Bare with me this is a long post… but I guarantee it is worth the read!
Croatia, where do I begin?
This weekend’s adventure took myself and twenty others to Zadar, Croatia – my second ever European country. An early morning start to get to Marseille Provence Airport, where a security threat saw us enjoying the sunrise from outside the terminal building, set the tone for the craziest weekend to come.
Zadar (or Zagdar as London girl Serena thought) is about halfway down the coastline of Croatia but to be honest I had never heard of it. The city was beautiful and based in the ‘old town’ which was the perfect opportunity for me to get snap happy and capture all the architecture and design. We filled two big tables at Bruschetta for our lunchtime stop; a restaurant opposite the waterfront which definitely treated our tastebuds.
The afternoon was spent roaming the alleyways before taking in the most stunning sunrise at aptly named cafe and bar Tequila Sunrise. It was Laurie’s 21st birthday so we enjoyed a traditional Croatian dinner at Pet Burnara celebrate. This dish was called Pašticada of which I tried the lamb version – incredibly tender from the four hours of slow cooking and accompanied by melt-in-your-mouth gnocchi. I could definitely become a food critic if anyone is on the lookout for one as I am constantly eating! Grace and I decided to celebrate perhaps a little two hard after ordering a 1L jug of red wine just for the two of us. The waitress was quite amazed that it was for two and not the table to share. This eventually led onto shots as I made friends with two Croatian men who were keen for me to try the local alcohol … This was syrupy sweet and contained fruit in the bottom, needless to say they went down easily. Turns out one of them was the Minister of Justice (showed me his Ministry card as proof), a handy person to know I thought. I also happened to lose my phone this night but with unbelievable luck two friends found it on the way home.
The next day Grace and I decided to head to Split while the others headed to the Northern National Park and Plitvice Lakes. I wasn’t able to get my phone back in time so big shout out to Grace for putting up with being my personal photographer for the trip to Split.
Split was truly incredible with the centre city once again being based in the ‘old town’, where Roman ruins were still in tact hosting little shops selling all kinds of things. It just so happened that as we were walking along the wharf watching the boats pull in to the harbour that Grace started chatting to a group who had their own boat. Obviously loving the English accent, we were invited to come on board and join them for a drink at an Island where one of them owned a house. I don’t think we stopped grinning from the moment we stepped on board till the moment we got off. Always pays to make friends with the locals!
That night at Fife restaurant we enjoyed another Croatian meal of fresh sea bass, Viennese sauteed potatoes and salad. We had to also get amongst the famous nightlife of Croatia of course and headed to Charlies bar where many cheap cocktails were consumed and interesting conversations with Aussies were had. Was so great to be understood the first time I said something, normally someone has to translate my English as the Croatians could not get a grasp on it. After Charlies we checked out Tropic nightclub where sparklers were handed out throughout the night and no terrible French techno was played. I decided on the way home that we had to get a taxi and from here I showed Grace some classic Kiwi antics of what we consider a good night out (or maybe that is just me). To read about that click here and scroll down.
ŠIBENIK / KRKA NATIONAL PARK / SKRADIN
The next day, severely hungover, seemed like the perfect time to go hiking in the Krka national park to take in the amazing waterfalls we had both heard about. This was actually such a highlight and a dip in the refreshing water was enough to cure our sore heads and queasy stomachs. Our taxi driver who dropped us off at the Park from Sibenik city (as the buses don’t run on a Saturday we found out) told us that we should take the free ferry to a little village called Skradin. We took him up on this idea and it literally blew us both away. The village is a little gem and I highly recommend it to anyone within the area for a visit. It reminded me of something you would find in a Scandinavian country rather than a Mediterranean one so was a pleasant surprise.
After missing the last bus back to Sibenik we were once again lucky enough to catch a ride from a local lady who definitely confirmed the welcoming and friendly manner of the Croatian people. The day was perfectly ended at Argola restaurant which was divine and run by the sweetest woman. She recommended we try the local dish Soparnik, a flaky pastry pizza shaped meal, filled with spinach and garlic with a swirl of olive oil. Being ‘big girls’ we also tried out the Spaghetti Frutti di Mare – seafood pasta – which was the rich tomato based meal that hit the spot after our busy day hiking. Seriously though, someone should hire me to eat and review!
We rejoined the group after a bus ride back to Zadar where an alarm was set for 5.00am to catch our even earlier return flight home. We couldn’t have asked for a better hostel to stay in, called the Drunken Monkey. They also booked Fiesta Siesta hostel in Split for Grace and I which was equally as good if anyone finds themselves needing accommodation in Croatia anytime soon.
A HUGE thank you to my friends and everyone we met on the way who made this a truly unforgettable trip, especially Grace who is the ultimate Mama Bear to me.
Some other highlights/points of interest included:
- Adriana Maria who could be heard saying every time in her thick American accent ‘is there wifi here?’
- You learn pretty quickly that you should always sit in the back seat of a taxi if it is a male taxi driver.
- The excellent banter of our bunk room in the Drunken Monkey on the last night. My abs are sore from all the laughing.
- My first fellow Kiwi’s I have met so far, all in Croatia! A couple of Aucklander’s and one from Christchurch.
- The old Croatian man I saw as I looked out the window of the bus. He was sitting on a bench with two bags of oranges and an old school Addidas sports bag. You gave me such a sweet memory!
- And finally, the song that sums up the trip…Moje Zlato. Listen to it here