Karie on May 24th 2008 06:09 pm
I fell in love the minute we landed.Â No, actually, it was before that â€“ it was at my first glimpse of the turquoise waters dotted with islands that loosely follow the jagged coastline.Â Ok, maybe it was even as early as the Michael Palinâ€™s New Europe special we watched several months ago.
Croatia was one the top places on my â€śmust seeâ€ť list, and it completely lived up to my expectations.Â Scottâ€™s mom and step-father (Mary & John) are here from Los Angeles to visit and do some traveling with us, and I think itâ€™s safe to say that they are also pleased.Â To quote Mary, â€śI donâ€™t know what I was expecting, but this is better.â€ť
We toured the country in a big circle, as our flights were in/out of the same city.Â We started in Dubrovnik for a couple of days, drove up to Split, then slowly worked our way back to Dubrovnik via boats, stopping at the islands of Hvar & Korcula.Â There are literally hundreds of islands, as well as amazing spots on the mainland, so it was tough to figure out where we should go and for how long.Â However, I now realize that itâ€™s impossible to make a poor decision â€“ itâ€™s all breathtaking.
Croatia has had a pretty tough history, even as recent as 1995 when they finally succeeded in their fight for independence.Â Bullet holes are evident in many of the buildings in Dubrovnik â€“ as is the case in several cities around Europe â€“ itâ€™s just that these are the newest bullet holes weâ€™ve seen!Â We heard stories from a local tour guide who lived in the city of Dubrovnik while it was being seized during the war.Â A taxi driver also told us how he moved his wife and daughters up the coast for two years during the worst parts of the war, while he stayed to work, sometimes living without water and electricity.Â His daughters are around my age… so while I was preoccupied with trying to be cool in the early 1990â€™s (which is very difficult in a plaid uniform), their concerns were very different.
Croatia has always been a very advanced society, even as far back as its history records (including having the 2nd oldest pharmacy in the world).Â However, with such recent turmoil, I honestly wasnâ€™t sure what to expect.Â What we found were beautiful cities, perfect roads, well-educated people, and land that just seemed, well, cared for.Â I felt a great sense of pride from the Croatians, which I love.Â Thereâ€™s nothing better than being around people who love where they are.
We opted to rent a car to drive to Split, to give us a little more freedom in exploring the beautiful scenery.Â Bosnia occupies about 10 kilometers of coastline right in the middle of Croatia, so of course we stopped three times to take pictures of ourselves in Bosnia.Â The group is divided on whether or not we can include Bosnia on our list of countries visited.Â I say the criteria to count a country should include a meal or at least a magnet, but John says he was there and has pictures to prove it, so it counts.Â What do you think?
Anyhow, we made it to Split by early evening, and left again on a ferry to Hvar the following afternoon.Â To sum it up, Split is worth seeing, but donâ€™t sacrifice too much time on the islands for it.Â It worked out well with our iternary and we had a great morning touring the Diocletian Palace before we caught the boat.
The trip started out great, and got better and betterâ€¦ more to come.