Crafting a Stunning Croatian Adventure
In 2012, my darling wife Julie-anne and I embarked on an ambitious fact finding mission to determine whether we could develop a tour that travelled through both Croatia and Southern Italy. We realised that this plan was folly when our notebooks were already full of possibilities before we’d even covered half of Croatia! In the end, we decided to split the tour in two – one that explored Southern Italy and another that explored Croatia and surrounding areas. I’d like to share some of my highlights from my trip through Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina with you here. You can follow in my footsteps on our marvellous 13-day Croatia and the Adriatic tour.
The Most Delicious Oysters
Friends at home in Australia and in Croatia said I simply must visit Mali Ston, a small fishing village on the on the barren Pelješac peninsula. The oysters here, I was told, were the best in the world. Who would have thought that they would live up to the hype! Smaller and flatter, the Mali Ston oysters have a unique flavour that certainly puts them among the finest I have ever enjoyed, particularly when paired with a crisp white. We enjoyed ours at Bota Sari restaurant, an intimate venue on the port that looks out across the stunning azure waters. With bellies full and legs tired from our earlier explorations of the ruined castle and ancient town walls, we retired to our hotel room for a nap. I’m not ashamed to say that when we woke slightly peckish in the early evening, we went straight back to Bota Sari and their delicious oysters. This is the only time I have eaten at the same restaurant twice in the same day, and I in no way regret my decision!
A Stunning Town with a Violent Past
If you’ve heard of Mostar, it’s probably because you’ve seen pictures of the stunning Stari Most, a reconstructed arched bridge that is the centerpiece of the city. Lesser known is the horrors that occurred in Mostar during the Balkans conflict. This recent history is in direct contrast to the city’s origins as a cosmopolitan melting pot where Muslims, Jews and Western and Orthodox Christians all lived together. I was so pleased to discover that the town has been restored to its former harmonious glory. The minarets and steeples have been rebuilt, the millhouse restaurants serve their unique fare, and the alleys swarm with salesman spruiking various trinkets and treasures. But some scars still remain. Bombed out buildings, ruined streets and bullet-pocked walls can still be found on the outskirts of town. It’s very moving to consider all that this town and its people have gone through. I personally was deeply moved to come across a simple stone monument with the powerful phrase “Don’t Forget” carved into its face. It’s important to embrace places like Mostar that have chequered histories – peace and war, joy and sadness.
Quiet Times in Dubrovnik
While Dubrovnik is an immensely popular destination, I noticed that very few tours actually stay overnight. Coaches drop off thousands of tourists in the morning, then whisk them away again in the early evening. These poor travellers didn’t know what they were missing out on. Once they had all departed, we wandered the old ramparts that completely enclose the town. We stopped in at one of the three bars on top of the ramparts, and in the quiet enjoyed the sounds of the pigeons cooing, the locals chattering and the wine pouring into our glasses! After our drinks, we descended into the polished streets of the old town, which was now completely quiet and tourist free. This quiet, authentic side of Dubrovnik is an experience you’ll only get to enjoy when travelling with Albatross Tours.
Mali Ston, Mostar and Dubrovnik are just three of the stunning towns you could visit with us on our 13-day Croatia and the Adriatic tour. Get in touch if you’d like to learn more about this absolutely incredible Croatian adventure.