In the middle of our second week in Croatia, we drove 3 hours from Split to visit Plitvice, our third and last national park. This was the part of the trip I had been the most excited for and it definitely did not disappoint! We spent two days and one night in Plitvice. Our plan was to check out the upper lakes on our first day and the lower lakes on the second.
Walking through Plitvice's wooden planks made for a very magical experience that is difficult to put to words. We were surrounded by stunning views of turquoise lakes, running waterfalls of all shapes and sizes, and lush green backdrops everywhere. I remember on our first day, there was a moment where I suddenly felt a strong desire to worship in song as we were hiking. It was hard not to be moved as I saw the splendor of God's majesty displayed throughout the park. It was seriously gorgeous and breathtaking at every turn. On our second day at the lower lakes, there was another moment where we stood at the top of a waterfall looking down at a lush, green, and flowering valley. I couldn't help but imagine that this was probably what being in the Garden of Eden felt like. I also couldn't help but feel like I got to experience a little taste of heaven while we were there. Even though my photos don't do justice, I'm thankful that they allow me to look back and remember what it felt like to step foot in this magnificent place.
On the morning of our second day in Split, we headed out in our rental car for KrKa National Park, which was about a 1.5 hour drive away. We had planned to get there early before it opened at 8am in order to avoid the crowd. From the entrance, there was a short 10-minute walk down to a wooden walkway that lead to Skradinski Buk, the park's main waterfall. On the walkway, we could already begin to see several smaller waterfalls flowing along the path. We took our time walking around the platform and just enjoying the picturesque scenery. Then we bought some lunch from one of the food stands at the bottom of Skradinski Buk before jumping into the water. Honestly, we couldn't really swim too much since it was pretty shallow and there were a lot of slippery moss-covered rocks below the falls, but we did get a nice closer up view of the falls. Since there was a ton of people there, we decided not to stay too long. Instead, we left that area and drove to a viewpoint of Visovac, a medieval Franciscan monastery built on a tiny island in the park. We also drove to check out Roski Slap, another one of Krka's main waterfalls.
The final city that we visited in Croatia was Split, a town located on Croatia's Dalmatian Coast. Split is also the second largest city in Croatia after the capital, Zagreb. From Split, we had planned to visit both Krka and Plitvice National Park.
One thing that we enjoyed doing in Split was eating really good food. There were so many restaurants in Split and a variety of different cuisines to choose from. One of our favorite restaurants that we found was Bokeria Kitchen & Wine, where Clay ordered octopus and I had oxtail risotto (it was so good we ended up going back a second time). Another restaurant we liked was Portofino, where Clay had a rack of lamb and I had delicious beef ragout. Other eateries that were memorable were Sexy Cow for wraps and Daddy Cool for falafels. Clay and I also had a lot of ice cream! I found a kiwi ice cream that was so good, I had it at least 2 or 3 more times later that week.
The other activity we enjoyed doing in Split was walking around the city's Old Town and visiting some historical points of interest. On our first afternoon, we walked around Peristil Square (so many tourists!) and visited Diocletian's Palace, built by the Roman Empire Diocletian in the 4th century. In the Mosaic Basement, we listened to a group of men perform traditional Dalmatian singing. We also climbed up the bell tower of Saint Domnius Cathedral, which offered nice panoramic views of Split. Last, we visited the Basement Halls of Diocletian's Palace, where some scenes from Game of Thrones was filmed. One thing to note is that Diocletian's Palace is a lot of fun and totally different when visiting at night. Restaurants tend to open late and there is live music and dancing in the main square. The evening atmosphere is really refreshing and laid back compared to the busy and bustling daytime scene.
Halfway through our Croatia trip, Clay and I planned a weekend stay in Hvar, where we were able to get a couple days of rest and relaxation -- a nice break from all the island hopping from our first week! In Hvar, we had booked a 2-night stay at Hotel Adriana, which ended up being the perfect accommodation for the weekend and probably one of the nicest hotel experiences I've ever had. I felt very spoiled by the amazing view of Hvar harbor right outside our hotel room window. I also appreciated all the amenities and thoughtful service: luggage assistance right when we got off the ferry, glasses of prosecco and cold towels upon arrival, macarons waiting inside our room, comfy bed, strong shower, indoor infinity pool, outdoor cabanas, and breakfast bar with a full spread every morning. We would even come back to our hotel room to find fresh baked chocolate chip cookies at the end of the day!
Most of our time was definitely spent resting at our hotel, sleeping in, hanging out by the pool, or reading at the cabanas. In the afternoons, Clay and I would go out for a walk around Hvar harbor and get dessert at Nonica's, a small bakery that sold delicious cakes and cookies. We also had time to do a little bit of souvenir and gift shopping. In the evenings, we would stay out for dinner (there were a lot of restaurants with nice outdoor seating!). Overall, our weekend in Hvar was very low key, relaxing and restful, which was exactly what we needed.
At the end of our first week in Croatia, we bid Dubrovnik a farewell and continued our island hopping adventures up north to Korcula, the alleged birthplace of Marco Polo. We had planned to spend a full day in Korcula and stay on the island for just one night only.
After dropping off our luggage at our Airbnb, Clay and I spent the morning in Korcula's Old Town, where we ate a breakfast with a nice view of the Adriatic Sea. Korcula Old Town felt like a miniature version of Dubrovnik Old Town. We were able to walk through most of it in about 30 minutes. I actually really liked that it didn't feel as busy and touristy as Dubrovnik. One side of Korcula Old Town had one curved street lined with restaurants that provided great seating overlooking the sea. We decided to eat at one of those restaurants for lunch and I got to try some tasty handmade Korcula macaroni!
In the afternoon, Clay and I decided to rent a scooter to go to Lumbarda, a small village located on the Eastern side of the island. This was my first time on a scooter with Clay! He took us to a couple of beaches, Vela Przina and Lumbarda, where we stopped for a quick view. Then we spontaneously decided to go wine tasting at Grk Winery, which ended up being one of my personal highlights of our Croatia trip. The family-owned winery was located in a peaceful and lovely location on a hill with a very scenic view. Clay and I were even seated at a table underneath a pomegranate tree! We both tried homemade grk wine, which is made and sold specially in Lumbarda. It was really fun to have a new and unique wine tasting experience while abroad -- very different from wine tasting in California!
The rest of our evening was nice and relaxing. After returning our scooter and resting a bit, we enjoyed another walk around Old Town before ending the day with some Asian Fusion street food for dinner (I was def craving Asian food already). Our 24 hours on Korcula was very quick, but super fun and memorable. If there's ever an opportunity to return in the future, I'd definitely love to go back to Grk Winery for another tasting.
Just capturing as I go.