November 7, 2013

Roadtripping Croatia - Part One

It's been a month since we've moved back to Toronto, and slowly settling into our downtown condo. Life's been busy, first with packing, selling furniture, more packing, last minute traveling right before leaving Munich; then unpacking, buying new furniture, painting our get the picture. In all this, I never really got a chance to sit down and open up my blog. I did think of writing a couple times, but to be honest, didn't really feel like it because a huge wave of nostalgia would hit me. I miss Munich, and sometimes really wonder if the past 15 months actually happened because they really do feel like a dream now that I'm back in Toronto.

Today I finally decided I should write something, mostly because Umair keeps asking me when I'll update my blog. It's also kinda hard to decide what to write about when there's so many recent travels to write about. But maybe I'll go with Croatia as it was our last major holiday before leaving Munich (not counting the 2 day trip to Venice right after Croatia). 

So..last couple weeks in Europe, Umair's off from work....where do we wanna go? We have a huge list! Greece, Turkey, Portugal, Sweden..? In the end we ruled all of that out and decided on Croatia. Partly because all those we'd have to fly out to and we didn't have the time, and partly because we had heard amazing things about Croatia and were meaning to go last fall but didn't end up going. Also, after driving a whole week around south of Spain, Umair felt like driving some more.

So we set out for Croatia. Well, not so easily. First, it was hard to plan and cram all that we wanted to see in 6 days. Dubrovnik was my must-see place, so had to let go of Plitvice Lakes. Dubrovnik alone is a good 14 hour drive from Munich. Second, when we got to the car rental the day of (got there pretty late anyway because of running around government offices in Munich to attain forms re leaving the country!) and upon hearing that we were going to take the car to Croatia - the guy there told us we couldn't take that car. I was a BMW they were giving us. But a BMW for an Eastern European country? Yeah, no. So the guy made some calls, tried to find us something else. After a long wait, we finally had a Ford to ourselves and were ready to leave!

Our stop in Croatia was Trogir - a medieval small town 10 hours away from Munich. We drove though the lovely alps of Austria, which I completely missed because I was napping even though Umair tried to keep me up. Then drove through Slovenia. 

And there was our third setback. We were stopped at the Slovenian border and were told that because we didn't pay toll, we had to pay a hefty fine. 'But, we did pay toll...', Umair argued. The guy said, 'No sir, you were supposed to buy a sticker at a gas station and put that up.'

Um. Maybe next time put up some signs around the border indicating to tourists about that? How would we know!? Or I suppose it was a case of research only research fail in all of our 15-month travels. But quite an expensive one. Oh well. 

After much time wasted there, we started off again. We got to Trogir late at night, but the drive down to the town was gorgeous because of the sea and lights. And  a little freaky because it was narrow and would go down the hill in curves with zero streetlights. Trogir is situated on a small island, and is walled. Once we were inside Trogir, it was like we had traveled back in time. The narrow streets, the old houses...this was definitely not 2013! 

our lovely stone walled apartment!

one of the gates into the walled town of Trogir

The next morning we walked to the promenade and had breakfast over there.

the promenade seen from the mainland (there's a small bridge that connects Trogir to the mainland)

We then took a small boat to a beach nearby, soaked in some sun, and headed back to Trogir in the evening. The promenade is lovely to stroll around in the evening.
promenade in the evening

the main square of Trogir. 

The next morning we left for Dubrovnik which was 3 hour drive away. Our GPS told us to take a turn downhill to nowhere. After a moment's hesitation, we followed the GPS. It kept taking us town the hill to literally nowhere. It was just tall grasses and mountains. Pretty, yes....but a little odd. After driving through tall grasses, we started driving up the hills again....and then we got on to the coastal drive to Dubrovnik!

It was 1.5 hours of this beautiful coastal drive through the Adriatic sea! It was similar to the Amalfi coast in Italy, minus the houses in Amalfi but plus the small islands all around the Adriatic. What made this a little more exciting than the Amalfi coast drive was that we were not on a bus but actually driving through the mountains and sea. It was heavenly!

So we kept driving this beautiful route until we got to the amazing Dubrovnik...which will be in the next part!