We had a wonderful week in Croatia with my parents and were definitely sad to see them go. If you ever get the chance to visit Croatia, don't hesitate to go. Our favorite stops were easily Plitvice National Park and Dubrovnik. Zagreb could easily be missed. Oh - and definitely hit it in the spring or fall, i.e. before or after the summer rush. Our timing was pretty much perfect... the weather (for the most part) was amazing, and the crowds (for the most part) were light. But during weekends and peak times during the day it could get somewhat congested. And we were told this was NOTHING compared to the summers in Croatia. Because we were in the 'shoulder season', not all tours and ferries were available yet. In my opinion, however, this was a worthwhile trade to get to experience the tranquility of the Old Town streets without having to fight the crowds shoulder-to-shoulder as you made your way through the narrow-cobblestoned streets.
The town of Dubrovnik is usually the top destination of anyone visiting Croatia, and, after spending several days there, it was easy to see why. Dubrovnik's center is the impossibly charming Old Town surrounded by a stone castle wall and made up of entirely pedestrian-only cobblestone streets and very narrow alleys. We took the bus to Dubrovnik and all along the way were entranced by the beautiful coastline views. When Dubrovnik finally came into view, we knew we were in for a treat: Dubrovnik looked like a sparkling amber jewel, with its red clay rooftops set amongst the deep blues and greens of the coast.
Dubrovnik was so much fun to explore -- certainly helped by the wonderful sunshine that made for such pleasing days of meandering the narrow streets and stopping frequently for chatter over coffee and tea. However, Dubrovnik wasn't always the sleek and perfectly cute place that it is today. In fact as recently as 1991 it fell under attack by the Yugoslav army and was badly damaged and destroyed. The Croatians repaired most of the damage to the city in the original style so that today, very little evidence of the massive destruction is visible.
Highlights of our visit in Dubrovnik would be the boat cruise we took to nearby islands and the wall walk around the city. The wall walk is easily a must-do in Dubrovnik anytime of year. It has probably the most impressive city wall of any European city. And walking the walls involves climbing a long set of staircases to get to the top of the wall (there is a fee to do this) and then there is a small track that literally takes you around the entire city on the top of the walls! If you walk the whole thing (which we did) it is over 2 kilometers and takes several hours. The views are magnificent -- this is easily where we took a large portion of our photos.
While the island destination themselves on the boat cruise could have been missed (they were more targeted for summer tourists who might sunbathe on the beach at each island stop -- there wasn't much else on the islands), the boat ride itself was very enjoyable and a great vantage point for seeing the city and the surrounding landscape. In fact, when my mom and I got a little cold, the captain invited us into the helm and even asked my mom to take over steering when he went to run another task!
Dubrovnik ended up being the perfect place to end our Croatia leg. It has such a relaxed and carefree pace that encouraged lots of ice cream eating, tea and coffee stops, and plenty of time to converse and catch up with my parents after being gone for so long. A day after my parents left Croatia, we learned about my grandfather's passing. It's hard to be away from home during this time, and I know it must have been difficult for my dad to know that he was away as well. But I'm so thankful that they came out and were able to spend the time with us seeing part of the world. Thank-you, Mom and Dad. We had such a great time and hope you did, too!
You can find all of our Croatia pictures by clicking here. Next up: Bosnia-Herzogovina