My Vacation Diary: Croatia

Two years ago Chris and I took our first international trip together. We spent nine days in Croatia, four of which was for pleasure and five of which was for Chris's work.

As a side note, whenever one of us has to travel for work, {depending on the location} the other person will tag a long. We add a couple of personal days a make it a vacation. It ends up being cheaper than us booking it ourselves since one flight and the hotel is a work expense. It’s a good excuse to travel more.

The Adriatic Sea and Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik

We flew into Dubrovnik and spent the first three nights just outside of Old Town Dubrovnik at Hotel Excelsior. This hotel was amazing. It is part of the Adriatic Luxury Hotel group and is one of their twelve hotels/villas in Croatia. It’s perched on a hillside with direct access to water a short 15 minute walk outside of the city walls. We did not get a chance to try their spa or gym, but we took full advantage of their restaurants and lounge chairs overlooking the Adriatic and Dubrovnik.

Based on my experience, I would highly recommend any of the hotels in the group. They have great service and amenities, take a farm-to-table approach in their restaurants and were very gracious in accommodating dietary preferences.

Hotel Dubrovnik
Hotel Dubrovnik

We did a lot of what Chris and I call “shmoozing” in Dubrovnik – eating, drinking, walking, popping in and out of shops, lounging and taking in the sites. Our first night we ate dinner up the street from our hotel at the Victoria Restaurant at Villa Orsula {also part of the Adriatic Luxury Hotel Group}. We savored a bottle of Croatian rosé and nibbled on ceviche and scallops {they were great at accommodating for dairy and gluten-free} while we watched the sunset on their grapevine-draped terrace overlooking the Adriatic.

We did manage to do one touristy activity while we were in Dubrovnik. On our third day we woke up and walked the 2km stretch of walls that surround Old Town Dubrovnik. It took about an hour and half to walk and we got gorgeous views of the city and coast line. If you go to Dubrovnik, I definitely recommend doing this, with a few recommendations. One, go early, we ended up starting out at 11am and by the time we were finished we were roasting. There is very little, if any, shade on the walk. Two, wear sunscreen for reasons just mentioned. And three, bring water! It was a great way to get a workout it and see the city from a birds eye view.

Adriatic Sea
Dubrovnik

The night before we left Dubrovnik, we had dinner at our hotel restaurant Prora. I usually have very low expectations for hotel restaurants because most of the food is made to feed the masses, but after our dinner at Victoria, I was optimistic. Not only was our table a stones throw away from the water, but the food and wine was delicious. The menu was full with elevated interpretations of traditional Croatian dishes {the chef is a native to Croatia} and locally sourced produce. The chef graciously accommodated my dietary preferences and even came out to walk us through the menu. It was the perfect period to our chapter in Dubrovnik.

Prora Restaurant at Hotel Dubrovnik

Hvar

Hvar was a last minute {planned it a few weeks before we left} decision and I’m so glad we made it – even if it was only for 24 hours. Hvar is around a 3 hour ferry ride from Dubrovnik. The town is small and easily walk-able and there’s beaches speckled across the coast line. It’s basically a little port town. A lot of people go out on the boat during the day and dock in the harbor to party at night.

Our hotel was right in the main marina next to a great little health food cafe Vita Health Food Bar {you know I love a good salad} where we got lunch when we arrived. We spent the day walking around town, swimming, and sunbathing on warm rocks like lizards and enjoying an aperol spritz on the main square. At night we stumbled upon a restaurant called Fig for dinner. It was nestled in a small walkway a few blocks away from the main pavilion and had the most delicious California-inspired menu. A welcomed change from the very Croatian food of nights prior. We capped off our night with a class of wine on the balcony of the museum overlooking the main square.

Hvar

Sibenik

I don’t have a ton to say about Sibenik. We were there for work and spent the majority of our time in an hotel that looked like it had been plucked from Orlando, Florida and reminded me of an amusement park. We did spend one day walking around the city of Sibenik and found Pelegrini – a gem of a restaurant that we had dinner at one night. {We didn’t know at the time, but they have been consistently voted Best Croatian Restaurant and have since then gotten a Michelin star.} They practice what they call “sustainable gastronomy” and offer a 3 or 4 course prix-fixe menu featuring seasonal, locally sourced ingredients. It was without a doubt the highlight of our time in Sibenik.

If I Could Do It All Again

If I could do it all over again, I would for sure have done more research prior to going. When I did start reading about Croatia {a month before our trip, well after we had booked hotels and transportation} it was very apparent that the best way experience Croatia is to pack light and island hop – the exact opposite of what we had planned. I would also go to Plitvice Lakes. It’s one of the most popular tourist attractions {turn off}, but it’s a gorgeous National Park with sixteen breathtaking lakes interconnected by waterfalls. I mean, need I say more?

Over-packing and poor planning aside, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and would go back in a heart beat. However for me, the most memorable part of the whole trip wasn’t the clear blue water or epic views from the walls of Dubrovnik. It was the sheer joy that came from connecting with Chris in an entirely new way and finding out just how much we enjoyed exploring a new places together.

In life, it’s not where you go, it’s who you travel with.

– Charles Schulz

XO

-S

June 26, 2019

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