Saturday, December 21, 2013

Island Solta, Croatia

Solta is a rocky island with a laid back attitude and lots of laid back locals. We spend two nights on the island in the town of Stomorska. We rented an apartment on and were pleased with our apartment ($53 USD a night) and the view it afforded us (though the long climb up the hill was less desirable). We ate in the restaurants, lounged at the seaside, and wandered around the tiny town and neighborhoods. My husband even rented a bike for a day and rode around the island. He had to take a bus to another town to rent the bike. But for $10 for the day, it was an hilly adventure for him to enjoy while I relaxed at the beach. There's also a bee farm on the island that makes its own honey and helicopter rides offered along with other tours if you are so inclined. It was also a popular place for yachters to park for the night, plugin, and drink.  

View from our apartment above the town of Stomorska.
One of the small beaches near Stomorska.

Split, Croatia

Split is a very touristy city, but still worth visiting; but a warning would have been nice. Split is a hub for cruise ships and bus travel so during the day it is filled with people from cruise ships and people staying in town. I think if we were to visit again, we would visit more islands in the area via ferries during the day and enjoy the quieter evenings in Split. For this, the ferries work well as their prices were relatively inexpensive. Getting to one of the islands (Solta) was only about $6 USD for about an hour's ride.

The beaches near the Marjan were nice and not too crowded. There aren't really long stretches of beach but instead access to the water is broken up into different areas. It works out so you can choose the area you want to hang out in (more shade or deeper water or stretches of large rocks to sunbathe on). Note: The walk to this area takes about 20-30 minutes and there is not a lot of shade.

Like the rest of Croatia, getting an apartment (apartman) in Split was pretty common. They tend to cost less than a hotel room and we were able to rent a small studio apartment for about 50€ per night which seemed to be the going rate for a studio or one bedroom.

Makarska, Croatia

I have to admit that I was not impressed with Makarska when I first arrived. For me it reminiscent of the overbuilt beach towns of Florida but with less Americans and more Bosnians. There are apartment buildings everywhere renting rooms, finding good food was difficult at best and the beaches were overrun (and weren’t that spacious to begin with). But, once we wandered into the Old Town, I warmed a bit. Overall, I would say that there are better beach towns on the mainland of Croatian that are less crowded (keep in mind we were there in earl September. I can only imagine what it is like in the height of summer.)

For those who like the club scene, there was a really cool club at the south end of the bay that is carved out of a cave. There are also a number of bars that serve some decent drinks. Some had live music that was pretty good, but most were fairly standard bars.

Blagaj, Bosnia & Herzegovina

About 20 minutes outside of Mostar is a small town called Blagaj which you can get to by bus. There's a fortress on the top of the hill there (locally known as Stjepan Grad) with amazing views of the surrounding area. The fortress is overgrown and dilapidated but that somehow makes it more worth seeing. You walk up a road (follow the one and only sign) and then hike up the switchbacks which takes a total of about 45 minutes. The trail is hard to find in the brush but the frustration is worth the view from the top and its free Note: keep an eye out for an arrow made out of rocks. We missed the arrow and spent a long time looking for the trail. 

Also, there's a Dervish house at the base of a mountain. There are restaurants in the area because of the picturesque views of the cold, turquoise waters coming out of the cave at the base of the mountain. You can rent canoes there, but the water level seemed way to low for canoeing in September 2013.