Even though we were on holiday & up at the crack of dawn, the birthday traditions were still upheld. In true McWhirter style, I was awoken by the dulcet tones of Toby singing Happy Birthday and carrying another slice of cake. Hand over the candle he presents me with an unlit candle on yummy chocolate cake (turns out he no longer carries a lighter).
Cake eaten, all packed & we head off to Pula ferry, a handy 5 minute walk. After some questionable European queuing (no one queues like the Brits!) we boarded the ferry straight into VIP...
A fairly smooth crossing, despite the break for “technical issues” mid-Adriatic, we arrived at Venice Lagoon where the speed limit is enforced. This is where VIP really made a difference, the handful of VIP customers had access to an outside deck to watch our arrival into Venice.
The door opened & Toby was up & gone, x managing to bag best spot in the house to watch the city unfold before us.
An hour of feeling like bond & singing the theme tune...
11 June 2018
We woke up today with one thought in our minds - CHILL! We were hitting the beach, but not before we’d wandered into Pula to collect freshly baked pastries for breakfast & enjoyed a morning coffee right beside the amphitheater.
We packed our beach bag & headed for Fazana, not the sandiest of beaches - much to Toby’s surprise.
Toby - “shall we get loungers”
Jenny - “I’m happy on the rocks”
Toby - “I’m getting loungers”.
We had glorious weather & both caught a bit of colour; Toby red, Jenny brown. The sea was a delightful coolant and Jenny spotted her 1st cucumber (not a 💩!).
To Toby’s surprise, Jen had already organised dinner. Reservations at what was billed to be Pula’s best restaurant didn’t disappoint! Perfectly cooked seafood on a large scale & in a delightful setting! What more could Toby want for his 6th treat in a year of culinary adventures!!?? We drank our wine late into the night before catching our cab home.
And then the clock struck 12. It was Jenny’s birthday! 🍰🕯🎉
10 June 2018
...when we arrived at the other side, the increased people count on the boardwalks indicated that we were approaching what Plitvice considered to be its main event.
As we wandered we noticed an off shoot to our right. Looking for a little peace, we took the steps carved into the rock face which led to a cave situated high above the canyon.
Then onwards towards Veliki Slap (the big fella!). It’s aptly named ‘the big waterfall’, rising some 78m out of the canyon floor, it was certainly an impressive sight. However, we both agreed that it didn’t have the beauty and impact of some of the earlier falls.
After a couple of snaps we continued on our path back toward the car. Stubbornness kicked in again as we ignored the shuttle bus and decided to extend our hike along the lakeside home.
It was then time for our long journey to Pula. Our timing was perfect yet again, the rain hit just as we drove off.
Once in Pula, we were a stone’s throw from the amphitheatre - a great Airbnb find!
...to capture every one. It was undoubtedly busier than Krka & yet still maintained an undeniable tranquillity...we’re still pleased we went before peak season!
Our walk started at the top of the lake system & meandered through forest & pools. If we thought we’d seen dragonflies & butterflies, Plitvice had them a plenty, fluttering around the reeds of literally every pool.
The wildlife was certainly more abundant here, well demonstrated by a water snake 🐍 that Toby spotted skimming across the surface of a secluded pool. Unfortunately, as has become a bit of a theme of this trip, Toby had neglected to press the record button on his phone, resulting in no video evidence of his sighting.
A little further along the trail, we came to an impasse that required us to catch a boat across the largest lake in the park & continue our hike towards Veliki Splat - the largest waterfall the park has to offer.
The crossing was a great chance to give our legs a rest (this was leg day number 5!)...
After arriving in the early evening & grabbing the chance to bask in the garden of our new Airbnb, we enjoyed another great dinner suggestion from our host, an authentic Croatian restaurant.
We were up early & raring to get exploring Plitvice. We gobbled down breakfast, picked our route (some 9km through national park) & jumped on the shuttle bus...with 2/3 of China ☺️
We knew swimming wasn’t allowed & wandered how it could possibly live up to Krka...
The parks are so different that they are almost incomparable & we’re still undecided on a favourite!
Plitvice is another boardwalk affair, this time though strewn throughout stunning woodland and set over a much larger area.
What Plitvice lacks in dipability it makes up for in sheer beauty. Around every corner is a spouting waterfall, often appearing straight from the rock with no warning...there are literally hundreds.
We started out taking photos every other second but soon realised that there were just too many photographic moments..
9 June 2018
enables you to walk over & between the pools, lakes & waterfalls - following the trail to its grand finale!
Finally we got a glimpse of the big fella, the one that everyone talks about & it’s easy to see why!
We meandered down & through some other fairly awesome waterfalls (jumping in a couple) & there it was, there was only one thing for it, “Let’s have a swim!”
Toby decided to swim in his trainers 👟 Error! The current is quite strong by a waterfall, as it turns out! After Toby had ditched the foot-weights we had a lovely swim, soaked up the incredible vista & worked up an appetite for our picnic 🧀🥓🥖
We dried off in the sun & did some people watching. Unfortunately we saw some sights we can never un-see (there are no changing rooms at Krka!).
When we were fed & dry we made a slow exit towards the car. We had another national park to see tomorrow & drive up to today.
A long but beautiful drive, through the mountains, got us to our Airbnb. Plitvice had a lot to live up
Day 5 in Croatia started with surprisingly clear heads & an unspoken determination to get packed up quickly. We were sorry to say goodbye to lovely Sibenik, but this was national park day... we were off to Krka!!
A short drive & a stop for picnic supplies got us to Krka mid-morning. We stubbornly refused the shuttle bus & hiked down to the start of ‘the boardwalk’ along with few others! Whilst descending into the river valley we caught our first glimpse of the azure blue waters & knew we were in for a spectacle. Krka national park is a series of magical pools, interconnected by waterfalls varying in size, shape & ferocity. Each pool has its own character.... some calm and with ducklings paddling about, fish perfectly visible in the clear water appearing motionless and mesmerised by the current, dragonflies darting above the water and through the reeds. Some are fast flowing pools with white water crashing over the smooth rocks creating that constant clamorous sound. The ‘boardwalk’...
8 June 2018
a ship, ensured that we moved in from our outside table! We were were fairly ‘well oiled’ by this stage, having drank well over a ltr of wine, & happily accepted the kind offer from our waitress to shelter from the storm inside with the locals, gladly accepting another complimentary glass of wine whilst we waited for the storm to subside 😁🤪
After waiting ... some time .... for the torrents of rain to slow to a casual downpour we gave up & Jenny removed her shoes for the soggy sprint home!
We ran the streets of Sibenik (now more like streams) laughing, as the warm summer rain pounded around us.
When we arrived back at the apartment (sodden) we flung open the shutters and watched the most incredible electrical storm that either of us had ever seen unfold above beautiful Sibenik.
Over another bottle of wine, of course 🍾🥂
We woke up in sunny Sibenik & set our sights on the cobbled streets of Split - the old town being a renowned tourist favourite. A short drive saw that we arrived with some ominous looking clouds overhead, but on we went. The streets were beautiful, if not a little crowded so we decided to pay our kuna & climb the tower, which offered panoramic views of the old town. We agreed (after a cocktail) to head off to a quieter location, a headland not far out of Split’s centre. We trekked with the threat of rain for some time & eventually happened upon a tiny beach that we wished we’d found earlier!
The plan once we’d returned to Sibenik was to hit a tiny little Croatian restaurant recommended by our host. They cooked up incredibly flavourful & simple food, served wine by the ltr & spoke no English! Just what we wanted! It wasn’t until we finished our food that the real fun started though! A succession of huge lightning strikes, causing a temporary power cut, followed by enough rain to sink..
7 June 2018
We knew we had a fairly long drive ahead of us today (4 hours to Sibenik!!) so we decided to make the most of our beautiful setting & amenities - a double kayak - by getting out on the water & exploring the bay’s various little coves! Awesome!
A massive pizza & some calamari for lunch set us up for our mission! Bearing in mind that Toby hasn’t driven a manual car for a couple of years & our previous journey from the airport.... it was going to be a mission!!
We decided to take it at a leisurely pace & cruise the coastal road rather than the concrete highways & what a decision that was. The Dalmatian coast offered us spectacular views at virtually every turn!
The journey was long & we were ready for Sibenik when we arrived, it’s fair to say a little dubious of what the city had to offer. We were pleasantly surprised! The ancient centre was stunning and the warmest of welcomes from our Airbnb host settled us right in for a chilled evening, “different” carpet picnic & wine!
6 June 2018
After the turbulent journey, we opened our shutters to the most spectacular view, glorious sunshine & crystal clear waters.
We spent the morning recharging on the sun loungers at the waters edge & then headed for lunch & a cocktail around the bay.
In the afternoon we caught the bus into Dubrovnik to wander the streets of the old town. Unfortunately Toby decided to have us wander further as he left his phone & wallet on the bus... a somewhat stressful 5 minutes & we learn the phone is at the bus station awaiting collection. Off we trot across the city to retrieve phone & wallet, all in tact!
The walled part of the city was beautiful, with amazing vistas & surprises around every corner. The best little find was the bar, cut into the cliff face, marked only by a crude & unassuming sign that read ‘cold drinks’!
We ended a chilled & sun-filled day with a cracking dinner with some friends, who happened to be in Dubrovnik, & drinks in a cool little wine bar offering a taste of Croatia.
5 June 2018
We were so excited to head off to Dubrovnik...until the plan shook, dropped suddenly and lightning struck! The announcement came across the tannoy that we would be circling to wait for the massive electrical storm to pass.
15 minutes later and storm had made Home over Dubrovnik so we are diverted to Zagreb.
Mid flight, we are diverted again to Zadar due to Flight curfews at Zagreb.
Spinning the plane around we finally hit the ground in Zadar, somewhat shaken.
We then over hear that we landed with just 15 minutes left of fuel...😕
2 and half hours of discussions later, the captain finally comes back on to announce that we will be trying to land in Dubrovnik mid-storm. Followed by “planes and storms don’t mix well together”....
“If we can’t land in Dubrovnik we will redirect to Milan”
One very tense plane journey back we land without trouble in Dubrovnik, just 4 hours late...