageous patrons jump off of into the water. I don’t know how many drinks they’d had, but I obviously didn’t have enough. My hands were glued to the railing and I wasn’t jumping anywhere.

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We proceeded to have a lack luster dinner in a nearby promenade (Ricky warned us about subpar and overpriced dining in DB), though the black ink in my risotto gave my mouth a nice look for the rest of the evening. Black. ink. everywhere. 

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Once the sun came up, we headed out to walk the walls of the old town. It was bit pricey, but I’d say its worth it. It takes an hour or two, depending on how fast you walk. Check out the views, get some people to take your pic, choose your restaurant for the evening, and call it a morning. 

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croatia walls

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Jon packed his snorkel gear and he was determined to get as much use as possible. After walking the walls, we hopped back in the car and went beach scouting. We found a decent beach nearby, but the next day we were determined to find better.

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And we did find better on the island of Lokrum. We took a quick boat ride to the island and spent the day exploring. We found an awesome natural swimming hole…

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made friends with some peacocks…

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ate a healthy lunch…croatia_7

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and I sunbathed on the rocks while Jon snorkeled the day away. 

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Though we were warned about the food, I was still determined to have at least one good meal. I figured I would choose (I choose dinner, he chooses beaches) based on atmosphere so that worse case scenario, we could enjoy our wine with a nice view. I saw the restaurant, Revelin, from above during our walk along the wall and knew that’s where I wanted to dine. 

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Fancy butters and pate to start.

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Nice wine.

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John Dory fish; catch of the day. 

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And like I wished; a great view of the harbor.

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There are definitely more touristy things to be done in Dubrovnik, but we chose to enjoy the relaxing side of this port city. Just leaves us with more reason to return.

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