5 September 2014

TRAVEL / CROATIA




Four days in the largest city on the Dalmatian Coast has resulted in a ridiculous amount of photos. Situated on the Eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea, Split is a buzzing and lively destination that ticks all the boxes for a fun filled week in the sun.


The proximity of Italy is clear to see in the prevalence of Italian food. It’s impossible to find a restaurant that doesn’t have pizza, pasta or risotto on its menu. And with its coastal location, seafood and fish can't be avoided. There are dozens upon dozens of restaurants in Split – particularly along the Riva seafront promenade. I can vouch for A Capella - they do the best grilled vegetables. Aligned with gently swaying palm trees and beautiful stone buildings, the promenade is the perfect place to eat or drink al fresco. Just remember to save space for dessert – the ice-cream parlours are not to be missed. I'd strongly suggest lime ice-cream. Delish.


The stalls scattered along the Riva seafront promenade are perfect for picking up gifts. The cellers of the Diocletian’s Palace also host a marketplace selling everything from jellwery to leather goods, and postcards to fridge magnets. I have a thing about postcards - I can't leave another country or even a Museum without buying one.

If shopping ain't your thing, Baavice Beach is the place to go to soak up the endless hours of sunshine. 10 minute walks from the seafront promenade, its crystal clear waters are the ultimate place to cool down and go for a swim. When we were out in the water, an old guy starting chatting to us (oh by the way, very strange, but every time a Croatian realised we were from Ireland, their response was 'we hate the English too!") and advised us that when we were going out that night we should look for guys that have garages. Because that means they also have a house. Apparently, acreage and road frontage are of no concern here.


 And when the sun goes down. . .

The remains of the Diocletian’s palace, built by the Roman Emporar, is the place to be (or at least the place to kick-off the night with a few beers or bottle of vino). In the summer months, there are live music and dance performances here. For Pina Coladas and refreshing Mojitos, head to the Riva promenade. At night, there are free outdoor music performances. We seen a funky guy performing in a sequin jumpsuit. And down by the beach, Latino style club Tropic has free entry and international djs.

 
Hvar, with its cobbled streets and beautiful stone buildings, is the picture-perfect city port on Hvar island. On our second day in Croatia, we took the 10.30am ferry from Split and spent the day on the rocky 'beaches'. I was quite happy sitting out on the rocks with the waves crashing around me (or in some cases, over me).  I love being in the water. When we needed a break from the sun, we escaped to the Vartel restaurant for orange juice and spagetti. Hvar Island is known for its lavender fields and olive trees. Wine is also harvested there every year. But it was the cocktails that we sampled.


A trip to the Dalmatian Coast is not complete without a tour of the islands. Tour companies line the seafront promenade - but it was Sugaman Tours that tempted us with their full-day Blue Cave & Hvar tour (it cost approx. 100euro/person and was worth every single cent). Unfortunately the Blue Caves were closed that day, but our skippers brought us to a couple of other places instead.We spent the day being transferred from island to island in a speedboat (which was an incredible experience in itself). From snorkeling in the emerald sea of the Green Caves to swimming in the crystal clear waters of Palmizana Bay (a luxuriant lagoon), it is definitely the best way to experience the natural beauty of the Dalmatian Coast. Cocktails in Hvar was the ideal way to finish an AMAZING day.

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