I’ve decided to add a new travel component to my blog. The posts will inevitably be related to food as one of the highlights of travel in my opinion is eating, so there will be plenty of delicious food pictures as well as recommendations and reviews of restaurants. I’ll also post lots of pretty scenery and probably some gratuitous swimsuit pictures because, well, why not? 🙂
To christen this new travel section I’ll commence with a review of the Italian and my recent trip in August 2014 to Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. First up is Croatia, Bosnia post to come!
The first city the Italian and I went to is Zadar, located in the Dalmation region on the Adriatic Sea. Zadar is fairly small but has a nice shopping centre with lots of good gelato places and a main square highlighted by the beautiful 9th century St. Donatus church.
St Donatus Church in Zadar
The Italian and I happened to be in Zadar during the Moon Festival, which was marked with a plethora of food and craft stands selling goods along the seaside boardwalk. Clearly we had to try some of this street food, and we enjoyed two sandwiches with tuna and squid freshly fished from the Adriatic and served on plump rolls with Croatian Ajvar sauce, made of aubergine and red pepper. For dessert we had a yummy fried dough coated in chocolate sauce. It was quite good 🙂
Cutting up the freshly fished tuna
Grilling tuna and fish
The tuna and squid sandwiches
Making the fried dough
Fried dough and chocolate – YUM
Just outside of Zadar, we went to the even smaller town of Nin where we discovered the long Kraljičina plaža (Queen’s Beach). Locals at the beach smear sludge on their bodies – the beach is rich in peloid mud, apparently a natural treatment for sore joints and muscles.
Enjoying a cold beer and coke (in a glass bottle – my favorite!!) at a cafe in Nin
Plitvice Lakes National Park
The Plitvice Lakes National Park was about a three hour drive from Zadar and is the oldest national park in Southeast Europe. At the lakes, you can walk around following pathways and trails made of wood that cross over lakes and through layers of cascading waterfalls. There were dozens of different waterfall groupings to see while walking around the lakes. The water was gorgeous – a vibrant green-blue color that I’ve never seen before in a lake.
From Zadar we drove to Trogir, a small town on the Adriatic coast that is remarkably intact with a medieval core surrounded by walls protecting a castle and tower. One of the highlights in Trogir was the Cathedral of St. Lawrence, which has a beautiful lion statue at the entrance. We also enjoyed the many cafes in the city where one can have a coffee and people watch Parisian-style.
Split is a beautiful town, also located in the Dalmatia region. We stayed in an apartment in Diocletian’s Palace, a Roman ruins in the centre of the old city. The tiny, winding streets were like a maze with new restaurants, bars and cafes to be discovered around each corner. There are four grandiose gates leading into the palace walls, while inside is an abundance of marble from Italy and Greece, and columns and sphinxes from Egypt.
Beautiful square in Split
View of Split from the top of the Maryan hill
For dinner in Split we tried out Konoba Marjan, located just outside the palace walls. We had an amazing fish platter for two with tuna, sea bass, mussels, scampi, among others. Everything was fresh and paired with white Dalmatian wine.
The second night we tried the Wine and Cheese Bar Paradox, which had a good selection of cheese from Croatia and wines from the Dalmatian coast. The wines were excellent – dry just as I like them and with a unique almost tangy flavour. The atmosphere was also very cute atmosphere and there were live musicians playing guitar and singing classic songs. Really fun environment.
From Split we took a two-hour ferry to the island of Vis. Said to be one of the more natural islands off the coast, we rented a motorbike and drove around to different beaches.
On our drive from Split to Dubrovnic we stopped for a break at Brela Beach. Forbes magazine has rated Brela Beach as the 6th best beach in the world and the best beach in Europe! The water was indeed very beautiful, greenish blue and crystal clear. It was a bit rocky for my taste, but the swimming was divine! We also rented a jet ski – the choppy waves of the Adriatic were quite the departure from my previous jet ski experiences on the calm waters of Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri!
Lunch at the restaurant Kapetanova Kuca, famous for oysters, in the small village of Ston. Delish! We also had mussels, fish pate and fried calamari. It was indeed a seafood feast.
Driving into Dubrovnic
Our last stop was Dubrovnic. Dubrovnik was a commercial and naval power with a medieval structure dating back to the 13th century. I can’t say enough how beautiful the old town was. The old city, filled with hundreds of charming red rooftops and number of statuesque churches, is surrounded by perfectly maintained medieval walls. The Italian and I walked on top of the walls (a feat that took some 45 minutes and was not effortless in the intense heat) where we had a perfect view of the seafront ahead and the old town shops and villages below. They city is very touristy – it’s almost like a Disneyland for travellers with the theme of old world charm – but it is so picturesque and historic that I didn’t entirely mind the frequency of fanny packs and American accents. Indeed, I took about three dozen pictures of the same red rooftops to prove it!
Dalmatian cheese in olive oil
Black risotto with seafood