Croatia Day 4: To Wine or Not To Wine

Okay, let’s be honest. The real reason I wanted to visit the Dalmation Coast was for the wine. Before arriving Bug and I watched a few shows on Croatia and had a list of places we wanted to visit. Today’s choice: 

Bibich. It wasn’t far from where we stayed last night, and hey if Anthony Bourdain liked, we probably would too.

And man was it yummy. We ended buying four bottles which brings our haul up to 6. The question is quickly becoming: do we drink it on the boat, or bring it home? Or drink it now. I’m not sure I can wait 😂

One of the things that struck about the vineyard was this:

Literally next to this: 

For those that don’t know, that means there are/could be mines present. Another reminder of the war.

After leaving Bibich, we had planned on swimming at the Krka waterfalls, but it was too cold (eventually it grew too hot, so we couldn’t win). So we head into Split.

We got a little turned around, and our hostess had to meet us at the gas station. Eventually, we made it to our amazing rental (another AirBnB shout out). Yes, it’s a walk to old town, but it’s clean, modern, and white. Plus, it has a nice balcony overlooking the sea. 

Unlike other parts of Croatia, Split stayed relatively untouched by the war, and is a hopping vacation destination for Europeans. Plus, many Australians of Croatian descent have moved here. It all together gives Split a fun, cosmopolitan vibe while maintaining its heritage. Here are some traditional singers performing on the Riva/Reva (I’m not sure of the spelling).

For dinner tonight we walked 20 minutes to Chop. The food was ridiculously good, not to mention plentiful and well-priced. The platter for two could have food four easily. 
One thing I noticed walking around Split is how much more people dress up here than elsewhere in Croatia. Zagreb was a jeans/t-shirt/soccer jersey city. Split is a dresses/jewelry/lipstick kind of place. 

After dinner, we walked to the sea.

The boys indulged me with another photo. 

And Bug is learning how take selfies 😂

For those interested, our itinerary is thus:

Zagreb – 2 nights

Bicine – 1 night

Split – 3 nights

Boat (Hvar, Bac, Vis) – 7 nights. 

Someone asked what prompted us to do this kind of vacation in an unusual (for Americans) place. We both loved our vacations to Nice, but wanted more time on the water. And boating the Greek Islands was crazy expensive, but Croatia was on budget. Basically, I could have wine, boats, and cities. I was sold. We decided it would be our joint 40th birthday present to ourselves. And so far, it was a great choice.

Now, about that bottle of wine…

xoxo ~dawn

Croatia Day 3: war and peace

We packed up early this morning, said good-bye to Zagreb, and headed out to Plitivice Lakes in our remarkably comfortable Peugot rental car. It took about two hours to get there – and that’s including our wandering through a Croatian forest because our GPS was confused. Bug was not amused.

But, oh! It was worth it. We parked, ate a tasty lunch, and began our descent into Plitivice. I wish I could get the photos off our camera, but I left my computer at home. The colors were amazing, as was the roar of the water, and the mist that settled around us. It was like stepping back in time – except with many other people. 

We had hiked about half-way through the park when rain hit. Bug, being the smart guy he is, had packed umbrellas for each of us. So while everyone else ran for cover, we meander through the park and to the boat launch. We hopped on board a boat, and headed back to station 1.

From there, we had to wait 20 minutes for a tram and, sadly, had to take out groups of pushy elderly tourists to get on board. 

I will say this, while Plitivice is gorgeous, it was overrun with tour groups. Thankfully, most seemed to disappear after the big waterfall. Also, wth Americans? Strollers, throngs of people, and wooden boardwalks don’t mix. This is a prime spot to invest in a baby carrier. I only say this because I saw at least three sets of American parents trying to navigate the endless stairs in frustration. Plitivice is NOT disablility or stroller friendly. It’s too crowded, narrow, and has too many stairs. 

Okay, back to the day’s adventure. 

After making our way back to our car, we headed off to Skradin for the night. It was a two hour drive through an ever changing landscape of mountains, plains, rivers, and rolling hills. Our hostess, Iva, had sent me specific directions which was excellent because her apartment is tough to find. 

When we arrived, homemade rose liquor and fig strudel awaited us. It was a welcome treat after our long drive and day of hiking. But we didn’t stay long before heading out to dinner. We ate at Bonaca near the harbor in Skradin. For desert, Keegan ordered a sorbet. He got a champagne fizz…and promptly traded Bug for his cake. For what it’s worth, it was the most expensive meal we’ve had here, and also our least favorite. Still, it was good, just not great. 

Upon arriving back at the apartment, Bug and I took in the view from the terrace. That’s the lake in the background. 

But the site I can’t get over is this: 

That’s the front door, riddled with bullet holes from the War. As we travel around this beautiful country full of generous, happy, kind people, it’s difficult to wrap my brain around what happened here 25 years ago. It seems impossible such devastation and hatred could hit such a lovely place full of welcoming people.

But it did. 

And this door, it made it all real. 

xoxo – dawn

Croatia Day 2: Walk All Over Me

We had an early start today with everyone needing to be feed and ready for our walking tour which started at 10am. Tina, our guide, met us outside our apartment building and laid out where we’d walk for the day. Since we’re staying in central Zagreb it’s easy to get around on foot. And that is what we did. 

Tina ( started us at the Opera house and we proceed to visit the two hills that dominate the city. We learned about The Austria-Hungarian Empire’s grip on Croatia, Tito, art, and Yugoslavia along with delicacies like truffled chocolate, olive oil, and some sort of amazing honey liquor that reminds me a bit of grappe.

All three boys were engaged – a testament to Tina’s story-telling powers. Plus, she brought us to a delicious, outdoors ice cream shop 😉

We visited a farmers market that happens daily until about 14:00, and bought tasty cherries. 

After our tour, we headed to a wine/cheese bar called…Cheese Bar (Augusta Cesarca street). Our selection of Croatian cheese, meat, and wine was delicious. 

(The waiter photo bombed us 😂)

After gorging, we headed to Vinoteka Bornstein (Kaptol 19, HR-10000 Zagreb), a wine bar we learned about from a New York Times video on Zagreb. The owner, Ivan Srpek is a wonderful, knowledgable host. We opted for the taste of Zagreb and were treated to a sparkling wine, two whites, and a red. The wines Ivan gave us can hold their own against any New World wine. For the money, they’re a great deal and definitely worth exploring. 

Vinoteka Bornstein is located underground with an ancient wine cave feel. Just an FYI, it is under the building that hosts the Syrian Consulate. Don’t let that deter you. 

Finally, we wrapped up the day with a walk around the city center and a game of Go Fish back at the apartment. Tomorrow we head to Plitvice and its famous waterfalls. Going to try for even an earlier start in hopes of beating the crowds.