Sunday, November 25, 2018

CROATIA - Complete Guide to a Bus Road Trip

Everybody who has been to Croatia is just raving - about the food in general and the special treats such as extra virgin olive oil and big, aromatic truffles in particular. About the beautiful sceneries and the clear waters that are one of Europes last dolphin refuge. But I was stubborn. When everybody tries to talk me into one direction, I turn my head and walk the other way. My mental age is 13.


bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Croatia - Split


Thank God I knew that Autumn would be stressful with my flat being remodeled. Therefore I renounced from my plans of going around half the globe to Japan. Instead, I bit the bullet: I decided to spend September in Croatia. Since it's much closer. Since it's much cheaper. And a teeny tiny bit since everybody who has been there is just raving about it.

Guess what - now I'm one of them! I'm one of those who are raving about Croatia's food and sceneries and clear waters - and I wrote a complete guide about my trip from Porec in Istria to Dubrovnik, the pearl of Dalmatia as well as all the mesmerizing stops on the way; and I urge you: Don't turn your head - go to Croatia!


A little bit of history


Meandering leisurely from town to town, from beach to beach once I reached Croatia was foreseen: The country has a size of only 56.594 km² - that's a fifth of Italy.
Talking 'bout Croatia, why does immediately Italy come to mind?
Because their history is tightly connected. As a matter of fact, in the region close to the Italian border, people still speak also Italian, there are Italian school and a short look at the cities' architecture and a quick peek in local pots and pans leave no doubt about some close Italian connection.


bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Croatia - Porec - Istria
It's not due to the twilight that Poreč looks like Venice's twin.

Located in South East Europe, over the centuries Croatia had many connections and rulers - there were the ancient Greeks, the Romans - the most admired structure in Split is Diocletian's palace, after all - the Byzantines and many more.

In 925, Tomislav became the first king of Croatia - but mind you, this was only partly what Croatia is today: Istria in the North was mingling with Austria and Bavaria, on the other hand, Tomislav's reign included also what today are Slovenia and Bosnia.

In 1102 Croatia was united with Hungary, later it was overrun by the Ottomans, after the Napoleonic wars it became part of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. This fell apart with WWI and Croatia became part of the State of Slovenes, Croats, and Serbs. After WWII - when Croatia became a vassal state of Nazi-Germany - an extremely inglorious chapter of its history - they added a couple more countries such as Bosnia, Montenegro, Macedonia and - whoomph! - Yugoslavia was created, a socialist yet in comparison pretty liberal state of various ethnicities, lead by Josip Broz Tito till his death in 1980.

After his death, slowly, some of the states - like e. g. Slovenia and Croatia - preferred to become independent which lead to a series of some of the most violent and barbaric military conflicts of the 20th century. The war in Croatia lasted from 1991 to 1995.

Money


On July 1, 2013, Croatia became the 28th member state of the European Union. However, Croatia is not part of the Schengen Area and they still have another currency, the Kuna. Kuna translates to marten, which is kind of cute: In the old days, they actually used to pay with the marten's fur. The rate is 1 US$ = 6,30 HRK (Kuna) current rate resp. 1 €UR = 7,40 HRK (Kuna) current rate (as for October 2018). Credit cards are widely accepted.

Language


Croatia's only a little over 4 million inhabitants speak - obviously - Croatian which is a Slavic language so if you are familiar with any other tongue from this family, you'll be able to understand a tiny bit and read many of the sings or writings on goods. Many people speak at least rudimentary English and German, young people often have a great command of English. By the way, American TV shows were not dubbed.


In this guide, I'm writing out some of the Croatian names of brands and places and you will notice that there are letters that might not exist in other languages. First of all, c is never pronounced k, it is pronounced like the ts in Tsar, so it's 'Ulitsa', not Ulika, and 'Tsres', not Kres.
Only when c is written č, it is pronounced like a ch: 'Korchula'.
Same goes for s: written š, it's pronounced sh. But only then. The letter ž is pronounced more or less like j, but rather the French way - as in jour. People tend to overdo it with the ch and the sh - if there is no accent, it's a simple c or s, no crackjaw there.

Getting There and Around


I took advantage of the relative proximity and came to Croatia all the way from Northern Germany by train - with stopovers in Munich and Ljubljana. Train connection in Croatia is not very good since the country is very mountainous, but going by bus is just great: Fast, punctual, reliable - I cannot recommend it enough.


bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Croatia - Rijeka - Istria
Okay, this is a city bus - they are older, but very reliable and punctual just the same. The intercity coaches are new, modern, and clean; like planes on wheels.

Bus stations are always close to the city center, they grant good service and are clean and not sketchy at all. Tickets can be bought on the spot or very easily online. If you are looking for a relaxed, carefree way of travelling - wait at the bus stop.

Where to Sleep and to Eat


Croatia is a very touristy destination hence you'll find accommodation for every budget - whether in a cozy local guesthouse or a big hotel of an internationally operating chain.


bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Croatia - Rijeka - Istria
The Apartman in Rijeka was the most elegant one - and it was freshly renovated. But the also at the other accommodations, the owners got out of their way to make me feel....at home.

I have to admit that I'm a bit cheap when it comes to accommodation: While I don't like to spend too much money on a place where I lay my hat and head for a couple of hours, I really like clean and comfortable. In Croatia, it is very common to book yourself in a privately run Sobe - which is a room - or an Apartman - which is, obviously, an apartment. This kind of accommodation is perfect for me: While it is reasonably priced, it offers all the privacy, tranquility, and comfort you could ask for: You have at least one bedroom, a spacious bathroom, and a kitchen with a comfortable sitting area.
All the hosts got out of their way to make me feel at home. If the bus stop or the jetty was not a stone throw from the Apartman, they usually offered to pick me up.
Yes, this lodging option obviously comes without board. But even in the smallest village, there is a grocery store, often a bigger market, and in the outskirts even a huge supermarket where you can get some groceries and prepare your own food if you please.

If you want a quick bite, you came to the right country: There are uncountable bakeries selling sweet pastry and savory snacks like sandwiches and burek, phyllo filled with cheese, spinach, potato, or beef - mmmh, delish and the perfect breakfast if you're in a hurry.


bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Croatia - Rijeka - Istria
Croatians and I - we share a love for hydrocarbonates.

It won't surprise you that there are restaurants in Croatia - serving all sort of cuisine. But you'll probably go for local and that would be mostly Italian-influenced seafood or Balkan-infused hearty, heavy dishes with lots of meat; this might not be healthy, but it's definitely very good.


bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Croatia - Vela Luka - Korcula
While the food is good, the view is sometimes even a bit better.

It took me a while to find bottled water that I liked. Most brands taste a bit bitter and salty. Then I found Jamnica and stuck to it.
Croatia is also known for wine - I didn't have any that overwhelmed me, though.
Although I'm based in Germany, I'm drinking beer only when I travel - and even then I mix it with Sprite. In Croatia, I liked - and sometimes mixed - Karlovačko which is only the second most popular beer in Croatia; numero uno is Ožujsko that I never tried.

On this trip, I had booked all the apartments through booking.com. Since I was very satisfied with the range of accommodations as well as the procedure and their service, I honestly recommend to check out their offers. If you do book through this page, not only do you get the best rate, I'll receive a small commission without any extra cost for you that helps me run this blog.


Booking.com



35 comments:

  1. Good to read your personal experiences. Croatia sounds like a perfect budget-friendly destination, where possible to enjoy standard stay for a longs days to explore.

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  2. Croatia has been on my top destinations to visit. These tips will come in handy. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. Heheh there's nothing more I can add, greeting from Croatia. So much fun to read about my own country.

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  4. This is a very useful guide, and I particularly enjoyed reading about the historical perspective. Croatia has been high on our list for a long time, and so I will save this for when we go. Thank you for the inspiration!

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  5. This is great guide to Croatia. It covers all aspects a traveler would need to plan a trip here. Liked to read about the history of the place as it gives a better perspective to understand the culture.

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  6. Loved your write up. Am planning Croatia in May.Your info will prove handy.

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  7. Sometimes it's good to bite the bullet, eh? :) Such a wonderful inspiring read and so glad you had a great time in Croatia. The accommodation looks very warm and inviting, budget friendly and comfortable too. Thanks for sharing the links to each destination, very helpful.

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  8. This is a nice travel guide for all those who visit Croatia for the first time. And yeah, most of the Balkan's countries are still on my bucket list - so much to see, so little time.

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  9. I’ve only been to Zagreb so I obviously have so much more to see! Great information!

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  10. I had never considered Croatia as a destination before but it looks quite beautiful! Great complete guide!

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  11. Thanks for your effort to write an amazing guide for us!

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  12. I've visited Croatia as a kid with my parents but I now realise I should visit it again and properly travel it like you did! Looks amazing!

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  13. This indeed is a complete guide to Croatia! Bookmarked this post for future use! Thank you!

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  14. Bus trips mean you get the best of both worlds! Love that they have their own currency too, differences are what make the world interesting :-)

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  15. Great history introduction. I thought it is part of the Schengen area, so I guess all that will apply Schengen visa, may not include this one. Good to know that they have budget accommodation for budget travelers like me :)

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  16. Croatia is so beautiful and the food sounds amazing too! Definately one of the places on my list to visit, thanks for the inspiration!

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  17. Croatia has been on my list. I hand planned to do it as a cruise stop but clearly it deserves much more time!

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  18. Croatia is so close to me and I don't know why I'm for waiting for! It sounds wonderful!

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  19. Wonderful post with detailed info on Croatia. I plan to visit this amazing country.

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  20. Thanks for sharing a detailed guide on Croatia and I am saving it for my future travels to Croatia. I would love to take bus rides though they look old.

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  21. I have many friends who have told me the wonders of Croatia, but there is nothing like seeing it and being excited to read it. That's a wonderful post. I'm sure I'll be there soon!

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  22. Buses are everything when visiting a city abroad. I love it when cities have an amazing public transport system.Truly makes us feel like locals in the city.

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  23. Croatia looks beautiful! It’s good to know that public transport is a good option because this is my preferred way to get around new areas.

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  24. This is absolutely a complete guide to Croatia with detailed personal experience. And this place seems beautiful and it is good option to have public transport for exploring the place.

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  25. You know, we are actually planning for Croatia for 2019. However, it makes more sense to visit Croatia for us if it becomes a part of Schengen countries. I think that's about to happen or has already happened. Will need to brush up on the latest state.

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  26. Thank you so much for sharing! I have been wanting to go to Croatia for about 3 years but for some reason I have never been able to go. Hopefully in 2019 I can go! Reading your post has really really made me just want to jump on a plane!

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  27. I'm one of them as well, love Croatia.

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  28. I cannot wait to visit! I have pinned so much of Plitvice Lakes, Dubrovnik & Split that I dream of them lol. After their grand showing at the World cup and their female President, I'm now roaring to go!

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  29. This is an amazing guide to Croatia! My friend has been planning to visit this part of the world in June 2019 and I'll share your guide with her :) I'm sure, your comprehensive guide will make her plan a great trip to Croatia.

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  30. Croatia is one of my favorite countries! Just love this place from the beaches, medieval towns, food and most especially the amazing people. Had so many great encounters with awesome people in this country and wish to go back again soon. Also I agree with the bus. I travelled around Croatia by bus and never had an issue. Efficient, on time and also cheap! I even had a bus driver that I rode with multiple times in different cities and can't forget his expression when he always recognized me and said "you again?" haha. Fun times!

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  31. Croatia is absolutely lovely and I really enjoyed reading your article! It really is a complete guide for visiting Croatia and I think every first-time visitor should read this before coming to Croatia

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  32. I am loving Croatia more and more. This is really making me want to visit it more. It looks beautiful and so much to do.

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  33. I have not been to Croatia yet myself either, but it's super popular in Europe, especially in my country. They say that the food and ice cream is really good! Definitely gotta visit soon!

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  34. Croatia is one of my favourite destinations, I've only visited twice and visited Dubrovnik and Korcula but I am already craving another visit. I have never considering travelling Croatia by bus but seeing all the destinations you managed to see, this has definitely changed my opinion.
    Thanks for sharing,
    Jaz

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  35. Love it! I've actually wanted to visit Zadar for as long as I could remember, ever since I discovered the Sea Organ. I wanna say, 12/13 years?? Your guide is definitely encouraging! I wasn't sure about the infrastructure, but now it's at the top of my list. =)

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