My Journey Through Croatia
Croatian Odyssey: Exploring History and Culture
Almost a year ago, I attended a travel conference and was fortunate enough to win a grand prize trip to Croatia. This amazing trip was created and given to us by Travelive, a tour operator that has been creating vacations for my clients for many years. Now I get to share my personal experience in this glorious place in the hopes you will get excited for your next trip there!
Croatia, a land of rich history and breathtaking landscapes, welcomed us on an unforgettable journey through Dubrovnik, Hvar, Sibenik, Buje, and Zagreb. Our adventure was designed by a skilled tour operator, Travelive, and it was a perfect blend of historical exploration, culinary delights, and coastal beauty. Having never been to Croatia, experiencing it for the first time made me even more excited to share it with my clients.
Day 1: Dubrovnik - The Pearl of the Adriatic
Our adventure began in the picturesque city of Dubrovnik, often referred to as the "Pearl of the Adriatic." This historic city, with roots dating back to the 7th century, is a testament to Croatia's enduring history. We checked in at Villa Dubrovnik, a luxurious sanctuary that offered stunning views of the Adriatic Sea. In the evening to recover from our jet lag, we dined at the lovely restaurant at the hotel, Pjerin, savoring seafood that echoed the city's maritime heritage.
Day 2: Dubrovnik - A Walk Through Time
Dubrovnik's Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, was our destination on Day 2. Its ancient walls, dating back to the 13th century, encapsulate centuries of history. The city's history also includes fame as the backdrop for King's Landing in the Game of Thrones series. Our guide, Ivan, had so many amazing stories of this amazing town and of course, Game of Thrones! We at lunch of delicious seafood at Port 22. The evening we had a gorgeous dinner at Arsenal, a historic restaurant with a story as old as the city itself. Then enjoyed a nightcap at the town’s local gay bar, MILK.
Day 3: Dubrovnik - Beyond the Walls
Leaving Dubrovnik's walls behind, we embarked on a private tour to Cavtat and the Konavle region. Cavtat, with its charming streets, has been an important Mediterranean port for centuries. The Konavle region, on the other hand, epitomizes Croatia's agrarian traditions. We explored the river mills created in the 15th century along the Ljuta River . We then to a cable car to the top of the hill to an old arsenal where we had dinner at Panorama. It was so beautiful with its panoramic views of the Adriatic and was a lovely fitting end to the day.
Day 4: Depart for Hvar - Oysters and Island Bliss
Our journey took us from Dubrovnik to Hvar Island, but not before a unique oyster-tasting tour in Ston. Ston's medieval walls, once the world's second-longest defensive fortifications, showcased Croatia's historical fortitude. The tasting experience was a nod to the region's long-standing oyster farming tradition. I also enjoyed freshly farmed steamed mussels that were cooked right before us on the boat. It was a truly special experience! We then took a ferry to Hvar Island and checked into the serene Maslina Resort and Spa.
Day 5: Hvar Island - Spa and Wine
Maslina Resort offered us a day of relaxation, with spa appointments to rejuvenate our spirits. We opted for the couple experience with not only massages but a facial with sound therapy. In the evening, we visited Lacman Family Winery for a wine tasting, an experience steeped in the island's vineyard history. The views were stunning and we tasted Orange Wine for the first time!
Day 6: Leave Hvar for Sibenik - Island Hopping and Seaside Elegance
Sibenik was our next destination, but we embarked on a boat tour that included the beautiful Brac and Hvar Islands. Our captain, Dario and first mate Slavko took us on an amazing sail that was created just for us! Brac and Hvar's architecture and culture are influenced by Roman and Venetian history, while Sibenik itself is an ancient Croatian town known for its medieval structures and the UNESCO-listed St. James Cathedral. Dinner at Restaurant Galbiani offered us a taste of local flavors and a corner view of the city.
Day 7: Leave Sibenik for Buje - Plitvice Lakes National Park
The next step on our trip started with a pickup from Igor, who will share the rest of our travels with us. Igor shared his love and passion for Croatia with us and he made our trip even more special. I have a list of guides from all around the world that change how you view their country, and Igor is now on that list of people.
Our journey continued to Buje, but not before exploring the Plitvice Lakes National Park. The park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a testament to nature's artistry. Its cascading waterfalls and pristine lakes are a sight to behold. In the evening, we checked into San Canzian Village & Hotel and dined at Luciano, with a focus on local and organic ingredients.
Day 8: Buje - Istrian Wine Delights
Istria, surrounding Buje, is steeped in history, from Roman times through Venetian and Austrian rule. Our day was dedicated to a wine lovers' experience at Rossi Vineyards, delving into the region's winemaking traditions and sampling some of Istria's finest wines.
Day 9: Leave Buje for Zagreb - Capital of Croatia
Zagreb, Croatia's capital, awaited us with its historical charm. With roots dating back to Roman times, the city's Upper Town with its medieval architecture and the modern Lower Town provides a captivating contrast. We checked in at the Sheraton Zagreb Hotel and had dinner at Boban, a renowned restaurant in Zagreb, delighted our palates with traditional Croatian dishes.
Day 10: Zagreb - Culinary Exploration
Zagreb's food scene is deeply influenced by its diverse history, encompassing Austro-Hungarian, Mediterranean, and Eastern European culinary traditions. A food tour was a delightful way to explore the city's gastronomic offerings. We visited all of the local markets and settled in at a local coffee shop to taste everything.
Day 11: Head Home to New York City
Our Croatian odyssey came to a close, leaving us with a profound appreciation for the country's history, culture, and culinary heritage. Croatia had not only provided a feast for our senses but also a deep understanding of the historical tapestry that has shaped this captivating nation. As we boarded our plane back to New York City, we carried with us cherished memories and a promise to return to this extraordinary destination. I cannot wait to have my clients experience the magic of Croatia!