Before I update you on Sunny Croatia I will go through the budget for August. Bottom line, we are over budget for August …..but I have an excuse, well several excuses. First, we had several flights in August from Scotland to Dublin to Croatia. We also rented a car for two weeks and most important our daughter Cap joined us on the 20th so we needed accommodations for three, and we tend to do a bit more with our kids like cocktail classes and tours. In fact, our accommodations which we booked months ago allow for a party of four as we hoped that our son Jacob would be joining us as well, but his schedule and a new puppy kept Jake at home in Colorado. Accommodations for the month came in at $3,784 significantly over our $3,000 monthly housing budget. All other spending totaled $5,401. The breakdown is $2,573 for food, $976 for entertainment including classes, tours, pub crawls, etc. Transportation including flights and car rental came to $1,443 and miscellaneous spending was $409. As always, these numbers do not include health and car insurance, cell phone charges and a few other non-travel costs but for the most part include everything we spend to live this life. It can be done much cheaper so don’t let our numbers scare you into believing you cannot afford to travel. You can travel full time for around $50 a day per person. Ask me and I can direct you to several bloggers who travel much cheaper than we do.
Today sunny Croatia is grey and rainy, but it is our first day of rain and we are enjoying 75 after two weeks of sun and 90. Our apartment has a large deck overlooking the sea where we spend most of our time. To get affordable
waterfront there is a trade-off. It is a 30-minute walk to the town of Okrug Gornji, and an hour walk to the city of Trogir with its great outdoor market and large supermarkets. Walking is good for us but 90 degree heat does deter long walks in the middle of the day. Taxi’s are rather expensive here and Uber is pretty poor as most of the drivers cancel when they see you only want to go a few miles. The upside is that heat and distance force us to slow down and relax…well until day 4 when we spent 12 hours touring five islands via zodiac.
Our guide Lara picked us up at the house at 6:45 and took us to the harbor where we boarded the boat. Cost was €95 per person for the day. After making the rounds to pick up all dozen or so passengers we were bouncing across the water to our first destination “The Blue Cave” an hour and ten minutes away. Our boat is open without cover so sunscreen is a must.
The seats were like a saddle, you literally throw your leg over and hold on as they race across the water. By the end of the day we were all a bit saddle sore. Adding to the fun Lara, who was completely oblivious to her middle-aged passengers, cranked up her playlist so we enjoyed a nice mix of Croatian pop music and American Rap. At the end of the day we were exhausted and questioning did the young family in back enjoy the song “sex pot”, did they even understand the lyrics? Anyway, it was a fun time and we saw a lot of the Dalmatian coast.
The Blue Cave is a tourist trap where they ferry 11 people at a time into the cave for a few minutes. It is beautiful and worth a stop but don’t expect quiet solitude and pristine natural beauty, it is more like a ride at Disneyland. Thank god they were not piping in It’s a Small World. After a quick stop at The Blue Cave we headed across the water about 10 minutes to the town of Komiza on the Island of Vis. Komiza is a beautiful old fishing town where we had an excellent breakfast at a fairly reasonable price. Croatia is more expensive than I expected. While beer is reasonable at around $5 for a half liter, everything else is closer to US prices. Fruity cocktails will cost you $10. Our reasonable breakfast cost $38 for three of us and our lunch in the more expensive beach town of Hvar cost $65. It was not worth $65 but the cold beer was well worth $5. Hvar is beautiful and reminded me of many great beachfront towns. With architecture dating back to Roman times it is a major tourist stop and the prices reflect it.
We enjoyed swimming at two of our stops, Budikovac Island and Drvenik Veli.
The Donkey Beach Bar on Budikovac was especially fun with its castaway beach bar vibe.
Being August, everyplace was fairly crowded so there was no isolated cove all to ourselves. But the coastline is stunning, the water is clear and it is easy to enjoy even with a crowd. If you want solitude come in the off season or if you have the option get into town or out to the beach at sunrise before the crowds and tours descend. As I often say, there is a reason places are touristy and crowded, they are stunningly beautiful and unique.
After our busy day with Lara we spent the next few days hanging out at the apartment, swimming daily and cooking a few meals in, including firing up our host’s BBQ. We also enjoyed a nice meal of fresh mussels, risotto and local wine prepared by our hosts Zoran, Mira, and their nephew Ivan. Actually Mira did all the cooking.
Luckily Zoran and Ivan speak excellent English as our Croatian consists of two or three words. We had a great evening enjoying dinner with Croatians, talking about there home, there politics and the world in general. I must admit I knew very little about Croatian history until this trip. Croatia has been populated since before roman times and has been conquered and occupied numerous times starting with the Romans through its inclusion in Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union. The country gained its independence in 1995. Zoran and Ivan recounted their memories of bombs falling in Split just 25 years ago.
We ventured into Split for the day arriving by Ferry from Trogir.
Split is the second largest city in Croatia and hosts the retirement palace of Roman emperor Diocletian from 300 AD. I had never heard of Diocletian but I am sure your knowledge of Roman emperors is better than mine. He did make an excellent choice for retirement, sunny and warm with a beautiful waterfront. The old town of Split is a warren of narrow streets and underground passages constructed of ancient stone. A fascinating place to spend some time.
We ended Cap’s stay with an all-day outing to Krka national park with a stop for wine tasting at a small family winery. This was an Airbnb experience and proved to be a great trip and an easy way to take in one of Croatia’s great waterfall parks. Absolutely beautiful at a cost of $65 per person. The wine tasting stop proved to be a real highlight.
A family winery that has been producing wine for 300 years. They do all of the work by hand producing about 36,000 bottles most of which is sold out of their winery. We enjoyed it so much we purchased a case. No worries, we are bringing in friends Neil and Jin from Nice next week to help us finish it before we fly back to the states. If we fail I am sure Zoran and Mira would be happy with a few bottles.