So I said in part 2 that seeing Dubrovnik was one of the highlights of our honeymoon in Croatia. To be honest, the whole week was a dream and not just because it was our first holiday in 3 years. Croatia more than lived up to my expectations, and even had some surprises in store!
The area we were staying in was pretty quiet and relaxed but there was still plenty to explore when you’d had enough of reading by the pool. One afternoon, we hired kayaks to find an abandoned set of hotels up the coastline, which we’d seen on the boat to Dubrovnik and asked one of the bar staff about. He explained that they had been half destroyed in the Homeland War and left ever since to fall into further disrepair, creating a bizarre scene where the beach in front is still busy with tourists, while behind them are these decaying structures. From the kayaks we got a good view, but went back another day on foot to get a closer look. It’s hard to describe this place really. The buildings are such a visceral reminder of the war, and yet people just carry on around them, sunbathing, swimming, there’s even a beach bar. Highly recommend finding it though – this blog has some amazing photos to give you more of an idea.
Another day out we had was to the town of Cavtat, around 10km south of Mlini. Much smaller than Dubrovnik but with its own Old Town, it’s definitely worth a visit, if only to gawp at the ridiculously extravagant superyachts docked in the harbour. The town is nestled on a peninsula and all around the coastline are cafes and places to swim, sunbathe, or snooze. Top tip – make the walk up the hill and endless steps to the mausoleum, for stunning views and very welcome shade and quiet on a blisteringly hot day. After a bit more exploring, we stopped for lunch at a cafe on the harbour (terrible) and an ice cream (delicious) before finding heading back to our hotel.
Our last full day was probably my favourite. All week we’d seen flyers and posters for a ‘Three Island Cruise’ – a full day trip visiting the Elafiti Islands including a bbq lunch (which turned out to be a whole grilled mackerel and salad) and all-inclusive drinks. There are so many trips and tours advertised that it was hard to know which would be worth it, but the promise of visiting 3 islands in one day seemed like pretty good value so we bought our tickets the day before and very excitedly packed our bags with suncream and towels for our cruise. We started by getting a water taxi to Dubrovnik where we joined the rest of the group on a large-ish boat, which was pretty crammed but we managed to get seats on the top deck so we could enjoy the views. The ‘bar’ turned out to be a table downstairs with a couple of boxes of wine and some cheapo pop but hey, when it’s free you don’t complain. Our fellow passengers quickly made use of it, while we waited at least until past midday…
The tour stops at the 3 inhabited islands that make up the Elafiti – Kolocep, Sipan and Lopud. Unfortunately we didn’t have much time on the first, with just enough time for a quick walk around, gawping at the turquoise seas and peeping in to the few shops, selling locally made wine and olive oil. Sipan is the largest of the Elafiti and the only which allows cars. Again, we didn’t have too long so just had a bit of a wander before back on the boat for lunch.
We spent the longest time on Lopud, which seemed to be the most ‘developed’ as the main village is rather dominated by a rather striking hotel. There’s a long sandy beach on the other side of the island which you can reach with a 30 minute or so walk, but we didn’t bother and instead enjoyed a drink, swim, and ice cream. Because what else do you need? Sandy beaches are rare in Croatia so we took advantage, and I can honestly say that I’ve never been in a sea so warm. If Cornwall was like that I’d be in there much more often. After that it was time for the boat journey back, which was a bit more lively this time…
Our final day we spent lounging and reading in the air-conned areas of the hotel before heading to the airport for a long wait, short flight, and horrendous drive home from Gatwick in the rain. My darling husband drove the whole way, and we eventually arrived home at around 4:30am. It was a pretty miserable end to what was a pretty fantastic week. Croatia, we’ll be back.