The big trip – Departure and Croatia

I’m sitting on the balcony watching a storm roll over Hvar town on the island of Hvar, Croatia. Its quite a cool sight but it does mean todays plans to explore the Pakleni islands have been put on hold. A good excuse to sit down and write a blog post on my travels so far.

Departure

Departure was surprisingly unstressed. After putting in some long hours at work in an effort to get things finished I was able to take a couple of days off before my flight out which gave me plenty of time to pack my bag and double check that everything was in order before I got on the bus to Sydney airport.

Getting to Croatia from Australia isn’t the most direct flight in the world. I ended up going Sydney-Singapore-Zurich-Split for a total of 36hrs transit, which meant I was pretty tired by the time I stepped off the plane into the Croatian heat.

Croatia

Croatia has been a great way to start my travels. I have been hanging out with my good friends Adam and Alana Kerz who are 14 months into their honeymoon. They have been traveling in a camper van through Europe and have adopted the relaxed lifestyle that comes with having time and flexible work commitments (Adam works several hours a week from his laptop – pretty good life if you ask me).

We spent the first week based in Split, staying in an apartment outside the old town area and driving each day to explore beaches, Split town, castles, nearby rock climbing areas and the Marian national park area. The high season is just starting to ramp up – the weather is hot and sunny but we haven’t had to fight with the excessive crowds that will arrive in the coming months. Perhaps the most famous sight in Split is the Diocletian’s palace – an amazing complex filled with narrow cobblestone streets and plaza and amazingly preserved Roman vaulted basement.

Basement of Diocletian's palace, Split

The Split area is a good mix of cultural and outdoor activities. The nearby Klis fortress┬áis impressive – you can see it perched on top of sheer cliffs from right across the valley. It is in surprisingly good condition given its history and now boasts having been used as a location in the Game of Thrones television series. It also has the bonus of being 20mins walk to some pretty excellent limestone climbing (although the path is pretty scrubby – we came across 2 snakes as we ran back to the car in the midst of a lightning storm. The locals assure us the snakes aren’t poisonous but my Australian upbringing has meant I am cautious of any snake I come across…).

The nearby town of Omis is also geared as a bit of an outdoor destination with climbing, rafting and mountainbiking all in easy reach. We spent a fun afternoon whitewater rafting and swimming (including jumping from a 12m cliff into the river). Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to do much else there but it’s on my list of places to come back to if I get the chance.

Hvar town, Croatia

From Split we took a ferry to Hvar island. This a touristy island that seems to be shaping itself as Croatia’s version of Ibiza with clubs and beach side bars etc and more tourists than locals. It is a very pretty place though, and was a great place to watch the opening game of World Cup 2014. All the bars and restaurants had big screen TVs playing the game and when Croatia scored the opening goal against Brazil everyone went nuts! The party kicked on to 4:30am…

We have a few days left here before I head to Romania. Hopefully the weather clears up and we can do some climbing and sightseeing…

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