Croatia

Almost all of my colleagues were Russians, so I learned and appreciated the Eastern European mentality both professionally and personally over the last few years. I always preferred women who value family traditions above all else. However, it took me three years until I realized that I want to see a Russian girl by my side. When the time came, I registered on loveinindia and started looking for that special someone.

Bisevo Island is a quick stop for checking out the Blue Grotto, a fabulously illuminated cave that you enter from under the rock via your dinghy! Very exciting! We made the stop at Bisevo on the way to Stonica beach, Vis Island. Stoncica is a small cove, stunningly set in between two cliffs. The water here is turquoise and clear. Truly paradise.

The approach to the Blue Grotto is dramatic, great photo op’s and a keen sense of adventure are part the Bisevo experience.

You pay for the cave at the entrance, bring Kuna they don’t take credit cards.

The approach is quite low, watch your head and other boats coming out.

The Grotto is illuminated from openings just below and at the water level, adding a surreal Salvidor Dali Blue glow to the cave and water. Not to be missed.

4 Grotto 2WM

After Bisevo the next stop was Stoncica Beach, an easy swim in to land from the boat. This would have been a great place to have water shoes, although this beach is beautiful it is stony–ouch…perhaps have someone in your party ‘dinghy in’ some towels! The best part of coming to the beach is the small beach shack here for lunch or just drinks.

In front of the ‘shack’ is a rough arbor with simple tables beneath it. The appearance is deceptive as this is actually an authentic Croatian organic restaurant run by the four Lincir brothers.   We didn’t know it but there is a wood-fired oven and charcoal grill here and they cook on a traditional peka, a cast-iron dome placed over coals, the lamb looked super. This is a very simple place and the bees can be a nuisance;  go sit on your towel if you have to… it’s a great foodie experience! We had to make do with a beer as we were already prepared to have lunch on the boat and were super jealous of the others eating there!

After sunbathing on the beach Luca our Captain waits for us to swim back to the boat so we can head out for another lunch spot!

We stopped at another gorgeous bay and have a salad and cocktails!

5 Keep lunch simpleWM

On to Vis!

 

All pictures are Copyright 2013 Trendy Girl Travels

(Except where specifically credited to other people)

 

Sailing around the Croatian Islands was seriously fun, the scenery was amazing and for me, the most picturesque town was Komiza, on the Island of Vis. The water was so clear and the photo ‘ops’ endless. We had booked a prime mooring spot right next to the town beach.

The sandy side of Gusarica beach, Vis.

We picked up some groceries at the market then headed to the beach! The beaches in Croatia are mostly stony so get used to lumps under your towel. Europeans get this but Americans, I know you won’t be happy– but you are just going to have to deal! I toyed with  using my blow up raft on the beach but I felt like a complete idiot unless I was actually on it in the water! Bring little water shoes for getting down to the beach, I didn’t have them and was in constant pain every time I went in for a swim.

The stony side of the beach, (the beach shack is in the photo)

There was a super beach shack on Gusarica beach, we sat and had a beer and they also have snack food and sandwiches in season. While having our beer we got chatting to other sailors and found out that on the other side of Gusarica beach, just past the beer shack, it’s sandy! (Angry growling sound).

Endless photo op’s in Komiza.

Komiza is definitely a walking town. Walking the back alleys you will see wrought iron balconies from the 17th century and several fierce door plaques depicting fishermen and their endless toil with the sea. Although it is the most remote of the Dalmatian Islands and is thirty miles out to sea, Vis has been constantly populated since the 4th Century BC. Fertile soil and rich fishing have made Vis a desirable habitat.

balcony WM

Striking stone masonry and wrought iron balconies can be seen in Komiza

Pre 1990 Vis was a military base and has only been open to the public since Croatia broke away from Yugoslavia. Vis seems so unspoiled: vineyards, olive trees and loads of wild herbs grow in abundance on the Island and traffic is almost nonexistent.

Fierce Plaques decorate the doorways

Fig trees and vineyards are everywhere, they have two local wines, try the red Plavac and a dry white Vugava, somehow when you drink the local wine when you are actually there it’s the best thing you ever tasted, even if its not!!

Fig trees frame the view

Take the time to wander in out of little boutiques and stop at cafes for a glass of wine or a coffee. Take a walk up to the top of Mount Hum, or take the path just past town that hugs the coast and leads to Aquarius, a cool Beach Club and Kamenice beach. FYI, if you go to Aquarius at night take a flashlight; the path is pitch black. Part of our party went to the club in the evening and had a great time, we went during yacht week and it was a zoo so be warned.

The path to Aquarius and Kaminence Beach

The beaches all along this path are secluded and spectacular. You can get drinks and food at Aquarius in season but take towels and water in case the restaurant closed. You can also buy food in town, right by the harbor, at the small supermarket and take a picnic. I also had my beach umbrella that I bought in Split.

Aquarius Beach

Right by our dock there were two amazing ‘dodo head’ statues on human bodies–(well bird heads of some sort)! There was some kind of local celebration going on around them, I tried everywhere to get info on them, and have contacted the Mayor of Vis to learn more about the statues, if anyone can tell me what they represent I’d love to know.

vis 1 harbour entertainment WM

Local festival on the Wharf

As the sun started to get lower in the sky we sat out on the boat with cocktails enjoying the celebration. One of the great things about a sailing trip is your deck always has a great view!

13 Vis Komiza sunset WM

Sunset, Komiza, Vis

For dinner there were quite a few choices. I really wanted to try Senko but it was fully booked. Senko is a small stone cottage/restaurant owned by Chef Senko Karuza. The restaurant sits high above the sea and is a total experience, be prepared for a very long dinner with many courses of traditional Vis food. Everything they prepare is grown locally. Our other choices were in town; we only had one night and went to Tavern Jastozera.  Even though we could walk from our boat, we asked our Captain, Luka, to ‘dinghy us in’ as the approach to the restaurant has a dramatic entrance under the floor joists that creates a sort of tunnel effect.

approach to jastozera

Entrance to Tavern Jastozera

The food was good; Lobster was on the menu and it was time to indulge. All the usual Croatian ‘tourist fare’ was on the menu. Squid ink risotto and green iceberg salad with tomatoes and cucumber, along with seafood spagetthi. I loved the atmosphere but wished we had gotten a reservation at Senko to try the true Croatian food, or even try next door at Tavern Bako, where although they didnt have the view, I heard the food was not as expensive and really good.

15 a better Jaz pan

Open air dining at Jastozera

Amazing views and fab panorama, starry skies and Lobster– ok, I guess it wasnt so bad, I’ll try to remember the good things!! What’s wrong with me…Senko Senko Senko…..

0a vis harbour closer WM

Also right on the wharf, there is an amzing gelato shop. Surprisingly we had great Gelato on all the Islands. On all the Islands it’s really a good idea to get a mooring spot at the marinas and docks close to the town you are visiting. As you don’t want to constantly use the dinghy it’s great to have all the shops and access to water right there. One of the worst things about a sailing holiday is having to restrict water if you dont get a good mooring–this is a very popular destination, make sure you or your charter company have made reservations at all the popular spots!

-Leaving Bay sesula wheel WM

You are going to love this Island, I wish we had stayed here for days, actually a week would have done nicely. Vis was the most unspoilt of the Islands and Komiza was the prettiest town on Vis. There was so much we didn’t get to do, include go on a cross Island adventure to Stonica, the most FAB beach and cove ever. We ended up going to Stonica via the sea–check out the next post for our next stops, the Blue Grotto at Bisevo Island and Stonica, Vis, sheer heaven!

 

All pictures are Copyright 2013 Trendy Girl Travels

(except where specifically credited to other people)

 

 

 

Croatia was not exactly what I expected. Actually I hadn’t really thought about it too hard. I  was sort of picturing St. Tropez in the Baltic’s, which it isn’t–but that’s ok! It’s very beautiful and has it’s own aura of ‘cool’ going on, it’s not as packed with tourists and the water is much prettier. Having said that, I did miss the shopping and cool one-off boutiques from the South of France and kept searching for chi-chi restaurants on the beaches. This was however, primarily a sailing vacation.  I’m not sure about sailing in general; it seems a bit like camping, with no quick way to escape! In order to see the Croatian Islands sailing is is definitely the best way to find lots of glorious coves and visit remote locations.

A heavenly Cove near Kamencia Beach, Komiza, Vis Island

There is an aura of Ancient History on the Islands, which truly exposes you to a unique culture. The Croats were fierce warriors and sometimes you catch a glimpse of that in their demeanor!! We found so many great spots you would want to return too. It would be so easy to go back now and linger at one of our favorites– Kamencia beach, Vis. It really was heaven! It’s always easier to visit a place the second time around, which is why I’m writing the blog so you don’t get it wrong the first time!

1 Split Marina where boat was WM

Split Marina

We had started our journey in Venice and made it to Split in 7 hours. This will be a quicker trip when Croatia joins the EU on July 1st. Until then, if you take this route you will have to go through the border and they actually check inside most of the cars, so it can take a while! Also when you cross the border there are huge signs saying ‘get your Kuna here’, there is no need to panic and waste extra time to get Kuna at the Border, there are cash machines everywhere.

Split and boats

View of Split

We hired our car at the Venice airport and returned it there. In Europe there is a hefty, (extortionate), fee for one-way rentals. European rental vehicles are notoriously small.  Be sure to ask for a large car if you need one, some of our group were sadly smooshed in a car far too small for them. 🙁

Travelling from Split to Venice–Head toward Rejeka, we took the A6 then joined the A7 to route SS14/SS202 then joined the A4 north paste Trieste and on to Venice, and then E55 /A57 /SS13 toward Venice Airport, so easy and well signposted. Even though we had GPS we bought a map at one of the first gas stations on the route. As with most European maps they have different road numbers/letters on the map then what I’m telling you– I saw these route signs with my own eyes!! Can someone tell me why this is? I thought it was unique to France. It’s so annoying that the Croats (!) have followed the same path, (angry growling sound).

2 Meridian terrace WM

Terrace, Le Meridien Hotel, Lav

The whole route was very scenic. Pine trees and hilly, almost (!) like driving through parts of California. We were going to get out and do a mountain hike, but the word ‘landmines’ was thrown around and we opted to get straight to Split. While searching the Internet for landmine info, we found out that if you are not European you must register your presence in Croatia at a local police station. Apparently it’s an offense if you don’t! We didn’t, but it’s probably a good idea incase someone in your party goes missing. We also read that there is ‘zero tolerance’ policy for drinking and driving and also zero tolerance for Captains drinking while operating the boat.

Beach outside The Meridian Hotel

We arrived in Split and are first thoughts of the City were not favorable, but for us this was a quick stop. I am not sure I would stop here by choice, I would probably head to Dubrovnik. We headed to the Le Meridien Hotel in Lav, just outside of town. We went a bit stiff and came out in a cold sweat when we first saw the Hotel. Don’t panic, it’s bad angle from the driveway– its’s actually better than ‘ok’ and had a fun harbor side restaurant, great bar and pool. The Le Meridien Hotel, Lav, is also part of The Starwood Group so if you have points it helps to reduce the rates and secure a room overlooking the harbor. (Look for an upcoming post from Travel Guru on the SPG/Starwood programme).

Pool, Le Meridien

After a quick cocktail on the terrace we headed down to the pool and beach for a late afternoon swim. There isn’t really sand here, its pebble but the water is pretty and there is bar and food service at beach or pool. After lunch we headed out to the hypermarket (super large European type grocery store) named ‘Konzum’, we were heading out the next day on a Lagoon 500 Catamaran and wanted to make sure we purchased some exotic ingredients for impromptu dining experiences.  Konzum was convieniently located half way between the hotel and Split Marina so we loaded up and then did a drop off at the boat.

Restaurant at the beach, Le Meridien

From the market pick up good wine, herbs and spices; particularly anything spicy as we never found red chili flakes on the islands. Feta, grana, olives, dips, chips and crackers also gourmet meats like prosciutto. Arugula, garlic, tomatoes, melon and other fruits and veggies are all available on the small islands like Hvar and Vis. (Limes were tough to find). I grabbed some soy, Dijon mustard and Tabasco, also a great herb butter that I used later during the trip on a type of large shrimp that reminded me of a langoustine. Bring your coffee from home! If like us you are obsessed with spicy food and you feel might hanker for a green Thai curry, (it works well with bbq Croatian fish), bring Thai green and red curry paste from home– you can get the coconut milk at Konzum! FYI we also bought a beach umbrella, travel iron (why) and a blow up raft at the Hypermarket, love those markets.

Bar Meridian WM

Fun set up at the Bar, Le Meridien

Don’t forget a pharmacy stop. If Konzum doesn’t have what you need try to get it before you leave for the islands. Good sun lotion, shampoo and conditioner were hard to find; there are small pharmacies on the islands but good luck trying to translate ‘Claritin D’ or ‘Nurofen’! Hopefully you bought some from home! They do have Berocca, there is a god! (For full appreciation, watch this amazingly funny–and accurate–video). Berocca will save your life after a hangover or if you are apathetic in general! It’s a tablet that dissolves in water, think Alka Seltzer on steroids. You can thank me later via comments!! (PS I didn’t get any advertizing money for this, it’s just truly a great product).

The Champagne Bar, outside terrace, Le Meridien

The Champagne Bar, outside terrace, Le Meridien

The bar at the Le Meridien was fun; my last good glass of wine and my last great cosmo of the trip were at the hotel! At the hypermarket try to purchase some of your more exotic drink ingredients, cointreau was non-existent on the Islands and limes were apparently out of season (!). The terrace has a great view of the local Marina in Lav and we sat outside until the sun went down. We loved two wines at the restaurant here, Spalatum. Try Krauthaker, Grasevina for a white and a red we chose, Cuvee Benkovac, Kvaliteno Vino, was super. I think more research on the wines would have been useful, as a result we strayed towards vodka. Hmmmm.

Spalatum, marina side, Le M.

Downstairs, right next to the Marina, there are two restaurants– It was the first night so we  ate at Spalatum the more formal of the two. Pivnica next door has pizza and pasta and an informal vibe. This was our first foray into the same menu we would see over and over again whilst in Croatia.  Fried calamari, mixed salad with lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber, tuna carpaccio, octopus salad usually boiled not grilled, (!) Squid ink risotto and spaghetti with seafood. Fresh grilled fish was always on the menu so good but sooo…oooo expensive, go figure? If you buy fish at the local markets both the shrimp and fish are reasonable. Having said that we ordered at least one whole grilled fish at every meal, on one occasion we orderd a whole ‘fish’– (who knows what KIND it was) and we were charged 300$; trust me, it wasn’t that big!

Great looking boats/yachts in Split Marina.

Great looking boats/yachts in Split Marina.

Ok, back to the Catamaran. Most serious boat people know to check how far it is in between Split and the various Islands, also how far it is in between these Islands. I only say this, as somehow the ‘boaters’ of this trip didn’t realize that these Islands could be quite a ‘hike’ from each other. As a map/plan/leave nothing to chance (unless you stumble upon something better) kind of girl, I asked a really helpful guy Ante Lacman at Hvar Tours for an idea of sailing times between Islands. Ante gave me this list that may be of help to you! It was an eye opener to us and changed our route quite a bit.

“I will give you the time frame of duration with the sailing boat.
Because it all depends on weather conditions”.
Split to Bol – 4 – 6h (23 cca naut.miles)
Bol – Vis(town) – 4 – 6h (cca 22 naut miles)
Vis(town) to Hvar – 2 – 4h (12 naut miles)
Hvar  – Bol – 4 – 6h (23 cca naut.miles)

Split in the distance, heading to Solta Island.

In his email to me Ante mentioned the word ‘tramuntana’ when mentioning strong west winds? A word I didn’t want to hear. Luckily we never experienced this.  Another snippet of information, at Split Marina it seemed that none of the various ‘Sailing Holiday’ boats  leave till around 5pm. I had a bit of a melt down when I realized we would wasting an entire evening. Our company, Adriatic Holidays wanted us to stay overnight in the Marina. Well that was not going to be happening. Needless to say we headed out at 4.00 to make it to Solta Island before sun set.

The Captain gets us out of Split!

The Captain gets us out of Split!

Just so you know, we actually had almost zero wind the whole trip, which was very disapointing. Usually the wind is usually quite good and the sailors don’t have to deal with the ‘doldrums’ very often.  Sailing is the big thing in the Croatian Islands, but actually I was more into hugging the coast, hanging out by the little coves and bays, still one good day of sailing would have been nice. 🙁

sophie heading to islansds WM

Heading to the Islands

After a short but lovley afternoon sail, we arrived at our first destination, Solta Island. As this was a last minute change in itinerary, our Captain who I loved, Luka Skerlev, had made bookings for our mooring in the cove of Bay Sesula and at Restaurant Sesula for dinner. I had wanted to go to Martinis Marchi Hotel & Restaurant located in a historic castle in Maslinica on the island of Solta’s west coast but the moorings at the Castle were full.  I suggest you try to moor here if you want a sophisticated experience; our cove was more of a lunch spot, very casual but still a great experience.

Bay Sesula, Solta Island

When organizing a sailing holiday in high season you must plan ahead as the mooring spots get full. They company we used Adriatic Holidays suggested that two weeks in advance was fine but I would make all reservations at least 1 month in advance. If you make last minute changes it can wreck havoc with your plans to move on too the next few Islands. Also sometimes where you eat has to do with where you moor, particularly on these smaller islands. Again, try to leave Split the same day and head to Solta– but moor at the Martinis Marchi Hotel rather than Bay Sesula.

Restaurant Sesula

At Bay Selusa I would have preferred to eat to eat at the other restaurant, Sismis, rather than Restaurant Selsula as it had more atmosphere, (there were only two to choose from), but we ended up having drinks at Sismis which was fun. At night the path between the two gets pitch black and is rocky so be careful! Actually bring a flashlight from home, particularly for clubbing in remote locations! More on that in next blog Vis /Hvar!

Grilled squid at Restaurant Sesula

The food at Restaurant Sesula was simple but very good; the sausage and the grilled giant squid (and the 300$ fish), were all amazing! Again, all very casual but sometimes it’s ok to chill (hard for a girl in quest of the best experience) and in all we had a great first evening!

Evening sun, view from Restaurant Sismis

Onward in the morning to Vis Island! The first stop there was the town of Komiza. See the next blog on Komiza for the best photos and juicy details! Luka Skerlev, our captain, has his own adventure company. Email Luka at — luka@pustolovina.hr if you plan on going to Croatia. Whether your destination is the mainland or the Islands, Luka can organize some great Croat experiences!

Swim in Komiza, Vis

All pictures are Copyright 2013 Trendy Girl Travels

(except where specifically credited to other people)

xxx