JenSop: The Singing Traveler!

Idealist. Dreamer. Singer. Explorer.


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Dubrovnik, Croatia

Hello dear readers!  If you’re a regular here, you know Miloš and I have traveled extensively all around his home country of Croatia. We’ve been almost everywhere.  BUT – I had still never been to Dubrovnik!  (Yes, I know!) The primary reason for not getting to this wonderful city sooner was simply logistical.  It’s pretty much the farthest away place IN Croatia, from where we live in Croatia. (An almost six hour drive if you take the highway AND don’t stop for breaks.)

However, it was finally time to see this amazing city, so we planned a visit for the last weekend of March, as we had to get our personal traveling in before our own working tour seasons began.  (We also visited Trogir on our way down to Dubrovnik.  Blog about that coming soon!)

 

Let me say right off the bat – Dubrovnik is a MUST SEE city.  It most certainly lived up to its fantastic reputation.  If you are a fan of history, architecture, the sea, good food, and cats – this is your place!

But first – a map!  (You know I love maps!  And on this one, I’ve highlighted our driving route.)  As you can see, Dubrovnik lies along the Adriatic Sea, all the way near the southern-most part of Croatia.  This southern coastal region of Croatia is called Dalmatia.  (Yup – just like the dogs! That’s where they get their name.)

Our route from Crikvenica to Dubrovnik

 

This historic city was founded in the 7th century, when the first wave of Croats migrated to Dalmatia.  Some also speculate the town may have been founded by Greek refugees or sailors.  Originally named Ragusa, Dubrovnik is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Excavations also include evidence of a pre-Christian era settlement.  The city was a strong maritime port during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.  It suffered damage during a terrible earthquake in 1667, but was still able to preserve its Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque historic buildings.  The city again suffered extensive damage in the 1990s during the Croatian War for Independence.  Today’s Dubrovnik is one of the Mediterranean’s most popular tourist destinations; its inherent charm is the ability to make visitors feel as if they are being transported back in time.

If you choose to drive to Dubrovnik from most places in Croatia, you will have to pass through a 10 kilometer stretch of land that is controlled by Bosnia and Herzegovina.  Borders at both sides have passport controls. We had no hold ups getting through, but I travel inside Europe with my Hungarian passport.  It may take a little longer with a non-EU passport.  I also suspect there could be traffic issues during the busy summer months.

 

We stayed for two nights, but should have made it three.  It just wasn’t enough time. From the first moment we saw the city, we were blown away by its sheer majesty.  Just entering through the Pile Gate into the old city made me feel like we were entering some kind of fantasy world.

We stayed right in the middle of the old city at the Villa Sigurata, where we were made to feel right at home.  Our room was comfortable, clean, and had everything we needed.  I definitely give it my highest recommendation!

 

Here are a few highlights we experienced during our time in Dubrovnik:

Walking along the Stradun
Stradun is the main promenade that runs along the entire inside length of the old city.  This wide thoroughfare is full of shops and restaurants, as well as historic churches, monasteries, and residences.  You can see the Onofrio Fountain, the Fransiscan Monestary, Europe’s oldest pharmacy (since 1391), the Orlando Column, the Church of St. Blaise, and the Rector’s Palace.

Old City Walls
Despite it being a pricier option (150 kuna per person/approx. 20 euro), walking the Old City Walls is an absolute must-do experience in Dubrovnik.  The walls encircle the entire city, complete with lookouts, forts, and cannons.  The views that await you are simply breath-taking.  Be ready to walk and climb lots of stairs.  Give yourself a good solid two hours to get all the way around, more if you want to take your time.  Your ticket is good for one circle around the wall, and also allows you into the Lovrijenac Fortress, across from the old city.  (We climbed up to the fortress, but it had already closed for the day, so we didn’t make it inside.  This one is featured in Game of Thrones as the Red Keep in King’s Landing.)

Today’s city walls were mostly constructed between the 12th and 17th centuries, although construction on the original walls started in the 8th century.  They measure almost 2 kilometers in length, all the way around.  They reach a maximum height of 25 meters, and the main walls on the land side are 4 to 6 meters thick.  Highlights along the wall are the Minčeta Tower, rising above the city on the land side, and Fort Bokar, which  juts into the sea, guarding the area of the Pile Gate.

Lovrijenac Fortress
As I mentioned above, we didn’t get the opportunity to go inside the fortress, but we did hike up there and took in the amazing views.  Then we went down the stairs that lead to the pier between the two fortresses.

 

 

Pile Gate (pronounced “pee-leh”)
The Pile Gate is nearly 500 years old – it lets you enter the old city over an ancient draw bridge that used to be lifted every evening.  It’s covered with a Renaissance arch, where St. Blaise (the city’s patron saint) looks down upon everyone coming and going from the city.  Our accommodations were located close to this entrance.
Just walking through the city itself is an activity that can’t be beat.  The streets are set up mostly in a grid pattern, and are pedestrian-only.  The streets running perpendicular to the Stradun are only level for a block or two, then continue up many many stairs.


Dubrovnik Old Port
Located at the eastern side of the city, the old port was once an important part of Dubrovnik’s maritime history.  It’s a busy area of restaurants and local boats.  The ship that runs to the island of Lokrum departs from here.

 

We also had a couple really amazing dining/drinking experiences that I just HAVE to share with you.

Nautika
Our first evening in Dubrovnik, we had reservations at Nautika, located right outside the Pile Gate.  The restaurant is located inside the former Dubrovnik School of Maritime Studies, which dates back to 1881.  One of the highlights of this wonderful restaurant is its outdoor terrace, where diners can look out onto one of the world’s most amazing views.  Nautika’s location is on the seaside, between the Lovrijenac Fortress and Fort Bokar.  I don’t think I’ve ever dined with a more spectacular view in my entire life.

The food and service are at the top end of the spectrum. Every dish was meticulously created to be something truly special. The staff takes care of your every need, ensuring your visit is unforgettable.

The prices are rather high, but it’s worth every penny.  I highly encourage you to make a reservation – request the outdoor terrace.

We will be back for sure!

Buza Bar
We happened upon this bar by accident on our first day, but we were sure to return for another visit the next day!  This hidden gem is actually built out onto the rocks outside the city walls, overlooking the sea.  They only serve cold drinks, as per the signs leading you there.  The view is amazing – especially at sunset.  Go to enjoy some relaxing time in the sea breeze.

To find this bar, go up the Game of Thrones staircase, then cut across left up top until you see the sign directing you to the “Cold drinks with the most beautiful view.”  Continue walking along that path for a bit until you get to the “hole in the wall” entrance to the bar.

 

CATS….

Okay, I mentioned it briefly earlier, but Dubrovnik is FULL of cats!  There were cats everywhere. I never saw so many stray cats. I guess since the old city is pedestrian-only, they don’t have to worry so much about cars.  And if you know me, you know I LOVE cats!  Of course I took lots of cat pics.  Here are some of them!

A few thoughts about Dubrovnik:

-It’s an expensive city.  (Popular tourist destinations usually are.)  Don’t cheap out on a once-in-a-lifetime experience just because it’s a few more dollars than you expected to spend.  Budget yourself a little higher in this city.

-Crowds can get super crazy in the high season.  If you can travel during shoulder season, you’ll be able to experience this wonderful place without the insane crowd levels.

– If you’re staying long enough, you can take some nice day trips from Dubrovnik.  I would recommend getting out to some of the islands.  (I’m so eager to go to Korčula!)

-Stay at least three nights to be able to see and do more.

 

 

We loved our visit and can’t wait to return!

Here are some more miscellaneous photos from our trip to Dubrovnik!

Enjoy!


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Our Very Own Happily Ever After

May 28th was a fantastic day – we had our wonderful wedding in Milos’ hometown of Crikvenica, Croatia. (At the Hotel Marina in Selce, to be exact.)

 

The planning started even before we got engaged (back on Feb. 13, 2015), as some of you might remember from previous blog posts.  I chose a color palette of lavender and mint green, and I got some wonderful decorative items while back in the U.S. during winter and spring.  I was so pleased with how the hotel made our modest decorations come together in such a beautiful and elegant way.

 

Our wedding day weather was warm and sunny with happiness all around.  Of course we had lots to do – the week leading up to the wedding was crazy stressful.  I had just gotten into town after my two week tour on Monday evening (5 days before the wedding), but Milos had been there a few days already and had  started getting things in order.  But no matter how well prepared you are, there are always last minute things to keep you busy leading right up through the wedding day.

 

The ceremony was on the “beach” of the Hotel Marina: a flat concrete area on the water’s edge.  We bought an archway that was decorated with flowers to serve as the “altar” at the end of the aisle between the beach umbrellas made of palm fronds.  Our reception was just above on the lower terrace of the hotel itself.

 

Despite the stress and busy-ness, everything came together spectacularly.  The florist created some gorgeous bouquets – mine looked exactly like the photo I had shown her from Pinterest.  The photographer was professional, easy-going, and exceptionally talented.  We were able to choose the photos for our album AND get a full USB stick of ALL 800-something of our photos just days after the wedding.  The hotel served delicious food and also organized a gorgeous yet simple wedding cake – again, exactly to my specifications.  (And it tasted great!)

 

My friend and bridesmaid Rebecca was a super woman – not only doing my hair, but my sister’s and her own all within our limited given time frame.  We also sang a super duet during the ceremony to “Panis Angelicus.” My sister ran around and was a great wedding day assistant.  All three of my dresses made me feel beautifully bridal, each in their own special way.  (I’ll categorize the three as feminine boho (#1), elegantly classic (#2), and comfortably sexy (#3).

 

Milos looked so amazingly handsome in his light grey suit and lavender tie.  We took some awesome pics together: some near Kastel in the middle of town, some near the seaside park by his childhood house, and some at Lanterna – an old fisherman’s house on the sea.  And of course, we got great photos of people having fun at the reception on the terrace.

 

I didn’t have a lot of folks on my side make the trip to Croatia, but I was so grateful and appreciative for those that could.  We had a FANTASTIC time reliving our younger days out on the dance floor.  (I had put lots of good dance songs on the list from the 80’s and early 90’s.)  The party went until 5:30am, when the few of us remaining decided to take a quick swim in the sea as the sun came up.

 

The most important parts: everyone had a great time and we are now so excited to start our lives together as husband and wife.  After all, a wedding is only a day, but a marriage is a lifetime.  And we are so excited to have that lifetime together.  ❤

 

Here are some photos from our happy day!

 


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Pula, Croatia

Today, Miloš and I took a nice little day trip out to the ancient Istrian city of Pula.  Istria is the peninsula that makes up the northwestern part of Croatia.  The drive from Miloš’ hometown of Crikvenica was about an hour and forty minutes.  We arrived in Pula in the early afternoon, and were eager to take advantage of the fantastic sunny weather.  (Something that’s been quite rare so far this year.)

 

Here’s a map of the area!

 

As you can see, this part of Croatia is very close to Italy, and the Istrian peninsula was highly influenced by Venice, due to being a part of the Venetian Republic for centuries.  (You can see the direct water route between the two cities of Venice and Pula on the map.)  This connection to Venice is especially noticeable in much of the architecture in Istria’s cities.  But this area (and Croatia in general) was first a strong part of the Roman empire, with the architectural remains to prove it.  Many are still around today!

 

Our first stop was the famous Roman amphitheater!  Built in the first century AD, Pula’s Arena is the sixth largest amphitheater in the world.  It’s also the only one to have four side towers and all three stories preserved. We took our time exploring this impressive structure – trying to imagine the gladiators that fought on the very spots where we were walking.

Of course, I took lots of pics!  Here’s a look at Pula’s Arena:

 

 

After exploring the Arena, we headed out to see the rest of Pula!

The city is built right along the water, so it has a large marina area.  After visiting the Church of St. Anthony, we walked down towards the water (where we saw a very active school of fish right by the water’s edge), passing the ancient Twin Gate, looping into the old town to the open Forum area where we saw the Temple of Augustus and The Town Hall.  Close by in the old town are the ruins of the House of Agrippina, where an ancient bust of the empress Agrippina was discovered during excavations. Then we trekked up the hill in the center of town to hike along a little path next to the Fortress (Kaštel), while enjoying excellent views of the city below us.  Behind the Kaštel are the ruins of a small Roman theatre.  We also continued along to see the Gate of Hercules, which is the oldest surviving Roman structure in Pula.  Not far away from there is the Triumphal Arch of Sergius.  We finished by grabbing an early dinner at Bistro Alighieri – a lovely little restaurant specializing in Mediterranean cuisine.  On the way back to the car, we walked through the streets of old town again, where we saw the Cathedral of Pula in the lovely evening light.

 

Here are some more photos of our day AND additional interesting info about some of the sites!

 

 

First up, the Church of St. Anthony.  It’s located immediately next to the amphitheater, and it’s tower can be seen rising majestically, even when standing inside the Arena.

 

 

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Next up, the Twin Gates. They were constructed between the 1st and 2nd centuries AD, and are considered to be the most beautiful of all the city’s ancient gates.

 

 

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We spent a few minutes walking along the marina, and saw an amazing school of fish, swimming in circles at the top of the water.  So cool!

 

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We then took a left turn inland, and headed through the pedestrian streets of the old town towards the Forum.  Once there, we were able to see the Temple of Augustus and the Town Hall.  The Temple of Augustus was dedicated to the first Roman Emperor and was built between 2 BC and 14 AD.  Much of it was destroyed in the second World War, but it was later reconstructed and it now houses an ancient sculpture collection.

 

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While walking along the narrow street away from the Forum, we happened upon a little sign pointing to Agrippina’s House.  We wandered down a little alley to find a grouping of ruins.  Upon further research, I learned that the site derived its name due to a 1st century bust of Agrippina being found in the ruins during an excavation in the 1980’s.

 

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We strolled along another narrow street and stumbled upon the Church and Monastery of St. Francis.  It was perched higher above the street, along the hill leading up to the Kaštel.

 

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As we climbed to the center of town, we came upon a grassy steep hill leading up to the town’s old Fortress/Castle.  (Kaštel)  The Fortress is surrounded with cannons and is circled by an empty moat.  It was built in the 1600’s by the Venetians.  Currently, it is home to an impressive museum.  On the other side of the fortress hill, we descended upon the remains of the Small Roman Theatre.

 

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After finding the Roman Theatre, we trekked back down to the old city walls to visit the Gate of Hercules and the Triumphal Arch of Sergius.  The Gate of Hercules is the oldest remaining Roman structure in the entire city of Pula.  You can just make out the sculpture at the top of Hercules’ head.  The Arch of Sergius is a much large and imposing structure, at one of the entrances to the old town.

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And then after dinner, we walked through the old town towards the Arena, where our car was parked.  Here are some of those pics!

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One last look at the Pula Arena, and we were on our way back home!

Croatian Travel Experts


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Croatia: Suggested Itineraries

Quite a number of folks are planning extended trips around Croatia when they come to our wedding next year, so I thought I’d put together a quick reference to help everyone make their travel plans.  I’m including all the places we’ve been, plus a couple extras too.  For each place that we’ve visited, you can click through to read more comprehensive information about the location.

 

Because this post is first and foremost intended for my friends and family coming over for the wedding, I’ll be using Crikvenica as the starting-off point for frame of reference.  But others will find this post a great place to start when it comes to planning a trip around Croatia.  Bear in mind also that Croatia is a small country, and driving times are relatively short compared to U.S. standards.  (For reference, Croatia is about the size of West Virginia.)

Croatia Map

 

 

Crikvenica – Milos’ hometown of Crikvenica (pronounced tsreek-ven-eet-sah) has started to become a second home for me.  It’s located on the north-western seaside, quite close to the Istrian peninsula.  The town has beaches upon beaches all up and down its length.  It’s also home to a number of excellent dining establishments.  (Click HERE for a full list and review, but some faves at a glance: Burin, Zrinski, Domino, and Kantunic.)

 

 

 

Near Crikvenica:

Rijeka – The closest large city to Crikvenica is a busy port town, with an extensive history of ship-building.  It’s located about 20 minutes away if you take the highway (vs. staying on the sea-side road.) Lots of restaurants, shops, and bars.  (Our favorite restaurant is Spagho, located near the marina area. Highly recommended!) A busy student town, Rijeka is a great place to go for nightlife. (During winter, we head to Rijeka almost every weekend.) It’s also the location of the world’s third largest Carnival celebration (after Rio and Venice.)  Located right next to Rijeka is Opatija, an historically popular resort town.

 

 

Krk – The town of Krk is located on the island of Krk.  It has an impressive fort/castle and a charming old town.  I thoroughly enjoyed exploring its narrow pedestrian streets and walking along its shoreline.  (Plus, there were adorable kitties all throughout the town!) The perfect combination of old world charm and exquisite blue waters.  Lots of beach areas too.

 

 

Heading west from Crikvenica (towards Italy, on the Istrian Peninsula):

Motovun – Built on a hill rising up from a picturesque valley, Motovun is a great destination for a day trip into Croatia’s past.  It’s located inland in the heart of the Istrian peninsula.  Be ready for some climbing, as you will need to walk up the little streets to the peak of the hill to fully explore the town.  You’ll be rewarded with not only an interesting look into history, but fantastic views as well.

 

 

Porec – A quaint seaside town that is very similar to Crikvenica in its character, but with more Venetian influences due to its proximity to the Italian city. It has a really lovely and expansive old town area, and an imposing city wall encircling it.  The Basilica is located on one side of the old town, adding to the charm. Porec has great places to eat as well!  (We recommend Konoba Aba.)

 

 

Rovinj – Rovinj’s old town is nestled on a small hill that protrudes out into the sea.  Rising up in the center is the Church of St. Euphemia.  The architecture here also reminded us of Venice.  Porec and Rovinj are located very close to each other, so I’d recommend staying in one, and visiting the other as a day trip. We also saw lots of adorable little feline city residents here.

 

 

Pula – Located at the southwestern tip of the Istrian Peninsula, Pula is probably best known for its ancient Roman connections.  During the time of Julius Caesar, it was a significant port city, and it’s great ampitheatre is still mostly standing today.

 

****This area in general (Istria) specializes in truffles, olive oils,  and excellent wines.  Be sure to sample some while you’re there!

 

 

 

Heading south from Crikvenica:

 

Plitvice Lakes National Park – One of the most beautiful natural wonders, Plitvice is worth more than a day’s visit.  Majestic waterfalls, crystal clear lakes, winding trails – so many things to see and explore. This is one of our planet’s “not-to-be-missed” treasures.  (Be sure to wear comfortable sturdy shoes, as you will do a lot of walking.) It’s located a bit more inland, but worth the drive away from the coast.  We’ve been here in the spring (link above in the title) and in the winter (link HERE) and both times were spectacular in their own right.

 

 

Zadar – Zadar marks the northern most point of the Dalmatian region of Croatia.  The old town is located on a peninsula that runs parallel to the mainland.  We had some of our finest dining experiences in Zadar: Rafaelo, Kastel, Kornat. It’s not exactly much of a beach destination, but if you’re interested in history, the old town is fantastic, and you can even frolic on some ancient Roman ruins that are nestled between cafes, right by the seaside.  It also boasts the modern marvels of the Sea Organ and the Greeting to the Sun.  From Zadar, you can take quick trips out to some of the islands to get some prime beach time – Saharun Beach on Dugi Otok is just one such example.

 

 

Krka National Park – Another stunningly beautiful natural wonder, Krka is a bit smaller in scale when compared to Plitvice, but it has a little perk that Plitvice doesn’t have: visitors can swim where the main waterfalls empty into the lake.  If you’re a fan of nature, Krka is a wonderful little stop along your Croatian itinerary.  We recommend staying overnight in the nearby town of Skradin to make the most of both locations.

 

 

Skradin – Nestled along the edge of Krka National Park is a wonderful little port town called Skradin.  At first glance, one might only notice the busy marina area, but if you wander in through the narrow pedestrian streets, you’ll be given a wonderful treat!  Quaint cafes, restaurants, and shops await you.  Take the short hike up the hill to the fort in the center of town to take in some spectacular views.  We totally recommend doing an overnight in Skradin so you can take in its charm, while also using it as a home base as you explore Krka National Park.

 

 

Split – The city of Split is a bustling tourist area for good reason.  Not only is it a fantastic destination in its own right, but it’s a central jumping off point for many island excursions, with busy ferries taking folks all around the Adriatic Sea.  Probably one of the most stunning and magnificent sites in Split is the Diocletian Palace in the old town.  It was constructed by the Roman Emperor in the early 4th century AD, and continues to be one of the most valuable surviving ruins from that period still in existence today.  Although not a beach destination, Split is an absolute must for any history buff.  You can easily take a bus or ferry to one of the many numerous beach towns along the coast or on one of the islands.

 

 

Brela – If you’re looking for a quiet relaxing beach sojourn, Brela is the place for you. With miles of exquisite beaches, cozy coves, and stunning scenery, you’re guaranteed to find a place to relax and escape from the world around you.  It’s a great day trip destination, or a place to settle in for a couple days if peace and quiet are what you’re looking for.

 

 

Makarska – One of our favorite vacation get-a-ways, Makarska is a great combination of beach and nightlife.  It has just enough old town area to give it soul and personality, with a bustling sea-side promenade and busy outdoor market area. It’s also well-located when it comes to taking day trips around the region.  If you’re looking for a place to stay in Makarska, we highly recommend Apartments Alagic!

 

 

Dubrovnik – One of the most visited destinations in Croatia is the southern Dalmatian port city of Dubrovnik.  It’s a regular stop on many large cruise ships, and has gained even more attention due to the popular show Game of Thrones being filmed there.  It’s imposing city walls combine with splendid Baroque, Renaissance, and Gothic style architecture.

 

No matter where you go, you’re bound to have a fantastic trip: exciting adventure, delicious cuisine, crystal seas, and ancient history await you!

 


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Skradin, Croatia

During our July trip to Makarska, we took a fun day trip to Krka National Park and the town of Skradin, located near Sibenik.

 

After a lovely afternoon in Krka National Park, we drove a few minutes down the road to the charming little town of Skradin.  It’s literally right next to Krka, so it’s a great place to have dinner after a day of hiking and swimming in the waterfalls.  I’d even recommend it as a great overnight location for someone who wants to have a bit more time at Krka.

Although, to be honest, the main reason I wanted to visit this town was because we saw it from above on the highway, and it looked so beautiful that I told Milos we just had to go there.  Here’s a look at the view of Skradin from the rest stop up on the highway above.  (Great rest stop, by the way.  Excellent restaurant inside.)

 

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We arrived in the evening and had dinner by the marina.  When we first got there, the town looked a bit small while walking along the water.  We thought that perhaps we wouldn’t get to see much. I was surprised at the sheer number of boats docked here, though – there were so many!  Our dinner was good, but we do hope we can come back again and try dinner somewhere else, especially once we saw how much more the town had to offer.

Here are a few photos from the marina and the restaurant

(click on photos to see full size version.)

 

After dinner, we decided to stroll into the town via one of the narrow pedestrian walkways.  We are SO glad we did!  There’s much more to this little town than meets the eye!  Skradin has an impressive little old town section with lots of cafes and shops, but it’s a bit hidden at first glance from the outside.  Before the sun went down, we hiked up to the fortress at the top of town.  It took less than ten minutes to get up there, and our reward was an amazing view of the town, surrounding waters, and mountains.

(click on photos to see full size version.)

 

 

We then walked back down to the pedestrian street with all the shops.  I happened to see a lovely dress on a mannequin outside one of the stores.  Milos also saw it and thought it would look really nice on me, so I tried it on – and success!  It looked great!  After making our purchase, we continued our walk until it started to get dark.  There were plenty of old buildings and interesting sites to keep us occupied.  When walking back, we made one more stop into that little shop so I could get some beautiful earrings I had seen. If you ever happen to visit, this shop is truly fantastic – dresses, jewelry, unique gifts – don’t miss it! Go inside!

 

It was starting to get late, and we still had to drive back, so we headed to the car and were on our way back to Makarska.

(For those driving into Skradin, there is a very convenient parking lot at the one side of town.  (Charges apply.)  The town is small and easily walkable, but like many of these old towns, be prepared for the cobblestone streets.)

Here are some more photos from Skradin.  Enjoy!

 

And here’s a pic of the new dress in action!

The new dress!

The new dress!

 


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Nature by the Sea

Vacation may be over, but we still have all our new memories and photos to remind us of how wonderful it was.  One of the enjoyable aspects of going to the beach at our favorite cove in Miloš’ town of Crikvenica, was observing nature doing it’s thing all around us.

For those not familiar with my blog, here’s a photo of our favorite cove.  It’s one of the nude beach areas on the peninsula above town, called Kačjak.  Many of you will remember that I’ve posted about it before as one of our fave spots – which is why Miloš chose it to be the place where he proposed to me.  We always spread a towel out on that mini-rock island in the water.

 

Our favorite cove in Crikvenica

Our favorite cove in Crikvenica – where Miloš proposed.

 

We decided to have fun and rename the rocky island “Crab’s Landing,” as we saw SO many crabs out and about eating and exploring as the day waned and the sun got lower in the sky.  Of course, some just didn’t show up on camera, as the lighting and angles weren’t always ideal. And of course there was the time when we saw two crabs having an epic battle, only to stop as soon as I got my phone out to take a pic.  But I did capture quite a few, including a lucky crab that caught a fish when the school swam by.  There was even one crab that decided to dine on the callous on my heel as I sat there. What’s so interesting is how they blend in so well with the colors and surroundings around them.  When they’re not moving, you sometimes don’t even see them.

 

Crabs!  Can you spot them all?

Crabs! Can you spot them all?

 

This crab caught a fish!

This crab caught a fish!

 

Crab shell

Crab shell

 

 

Crab

Crab

 

And on several of the days, there were large schools of little fish swimming all around us.

 

Miloš hanging out with the fish!

Miloš hanging out with the fish!

 

More fish!

More fish!

 

 

 

And of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t throw in a few pics of the water and surroundings…

 

Beautiful water

Beautiful water

 

The sun going down - view from our favorite spot

The sun going down – view from our favorite spot.

 

I love being surrounded by nature in all its beauty – the life, the colors, the energy.  Next time you’re out and about, take a closer look at the world around you – don’t miss all of its amazing details!

 

Until next time, when I’ll share with you our evening in the charming town of Skradin, Croatia.

 


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Krka National Park, Croatia

During this summer’s vacation, Milos and I spent time in Makarska and his home town of Crikvenica.  While still in Makarska, we took a day trip up to Krka National Park, followed by an evening in Skradin.  (Separate blog coming later.)   The drive from Makarska was only about an hour and fifteen minutes.  If you were staying in Split, it would probably be less than half an hour drive.

Krka is often compared to Plitvice Lakes National Park because of the waterfalls and lush natural foliage.  One of the big differences with Krka is that you can actually swim at the base of the series of waterfalls.  (There is no swimming allowed at Plitvice.  I personally feel that Plitvice is more majestic and grandiose – it definitely requires more time to explore than Krka.)

When you first get to the park and enter from Lozovac, a bus will take you down the steep twisty road to the water and trails.  (875 meters.)  You can hike down on your own if you like, but the heat that day made walking in the sun truly unbearable.

We got there in the early afternoon, and walked the trails.  Even though the weather had been quite hot (95F, or about 35C), it was quite comfortable under the shade of the many trees.  The sound of the water everywhere was relaxing and energizing at the same time.  There were fish in so many of the waters – I know my dad would love it!

After walking the trails, you are let out at the swimming area at the base of the falls.  They do have the area roped off so that people can’t swim too close to the waterfall.  (Safety, of course!)  We met some very nice Italian girls with a waterproof camera who took a photo for us and sent it later via Facebook.  It turned out great!

Overall, we were at the park for about four hours, which was a good amount of time to do the main trails and get in some swimming.  There’s a lot more the park has to offer for folks who want to stay longer – boat expeditions to different parts of the lakes, for example.  There’s even an old abbey on a picturesque small island.  (I’d have wanted to visit it if we had had more time.)

Here are some photos from our afternoon at Krka!