Croatia / London

I just launched my blog and plan to post more breakdowns of my recent trip to Croatia and add more photos. Stay tuned and let me know what you want to hear about!

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View from the top of Hvar Fortress

The itinerary:

JFK->LGW->DBV

  • 2 nights Dubrovnik
  • 2 nights Bol
  • 3 nights Split

SPU->LGW

  • 1 night London

LGW->JFK

I’m back from an amazing trip to Croatia! The country was at the top of my list for many years, and recent Game of Thrones fame only heightened my desire to go. We spent a week in Croatia bouncing around and trying to take in the highlights, flying in and out of London. I’ll be working on a series of posts about each stop and activity on our trip but for now, here’s a high level overview and my favorite parts, as well as some helpful information about getting around Croatia. Let me know in the comments what you want to hear more about!

General tips:

Bring a reusable water bottle. Tap water is readily available and perfectly fine to drink. Throughout most of the cities we were in there were water fountains where you could refill your bottle, some still feed by Roman aqueducts! We were largely in tourist areas so English was widely spoken and English menus readily available. Croatia is in the EU but not a member of the Euro zone, so make sure to have local currency. I always withdraw from a local ATM and take my bank’s exchange rate. We found that we used far more cash than expected, as you cannot tip on credit cards, and things like ferry tickets and some tour tickets needed to be paid on cash. We researched tipping and while not necessary per say, we felt comfortable leaving 5-10% of our check in cash tips depending on service. We walked a TON, so be sure to pack comfy shoes! At the beach our hotels supplied beach towels however our apartment in Dubrovnik did not, so we probably should have brought one. Electric outlets are standard European plugs. Also, not sure if this is common but in Dubrovnik we had to turn on the switch for our hot water heater otherwise we had cold showers! Maybe keep an eye one that if you are renting an apartment.

Our trip breakdown:

Friday night – Saturday – Travel Day

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We flew from JFK to LGW on a Norwegian flight, then separately booked EasyJet flights to Croatia. This saved us a good chunk of change versus going to Zagreb and allowed us to minimize flights since we flew into Dubrovnik and out of Split, maximizing our time in Croatia. The sacrifice here was convenience because unfortunately the only way to make it work was to take a 6 hour layover in Gatwick on the way to Croatia. We had hoped to catch a train to Brighton for lunch but by the time we cleared customs and immigration, we were left with too little time. We finally made it to Dubrovnik for a late dinner.

Side note: customs and immigration at LGW has gotten much worse than when I lived in London a decade ago. It took us over an hour to clear each time we landed. Making a mental note for future travel plans.

The upside of being stuck at Gatwick all day is we did find a nice bar with lots of natural light in the South Terminal that helped us stave off Jetlag.

Sunday – Dubrovnik

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View from Fort Lovrijenac

This was my day to geek out on history and fandom. We started the day with a walk around the walls of the city, a trip highlight for both of us! We then grabbed a drink and went for a splash at Buza Bar before meeting our guide for a Game of Thrones walking tour in the city. Then we made a mad dash to the top of  Mount Srd for the sunset.

 

A friend had tipped me off to check out Proto Fish Restaurant and I am very glad he did! After our amazing meal, we checked out some bars and maybe had a little too much fun at Revelin‘s Sunday Funday party. This club is located in a fort in the walls of the city. It was a super fun time. A big shout out to our guide Karmen for the tip!

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Revelin

Monday – Lokrum to Bol

Fighting a nasty hangover we checked out and grabbed an Uber to the port to buy our ferry tickets and leave our luggage. I was worried about availability on the ferry since if we missed it we wouldn’t make it to our next hotel and thought better safe than sorry. It wasn’t fully booked though so we could have left our luggage near Pile gate and saved ourselves a trip to the ferry. You live and you learn.

We took the bus back and headed to the old port to catch the ferry to Lokrum Island for the day.  I thought the island was nice, but definitely think you can skip it if you only have one day in Dubrovnik. Glad we got to go though. It was nice relaxing, swimming, and taking photos in the Iron Throne. From there, we headed back to the main port and caught our Catamaran ferry service to Bol.

I didn’t realize this but the ferries (or at least the catamarans) make multiple stops. Our route took us from Dubrovnik to Sobra to Korcula to Makarska to Bol before continuing on to Split. The journey was scenic and we were lucky to get window seats to make the most of the view. Journeying north, sit on the right side of the boat for the best views since the port side mostly just has sea views for the majority of the ride. Also, they only have a small snack stand on the ferry selling nuts, pretzels, candy, beer and coffee. We thought we would be able to grab sandwiches or other light fare and were sorely mistaken. Don’t let hanger happen to you! Eat before boarding or bring your own.

After checking into our hotel and dropping our bags, We had a great dinner in Bol at Vendetta Restaurant.

Tuesday – Bol

Vacation began on Tuesday. We hung out at the pool and checked out Zlatni Rat, the SymBol of the Adriatic. This beach changes shape depending on the winds and the waves. It was truly stunning! There was also a really fun inflatable water park that we ran around on for a half hour and had a blast. After sunset drinks at Plaza Borak, we went back into town and the main drag along the water for dinner, which was ok. If I’d had more time in Bol, I would have liked to venture out of the main tourist area to explore the islands other dining options.

Wednesday – Island Hopping

This was one of my favorite days on the trip! We booked a boat with 4 other couples and spent the day island hopping and exploring various caves and historic sites. These packages are a dime a dozen and we took the easy option of booking through our hotel. The driver could have been better and we stopped at an overpriced place for lunch but it was still a great day. We went to Hvar, the green cave, the blue cave, Vis, and the military tunnel. While it was awesome seeing all the different places, it was also just really fun to be boating around on the Adriatic all day! That night we caught the same catamaran we arrived on two nights prior and headed to Split.

Thursday – Split

We spent Thursday hanging pool side and checking out the nearby beach. We stayed at the Radisson Blu hotel for its amenities and truly enjoyed it, despite the somewhat trippy room decor. Late afternoon we headed into historic Split for sightseeing and dinner. Climbing the bell tower was bit of a harrowing experience, but the view was worth it (I think). We checked out Diocletian’s palace and marveled at how crazy it was to be in the basement of a 1,700 year old building. We’d heard good things about pizza and these New Yorkers weren’t about to pass up a chance to pass judgement on that. They made brick over pizza and tacos that were surprisingly delicious and super cheap! A great find in a back alley near the palace. I need to dig up the name. The bar scene around the palace was a lot of fun, but we called it an early night given our early morning wake up call.

Friday – Plitvice National Park

The main reason I wanted to go to Split was for the chance to go to Plitvice National Park. It was everything I hoped it would be. This was another trip highlight! Even though it was a long tiring day, our tour company was awesome about changing our scheduled date and picking us up and dropping us off at the hotel, even though we had booked in advance through Viator. The park was stunning. We walked the upper lakes, then took the shuttle down to the lower lakes. I could have spent another day at the lower lakes, but my husband was content with one day at the park. The views from the ride from Split made the 2 1/2 hour ride pass pleasantly. Our guide did a great job telling us about the sites, which features some Game of Thrones filming locations too!

We got back to Split pretty late and didn’t have the energy to go back downtown. With the Radisson’s multiple restaurants, it was very convenient even if it lacked a little in local character.

Saturday/Sunday – London

The journey home sadly began on Saturday, catching a flight back to London before flying home. Despite terrible crowds in SPU and LGW, we eventually made it to our hotel in London. I choose the Grosvenor Hotel for its prime location, physically connected to Victoria Station which is where trains to and from Gatwick go. It was also an easy walk to Buckingham palace, parliament, and the London Eye. We sprang for the Champagne experience on the eye and even on a dreary rainy day it was worth it! The booze certainly helped. Sunday morning we spent some time at the Tower of London before heading back to ran our bags and start our planes trains and automobiles journey home.

All in all it was a wonderful trip! Stay tuned for more detailed posts on the various cities and activities. Will update with links as I post!

What I would have done differently:

My husband and I debated fiercely about balancing traveling vs vacationing on this trip. In the end I think traveling had a slight edge over vacationing. In hindsight, we could have skipped Lokrum and added a day onto Bol to pick up more vacation time. We also could have cut a night in Split and done our pool/beach day in Bol before catching a ferry from Supetar in the early afternoon. That would have cut down on our frequent hotel shifts.

What I want to check out next time:

We didn’t have time to do it all, and I had to cut Pula and Zagreb from my initial plans. I want to come back and see Pula’s Roman ruins and experience Zagreb’s cosmopolitan vibes. Nearby Slovenia looks awesome and supposedly has great skiing! Sounds like a great plan to me…

  One thought on “Croatia / London

  1. ronda jane tribbitt
    October 8, 2018 at 7:38 am

    such an outstanding way to get a plan for traveling Thanks

    Like

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