“Dad, where the heck is Croatia, why the heck is Croatia so popular, and what the heck makes people want to go there???”
“Well Alexander, I think you’ll find that all out in due course, don’t you think?”
“And what’s that supposed to mean?”
Our family had been excited for Croatia ever since we booked a sailboat trip down the Croatian archipelago. We also knew that we were to go to two popular cities, Split and Dubrovnik. We even got to spend our eight days with some family friends who have been living in Spain for the last year– Lynn and Bill Carr– and their two kids, Evan and Maddox, aged 10 and 8 respectively.
I was excited to travel with another family on a sailboat, but we were also going to two obscure-ish Croatian cities which I didn’t know anything about. When my parents explained to the Carrs about how we kids should create a pre-port, I knew I had work to do. (if you want to see my Croatia pre-port, it’s here.) Now was a time for desperate measures. Now was the time to use my ‘secret’ weapon. Now was the time to use TripAdvisor!!
What was I to find???
I found a 2000 year old palace in Split, and a 2 km city wall (also hundreds of years old) in Dubrovnik. It looked like these two cities were going to be what I’d call “worldschooling cities”.
CITY #1: SPLIT
After an early flight from Geneva, we were all enthusiastic for our two upcoming days in the old Roman city.
The Waterfront & The Green Market: A five minute walk is all you need to get to this beautiful waterfront. Two ports flank the many cruise ships in the distance, with many restaurants providing a breathtaking view (Wow, I’m getting better at being dramatic.). As for the Green Market, they sell a lot of stuff. They had masks and goggles (perfect for our upcoming sailing trip), they had Croatia soccer jerseys, and cool Croatia magnets. There were lots of souvenir shops, and Sydney and I bought a deck of cards. They had a whole fruit section of the market too, and we bought a box of really sweet raspberries as a small snack.
Malls and Movies: A nice simple break from the heat. Going to a mall to see a movie!! This is the way to get out of the hot sun! We were hoping we could watch “Finding Dory” in English, and unfortunately, the first mall didn’t have any English movies. At the second mall, all the showings of Finding Dory were earlier that day, but the movie “The BFG” (Big Friendly Giant) was showing in English in an hour!! We got a quick dinner, did a little more shopping, then left for the movie!! I was annoyed by the Croatian subtitles, but I guess that’s how Croatian kids learn English!!
Diocletian’s Palace: I might have appreciated how cool the palace was if it wasn’t 90 degrees, or if there was just a little bit of breeze. We first went into the palace foundations, which, in Roman times, was basically used as… a garbage dump. It’s cool to walk in the footsteps of Roman Emperors, but not cool to walk where they threw their garbage. At least it didn’t smell bad!
Next, we went up to the surface. We went in a Mausoleum, which was where Diocletian’s remains were, but then the Christians threw them in the Adriatic. There was also a large bell tower right in the middle of the palace. I wish we could have gone up it to see one of the nightly performances in the nearby square!!
Froggyland: This museum wins the “Most Bizarre Museum Award”. Normally, I don’t particularly like bizarre museums, but this one was different. Essentially, it’s a museum that has dioramas of scenarios in the early 1900’s. So why is it called “Froggyland”? Because there are no humans in these dioramas. They’re all actual frogs in human positions!! They’re all stuffed through the mouth, which was kind of revolting, but hey. They’re frogs! My favorite diorama was the trial, with two accused frogs sitting in chains, three frogs sitting behind the prosecution stand trying to get the juror frogs to listen to them. The jurors are sleeping and talking to each other, not paying attention. The defense is looking smug, and the witnesses are looking totally creeped. I loved this museum.
We left Split for our six day sailboat trip… Nobody cares about that!! (Well, except for my dad. He’s doing the blog post. Stay tuned, this’ll come soon!)
CITY #2: DUBROVNIK
We disembarked from our sailboat voyage at Dubrovnik, a city that’s famous for an old town that’s about a quarter of a square kilometer. Oh yeah. My psycho and worldschool-happy dad told me that I have to write that the old town is really beautiful. Yes, it’s pretty cool, but I’ve definitely seen better.
Cable Car: My favorite activity in Dubrovnik– it had a nice view of the old town. The cable car ended at the top of a beautiful mountain, on which stood a gigantic cross, which was clearly visible from the old town at the base of the mountain. We sure got some good pictures too!
The Old Town: As I mentioned earlier. This is one of the main reasons people come to Dubrovnik. Apparently, people found out about it because of cruise ships. They would go on the cruise ship to go to, for example, Venice, but the ship would dock at Dubrovnik for a day. These people loved it, and Dubrovnik was no longer a hidden gem.
The city has been heavily damaged multiple times. Perhaps the biggest one was in 1667 (coincidentally a year after the Great Fire of London) when a powerful earthquake struck the city, reduced most buildings to rubble, and killed 1/3 of the population. The most recent time it was damaged was in 1991, when Croatia declared independence from Yugoslavia. Even though this area was a UNESCO world heritage site at the time, it was still heavily bombed by the Serbs. My dad mentioned while we were sightseeing that he thought the city was one of the most beautiful places he’d seen on the trip, but I couldn’t help but notice all the ruins and broken buildings all around.
The City Wall Walk The city walls stretch 2 km around the entire old town. There were many (literally) ups and downs throughout the walk. The view was beautiful from all sides of the town.
My favorite was the view of the Adriatic, with a restaurant on an overhanging rock, and people cliff jumping from 20 feet or more!! On the opposite side of the Adriatic was a super tall turret providing a view of the town. From here, (I’d have to admit) was a beautiful sight. With the red shingles of the tops of various buildings mixing with the occasional basketball court or cathedral, and the Adriatic Sea in the background, the sight was breathtaking.
Now, I must close out my blog post. I must write a closing, or my psycho and worldschool-happy dad might get me. Anyway, I sure hope you’re going to read the sailboat blog post, because why would you want to learn about the Belfiore’s going to another city, when you could learn about a peaceful sailboat ride down the Croatian Archipelago.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot. Thank you Carr family for all the fun we had travelling with you!! You’re welcome to travel with us anytime!!