The Travel Bug Episode 16: Croatia, the eagle has landed

The Travel Bug
PC @ ThoughtsWe all know that Dave enjoyed Sweden — so much so that he called it out as one of the most amazing countries he’s ever seen. He also toured around Poland and Slovenia in our last Travel Bug.  
This time out, Dave hits different parts of Croatia – from the Split coast, to the islands of Hvar and Korcheva, and finally wrapping things up in Dubrovnik. This is one packed Bug that would suit the curious European traveller; particularly if you enjoy the small coastal towns.
So if you ever wondered what it was like touring Croatia, then Dave might just have the thing for you.
And so without further ado..

Split (Croatia)

I left Slovenia and took an overnight bus down the coast of Croatia heading for the town of Split. 

This was approximately a 500km journey that took around 12 hours which was annoying beyond belief as there seemed to be a rest stop every hour or so, it was not as you can imagine quite slow.

The trip went all the way to the Croatian Coast, pity it was at night as I could not see what the coastline looked like, considering the amount of yachts,tall buildings which may have been retail shops and large houses from what I could see I saw, I figured it to be pretty scenic and expensive area. Please note that overnight bus trips are a great way to subside for a nights accommodation.

The Hostel experience

Upon arrival, I walked from the terminal to my hostel and then slept in the stairwell for five hours till the reception decided it was time to open up, my first impression of Croatia was not very hospitable.

The hostel I was at whilst clean and friendly enough was truly one of the most annoying places I’ve stayed and possibly the worst when it came to customer service.

wrong

They claimed that they had free WiFi, though this did not work, conveniently however there was an internet cafe located on the next level of the building the hostel was located in and “fortunately”that did happen to work..

They had a kitchen, but I was not allowed to cook at night, the reception seemed to open when they feel like it though they warn you if you are arriving early to send them an email. Unfortunately, this ”warning” is mentioned in the note at the reception door and I had no other way of knowing this.

Oh and drinking alcohol on the premises was banned though I was so peeved with the place by then that I ignored this and drank there anyway. None of my whinging, however, has anything to do with the town of Split.

Touring the town of Split

Split is amazing and very different to any of the other cities I’d been too so far in Eastern Europe. The architecture is predominantly Greek which makes sense as it was a former ancient Greek colony, white buildings adorned the shore looking onto yachts moored in the port. As with everything else Id seen so far in Croatia, it all looked very expensive.

The centre of town is the old Greek Diocletian’s Palace of which you are free to work in and out of, lots of stone and marble. The markets are diverse, fresh food and various assortments of football shirts, sunglasses, towels and other junk, it was the most touristy place I’d been to in Eastern Europe and was also the is the first time I’d seen an ancient ruin being used in such a commercial market way.

The port itself has ferries going in and out of the port and was very busy, there were yachts and various luxurious cruisers as indicated earlier. Split as thrives on the tourist dollar and it’s easy enough to see why, besides being picturesque, the food is also excellent (the best yet) and again there is a mountain that overlooks the old town.

Another bonus is the beaches and the lovely 30 degree weather with crystal blue waters of the Adriatic sea.

Split

Split

 

Downtown Split

Downtown Split

Tourists in Split

I met some really good people whilst staying there, the social scene for backpacking is excellent. This involved socialising with mainly British and Americans (I had not met an Aussie in a week, very strange) and then going to many of the local nightclubs though I’ll remark on one in particular.

This club was situated beside Split Football stadium, I went in purchased a drink which was a little on the expensive side, when I was ordering I started chatting with a Croatian NBA basketballer who shouted me the drink and then bought me several more shots and we had several laughs.

The crowd itself was well dressed, rich and attractive, the club was all outdoors and reminded me of hanging out in Buenos Aires a few months previously. I was underdressed and felt out of my element, but the locals were very friendly and made me welcome, unlike the hostel staff.

I got back to the hostel around five in the morning and spent later that morning climbing the mountain overlooking Split. I then sat on a beach and chilled out as I was exhausted from the climb and a hangover. After a few days of partying I was off to the party island of Hvar in the Dalmatian Islands.

 

Hvar 

I headed off on a ferry to one of the first two islands I was going to check out, Hvar, a place described to me for rich people with excess cash. I regarded this as quite a claim as Split had already left an impression that it was a place for expensive holidays The ferry took around an hour or so and we arrived in the towns docking area, I was with a few others from the hostel doing the same trip.

The port of Hvar had various yachts and massive cruise boats at the local jetty, essentially everywhere that I could see there was a cruiser, much like Split. The port city of Hvar is surrounded by buildings that appeared old and made from white rock, again much like Split though nowhere near as ancient.

I hiked up to the fort that overlooked the town which made for a decent view. I didn’t do much in the way of eating out, instead resorting to ham and cheese sandwiches for a few days as the restaurants were very expensive, on a par with the likes of Paris when it came to dining and drinking out, not too good when on a yearly backpack trip and a limited budget. Mainly I spent my time busting at the local beach, it was a very chilled.

Hvar

View from top of Hvar

And what of the hostel?

The hostel I was at was excellent, it had a view of the ocean from the outdoor area and people were cooking outside as well as enjoying some tasty local beer.

Most of the backpackers were Aussies with some Americans and Brits, same as usual. Please note that Aussies are the most travelled backpackers from my experience in the world. Both nights I spent there were effectively the same, sat around watching the sunset till about 10 and headed down to the town at around 11.

It was a great town to people watch, a lot of wealthy tourists going by dressed up stylishly and outrageously.After a couple of days it was time and onto the second island……

Island Hopping

Island hoping

 

The Islands – Korcheva

I had not heard much about Korcheva, I was only really going there as I thought it would be an easy way to get to Dubrovnik. I was now travelling with a group of Aussies going the same way that I had met at the hostel, it was the first time Id been travelling with a group since I left South America.

We arrived by ferry at around 7 at night and were greeted by the hostel owner who directed us up the road to our accommodation, it was a very good hostel and very friendly staff.

First impressions 

The island was quite large, but I spent my time pretty much hanging around the old town. Upon arrival, I walked around the old town in about 10 minutes or so, including the beach..

The old town was basically a city wall, again more cobbled streets and a few intersecting pathways that go over a small hill in the middle of the old town. There was also various yachts parked in the Harbour (typical) and lots of nice little restaurants adorning the shoreline. The main attraction of the place was the hostel itself and the nightlife.

Korcheva hostels are like.. 

The hostel owner was very good at orchestrating a “good time”, this was refreshing as the other hostels Id been in Croatia as well as Slovenia were hopeless at this.

goodtime

Orchestrating basically involved making buckets of shots and then shooting them, after I had several of these we headed out to a restaurant where I had stuffed peppers (yum) and then we went to a cheesy nightclub.

The second day I spent on the beach with a couple of Swedish girls Id met at the hostel and then the evening again was spent at the hostel. After more shots we then went to a bar on an old parapet, you had to climb a steep ladder to the bar and then could purchase cocktails, luckily I didn’t fall off the ladder.

The next day I was up at six in the morning, I was not being effected by hangovers which was fantastic, and I was off with some of the backpacking Aussies to Dubrovnik…

 

Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik is an impressive looking city, the journey down involved getting off a ferry and then being taken by bus once again down the coast, hugging the coastline along windy roads with lots of little towns with quality beaches and ports on the way, I was now having high expectations.

Upon arrival a group of us took a cab to the old town (all these cities seemed have an old town) and I left the Aussies Id travelled with as were staying in different places, I was in a hostel at the Sea Wall.

The sweeping view

Upon arriving at the hostel, I figured Id check out the wall. It had a 50 kooner charge (about 15 dollars) and I thought this a little too much so I ignored this and went up and onto the wall to see how far I could get before I got caught. The hostel I was at was charging 50 dollars for a dorm so I was ‘economising‘ where I could.

I managed to get through two checkpoints on the city wall. There were ocean views on the coast side and the old town on the opposite, however I was caught at the third checkpoint as this guard was not asleep at his post, so I walked back to the old town. I then checked out the town itself, this included walking through an opening in the Sea Wall onto some rocks for a swim, I then had a beer at the Sea Wall bar and then headed into the old town for lunch, no more ham sandwiches.

After that I checked out a photo exhibition, it had three features, the Chilean war against FARC, a feature on American soldiers who had received Purple Hearts during the Iraq war and the Croatian, Montonegran and Serbian conflict, it was all very interesting and the first museum I had been to in a while.

Dubrovnik Walls

Dubrovnik Walls

The Evening entertainment

The evening I had a few beers at the hostel (good people worked there, but like I said, expensive) and then we headed to the old town. I spent a while in the bar watching the Aussies getting whacked by the English in the Ashes and then checked out the night club scene, there was a ridiculous amount of women compared to guys, maybe 4 women to 1 man who was quite a refreshing change of pace.

After a while, the music started annoying me (European Electronica music is dreadful) so I met up with my Aussie travelling mates, hung out at an Irish bar and then I headed off to bed. I wanted to see the Wallabies play rugby in the morning (9.30 ish) so I figured my priorities should be in the game, not the women in the nightclubs as something about it all seemed a little fake , very attractive women don’t dance by themselves in my experience, particularly when its only women on the dance floor, So I packed myself up and headed back to the hostel, looking forward to the rugby.

The Wallabies lost the following morning (damn it), I then moved to an apartment from the hostel which was a lot cheaper and I had my own room for the first time in a while, I then spent the day at the beach. I again caught up again with my Aussie mates who had arranged and were also staying at the apartment. After about a week it was our last night together so we had a go away party, everyone was heading off in their own directions.

Sea Wall bar

View from the Sea Wall bar

One thing to note about Dubrovnik

The annoying thing about Dubrovnik is how much they take advantage of the tourists, its exorbitantly expensive for what you get and the customer service is bordering on criminal, this was similar to my experience in Split. It is a beautiful place however, but there seems to be an impression that if you even if you are a backpacker, you are still considered rich and ripe for being fleeced by the locals.

In saying that, it’s no worse than somewhere like Paris for price and is also still worth visiting, possibly on a much larger budget. I enjoyed my time as Id met some quality people in Croatia a few English but mainly Melbournians and only a few Croatians in the night clubs which I was fond of despite the music.

Anyway, it was time for Bosnia and heading further east into new countries that I knew little about, I was now on a tight and this is where I needed to head to. I was keen to check out some war-time history and look at countries that were not so well-travelled by backpackers….

 


The Travel Bug

The Travel Bug is a collaboration project that goes through Dave’s travel journals around the world. We started this series a while back and finished in the Slovenia. We’ll be back soon in the Bosnia!


DavoDave
 is the Travel Writer of the Travel Bug. He is a Technology specialist by day and social butterfly by night.

He just completed another world trip and is bound to share his tall travel tales shortly.

 

PC @ ThoughtsPC likes getting the job done by day and writes, designs and codes during his spare time. He also enjoys having a drink with Dave and hearing his tall travel tales.

We hope to entertain you through this collection of stories.

 

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