Sunday, August 21, 2016

Making the best of your time in Croatia - Part 2

I enjoyed Croatia so much the first time around, that I just went a second time two years later. There are plenty of things I recommended in the first trip's post, and to be honest, the road trip plan was quite robust we did a very similar one to it this time around as well (yes I just praised myself)! Therefore if you're interested in making the best of your time there, check out the first post and this addendum here.


Panoramic view taken from the city wall of Old Dubrovnik - Croatia

I did the 3 Islands cruise again, and I would repeat it for a third and a 10th time because the beaches and nature in those islands are mesmerizing and totally worth repeated visits.

Kolocep, Sipan and Lopud islands - Croatia

This trip consisted of 4 full days and 2 half days, so we needed to squeeze a lot of activities in a relatively short period of time. Below, you can find an adjusted itinerary suitable for a 5 day trip as well as few more activities that I didn't get to do the last time around and I am happy I did them this time, they definitely come recommended:

A map showing the effect of the Serbo-Montenegrin attack on Dubrovnik in 1991

Sea Kayaking (Duration: 3 Hours)

There are many variations of this tour and many excursion companies that organize them, bargain your way through; I believe most of them are quite similar to each other. The tours have different departures and different duration options and that is based on the stops included. We did a 3 hour sea kayak tour that leaves at 4PM, so we got to see a bit of the sunset. You can of course do the actual sunset tour if you want to catch the full sunset. In this tour, you get to be in a double kayak, stop at a cave where you can swim, snorkel and even cliff jump, then do few more stops to rest the arms and listen to the guide tell us a bit more about the history of Dubrovnik and Lokrum island. You might see a dolphin on the way if you're lucky (we didn't), and maybe a peacock if you're very lucky (we didn't!), as Lokrum is known as "Peacocks Island", however for that you might need to actually step off onto the Island, and in this case consider doing another tour which includes actually visiting the island, where you can go swimming in the dead sea, and if you're curious enough, you can pay a visit to the nudes beach ;)

Guide telling us some ghost stories - Lokrum Island - Dubrovnik - Croatia

Kayak and Chill - Dubrovnik - Croatia

Ancient City Wall Historic tour (Duration: 2 Hours)

When I was in Dubrovnik the first time, time didn't allow me to do it and I honestly didn't even expect it to be that much of a jaw dropping experience. Luckily, I was able to do this tour this time, and with every step I took, the view only got better and better. I kept deleting the older photos as the new ones were way prettier. The tour takes around an hour and a half, depending on how many times you stop and stand in awe of the beauty of the Dubrovnik old city. 

Old city Dubrovnik - taken from from its west wall. - Croatia
Dubrovnik's defensive wall and fort. - Croatia

Two day road trip between Dubrovnik and Split crossing through Bosnia and Herzegovina

My friends really wanted to make the best of our time there. What was originally planned to be a one-day trip to Peljesac peninsula, ended up being a two-day road trip.
  • Day 1: We went north around 10AM towards Peljesac peninsula, where we visited the city of Ston. Ston has a population of 549 (2011 census). In this city, you get to visit the Ston wall, a very impressive cultural monument. Ston's defensive walls were regarded as a notable feat of medieval architecture. The town's inner wall measures 890 metres in length, while the Great Wall outside the town has a circumference of 5 km. After Ston, we stopped at a quiet beach facing Neum for a quick swim (as mentioned in post Part 1, always keep a swim suit on you for impromptu swimming). On the peninsula, you will find many small wineries, and if you're a wine lover, could be a nice activity to do wine tasting there. We kept driving towards Trpanj, where we took the Ferry (it's an experience by itself) to Ploce. Keep in mind, there is a timetable for those ferries. We reached Split around 5PM. Later that evening, we went to Old Town for dinner and drinks, and walked around its narrow alleys, make sure you get lost there!
View of Ston from the top - Peljesac Peninsula - Croatia (Photo taken by my friend) 
Quick stop for a quick dip in this clear water - Peljesac Peninsula - Croatia

  • Day 2: We had breakfast in Old Town Split as it's always a different experience seeing a city during the night then during the day. From there, we drove towards Krka National Park. We walked through the park, and then went swimming in its beautiful waterfalls. Krka allows swimming, as opposed to Plivitce waterfalls where swimming isn't allowed. We left Krka around 4PM towards Dubrovnik, but we took another route from Day 1. We drove through Neum which is in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We had dinner in a restaurant called Bonaco, my 2nd time there, always great food at a very good price. We were back in Lapad peninsula by 11PM.
Krka National Park - Krka Waterfalls - Sibenik - Croatia

Food recommendations

  • A new place we tried is "Mex Cantina Bona Fide" which sits in one of the narrow alleys of Old Dubrovnik. The restaurant serves both Mexican and Italian food and surprisingly they do both cuisines really well. I recommend you try the burritos and fajitas on the Mexican side, they were really delicious! And of course, king of the table would be at least a Marguerita pizza as the dough is really yummy. 
  • Restaurant KOPUN: First of all, the venue is quite beautiful as it faces an old church. Moreover, some items on the menu are quite interesting. The manager came to us and recommended "Capon". What is Capon, you ask? It's a castrated rooster :$. Sorry about the image, but apparently, this improves the quality of the flesh, more tender, or something like that. We did try it, it was good, we can't say it was the best Capon ever because it was the first time we try it.
Dinner at Mex Cantina Bona Fide in Dubrovnik - Croatia
Meet the Capon

If you plan on having Konobo (traditional Croatian cuisine) and find recommended restaurants, might be worth reserving early on as these places are small and fill up quickly.

What about Candy?

Accommodation info

We stayed in Lapad peninsula, by a popular beach and plenty of restaurants there. It dawned on us that it could've been more practical to stay closer to the old city, as we were going back there every night, and on the day we went kayaking, we had to go twice (once for kayaking, back to apartment to shower, then back to the old town to have dinner). Evidently, it would've cost us much more to stay in a popular area, plus the Lapad apartment we stayed in was very neat with all the needed amenities.

Lapad Beach - Dubrovnik - Croatia

We over ordered at Mex Cantina, so I made sure I had the leftover Pizza for breakfast - Lapad Peninsula - Dubrovnik - Croatia

Transport Tips

We rented a car for the duration of the road trip (2 days). I would still recommend you rent a car for the whole period if you have a parking spot with your accommodation, and this is particularly practical if you're not staying outside of old town. Otherwise, you can use the bus from Lapad beach and other locations. One issue is that during peak hours, the bus becomes like a sardine pack, and no I am not exaggerating (I should've taken a photo but I couldn't move my arms). Outside of old town, you will find a queue of taxis available. Yet the best discovery was that Uber exists in Dubrovnik and is at least 50% cheaper than normal taxi fares. We took it from Lapad to the airport and it cost us 180 Kuna (27 USD).

Currency Exchange and Kuna Rate

We were finding the exchange rate from 1$ to Kuna at 6 or 6.2 in most places, but do not despair, and keep looking as there are places where the exchange rate is above 6.3. We were exchanging it at Kompas Hotel in Lapad for 6.39.

Hope this helps, and remember to check the first post I wrote about Croatia for other tips.

FROM DUBROVNIK WITH FUNK

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