Day 6 - Caorle, Italy to Omis, Croatia
As we said goodbye to Italy (read the first part of our Italian adventure here), we were so excited for our next destination - Croatia! On a cruise in 2003 I had a port stop in Dubrovnik and had raved about it to my husband! Living his entire life in Europe, it's unbelievable he hadn't visited Croatia (after all, he's visited all the continents except Antarctica!). His family and friends thought we were crazy for wanting to visit there, as the Dutch consider this a long drive. 😉
After leaving Italy, we had a short drive through Slovenia (bummer... no passport stamp there either...what does a girl gotta do to get her passport stamped?! 🙂 ). It was a short drive through this clean, pretty country dotted with small villages... and roasting pigs on the road side... no really, A LOT of pigs ready to be eaten along the road! My apologies to the Slovenian people, as I couldn't stop accidentally calling it Slovakia as we enjoyed our short drive through their country!
Drumroll please... upon entering Croatia, we had border patrol crossing! At last, a prized passport stamp for this American girl! I do have to say I was happy to get it back - they must not have many American visitors via car, as they took my passport to the booth and were examining it for quite some time. Our first stop in Croatia was for a gas station lunch! We loaded up on drinks, sandwiches and a Snickers for Stefan (his go to road trip snack!). Doing a quick mental conversion (Croatia doesn't use the Euro - it has it's own currency the Kuna) I realized we had only spent about 7 US dollars (Travel tip - Croatia is not only a stunningly beautiful country, but a relative bargain compared to western Europe).
On the drive toward Split, we drove through forested areas and many tunnels! The villages were quite a distance apart compared to other countries in Europe and we were surprised at how well maintained the roads were. As we drove through the Croatian countryside we couldn't help but wonder if there had been fighting in these areas during their war.
The drive through the Croatian countryside was beautiful, but we were excited to see water again on our drive through Split. Since we were searching out smaller villages to stay in on this trip, we ventured farther south looking for a small inn close to the beach to stay at. After passing through quite a few small villages and only seeing apartments for rent, we were getting a little concerned about finding a decent place to stay for a couple days. We finally saw a big billboard advertising an all-inclusive resort a few kilometers away. Deciding to take a chance on something new... we stopped and got lucky with a room at the Sagitta Holiday Village for 2 nights.
Being a travel agent, I arrange many trips for my clients to all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico. This resort is on a much smaller scale (87 rooms) with not a lot of amenities, but it sits on a gorgeous stretch of coast in Croatia. The meals are all buffet style, rooms are basic (very clean with fantastic sea views!) and there are some included activities (KinderDisco for the kids and water aerobics in the Adriatic). The staff spoke English, but we were the only English speaking guests (the majority of the guests were Eastern Europeans traveling with their children). So interesting to stay at all types of different hotels, resorts, and inns in Europe!
Day 7 - Omis, Croatia
We enjoyed a relaxing day on the gorgeous Dalmatian Coast! Even though the beaches in Croatia are rocky, the scenery and water more than make up for that! The water in this area of the Adriatic Sea feels like silk on your skin! It's completely clear and not too salty - the best water I've ever swam in! A warm, sunny day spent in and near the water was a great break from being on the road!
Day 8 - Split, Croatia and Ferry Ride to Italy
On our last day in Croatia we spent it exploring the port area of Split. Spur of the moment we decided to take the ferry (yes, car included!) to the east coast of Italy and continue our road trip from there. Spending the day in Split we were actually breaking another one of our road trip rules... as we were avoiding big cities. But, the ferry departed from there so we were allowed! 😉 Split has a beautiful harbor and old city area! We were fortunate with a picturesque day... even though it was HOT! Wandering the stone streets we came upon a walking museum and also encountered our first Americans on this trip (a couple sailing in Europe for 6 months of the year). To beat the heat - we tried the local Croatian beers!
Having taken many cruises, this was a new experience getting to take the car with us! The ferry could be booked with a cabin or sleeping on the deck. Since we hadn't camped on this trip yet (why start now!), we opted for the tiny interior cabin with bunk beds and a shower! 😉 Sailing away from the Dalmation Coast, I couldn't help but think what a special place this area of the world is! Back to Italy... part 2. 🙂
Until the next adventure - bon voyage!