Croatia


I just got back from an awesome family (Dad, Stephanee, Gretchen and me) vacation to Croatia, there wasn't any trail running involved though I was able to get a few runs in each of the cities we were in. I tried to capture what we did each day, as you can tell as the vacation went on I got a little lazy with the daily entries. 

Day 1
Arrived in Zagreb, swollen ankles from the long plane ride and running 31 miles the day before. Pizza for dinner, nice and relaxing. 

Day 2 
Jet lagged I woke up at 3:30am, I read a lot about Zagreb and discovered Elis caffe for coffee - it was said to be better than Stumptown. Woke dad up to try it. We sat and talked to the owner for a bit, he was very familiar with Portland and our coffee scene. He gave us free tastings of his cold brew coffee, best I have ever had. 
We grabbed pastries for everyone for breakfast and headed off to our bike tour.


Elis Coffee - Best coffee I have had in Europe 

Bike Tour

Chapel in Zagreb 

We did a 3 hour bike tour with Blue Bike tours. It was the most enjoyable and informative tour I have ever been on. Our guide even suggested places for me to trail run the next day. 
We had a late but enjoyable lunch close to the main square. After lunch we headed over to the Museum of Broken Relationships, since all the public museums are closed on Mondays.
The concept of the museum is to display items from failed relationships with a narrative about the failed relationship. It was interesting, but also kind of sad. But it got us out of the rain for a bit. We left the museum and headed back to the apartment when we got caught in a down pour, we ducked into a tunnel and waited for the rain to pass. When it didn't look like it was going to pass we ran to the nearest pub for a pint.
The rain finally let up and we went back to the apartment for a power nap.
We ended the evening with a lovely dinner at Vinodol.


escaping the rain 

Day 3
Running with dad

Dolac Market

Dolac Market

Slept in until after 8, went on a city/trail run with dad in the rain. Stopped for coffee mid-run, ran to the pastry store and ran home with breakfast. Due to the rain we decided to start the day with museums, we went to the Museum of Arts and Crafts to see an exhibit on Caravaggio, which ended up only being one painting that was on loan. 
Luckily the rain let up after we left the museum so we headed over to the Dolac market. We loaded up on fruits, jam, nuts and cheese for our hike the next day. We had lunch close to the market, as we finished lunch it started to pour, so we ran over to the microbrewery. The beers were forgettable but the beer dad got was 7.5%, which we ended up splitting. We were feeling pretty good after that. 
We headed back to the apartment to drop off our food from the market. Gretchen and Dad took power naps while I searched for a place for dinner and Stephanee read. Stephanee ended up flipping through a guide book and saw an ad for a wine store, which we decided to stop at before dinner.


wine store

wines we tasted


A 5-minute walk from Zagreb Cathedral on Kaptol, we found the wine shop 'Bornstein'. Not only did we find wonderful wine and olive oil, but also we got personal wine tasting from the owner. It was really nice to learn some things about Croatian wine, since none of us had a clue and have just been ordering blindly.
We ended the evening with dinner at Ivica i Marcia (Hansel and Gretel), all the food is organic and they even had a vegetarian section on the menu. The food and wine were great but the highlight of the evening was our waiter Dean. He joked and kidded with us all night. He even brought cake out with "happy 25th" on it for Dad and Stephanee's anniversary. 


happy 25th!


Day 4
Woke up early to do a quick run and visit our favorite coffee shop, Elis caffe before heading to Plitvice Lakes National Park.








post hike beer


At Plitvice Lakes we had the option of several hikes they all varied based on the time it would take. We picked the one that was 4-6 hours, since it was already 1pm. Before I start my "rant", I have to say the park is gorgeous and the waterfalls and lakes are spectacular. Ok my rant... The 4-6 hour hike only took us 2.5 hours and would of been less if the trails weren't so crowded, and I mean super crowded. If I would of known this I would of opted for the longest hike and hoped that the majority of the hike would have less people. Also in hindsight I would get to the park right when it opens to avoid the crowds.

We stayed close to the park at Hotel Degenija, a nice clean hotel with an adjoining restaurant. 


Day 5
We had an early breakfast and headed off to the ferry to Pag.
We stumbled upon the Gligora Dairy and stopped for a tasting of the famous Paški sir, and ended up doing a wine and cheese tasting. We wondered around Pag for a bit and headed off to Zadar
cheese tasting

We spend a few hours walking around Zadar we saw the Sea Organ, Roman ruins and the Sun Salutation. Then we headed to Spilt.


Zadar



Day 6






Our first day in Split we actually spent sailing. We chartered a boat for the day and sailed to Brac and Solta. We stopped and swam for a while and headed off for a late lunch on one of the islands. It was so pleasant and relaxing on the boat, drinking wine and enjoying the views. I wish we would of charted the boat overnight, but having it for the day was awesome and one of my favorite parts of the trip. I highly recommend Hvar Adventures for charting a boat or other activities around Split and Hvar. 


Day 7 
We didn't have much planned for the day, so dad and I decided to run to Marjan, a hill and park with running trails within the city of Split. What we intended to be a short 4 mile run turned into an 8 mile run around the whole park. It was great to run among trees and greenery with amazing views of the sea. I love walking around cities, but really prefer to run in nature. 

views from the run

views from the run


After we all had a little breakfast we decided to try a walking tour of Split, unfortunately there ended up being 30+ people in the walking tour and it was really hard to hear our guide. We ditched the tour early, and Gretchen ended up being our tour guide using her Rick Steve's book, which actually worked our perfectly. 



Split

Split

Split


Day 8 
Dad didn't want to feel rushed in the morning, so I did a solo run to the top of Marjan before driving to Dubvronik. On the way we stopped for an amazing lunch in Mali Ston at Kapetanova Kuća, We ended the day with a fabulous dinner in Dubvronik on the terrace of Restaurant Dubrovnik. 


Solo run up Marjan

Chapel on Marjan

View from Marjan

On the top of Marjan



Day 9
Our first full day in Dubrovnik - Dad and I ran around the hilly roads first thing in the morning. Then we all headed over to old town for our private walking tour with Tea Batinic. Tea has lived in Dubrovnik her whole life; she is very knowledgeable and seems to know everyone in town. She took us around parts of the city that other tours don't go, which is good because we got to avoid all the crowds and see some really interesting things. Her stories are hilarious, I can't recommend her enough. We ended our tour with her at the Gruz Market, where everyday at noon very punctual pigeons fill the square waiting for their noon feeding of corn, which also signals the closing of the market. We spent the rest of the day walking around the town and swimming in the ocean.


Dubrovnik


Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik


Gruz Market

Pigeons!



Day 10
We took a kayaking and biking tour between Lopud and Sipan. Cute tour guide, great fish restaurant on Sipan. Vegetarian dinner in Dubrovnik at Nishta, which means nothing in Croatian, not the best name for a restaurant, but the food was excellent. 
Getting ready to kayak


Post kayak and bike beer



Day 11

Dad and I got up early to run the city walls to find out they don't open until 8 am, so we just ran around Dubrovnik. Today was wine tasting day, but so we didn't feel like we were drinking all day we started the tour off walking the wall between Mali Ston and Ston. The wall was used to keep out invaders between the cities to protect their salt trade. 
We tasted wine at 4 different wineries, and a side trip to a women's house that had homemade grappa, olive oils and wine. I bought a walnut grappa and way too much wine from the wineries.
Everyone but me had "ugly fish" (aka monk fish) for lunch. 


Wall between Mali Ston and Ston






Day 12
One last early morning run with Dad.


picture from our run

Gretchen and Stephanee walked Dubrovnik city wall, while dad and I had coffee and headed back to the apartment so I could try and pack all my wine, olive oil, grappa and salt in my bag that was already over packed with clothes. Luckily I bought another small bag in Dubrovnik for all my clothes. I stuffed two bottles of wine in unicorn socks and wrapped the rest in Gretchen's angry birds blanket, somehow everything fit. We spent the afternoon shopping around Dubrovnik and took the ferry over to Lokrum. We swam on Lokrum, walked around the monastery, saw peacocks in trees, and even snooped on the nude beach. I spend the remaining hours indulging... Ice cream, wine tasting, beer, cheese plate, margarita, and fries with mayo.
Caught the late plane back to Zagreb to spend the night and start the long journey home in the morning.


Lokrum

Lokrum

Peacock on Lokrum

Lokrum

Lokrum


I loved every moment of this trip and will be going back to Croatia at some point. We all agreed that we could of spent less time in Zagreb, and wished we had more time on the islands, but over all I think we planned a great trip for our first time to Croatia. 

Since this is a trail running blog, there is actually a web site for trail running Croatia. But this trip wasn't all about running. Sometimes I even need a little break, not that I didn't run a few times. :)


All of my pictures are here.

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