I have wanted to go to Croatia for over 15 years. I distinctly remember seeing an article about it in the Sunday Telegraph’s Stella Magazine harping on about how it was an undiscovered jewel in the Adriatic, and to go before it joined the Eurozone.
However, with a hit list as long as my legs, more far-flung places took priority. European gems like Croatia and Kefalonia could be ticked off as a family. So, you catch my drift, Croatia has been a long time coming, but oh my – it was worth the wait.
Despite doing a fair bit of travelling, my heart always comes back to Europe. We are seriously so lucky to have all this beauty, history and culture on our doorstep. And we don’t have to fly far to enjoy it.
We decided to set up camp in Dubrovnik, and the search was on to find the best accommodation. We were toying with a hotel, setting our sights on Grand Villa Argentina (it’s a beaut check it out!), but as die-hard AirBnb fans, even the most picturesque and plushest of hotels couldn’t tempt us away from the flexibility, freedom and local experience that hiring a home had to offer.
After speaking to some friends who had been to Dubrovnik, I soon learnt there’s not much to town beyond the Old Town City Walls, so the search was on for a place around there, or within walking distance. It wasn’t easy, but we came up trumps with our own two-bed villa, private pool, wood fired oven, BBQ and just a 12 minute walk from the red roof tops of Old Town.
Something I didn’t realise (oh naive little me!), is that Old Town is like a bowl. Down in the middle is the main strip, and every ten yards or so, is an alleyway leading to a maze of steep pathways and steps that no normal person would dare attempt in 35 degree heat and a pushchair in tow. Only, we’re not normal, and such were the looks we got from fellow ramblers.
A wise option is to sling it, but with Lex no chance. The bugger is so heavy. Or even stick him in one of those toddler backpack carrier things would work, we have one but didn’t bring it (#schoolboyerror). We rocked up with just our pushchair but generally adopt a “can-do” attitude when it comes to travelling. So we cracked on. After all, hubby is French, so it’s very much ‘c’est la vie’ and all that.
Here’s how we did it…I decided to go on morning runs round the Old Town myself. These moments were some of my favourite of the holiday. I got to watch the locals wake up, enjoy the peaceful winding streets and watch the sunrise over the rooftops before the noisy tourists descended on the city.
In doing so, I ran the alleyways that looked so impossible before, up and down the steps, in and out of nooks and crannies that I would never have otherwise discovered. I even stumbled on some beautiful coves that were so remote, even on returning at peak time they were still quiet and seemingly untouched.
Dashing back to hubs after my runs every other day, I’d tell him about all the places I’d seen and lead him and Lex back to some special gems to enjoy altogether. At least that way the steps are more tolerable if you have a destination in mind and know where you’re going rather than wandering aimlessly in the midday heat getting exhausted and lost.
One daily excursion we loved was a trip on a semi-submarine. There was a top deck to enjoy, much like a boat. And then a bottom deck, where you can go down and enjoy life under the sea. Cruising around the coastline and the island of Lopud went down a hit with Lex too.
And never one to miss out on a bit of luxury, I figured we could still stroll along to Grand Villa Argentina for a nose and a drink. I wanted to see all of the beautiful imagery in person, it looked like such a stunning accommodation online, and it was even better in the flesh. The views were breath-taking and the setting spectacular (that was my favourite word that holiday – spectacular!). It was so chilled and laid-back there we sat on the terrace with the restaurant to ourselves, had some lunch, sipped wine and watched the ships sail by. It was pure bliss.
We always made lunch the main meal of the day, this took the pressure off dinner, bubbas are on better form (less tired and ratty) and it gives you the chance to escape the heat and freshen up.
Our days soon followed a pattern where we’d wake up, work out, have brekkie then set off to explore before the midday heat. Then we enjoyed a good lunch and would wonder back to the villa while Lex dozed off for his nap of the day. This meant Fe and I could laze by the pool for a bit until he woke up. Then we were with our home comforts during the scorching hours and enjoyed the long preparation of a good evening meal altogether before Lex went to bed.
Once Lex went down we’d chill out, play cards, and get eaten alive by mozzies. Standard. Hubs is suuuper competitive at card games, so with a drink and some cards, it was always good fun (although not always on my part!).
I now know why Dubrovnik is known as ‘the pearl of the Adriatic’. It’s stunning and we had such a wonderful time here. I took hundreds of pictures and these are just a few…
Stay tuned for Part II next week, which will be featuring us, Famille Mathieu, on our excursions. For now, enjoy the rest of my scenery shots and book your own Croatian getaway. You won’t regret it!
Here’s some other places we’ve been: