Pictures from Croatia

I just booked a ticket to Croatia in July, so what better way to “celebrate” than looking at photos from my previous trips to this magnificent country?

Have you been to Croatia? What is your favorite place?

Vis island

Vis town, Vis island, Croatia Vis island, Croatia View of Vis Town on Vis Island, Croatia Island views, Vis Island, Croatia Island views, Vis Island, Croatia Houses in Vis town, Vis Island, Croatia Poppy at Vis island, Croatia Relaxing cat at Vis Island, Croatia Seagulls at Vis Island, Croatia Bright red poppy at Vis Island, Croatia Beach and local beer in Croatia By the waterfront, Vis Island, Croatia

Fantastic sunset view from our room at Vis, Croatia

Fantastic sunset view from our room at Vis.

Fantastic view from our room at Vis, Croatia

View of Stiniva bay at Vis island, Croatia

View of Stiniva bay.

Stiniva bay at Vis island, Croatia

Itsy bitsy spider on the way to Tito's cave at Vis Island, Croatia

Itsy bitsy spider on the way to Tito’s cave.

Tito's cave at Vis Island, Croatia

Tito’s cave.

Sunset over Komiza, Vis Island, Criatia

The harbor in Komiza by night. Vis island, Croatia

The harbor in Komiza by night.

Komiza by night. Vis island, Croatia Nice and fresh seafood in Croatia

The blue cave by Bisevo outside Vis island, Croatia

The blue cave by Bisevo outside Vis island.

 

Dubrovnik area:

Stunning view of Dubrovnik Old Town

Stunning view of Dubrovnik Old Town

View of Dubrovnik old town

The market in Dubrovnik old town

The market in Dubrovnik old town.

Dubrovnik old town, Croatia

Quiet main street in old town Dubrovnik, Croatia

Quiet main street in old town Dubrovnik.

Old town in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Beautiful ocean view on the crossing between Dubrovnik and Lopud island, Croatia

Beautiful ocean view on the crossing between Dubrovnik and Lopud island.

Sunset, Croatia Dubrovnik sunset

More photos and information about Dubrovnik can be found in the posts Photos from Dubrovnik and LokrumHello and goodbye Dubrovnik and Restaurants in Dubrovnik.

Split and Trogir

View of the old town in Split, Croatia

View of the old town in Split.

The harbor front in Split, Croatia

The harbor front in Split.

Main square in Trogir, Croatia

Main square in Trogir.

Trogir bell tower, Croatia

Trogir bell tower.

Trogir houses, Croatia

View of Trogir, Croatia

View of Trogir.

Trogir harbor, Croatia

Trogir harbor.

Trogir by night. Croatia

Trogir by night.

Church in Trogir, Croatia

Church in Trogir.

The church on the mountain behind Trogir, Croatia

The church on the mountain behind Trogir.

Church on the mountain behind Trogir, Croatia Fishing boats near Trogir, Croatia

Hvar island
Hvar harbor, Hvar Island, Croatia Hvar town, Hvar Island, Croatia Street in Hvar town, Hvar Island, Croatia View of Hvar town, Hvar island, Croatia View of the harbor in Hvar town, Hvar island, Croatia The harbor at Hvar Island, Croatia

Sailing from Trogir to Kornati islands

The Cornati Islands in Croatia

The Cornati Islands.

Prvic Luka on Prvic island, Croatia

Prvic Luka on Prvic island.

The waterfall in Krka, Croatia

The waterfall in Krka. It was much more crowded than it looks…

Another sunset, Kornati islands, Croatia Boats on calm sea in Croatia Kornati islands, Croatia

A sheep or a dog.... Kornati islands, Croatia

A sheep or a dog….?

Bay of Kornat Island. Kornati, Croatia

Bay of Kornat Island.

Kornat Island, Croatia

Kornati island sunset, Croatia

Kornati island sunset.

A deserted restaurant at Kornati islands, Croatia

The moon and nothing else around. Kornati islands, Croatia

The moon and nothing else around. Kornati islands.

Clear blue water. Kornati, Croatia

Dive in! Kornati islands, Croatia

Dive in!

Preparing peka lamb. Croatia

Preparing peka lamb.

Peka lamb. A MUST try local food when in Croatia. Kornati, Croatia

Peka lamb. A MUST try local food when in Croatia.

More sunset, Croatia

Stary sky over Kornati Islands, Croatia

Stary sky over Kornati Islands.

Mir, the salt water lake at Dugi Otuk. Kornati, Croatia

Mir, the salt water lake at Dugi Otuk. Kornati islands.

Yet another nice day, sailing in Croatia

Yet another nice day, sailing in Croatia.

A short hike at the island Zirje. Kornati Islands, Croatia

A short hike at the island Zirje, Kornati Islands.

Primosten, Croatia

Primosten.

Sunset in Primosten. Croatia

Sunset in Primosten.

 

 

Driving from Dubrovnik to Rijeka Crnojevića

One of the advantages by having a car is that you can make as many detours as you want along the way. On the drive towards the border to Montenegro we saw several signs leading to Sokol Grad, so we decided to have a look. Most of the small fortress that still stands today dates back to year 1420, but there is evidence of settlement in the area all the way back to the Copper age. A nice place to stop by if you are not in a rush. It also allows you to drive the smaller roads instead of the main road, driving passed small local communities. Do not drive back the same way you arrived, but continue onward and you will get to the main road just next to the border.

Driving a bit off the beaten track

Driving a bit off the beaten track

The border crossing was very quick, but I have earlier experienced several hours waiting time. That was in the high season though, but you never know.

Driving around Kotor Bay is well worth the detour, instead of taking the shortcut across by ferry. The scenery is beautiful, with the blue water and the high rising mountains with small villages along the seaside. In the bay there are also two small islands, one of them being artificial. Legend has it that the island called Our Lady of the Rocks and the church with the same name was made after finding an icon of Madonna and the child at this spot.

Kotor Bay with Our Lady of the Rocks

Kotor Bay with Our Lady of the Rocks

We just passed Kotor this time, as we will be coming back later on our trip. Continuing towards the old capital Cetinje, we drove the serpentine mountain road, going continuously upward offering a beautiful view of the bay and Kotor. The road is not very well marked, and our GPS wanted us to drive the highway, so we were glad we had road maps as well.

View of Kotor and the bay

View of Kotor and the bay

In Cetinje we only stopped for a quick stroll around the city, with some nice colorful houses. If you are passing by it is worth stopping, but not a must see.

Cetinje walking street

Cetinje walking street

Our last destination for the day was Rijeka Crnojevića. Again, the GPS could not find it, but we drove towards Podgorica and found a road sign leading to a narrow road down towards the small village by the river. Most houses are relatively worn down and it is quite clear that former days of glory are passed, but it still has a very charming appearance. However, some of the houses along the riverbank has recently been restored. The lovely old bridge across the river is the symbol of the village, and one of the most important historical monuments in the area.

Old bridge in Rijeka Crnojevića

Old bridge in Rijeka Crnojevića

As we had not booked any place to stay, we just asked in the bar right next to the bridge. They knew someone that rented out a double room. There are also a few other alternatives, such as Vila Oktoih. This is also the only place in the village that offer wireless internet.

There are a few restaurants along the river, and Stari Most is supposed to be one of the better restaurants in Montenegro. As we were there a bit out of season, the kitchen was about to close when we arrived just before 20.00. We ordered a tasty fish soup for starter, and the restaurant’s specialty, smoked carp, as main dish. This was served with boiled potatoes and a few pieces of vegetables. The fish was rather salty, and honestly, we expected a bit more.

Stari Most restaurant

Stari Most restaurant

After dinner we went to the bar/restaurant that organized our accommodation and had a few beers. They were also about to close soon, but allowed us to stay while they prepared for the next day. Sitting in the window with glorious view of the magnificent illuminated bridge and locals hanging out making conversation by the other table, really made a great ending of a nice day!

Enjoying a beer with nice view of the old bridge

Enjoying a beer with nice view of the old bridge

 

Hello and goodbye Dubrovnik!

Dubrovnik is the starting point on our road trip through Balkan. As we have both been here before, it was mainly practical reasons that led us here this time. But I must admit that I never say no to an excuse to spend some time in Dubrovnik. It is simply one of the most beautiful city I have ever been. If you avoid the middle of the day when it usually is completely crowded, that is. Arriving in the evening and departing before noon solved that problem easily.

For dinner we actual went to a Bosnian restaurant called Taj Mahal. I know, I usually really prefer to eat local food when I travel, but since we are travelling to so many different countries in the area, we thought we might just ad on a Bosnian experience as well. So then it became an Indian named Bosnian restaurant in Croatia! We had both eaten there some years back and were satisfied with the food, and we were not disappointed this time either.

We stayed overnight at Hotel Villa Sigurata, a very nice place centrally located in the Old Town. The owner was super helpful and very kind.

After we picked up the rental car, we drove up to the viewpoint to get the spectacular view of the Old Town and the surroundings. The road is quite narrow, and only allows one car most of the way, so be sure to stop at the designated meeting points when you see a car coming towards you. We were lucky not to meet too many cars, but I can only imagine the chaos during high season. But do not be intimidated, it is absolutely worth it!
Beautiful buildings

Lively main street

Lively main street

Stunning view of Dubrovnik Old Town

Stunning view of Dubrovnik Old Town

Earlier post related to Dubrovnik:
Restaurants in Dubrovnik
Photos from Dubrovnik and Lokrum

Getting to Albania

The only international airport in Albania is found in Tirana, but as the Greek island of Corfu is only about 40 min boat ride away, it is quite easy to get to the south of the country from there. The departures from Corfu to Saranda by Ionian Cruises varies depending on season, so make sure you check the time table when you plan your trip.

It is also possible to get there from the other neighbour countries. Read more about how I got from Dubrovnik in Croatia via Montenegro to Albania.

Finding our way to Albania

Time had come to get from Dubrovnik to Albania. We had tried to search online for how to get there before we went on the trip, but we could not really conclude how to go.  We then decided to find out when we got to Dubrovnik. That turned out to be harder than expected. We tried to ask at the tourist information, but our request was answered by a question; “why do you want to go to Albania?”.

It ended with the conclusion that we just had to get to Montenegro and find our way as we went along. We headed for the bus station in Dubrovnik to take the bus at 10.00 to Budva via Kotor. When we got to the ticket office, the tickets for the bus we wanted were sold out. We did not even think of that. Needless to say, it was not exactly the message we wanted. So lesson number one: If possible, buy tickets in advance… But, there was a bus number two at 10.00, or at least it should leave at 10 as well, but the problem was that it arrived from Bosnia, and were usually delayed. The only thing we were told was that it usually arrived sometime between 10 and 12…. This day we were extra lucky, and while we were waiting it was announced it would arrive around 12.30. But, luck happily changed for us, and some of the passengers with tickets for the first bus did not show up, so we got on that one.

When we got to the border between Croatia and Montenegro there was a huge line, that made us wait there for 1,5 hours. The air-condition in the bus did not work very well, so it was extremely hot. When we finally got passed the border, we drove through beautiful scenery along the bay of Kotor. I spent a short time in Kotor some years ago, but if we had more time, I would definitely wanted to stay there one night to see more of the small charming town.

But, our bus continued after a very short stop, heading for Budva. On our way we had read in our guide book that Ulcinj or Schodra were places with connections to Tirana. So, when we arrived in Budva, we decided to go to the one of those two places the next bus went to. It seemed the luck was with us that day, and the next bus to Ulcinj was in 20 minutes. The ticket was 6 Euro + 1 euro for each piece of luggage. DSC_8209
After about two hours in the small bus we arrived in the little town of Ulcinj. When we got there, we found out there were two daily busses from Ulcinj to Schodra, leaving at 06.00 and 12.30. In other words, we had to spend the night. On the bus we had met two Swedish boys that also were heading for Albania. A local man that claimed he worked for the local tourist office came over and asked if we needed a place to stay. Off course we realized that he did not work for them, but we needed a place to stay and it was an easy solution to go with him. Before we knew it, we were sitting in his car, heading over to his house to share a room with four beds.

Ulcinj was a nice little town with a main street leading down to the beach. On the top of the hill in one of the ends of the beach, the old town was situated. As we had decided to go further with the bus at 06.00 the next morning, we just had dinner and a drink by the beach, and never got to see the old town except from a distance.

DSC_8220 Ulcinj old town by night
Sunday morning we walked down to the bus station to take the bus to Schodra. It took about 1,5 hours, and when we stopped along the road, a mini bus to Tirana was waiting and left as soon as we got on it. 1 hour and 20 minutes later, we arrived in Tirana. It was no bus station where we were left of, but we later learned that the buses heading in the different directions went from different places just along the streets.

We had decided to go to Berat and spend the night there, but wanted to see some of Tirana before we continued. We walked around in the heat for quite some time looking for a place to store the luggage for a few hours. It was more difficult than we imagined, but just when we were about to give up, we asked at a hotel if they could be so kind to look after our luggage for a while – and they were.

As we had not eaten yet, we first looked for a place for lunch. We sat down in the shadow by the Opera, but found out that they did not serve food. Either way, we needed the rest and something to drink, so we stayed there for a while. We asked the cute girl that sold ice cream if she had any recommendations where we could eat lunch. She was very helpful and pointed out a small square behind the big casino that had several restaurants. We also asked her what she recommended that we should see the short time we spent in Tirana. She looked out on Skanderbeg Square, and said; “this”. Obviously there are so many other things to see, but right then and there we were so hot and tired that we took her word for it. On our way to the “lunch square” we passed a church side by side with a mosque. It is nice to see that religions can live peaceful together. Further we also passed by a nice park with a nun sitting on the lawn resting. She looked very peaceful, it was almost as seeing Mother Theresa relaxing in the shadow. Now and then several wedding parties were driving by celebrating, taking us back to the busy reality.

On Scanderbeg Square

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On our way back to get our luggage, we passed the Orthodox Cathedral.
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So, to sum up the conclusion on how to get from Dubrovnik to Albania (Tirana):

Bus at 10.00 from the bus station in Dubrovnik to Budva, via Kotor. REMEMBER TO BOOK THE TICKET BEFORE TO BE SURE TO GET ON IT! Ticket price: Appr. 130KN per person + a fee for the luggage.

Bus from Budva to Ulcinj at 15.00 (appr. 2 hours drive). Ticket price 6 Euro + 1 Euro for luggage.

If you are in a hurry and really need to get to Albania in one day, we heard it was possible to get a driver to drive to the border, where it usually were several others on the Albanian side to take you further. We on the other hand, decided to stay one night in Ulcinj and take the bus at 06.00 to Schodra (1,5 hours, 6 Euros). Just let them know that you will continue to Tirana, and they know where to let you off. From there we took a mini bus to Tirana (1h 20m, 5 Euro).

Restaurants in Dubrovnik

It is always hard to know where to eat. In general I perfer to find a place a little bit outside the most obvious tourist tracks. Even though Dubrovnik old town is quite touristic, there are some more hidden choices. To our surprise, not so many people had discovered the two restaurants on the square by the Jezuit church. During our stay we tried both of them. At the restaurant called Jezuit I had the fish platter, and were served a really nice seabass. The other day we went to the restaurant called Capon, meaning rooster. Their speciality was rooster obviously enough, given the name of the restaurant. The recipe they used dated back to the 16th century, and the meat was served with a sauce of sour oranges and honey.

Even though we were in Croatia, we went to the Bosnian restaurant Taj Mahal one of the evenings. We ordered the Djengis Can to share. As it consisted of more or less only different kinds of meat, we ordered vegetables as well. They also had the traditional cevapi. I did not taste it there, but I tasted it in Sarajevo a few years ago. According to a Bosnian friend of mine, the ones in Sarajevo are particularly good.

I also went up with the cable car one evening, and there is a restaurant on the top. I did not eat there, but the location is great with a very nice view of the city. Most of the tables were reserved, so it would be vice to book in advance.

To finish the evening, I strongly recommend one of the two Buza bars, outside the city walls with a great view of the ocean. It is not the cheepest bar in town, but worth the experience.

The first days of a new journey!

Every time I come to Croatia I remember why I keep coming back. I just simply love the relaxing life and atmosphere here! This time I flew to Dubrovnik, and my good friend Helen and I are going to stay here for a few days just relaxing, before continuing to Albania. We have rented a nice private room in the old town not far from the “Spanish steps”. Great location!

The first two days we went to the Island of Lokrum, just about 10 minutes by boat from the old harbour of Dubrovnik. The island has several beaches to choose from, some reserved for nudists only. We decided to get an overall tan, and went for one of the last mentioned.

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Being very fond of swimming, we decided to go for a last swim of the day after returning to the mainland. There are a few places to swim close to the old town, we went for one by one of the bars on the outside of the city walls. Sadly the waves were to big there yesterday, but we will try again. Anyway, we got a nice view of the sun setting.

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