Pictures from Croatia

I just booked a ticket to Croatia in July, so what better way to “celebrate” than looking at photos from my previous trips to this magnificent country?

Have you been to Croatia? What is your favorite place?

Vis island

Vis town, Vis island, Croatia Vis island, Croatia View of Vis Town on Vis Island, Croatia Island views, Vis Island, Croatia Island views, Vis Island, Croatia Houses in Vis town, Vis Island, Croatia Poppy at Vis island, Croatia Relaxing cat at Vis Island, Croatia Seagulls at Vis Island, Croatia Bright red poppy at Vis Island, Croatia Beach and local beer in Croatia By the waterfront, Vis Island, Croatia

Fantastic sunset view from our room at Vis, Croatia

Fantastic sunset view from our room at Vis.

Fantastic view from our room at Vis, Croatia

View of Stiniva bay at Vis island, Croatia

View of Stiniva bay.

Stiniva bay at Vis island, Croatia

Itsy bitsy spider on the way to Tito's cave at Vis Island, Croatia

Itsy bitsy spider on the way to Tito’s cave.

Tito's cave at Vis Island, Croatia

Tito’s cave.

Sunset over Komiza, Vis Island, Criatia

The harbor in Komiza by night. Vis island, Croatia

The harbor in Komiza by night.

Komiza by night. Vis island, Croatia Nice and fresh seafood in Croatia

The blue cave by Bisevo outside Vis island, Croatia

The blue cave by Bisevo outside Vis island.

 

Dubrovnik area:

Stunning view of Dubrovnik Old Town

Stunning view of Dubrovnik Old Town

View of Dubrovnik old town

The market in Dubrovnik old town

The market in Dubrovnik old town.

Dubrovnik old town, Croatia

Quiet main street in old town Dubrovnik, Croatia

Quiet main street in old town Dubrovnik.

Old town in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Beautiful ocean view on the crossing between Dubrovnik and Lopud island, Croatia

Beautiful ocean view on the crossing between Dubrovnik and Lopud island.

Sunset, Croatia Dubrovnik sunset

More photos and information about Dubrovnik can be found in the posts Photos from Dubrovnik and LokrumHello and goodbye Dubrovnik and Restaurants in Dubrovnik.

Split and Trogir

View of the old town in Split, Croatia

View of the old town in Split.

The harbor front in Split, Croatia

The harbor front in Split.

Main square in Trogir, Croatia

Main square in Trogir.

Trogir bell tower, Croatia

Trogir bell tower.

Trogir houses, Croatia

View of Trogir, Croatia

View of Trogir.

Trogir harbor, Croatia

Trogir harbor.

Trogir by night. Croatia

Trogir by night.

Church in Trogir, Croatia

Church in Trogir.

The church on the mountain behind Trogir, Croatia

The church on the mountain behind Trogir.

Church on the mountain behind Trogir, Croatia Fishing boats near Trogir, Croatia

Hvar island
Hvar harbor, Hvar Island, Croatia Hvar town, Hvar Island, Croatia Street in Hvar town, Hvar Island, Croatia View of Hvar town, Hvar island, Croatia View of the harbor in Hvar town, Hvar island, Croatia The harbor at Hvar Island, Croatia

Sailing from Trogir to Kornati islands

The Cornati Islands in Croatia

The Cornati Islands.

Prvic Luka on Prvic island, Croatia

Prvic Luka on Prvic island.

The waterfall in Krka, Croatia

The waterfall in Krka. It was much more crowded than it looks…

Another sunset, Kornati islands, Croatia Boats on calm sea in Croatia Kornati islands, Croatia

A sheep or a dog.... Kornati islands, Croatia

A sheep or a dog….?

Bay of Kornat Island. Kornati, Croatia

Bay of Kornat Island.

Kornat Island, Croatia

Kornati island sunset, Croatia

Kornati island sunset.

A deserted restaurant at Kornati islands, Croatia

The moon and nothing else around. Kornati islands, Croatia

The moon and nothing else around. Kornati islands.

Clear blue water. Kornati, Croatia

Dive in! Kornati islands, Croatia

Dive in!

Preparing peka lamb. Croatia

Preparing peka lamb.

Peka lamb. A MUST try local food when in Croatia. Kornati, Croatia

Peka lamb. A MUST try local food when in Croatia.

More sunset, Croatia

Stary sky over Kornati Islands, Croatia

Stary sky over Kornati Islands.

Mir, the salt water lake at Dugi Otuk. Kornati, Croatia

Mir, the salt water lake at Dugi Otuk. Kornati islands.

Yet another nice day, sailing in Croatia

Yet another nice day, sailing in Croatia.

A short hike at the island Zirje. Kornati Islands, Croatia

A short hike at the island Zirje, Kornati Islands.

Primosten, Croatia

Primosten.

Sunset in Primosten. Croatia

Sunset in Primosten.

 

 

Rovinj, an Istirian pearl!

Rovinj is a beautiful pearl at the Croatian part of the Istrian coast, with the picturesque old town built on the peninsula. Even though it is a quite touristy place, it does not feel too crowded.
Rovinj, Croatia Houses in Rovinj, Croatia Harbour in Rovinj, Croatia The harbour in Rovinj, Croatia Nice street in Rovinj, Croatia Street in old town in Rovinj, Croatia
For me, coast means swimming, so visiting one of the islands just outside Rovinj was a must. The boat to the Island of St. Andrew, also referred to as “Red Island”, leaves the mainland half passed every hour. Red island is actually two islands connected in front of the giant Hotel Istra. That area is quite crowded, with deck chairs scattered around. Needless to say that was not my preferred spot… However, there are walking paths all across the two islands, so if you want to escape the crowds (like I would), find a path to the sea and jump in from the rocks there.

One of the more private spots to swim at Red Island outside Rovinj, Croatia

One of the more private spots to swim at Red Island outside Rovinj.

We decided to do some island hopping and check out St. Katarina as well. Sadly, there is no boat connecting the two islands, so we had to get back to the mainland first.

The fantastic view of Rovinj seen from the island of St. Katarina

The fantastic view of Rovinj seen from the island of St. Katarina.

Whatever you do, do not, I repeat; DO NOT! miss the chance to go to St. Katarina. The view to the old town of Rovinj is stunning and worth the trip just for that!!

Another must, at least for a view lover like me, is to walk the stairs to the tower of Saint Euphemia Cathedral.

Saint Euphemia Cathedral in Rovinj, Croatia

Saint Euphemia Cathedral.

Panorama view from Saint Euphemia Cathedral in Rovinj, Croatia

Panorama view from Saint Euphemia Cathedral.

I just love the way the small cozy bars in the old town use whatever space they have available. Take Limbo for example. A tiny cafe bar at the bottom of some stairs, using each level for small tables along the wall. If you are more than two people, some of you have to sit directly at the stairs. But that is a part of the charm. Inside there are just a few wooden tables, with sketches and paintings covering the walls completely. Outside however, the scenery is the backyard of the locals, with multicolored clothes hanging on strings between the pale brick buildings with flowers pots hanging from the windows, spicing up the facade. The most run-down house, but for me the most charming, has ivy climbing up along the corner, partly resting on the old-fashioned wrought iron street light, before it decided to continue towards the ceiling.

The charming Limbo cafe bar in Rovinj, Croatia

The charming Limbo cafe bar.

I must admit; I did not give the old town much of a chance to prove itself in the beginning. The first time I entered from the street right behind the market, just walking along the seaside. It was during the hottest period of the day, so exploring the back alleys did not at all seem tempting then. The second time I entered the same way, but working my way up to Saint Euphemia Cathedral. Walking down again, I picked the main street instead of the smaller ones that I usually would. It was filled with shops, apparently with handcraft. For me, most of them were quite touristy with a few exceptions. The lovely smell of lavender filled the air around me, but I still felt the urge for walking fast down the cobbled streets. So I did.

Main street in the old town in Rovinj, Croatia

The main street in the old town.

Our last night in Rovinj I decided to give it another try. I insisted on checking out the old town by night. I discovered there were several really cozy places, both for food and drinks. How could I have been so wrong? The answer is simple; I just failed looking. My best tip is usually to explore the back streets, but for some strange reason I did not this time. Not until now. Maybe it was the heat that made me rush it. It must have been. But at least that made me find Mediterraneo Bar.

This “secret escape” sure lives up to its name. Well, maybe not secret as I spotted it the moment I passed, but certainly an escape! After walking the outer coastline of the old town in the sizzling heat, it was perfect entering through the hole, getting all the way down to the sea. Sitting either on the stone benches with colorful pillows along the wall, the old iron chairs, or on the fluffy pillow directly at the stones, gives a perfect easygoing vibe. Old low stools serves as tables, or even chairs if needed. The sea is making the calming waving sound, and seagulls fly by. Maybe I instantly loved that place so much I forgot to look for others? Right then and there it felt like the right thing. As it did the time I went back there as well. But after walking around the back alleys the last night, I realized it was a mistake. Don’t get me wrong, Mediterraneo Bar is a fantastic place, but the combination makes it perfect!

Mediterraneo Bar in Rovinj, Croatia

Mediterraneo Bar

Trevisol is another one of the charming bars making the most of the location by the stairs. This alley leading downwards is broader, leaving space for more shabby chic tables and chairs. And a mix of colorful and oriental pillows, also used to sit on. The calm music sets the perfect mood for the warm summer night.

Nice atmosphere at Trevisol bar in Rovinj old town, Croatia

Nice atmosphere at Trevisol bar.

If you for some reason would like to sit inside instead, you would have a giant chandelier decorated with flowers above your head. All the wooden tables are painted in light pastel blue and strong-colored pillows supporting your back against the stonewalls.

The everyday life is passing by. It is fascinating what you can learn just by sitting here paying just a little attention. A group of men sat down by the table beside me. Not long after, a mature woman passed, greeting them quickly before entering the house across the street. Shortly after, a younger woman arrived from the same direction. She greeted them as well, at the same time the first woman came out of the house again. Without a word, the younger handed over her handbag, before the both continued to walk together the same way. My conclusion; mother and daughter, running the family restaurant the men just had dinner. Then, some minutes after, a man passes, putting a key in the door and locking it, before he followed the same direction as the women. The family was complete. At least that is the story I made up for them. I am pretty sure I am right.

There is something special about walking through old towns after the sun sets. The mood and atmosphere changes. Everything seems calmer. The softness of the orange streetlights paint the stonewalls. Walking along the old smooth cobble stones, wondering what hides behind the next corner. The laundry, trousers, shirts and underwear, hanging on strings between the houses. No secrets.
Old town in Rovinj, Croatia by night One of many cosy restaurants in the old town of Rovinj, Croatia

Locals hanging out in the old town of Rovinj, Croatia

Locals hanging out in the old town.

Some are drinking. Others in either calm or intense conversations, sometimes bursting out in laughter. An elderly woman is sitting in a chair at the top of the stairs leading to her entrance door. She is sitting there alone, watching life pass by. Maybe she is a widow, thinking about the life she had. Or, maybe she has a bunch of grandchildren visiting, and needed a little break from it all. Either way, she looked peaceful.

An elderly woman watching over her street in the old town of Rovinj, Croatia

An elderly woman watching over her street in the old town of Rovinj.

Essentials;

Accommodation: We could not have chosen a better location. Just a few minutes’ walk from the bus stop and the boat pier, as well as the old town, Koberac Guesthouse was the perfect choice. Not the most fancy place, but worked for us.

Our house Rovinj, Croatia

The yellow was our house in Rovinj.

Transport: Arriving from Pula, buses run quite frequent. A few of the departures have online tickets at www.buscroatia.com. Either way this web site show your options. Our bus was not available online, and we paid 43 Kuna per person.
Departing from Rovinj to Piran, we decided to take Trieste Lines. It is a little bit more expensive than the bus, but we found it to be the most comfortable alternative.
Sunset in Rovinj, Croatia Sunset in Rovinj

Experienced August 2015. 

Pula

I had not planned much for my visit to Pula. To be honest, I had not planned anything. The only two things I knew, was that it was a very convenient starting point for my trip to Slovenia (the most important thing) and that they have a large amphitheater. If I had done just a little research, I would probably only stayed one night (I arrived late evening) and moved on as soon as possible the next day. But I obviously didn’t, so I tried to make the most of it. So here it comes; my verdict.

The amphitheater: This impressive monument was built in the 1st century AD, at the same time as the magnificent Colosseum in Rome, so make sure to see it during your visit. However, you do not need to actually enter. I did not, and concluded the views from outside is better anyway.
Amphitheatre in Pula, CroatiaOther sights: The view from the castle was a little disappointing, mostly because what you can see is the industry all around. Let’s face it; In my book an industrial harbour can never look beautiful. Even though they did do a nice try lighting up the cranes during the evening.

The industrial cranes in Pula, Croatia lit up by night

The industrial cranes lit up by night

Start by the Triumphal Arch of the Sergi, often referred to as the Golden Gate, and stroll through the old town. Make sure to do a few detours along the way to see more than just the main street.

The Triumphal Arch of the Sergi in Pula, Croatia

The Triumphal Arch of the Sergi.

Street in old town Pula, Croatia

Main square of Pula and Temple of Augustus.

Main square of Pula and Temple of Augustus.

Arriving at the main square, you will see the Temple of Augustus, constructed between the year 2 BC and AD 14 . Check. And move on. The cathedral and belfry next-door looks nice, but the two restaurants there has extremely slow service (we left the first one, that’s why we know both…).
The Cathedral and belfry
At the end of the old town is the amphitheater, so here it is again.
The Amphitheatre in Pula, Croatia
On the way back, you can actually walk the underground shelter tunnels of Pula, called Zerostrasse!  The different hallways houses exhibitions, spanning from the history of the film festival, local artwork and aviation history.

Zerostrasse, the underground shelter tunnels of Pula, Croatia

Zerostrasse, the underground shelter tunnels of Pula.

The beach: We were recommended to go to Verudelia beach. It looked nice on the photo on the back of the map, so we decided to go there. For us, it was a complete waste. It was overcrowded (we could have predicted that though), so we did not even bother to dive in, although I love swimming in the ocean. But, as we both like to walk a lot when travelling, we had stopped for a quick cooling swim at the beach by the Youth Hostel along the way, so I was not completely over boiled.

Overcrowded Verudella beach in Pula, Croatia

Overcrowded Verudella beach.

Walking just across the hill from Verudelia to the marina, we sat down at the rooftop lounge. The beer was nice and cold, the view of the boats giving a pleasant atmosphere, and they served a decent all you can eat grill buffet for 100kn.

View from the rooftop terrace by Marina Bunarina in Pula, Croatia

View from the rooftop terrace by Marina Bunarina.

If you are up for a drink in the evening, stop either at one of the places at the main square if you want to stay outside, or at the small “Old City Bar” if you are keen on going indoors.
The main square of Pula, Croatia by night. With Temple of Augustus.
Where to stay: As I was travelling alone (or at least planned to), I had booked a bed in a dorm at Riva Hostel. It was nice and centrally located, with a fantastic rooftop terrace. For solo travelers this is a great place to get to know others! They also offer private rooms if you are more people travelling together.

Rooftop terrace at Riva Hostel in Pula, Croatia

Rooftop terrace at Riva Hostel.

Hello and goodbye Dubrovnik!

Dubrovnik is the starting point on our road trip through Balkan. As we have both been here before, it was mainly practical reasons that led us here this time. But I must admit that I never say no to an excuse to spend some time in Dubrovnik. It is simply one of the most beautiful city I have ever been. If you avoid the middle of the day when it usually is completely crowded, that is. Arriving in the evening and departing before noon solved that problem easily.

For dinner we actual went to a Bosnian restaurant called Taj Mahal. I know, I usually really prefer to eat local food when I travel, but since we are travelling to so many different countries in the area, we thought we might just ad on a Bosnian experience as well. So then it became an Indian named Bosnian restaurant in Croatia! We had both eaten there some years back and were satisfied with the food, and we were not disappointed this time either.

We stayed overnight at Hotel Villa Sigurata, a very nice place centrally located in the Old Town. The owner was super helpful and very kind.

After we picked up the rental car, we drove up to the viewpoint to get the spectacular view of the Old Town and the surroundings. The road is quite narrow, and only allows one car most of the way, so be sure to stop at the designated meeting points when you see a car coming towards you. We were lucky not to meet too many cars, but I can only imagine the chaos during high season. But do not be intimidated, it is absolutely worth it!
Beautiful buildings

Lively main street

Lively main street

Stunning view of Dubrovnik Old Town

Stunning view of Dubrovnik Old Town

Earlier post related to Dubrovnik:
Restaurants in Dubrovnik
Photos from Dubrovnik and Lokrum

Get your bearings – rental car in the Balkans

It was certainly not an easy task to find a rental company that would allow us to cross the borders of all the Balkan countries we planned to visit. Most of the big car rental companies like Avis and Hertz would exclude one or more of the countries. After trying several of the smaller companies as well, I finally found Milenium Car Rental.

As our plan was to go to Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia, we needed to find a company that would allow us to enter those countries without charging expensive extras. Milenium Car Rental had green card to all the countries we planned to visit. The only extra we had to pay was an additional insurance at the border to enter Kosovo, as they are not a part of the Green Card System.

We picked up the car at the Milenium Car Rental office in downtown Dubrovnik, and agreed to deliver it at the airport when we returned.

Since we are off to explore, and plan to try different small roads, we figured it would be wise to rent a GPS as well. We also bought some more detailed “old fashioned” road maps, just to be on the safe side…

Off we go!

Finding our way to Albania

Time had come to get from Dubrovnik to Albania. We had tried to search online for how to get there before we went on the trip, but we could not really conclude how to go.  We then decided to find out when we got to Dubrovnik. That turned out to be harder than expected. We tried to ask at the tourist information, but our request was answered by a question; “why do you want to go to Albania?”.

It ended with the conclusion that we just had to get to Montenegro and find our way as we went along. We headed for the bus station in Dubrovnik to take the bus at 10.00 to Budva via Kotor. When we got to the ticket office, the tickets for the bus we wanted were sold out. We did not even think of that. Needless to say, it was not exactly the message we wanted. So lesson number one: If possible, buy tickets in advance… But, there was a bus number two at 10.00, or at least it should leave at 10 as well, but the problem was that it arrived from Bosnia, and were usually delayed. The only thing we were told was that it usually arrived sometime between 10 and 12…. This day we were extra lucky, and while we were waiting it was announced it would arrive around 12.30. But, luck happily changed for us, and some of the passengers with tickets for the first bus did not show up, so we got on that one.

When we got to the border between Croatia and Montenegro there was a huge line, that made us wait there for 1,5 hours. The air-condition in the bus did not work very well, so it was extremely hot. When we finally got passed the border, we drove through beautiful scenery along the bay of Kotor. I spent a short time in Kotor some years ago, but if we had more time, I would definitely wanted to stay there one night to see more of the small charming town.

But, our bus continued after a very short stop, heading for Budva. On our way we had read in our guide book that Ulcinj or Schodra were places with connections to Tirana. So, when we arrived in Budva, we decided to go to the one of those two places the next bus went to. It seemed the luck was with us that day, and the next bus to Ulcinj was in 20 minutes. The ticket was 6 Euro + 1 euro for each piece of luggage. DSC_8209
After about two hours in the small bus we arrived in the little town of Ulcinj. When we got there, we found out there were two daily busses from Ulcinj to Schodra, leaving at 06.00 and 12.30. In other words, we had to spend the night. On the bus we had met two Swedish boys that also were heading for Albania. A local man that claimed he worked for the local tourist office came over and asked if we needed a place to stay. Off course we realized that he did not work for them, but we needed a place to stay and it was an easy solution to go with him. Before we knew it, we were sitting in his car, heading over to his house to share a room with four beds.

Ulcinj was a nice little town with a main street leading down to the beach. On the top of the hill in one of the ends of the beach, the old town was situated. As we had decided to go further with the bus at 06.00 the next morning, we just had dinner and a drink by the beach, and never got to see the old town except from a distance.

DSC_8220 Ulcinj old town by night
Sunday morning we walked down to the bus station to take the bus to Schodra. It took about 1,5 hours, and when we stopped along the road, a mini bus to Tirana was waiting and left as soon as we got on it. 1 hour and 20 minutes later, we arrived in Tirana. It was no bus station where we were left of, but we later learned that the buses heading in the different directions went from different places just along the streets.

We had decided to go to Berat and spend the night there, but wanted to see some of Tirana before we continued. We walked around in the heat for quite some time looking for a place to store the luggage for a few hours. It was more difficult than we imagined, but just when we were about to give up, we asked at a hotel if they could be so kind to look after our luggage for a while – and they were.

As we had not eaten yet, we first looked for a place for lunch. We sat down in the shadow by the Opera, but found out that they did not serve food. Either way, we needed the rest and something to drink, so we stayed there for a while. We asked the cute girl that sold ice cream if she had any recommendations where we could eat lunch. She was very helpful and pointed out a small square behind the big casino that had several restaurants. We also asked her what she recommended that we should see the short time we spent in Tirana. She looked out on Skanderbeg Square, and said; “this”. Obviously there are so many other things to see, but right then and there we were so hot and tired that we took her word for it. On our way to the “lunch square” we passed a church side by side with a mosque. It is nice to see that religions can live peaceful together. Further we also passed by a nice park with a nun sitting on the lawn resting. She looked very peaceful, it was almost as seeing Mother Theresa relaxing in the shadow. Now and then several wedding parties were driving by celebrating, taking us back to the busy reality.

On Scanderbeg Square

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On our way back to get our luggage, we passed the Orthodox Cathedral.
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So, to sum up the conclusion on how to get from Dubrovnik to Albania (Tirana):

Bus at 10.00 from the bus station in Dubrovnik to Budva, via Kotor. REMEMBER TO BOOK THE TICKET BEFORE TO BE SURE TO GET ON IT! Ticket price: Appr. 130KN per person + a fee for the luggage.

Bus from Budva to Ulcinj at 15.00 (appr. 2 hours drive). Ticket price 6 Euro + 1 Euro for luggage.

If you are in a hurry and really need to get to Albania in one day, we heard it was possible to get a driver to drive to the border, where it usually were several others on the Albanian side to take you further. We on the other hand, decided to stay one night in Ulcinj and take the bus at 06.00 to Schodra (1,5 hours, 6 Euros). Just let them know that you will continue to Tirana, and they know where to let you off. From there we took a mini bus to Tirana (1h 20m, 5 Euro).

Restaurants in Dubrovnik

It is always hard to know where to eat. In general I perfer to find a place a little bit outside the most obvious tourist tracks. Even though Dubrovnik old town is quite touristic, there are some more hidden choices. To our surprise, not so many people had discovered the two restaurants on the square by the Jezuit church. During our stay we tried both of them. At the restaurant called Jezuit I had the fish platter, and were served a really nice seabass. The other day we went to the restaurant called Capon, meaning rooster. Their speciality was rooster obviously enough, given the name of the restaurant. The recipe they used dated back to the 16th century, and the meat was served with a sauce of sour oranges and honey.

Even though we were in Croatia, we went to the Bosnian restaurant Taj Mahal one of the evenings. We ordered the Djengis Can to share. As it consisted of more or less only different kinds of meat, we ordered vegetables as well. They also had the traditional cevapi. I did not taste it there, but I tasted it in Sarajevo a few years ago. According to a Bosnian friend of mine, the ones in Sarajevo are particularly good.

I also went up with the cable car one evening, and there is a restaurant on the top. I did not eat there, but the location is great with a very nice view of the city. Most of the tables were reserved, so it would be vice to book in advance.

To finish the evening, I strongly recommend one of the two Buza bars, outside the city walls with a great view of the ocean. It is not the cheepest bar in town, but worth the experience.