Vacation to Croatia and Czech Republic

I have been on holidays these past 2 weeks (and seeing that 1_ I still don’t have internet at my new place – but am working on it – and 2_ I have been abroad and not really near any computer; it would have been difficult to update it during that time.)

But behold, I am back and will give some insights on the places I visited.

I have been to two countries: Croatia and the Czech Republic. How odd those destinations are? Not that odd actually. The Croatian coast is very warm and sunny this time of year, and the villages make you think of Italy.

CROATIA

We had booked a room at a youth hostel, to save money and because we planned on being out more than being in the room, it was not supposed to be that fancy a room (our criteria: clean and functional). But a little surprise from our hostel: upon arrival they offered us a stay in an apartment, at the same rates of the double room we booked! It was bigger than my apartment here at home!

In Croatia, we stayed in the coastal city called Split (yeah like the banana) in Central Dalmatia. We had luck with the weather: very hot, over 30°C each day! Split has a rich history and many Roman remains can be found, as well as Venetian, seeing they were conquered and made part of the Venetian empire. Croatia is not that far from Italy, actually. Several times a week, Blue Line ships run between Split and Ancona (Italy).

The first impression when riding in by shuttle bus from the airport is “oh my, this is so grey with all those tall concrete-like apartment blocks!”, but actually, when you really get to the coast line, it gets more touristic, colourful and the Old Town is very beautiful. (Palm trees every where!) Don’t forget, Croatia was part of Yugoslavia and they (as we felt it) like to only direct tourists to the pretty things and not so much outside the touristic places.

In Split we saw the Diocletian Palace (UNESCO heritage site), the St. Duje’s cathedral (which I didn’t immediately get I was standing in! Only remnants of the cathedral are there), the Riva (a promenade which is the first thing you see when getting off the shuttle bus. In the evening it is fun to walk by or have a drink while looking at the sea.) and the Marjan hill, which is a nature reserve with many paths to walk and there are cliffs to be found as well. On that hill there was a zoo, but I do not advice anyone to visit it. The animals are in cages too small for their comfort and… you’d be shocked if I told you all I saw. Just don’t go there.

You can also easily visit the little islands in front of Split. Every hour there are ferries (Jadrolinija company), at very affordable prices (seeing we were on a budget, it was very interesting!).

We visited the town Hvar on the island Hvar (confusing, no?). The town is very Italian like in style, with stairway streets, small and meandering through the old houses. We visited the castle as well. From afar it did look bigger than it actually is, but it is a nice walk towards it. I found out there a huge and lots of cactuses in Croatia! I didn’t know that.

Another island we visited was Brac. There we went to Supetar town (where I had a David Lynch kind of scary walk along the local high way from the little town of Milna back to Supetar to catch the ferry, in total darkness, with boyfriend trying to hitchhike every time a car went by!!! – and adventure indeed!). And the other town we went to was Bol, known for its beach, but a hell of a bus ride to get there. Take a life insurance first! The bus takes incredible turns along the road between the hills, and when you look over the side of the road, you sometimes see remnants of cars, far below in the rocks… very comforting indeed. But seriously, Bol was worth it. Just close your eyes during the bus ride and think happy thoughts…

Conclusion on Croatia: I recommend it. The people are hospitable, the prices are good, ATM’s on every corner, good food, nice weather. Just don’t go to the Tourist Information centres. They only direct you to beaches and are clueless when you ask what else is to be visited.

FYI: the beaches aren’t sand beaches, but rock/pebble beaches. We found a great do-able and swim-able beach just at the foot of the Marjan hill. The Tourist Information centre did not mention it and it is secluded, with many locals. So if you want a quiet beach, go there.

CZECH REPUBLIC

Again, a stay at the youth hostel, but not as well accommodated as in Split. But being right in the city centre of Prague, one shouldn’t complain. Cause I believe it is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen! The architecture is amazing! You can do anything by foot (we only had two days, so we wanted to visit as much as possible!).

A world of difference though, after Split. For one: I had to wear jeans again, instead of shorts or skirts. ATM’s are hard to find (let alone a bakery in the morning! we only found a good one on our last day!). We did it all: the Castle, Lesser Town, Old Town, Jewish Town, New Town (a bit)… and still there is a small part we haven’t done yet. We also went to the National Museum. Not bad, but not enough on the country’s history (while they advertised an exhibition on it!). We also visited the new (Jewish) synagogue, entirely done in Art Nouveau (or Jugendstil). An art form I know well from the Brussels architecture by Victor Horta.

That’s also something I got to learn now: the Art Nouveau painter Alfons Mucha (1860-1939). Known for his advertisement posters and paintings of women. I bought a poster to put in my apartment. He also designed one of the coloured glass in lead windows of Prague’s St. Vitus Cathedral. It’s through that window I got to know him. I had never seen Art Nouveau in a church before (how surprised was I in the synagogue!).

END NOTE

I had a blast this holiday. Especially with my boyfriend (who had to put up with 2 panic attacks of mine – cause I have a thing with heights and deep water issues) and he was patient and wonderful throughout our entire vacation. He is bliss!

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