The Final Croatian Stop – Zagreb

After a rather long train ride, I finally arrived into Croatia’s northern capital city Zagreb. It was interesting to note that the Croatian train system is not very well developed in comparison to the rest of Europe. It was slower and surprisingly cheaper than taking a bus. I am not really sure how that works, but somehow the train does take a whole two hours longer to go from Split to Zagreb making the bus the more efficient option for the first time ever. There is also no train line between Split and Dubrovnik but I sense that may change with Dubrovnik’s growing popularity. For now however, buses are the best way to get around the country.

On arrival, I instantly fell in love with Zagreb. Sure it was inland and far away from the beachy coast. But the city itself has a great vibe and clean atmosphere to it. I think that the fact that there was a couple of cute festivals happening during my visit only added to the experience. My first evening I spent just walking around drinking in the sights.

One of the Zagreb churches. Loved the roof detailing

Another church but with a twist, a street runs through it

The view out over the city. What an amazing sky

The Art Pavilion

There was a wee festival of desserts happening in the park next to the art pavilion. Of course I had to sample something ;)

There were trams! And cute blue fire hydrants

The drinking part of my night where I discovered lemon beer!  So delicious

The next day I spent as a day trip outside Zagreb in a nearby national park called Plitvice Lakes. This park was one of my main reasons for visiting Zagreb as Plitvice Lakes is one of the oldest and largest national parks in South-west Europe and contains multiple waterfalls connecting the sixteen lakes within the park. What’s not to like? I am going to show you my amazing day at the park with an overload of photos.

Despite the on/off rain, it was an incredible day being surrounded by so much natural beauty. I did feel a little waterfall-ed-out by the end after seeing a billion of them, but something about hiking and wandering about in nature makes me happy. The park reminded me a lot of New Zealand just minus the ferns on the trails. Definitely worth a visit. It is the number one tourist attraction in Croatia for a reason and visitable year-round. And pretty cheap entry at only  €15 a person. I used a local shuttle company to get to the park for about €20 which was just a dude and his van that my hostel hooked me up with. It was cheaper to pay this guy than taking a bus which I thought was a sweet bonus.

For my last day in Zagreb, I continued wandering around and browsing museums and sights which had been closed on my arrival day. It was another great day. Possibly because I visited the dessert festival in the park again.

In the main square was a fundraising festival for the recent floods. I thought it was awesome that the disability community was getting involved in the effort. This was a wheelchair basketball tournament

Dessert sample #2

I got pretty excited when I realised there were TURTLES in the botanical gardens. I think I counted at least 5 in this pond alone

Beautiful flowers

The modern art museum. Of which I was very thrilled to see that you could exit by slide from the top floor! How cool is that?! Not to mention the art inside was fantastic

One of my all-time favourite museums now – The Museum of Broken Relationships. The exhibits are items that symbolise breakups between couples along with a story of how the separation happened. A little morbid and depressing but fascinating

My time in Zagreb came to an end far too quickly. I felt like there was so much more to see and do. I saw only a fraction of the tourist attractions in my three nights there. If only I had more time. And if only I’d realised quite how much I would love Croatia. One week in this country definitely did not feel like enough.

Where I stayed: Hobo Bear Hostel
Price: €12 a night in an 8 bed dorm
Overall: Fantastic hostel. It currently holds the title for the best small hostel in Croatia. The staff were lovely and the décor was awesome with a cozy bear theme. It was set up to encourage a good vibe with things like if you sang a certain song to the receptionist during happy hour, you would get a free beer. My only nit-pick is that it wasn’t busy enough for my liking during my visit, but that was just to do with the time of year.


Moving on to Split (my pants), Croatia 

After a terrible title pun and a sad hug goodbye to my latest travel bestie, I trudged out of the charming Old Town of Dubrovnik towards the main bus station. I really felt like I could have stayed longer quite easily. And I would have if I hadn’t had an upcoming return flight to the United Kingdom rather soon.

As the bus vroomed along the long windy coastal road of the Dalmatian coast, I admired the lovely views. Usually I prefer to read or utilise the time to work on blog post drafts during such moments. But the road was just twisty enough to make me nauseous if I attempted any such reading. Ah well. At least the view made up for it.
The Split bus terminal is right next to the ferry port and train station making it quite a busy location. Stepping off the bus you are greeted by locals holding signs advertising spare rooms for cheap prices in their homes. It’s a bit chaotic initially.
Once I made it to my hostel I settled in for the night. I was feeling pretty wiped. I also needed to do some research for the following day. Which ended up being rather confusing as there is hardly any information online about the ferry timetables. I found I had to go back down to port and peer at each company’s booth down in the port to see the actual sailing times.

Looking out over the port waters

The city of Split at sunset
After waking the next morning, I wandered down to the ferry port and hopped on a ferry bound for the nearby island of Hvar.

View from the fortress up on the hill
It was a pretty lazy day. The weather was sunny and hot. The temperature of the water still rather chilly. After a quick exploration of the main Hvar attractions, I settled in to relax on the beach with a picnic style lunch. Well kind of a beach. It was more a large flat rock shelf next to the blue water.

I got back late to Split that night and went to bed at a decent time after a yummy pizza at a nearby pizzeria (not photographed secondary to extreme hunger). I had an early start the next morning to head to my next and final Croatian destination.

My favourite photo from my wander to my dinner spot
You may have noticed in this post that all I really saw for my stay in Split was the ferry port, an island, the place I ate dinner at both nights, and my hostel. The city of Split itself didn’t really appeal all that much to me. I can’t really explain why. I’m sure it’s a lovely place with many hidden wonders. I just wasn’t really feeling in the mood for the hustle and bustle of a city. So I decided I really wanted an island day with some peace and quiet just to unwind for a bit. Hvar definitely did that for me. Lying in the sun feeling utterly relaxed recharged my batteries and got me ready for my next stop in Croatia’s capital city.

Where I stayed: Backpackers Fairytale
Price: €13 a night in a 6 bed dorm
Overall: It was an okay hostel. I didn’t find anything particularly special about it. It’s on the top floor of a rather tall building with no elevator. I didn’t get that ‘click’ with any of the other guests there either which might explain why the hostel didn’t feel more than okay to me. As it really is the people you meet and the atmosphere that makes a place outstanding.