Author: Anne berry-smith
Date of Trip: September 2013
As part of a recent 7 week trip though Germany, Eastern Europe and Turkey, we enjoyed a ten day road thrip through Croatia.
What a gem this place is. I am so grateful that the trains in Croatia are not good, so to see what we wanted to meant that we needed to hire a car and self drive. Starting in Zagreb in the north we drove the length, even taking in Montenegro and Bosnia. The roads were very good and we had absolutely no issues whatsoever.
Our first stop was the Plitvice National Park. We chose a bed and breakfast as our accommodation and the hostess was just delightful. The B&B was only a short distance from one of the entrances but by the time we got ere it was full so had to drive to the next one. No big deal, it just meant we started from another area. What a gorgeous place this is….beautiful walking trails, crystal clear waters and lots to see. This was the height of the tourist season which meant many people, all wanting to see it all…it was also quite warm, but lots of shady spots along the way.
Driving south toward Split, the scenery put us in mind of Spain, it was lush and very hilly. The trip took three or so hours and again we chose B&B accommodation and this choice was superb. Right on the Adriatic we had our own private beach. The accommodation itself was a little ordinary, but well compensated by location . We spent some time relaxing on the cobbled beach and swimming in the crystal clear water. The bus stopped right out the front so we took advantage of taking it right into the city. Split is stunning, one of the many World heritage sites dotted throughout Europe.
Back on the road the next day we commented often how beautiful this drive was, often even more stunning than the coastal drives in Italy and France. Known at the Dalmatian Coast we drove sometimes close to the sea and other times quite high in the mountains which afforded us superb views. To get to Dubrovnik we had to drive briefly into Bosnia as this part of Croatia is divided between the two countries. The Vila we had chosen in Dubrovnik was about 10 minutes walk from the sea so took a walk for a swim…again, a cobbled beach with lovely clear water. We had dinner at a place called Konoba King run by a family who had endured the war some 20 years prior. In fact right across the road is an hotel, now in ruins which was a stronghold of the fighting forces and which they cannot now decide what to do with. The family had also lost everything in the war and had rebuilt from nothing. Again we bussed into the old town and as with Split it is just a beautiful old town. Most has been rebuilt since all the strife they have had over the years, but done so authentically that it is hard to tell old from new.
It was now time to leave Croatia and head to Montenegro……another lovely drive and we were heading for the capital of Kotor. Took a little while as we drove around the stunning bay of Kotor and were ooing and ahing all the way. Our accommodation here was the Vila Duomo right at the foot of Hill St John. Kotor is a beautiful little town where no vehicles of any type are allowed, compact enough that you could see most in a day. The highlight however is to climb the hill right to the top where the fort used to be. Superb views right across the bay and to the valley behind is the reward and well worth the effort.
Leaving Kotor behind we headed into Bosnia where we wanted to see the world famous bridge that the boys jump from. We stopped here for a light lunch and a look through the tiny market before heading back into Croatia and our last stop of Knin. I only chose this town as it was mid way between Kotor and Zagreb and it turned out to be a fantastic choice. The Hotel Michael was comfortable, the food substantial and delicious, but the creme de la cream was the Knin fort. It is not habituated now and most has been restored, but right in the front is a very interesting museum depicting what occurred during the recent war and really helped us to understand much better. The fort itself is perched right on top of a hill at the edge of the town and has 360 views up and down the valleys beyond.
Before long it was time to head north and back to Zagreb where we were to say goodbye to our little VW up and this beautiful country that is Croatia.