Facts about Croatia
- In Croatian, it is pronounced Republika Hvatska
- Located in Central and Southeastern Europe, at the crossroads of Western Europe, the Pannonian Plain, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean Sea. Its capital (and largest city) is Zagreb.
- Croatia became and independent nation from Yugoslavia on 25 June 1991.
- There is a population of about 4.5 million
- Currently in a Parliamentary System of Government.
- It was less expensive than I thought, although being a very popular country for Europeans to holiday.
- Croatians personalities aren’t warm when you first meet them. They all seem to be a bit skeptical, but that is what I expected from the former Yugoslavia.
- The beaches and rocks are more stunning than I ever expected.
- The hostel I was staying at had turtles as pets, they didn’t bite.
- For about every beach there is also a FKK (nudist) beach just around the corner.
I have come to realize it is better to spend time seeing a small area well, than to rush around and see lots of things very fast. I had a week in Croatia, and I stayed quite close to the city of Split. My accommodation was the Three Turtles Hostel, which I highly recommend. Split is an interesting mix, there is the old Dalmatian city walls which is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Inside business owners have converted the old structures into beautiful shops, restaurants, and hotels while keeping the old feel to the city. There were concerts going on during my visit and the small corridors in the old city were fantastic.
Split also has a great market, just outside of the Dalmatian walls. They sell everything from beautiful fruits and vegetables, to sunglass, shirts, underwear, swimwear and towels. Remarkably, the prices in the market are quite cheap for the items being offered for sale.
One of the highlights for me in Split was the Marjan Hill and Park. I spent heaps of time in this park exploring. One day I climbed up the top of the hill. It was quiet with few tourists and had brilliant views of the ships, harbour, and city. You could see the sapphire water, gray and brown rocks, and olive grass. Around the edges of the park are rocky beaches, which are common in Croatia. Some are busy, while other beaches are quiet. I did a lot of exploring on the rocks of the beaches and did heaps of swimming in the water. The small fish, sea urchins, and sea cucumbers were thrilling. I loved the park so much.
Hvar is GREAT! The ferry ride over from Split is a bit long, but well worth it. The ferry drops off at a non-descript area, and a bus is required for something more adventurous. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, but I went the 20km to Hvar City to check out its offerings. It is a stunning town, with part of it built on the side of a large hill and the rest in an incredible valley. There are lots of ships in the harbour, including some very large yachts. They were impressive. Also, there is an equally impressive fort built on the side of the hill. It was remarkably well preserved and provided a bit of historical value to the area, not that some of the homes weren’t old. When I arrived I took a look at the map and there is a small island with an FKK (nudist) written on it. So I decided to be a bit local and check out Jerolim. I wasn’t disappointed here either. While most of the people on the small island are naked, it was even more beautiful than the other spots I had seen. I actually walked around the island, found a decent beach with other people around and went starkers. You have to be local, right? Anyway, after a few hours in the sun, my bum was burnt, although it now glows with an auburn hue. There was more animal life in the sea here, and I was only touched by a pesky sea urchin once.
I did a day trip from Split out to the island of Brac. This long island is a famous place visited by many tourists. The ferry takes around an hour to get out there and I quickly made my way to Bol and the Golden Cape Beach. It is considered to be one of the best beaches in Europe, and it didn’t disappoint. There were thousands on the beach, playing games and enjoying the seemingly unending sunshine and heat. The water was crystal clear blue and there were great biking and hiking trails.
The walk from the beach down to the city of Bol is also very nice. It was a wide walkway with lots of hotels, eateries, and heaps of people walking around. I think it would have been even better towards the evening.
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