Island Life of Hvar

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Our next stop on our Croatia road-trip was the island of Hvar. We arrived to Hvar by car ferry from Split and settled right into island life. 

Well, it took us a while to actually find parking. Then, even longer to find the hotel as we roamed aimlessly around town. Once we finally found the hotel we were advised we needed to move the car. It was parked on a cliff that we (when I say we, I mean Jer) would have to climb an abundant amount of steps to reach. With the help of the hotel staff, to assist with the luggage, Jer went on a mission to move the car. Upon his return, he was dripping in sweat. I offered him a nice refreshing cucumber water. Then settled in. 

We stayed at the Hotel Park Hvar which is located in the heart of Hvar town. Upon entering our room we were greeted with amazing views of the marina, the blue waters of the Adriatic Sea, and Croatia's iconic orange roof tops. The charming room had a separate living space, two balconies, and finally a closed in shower! I don't know what it is about European bathtub/shower combos but water gets everywhere due to the partial glass enclosures. It's really the little things that excite me.

Each morning we woke to church bells in the distance and sea views. Can we stay forever, pretty please?!?

Hvar Town is known for it's nightlife and attracts people from all over the world. It has glitz and glamour with mega yachts surrounding the promenade. You can hear champagne glasses clinking to another beautiful day. But, this small town also has an old world charm that I instantly fell for.

If you are looking for the best views of Hvar town and Pakleni islands, lace up your walking shoes, and climb to the town's fortress. I let Jer lead the way which turned out to be the wrong choice. His sense of direction was a bit suspect. In the end, I guided us in the right direction as we zig zagged our way to the top.

It was built in the 16th century by the Venetian to defend the town from the Turks. The fortress is well preserved and it's historical importance alone is worth a visit. Come for the history, stay for the views.

We had a bit of fomo (fear of missing out) watching all the people enjoying themselves on their yachts. So we decided to rent one for the day. Ours was not a yacht but it did the job. We cruised around in our ten horse power dingy all day. Tucking into coves as we anchored to enjoy our surroundings and a few adult beverages. 

With Jer at the wheel, we cruised into a small enclave. As we were nearing closer I noticed fishing nets. I yelled multiple warnings but he forged on. The fishing nets got wrapped around our propeller as we came to an abrupt stop. Jer jumped into the water to assess the situation. The verdict was bad. Without a knife or cell phone, we were stuck. It took us (and by us, I mean Jer) well over an hour to unwrap the fishing net from the propeller. Even with this small mishap it was one of the best days of our trip.

The cost to rent a small boat was very reasonable at about $150 for a full day. Highly recommend.

Three days was not near enough time to explore the entire island. We had a plan to visit as many beaches of Hvar as we could. Our first stop was Dubovica. We parked on the main road and hiked down to the beach passing lines of olive trees. It was a perfect setting for a few hours of relaxation with blue/green water, a unique stone house perched on the water, and the cobble stone beach that gave a nice massage on the back. The hours passed quickly. We did not realize how much time had past until the sun was about to set. Our plan to visit other beaches was nixed due to growling stomachs and lost daylight.

We packed up and headed back to Hvar town. We had dinner and toasted to an unforgettable stay. 

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Split Walking Tour

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

I'll admit, I underestimated Split. It was not high on the list of stops I was most looking forward to on our road trip. Merely, a stopover before getting to the good stuff. 

We decided to take a walking tour, since I had done little research on this area, and I quickly fell for this coastal gem. 

The weather gods were not in our favor on this trip. It began to pour when we arrived to our meeting point. We found our guide who came prepared with extra umbrellas. 

We began our walking tour of Diocletian's Palace at the southern end. Diocletian's Palace was built at the turn of the fourth century by Diocletian, a Roman emperor, who voluntarily gave up his throne and spent his final years by the sea.

We entered the basement halls which was the entrance to the palace by sea. This area was mainly used for storage of wine and food. Now, you will find lines of souvenir stalls leading you to the steps toward Peristil Square. 

As we ascended the steps and made our way into the square the rain had finally stopped. We found ourselves surrounded by white washed stone walls, ancient Roman ruins, an Egyptian sphinx perched between massive columns (which seemed a bit out place), and grey skies. We seemed to be transported back in time. 

Jer had to fill me in on all the facts he was learning. I was too preoccupied marveling at my surroundings to pay attention. Some things never change. 

He filled me in on the famous statue of Gregory of Nin, who was famous for fighting the right to use the Croatian language in church services. Legend has it that rubbing his big toe will bring good luck. Sign me up.

Our tour guide recommended Villa Spiza for lunch and it did not disappoint. It felt so cozy, like we just stepped into someone's personal kitchen. We were greeted with a smile and handed the written menu. We could not decide so left it up to the server who made the perfect recommendations for us. Pasta with minced pork, black truffles, mushrooms, and wine for me and a fish dish for Jer.  We watched as the chef prepared our meals and the aromas had my mouth watering. Each bite was well worth the wait. Highly recommend this place. 

Trying to work off our lunch we decided to climb the bell tower of Saint Domnius. With each step my grip got a little tighter on the railings as my fear of heights took over. Looking out over the orange colored rooftops, to the calm sea in the distance, made my heart beat a little slower as we made our way to the top.

We completed our day by walking the narrow streets tucking into shops before making our way to the main promenade. We ordered a few beverages, people watched (my favorite thing), and watched the sunset. Split offers the perfect mixture of rich history and a modern Croatian way of life. 

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Getting In Trouble at Krka National Park

Friday, July 6, 2018

It's a fact that I'm horrible at making decisions. It came as no surprise that I could not decide between visiting Plitvice National Park or Krka National Park while in Croatia. So, I said screw it and visited both. 

Plitvice National Park - Rain Or Shine

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Three years ago we booked a dream trip to Croatia that we ended up having to cancel due to our move to Arizona. Since the flights from Phoenix are not ideal it took us a while to book again. But...

Three flights, a full season of Ozark watched (highly recommend if you haven't watched), and 16 hours later we made it to Zagreb! After proceeding through customs, we picked up our car to head to Hotel Degenija. This hotel is located about two hours from the Zagreb airport and is just minutes from Plitvice National Park. Pro tip, make sure that your GPS is not set to avoid toll roads or it will add an extra hour to your journey from the airport (learned the hard way). Thankfully, Jer was driving because I could not keep my eyes open and fell fast asleep half way through. 

We arrived late with our stomachs growling. We dropped our bags in our room and rushed to dinner. I had my first of many pasta with truffles. Satisfied, it was time for bed. 

The next morning we woke to overcast skies. I checked the weather and there was a ninety percent chance of rain. I'm so used to never having to check the weather anymore because it rarely rains in Arizona. I was not going to let a little rain damper our day. Rain or shine we were headed to Plitvice National Park, umbrella in hand. 

Saguaro National Park

Monday, January 22, 2018

Every year, when I was younger, my mom would pack the car and we would set out for a road trip for a week. This was the only time that my sister and I would fight over the back seat (long before kids had to be in their car seats until the age of 12). The lucky winner would make themselves comfortable for the long journey ahead. Arranging the back with sleeping bags, pillows, books, games, their Nintendo, and their trusty Walkman. Yup, remember those?!? Madonna would be on repeat while I belted out Lucky Star for the 50th time ignoring all comments to shut up. Yes, I was the annoying little sister and I wore the badge well. The other would look back at the cozy setup with pure jealousy, asking "Are we there yet?" 

Not much has changed since then. I'm a lover of road trips. The difference being, that I no longer have to fight over the back seat and we have even better technology to pass the hours. 

Brunch at Virtu

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Let me tell you about a little place, tucked on a quiet street in Old Town Scottsdale, where the best french toast of your life awaits! Virtu is one of my all time favorite brunch spots in Scottsdale.