Emma is a month from being 18, and this is her last Spring break trip with us because college and high school vacations probably won’t match up. Emma took her first international trip with us at 6 months old to Cozumel, Mexico and has been to 35 more countries since then. She’s a pro now.
It doesn’t feel any different than prior trips as we take off in an Uber with (first time ever) matching suitcases. (I love these $60 ultra lightweight IT rollers.) In the car the girls start laughing. I’m still stressed because the last day of prep is always busy. Amanda calms me down. It’s always the same.
The flights are easy. We like Austrian in economy and have flown them a few times now. The A330 is comfortable enough and we sleep well – as well as we can sleep on a plane while sitting up. Only Amanda doesn’t sleep – she watches three movies straight and naps an hour.
CreekmoreWorld has an unofficial official goal of travelling (and blogging) for 365 days of international travel – our year abroad. With this trip to Croatia, we will have done 337 of 365 and should be complete by the end of our Summer trip to Australia and the Christmas/New Year’s trip to Germany. In fact, New Year’s Day 2019 should be 365! I have not decided if I will blog after that…
We arrive in Split, Croatia after a layover in Vienna. I get tricked into buying more car insurance than I needed (CIti Prestige has primary international car insurance – you do not need to buy extra). I partly misunderstood, and partly didn’t want to deal with it when I was presented the bill. $175 extra for the week.
Yes, I’m renting a car. If you’ve followed us for a while you know I really hate to drive and traffic makes me edgy. But there is just no way to enjoy costal Croatia in a short time without a rental. And it’s cheap – way cheaper than any kind of taxi or eve bus. $500 including my mistake for a 6 day rental with an alternate city
drop off. It’s a brand new automatic Opel Astra.
Going into this trip I wasn’t very excited. I had a lot going on at work. We’ve been to Europe a lot lately and there are no iconic, bucket list items to see here. Croatia is mostly a summer (Party, beach, water, party) destination so I’m not 100% sure what we’ll get in spring time. I know it was pretty easy to get beautiful AirBnBs at a reasonable price so I assume there won’t be many tourists.
I am right on both counts. Our first AirBnB is beautiful. We are right on the water of the bay of Sibenik (Shibenik) a small city to the north of Split by about an hour. The sun sets outside. And the town is so empty that it’s hard to find a spot to eat. Restaurants line the waterfront but only a handful are open. We find a pizza place that’s got really salty cheese but a good brick oven crust and a waitress we all agree is super cute.
The architectural jewel of the town is a church called St. James’s from the 15th century. It’s build entirely of limestone and is (one of or) the largest church in the world without external or internal supports aside from the walls. It also has a series of faces on the outside, each of the original donors. Supposedly, the miserly givers were depicted with more ugly faces.
That first night’s sleep is so good until we wake up at 1am. Oh well, we’re on vacation. The Creekmore’s have two morning speeds. Ultra fast and ultra slow. Today we barely get out by 11am! (yes, that’s the slow speed.) The girls sing K-pop songs in the back seat as Amanda navigates for me as I drive our car north to Krka National Park. Croatia is pretty will signed – at least what we’ve seen. And the roads are empty!
The Krka river is not long, but it’s the source of trade, agriculture and farming to this area of croatia. Sibenik is situated at the mouth. Upstream are gorgeous lakes and waterfalls that are home to gorgeous monasteries and castles. It’s now known for it’s many waterfalls.
But in 1895 those waterfalls made the global headlines as those waterfalls powered an early hydroelectric dam making Srebenik was the worlds’ first city tp have street lights powered with AC electricity.
Today starts halfway up the long National Park at Roski Slap (Slap is waterfall). We drive past a castle and across the river on a single lane bridge. Since it’s still March, we pay the reduced ‘off season’ rate of 100 KN or about $17.
It’s 4 times that much From April-October. The park rangers at this trailhead outnumber the visitors (us 4) and we get a detailed briefing from a very nice one.
The rains have been so high that a walkway across the river and a set of stairs up to a limestone cave are closed. That’s disappointing but we are so happy to be out in the sunshine and cool weather that we don’t care. The river runs shallow and wide here, with many protruding rocks, small islands and side channels.
This area is called ‘the necklaces’ which from above is obvious. I have to climb up the closed stairs to the cave that shot from above. We take photos and laugh and enjoy our first day out.
There is an open trail up to a view point that rises sharply to a lookout point. It’s a good hike and the views are spectacular. What makes this spot amazing is how small it really is. We can see a castle to the middle left. It would only be about a 30 minute walk from here.
It’s a human sized area but still so dramatic. The presence of the castle and the fact that we are alone up here transports us all to a much earlier time in history.
In the middle of that lake about 10 miles south is a Franciscan monastery on an island called Visovac which we can see from the high embankments.
Another 30 minute drive downriver and we are at the main entrance of the Krka waterfall national park. There are huge empty lots for busses and dozens of closed souvenir shops and tourist cafes and restaurants, also closed. A few kids kick a ball.
There are several sections of waterfalls here each beautiful in their own way. The first we reach seems to be in the middle of a forest, magical. We see our first people in the park here – a Lithuanian couple who are very nice.
We remark that though we would love a hot coffee but it’s so amazing to have this place to ourselves. No crowds!
Hot coffee is not to be found here and the park closes quietly behind us as we drive away. I can heartily recommend Krka although having it to ourselves was a huge part of the charm.
Amanda and I planned on having a night out tonight, leaving the kids to enjoy pasta with butter in the apartment. I fight with the digital European stove that has controls no human could understand and finally get some water boiling.
She and I head to a place that has good vegetarian food but it’s closed ‘See you in spring’ says the handwritten note on the door. Oh well.
Instead we find an adorable clothing shop where Amanda picks out a skirt and a dress, both unusual and cute. She was so happy with it that she was giddy afterwards, as we ate some pasta outside in the cold near the bay of Sibenik, which connects to the Adriatic sea and enjoyed our time together. The restaurant wasn’t great but it had a quality we have come to really look for here – it was OPEN.
Woot! new country. Last Spring trip with Emma! Great Day…