One thing I love about living in Europe is that people savor their holidays. It’s an important part of life here and there’s no replacement for a good getaway. This year, after months of grey skies and cold weather in Belgium, the promise of sunbathing and exploring another country pulled me through my pre-summer funk. When I lived in Paris years ago, I remember anticipating August. It was a month of sweltering city heat and a time where daydreaming of vacation became a reality.
Last summer was our first back in Europe. We decided to drive to the south of France to explore the Camargue, Provence and the French Riviera. It was a different vacation then; I was unemployed, a bit unsure of our future in Europe and in Belgium, but I reveled in every second of sun, food and breezy moments of relaxation. Fast forward one year later. I’m now employed and after stressful months at work, I was yearning to drive off to idyllic locales and to sip on wine and try new cuisines. We contemplated different destinations but Croatia was too hard to ignore; we stuffed our car full of goodies, embarked on a two-week road trip all the way to the south, passing five countries on the way. It was every bit as amazing as I thought it would be.
If you have time to spare and a car to take you there, I really recommend an itinerary that winds from the north to the south and along the Adriatic. It’s the best way to see the diverse beauty of the country – yes, Dubrovnik is amazing – but so is the rest. Visit the charming sea-side villages and towns peppered along the turquoise coast, chat with gregarious locals, and eat the freshest seafood around. Croatia is an amazing country which as of late is gaining major popularity as a summer destination in Belgium and for good reason. These are the photos I took with my new Fujifilm XT-1 and iPhone 6. (A more detailed description of the itinerary is at the end of the blog!)
BAY OF ABANDONED HOTELS, KUPARI
The Bay of Abandoned hotels is home to four hotels damaged and abandoned as a result of the Yugoslav Wars in the early 90’s. Exploring The Grand Hotel was an especially beautifully eerie experience.
Ghent, Belgium to Zalzburg, Austria
Rovijn – reminiscent of Tuscany, great food, beaches and wineries
Pula – Roman Amphitheatre
Kamenjak Nat’l Park – Peninsula of Premantura, southernmost cape of Istria,
Zadar – Most amazing sunsets ever, and Sea Organ
Split – Diocletian’s Palace
KRKA Nat’l Park – Massive waterfalls
Dubrovnik – ‘The pearl of the Adriatic’, worth spending a week there
Plat – 10 minutes outside of Dubrovnik, great place for accommodation
Kotor, Montenegro – A worthwhile day trip from Dubrovnik, gorgeous old town and views from the top of the city walls
Tisno – Hosts the annual summer SoundWave festival
Plitvice Lakes – Beautiful national park with waterfalls and lakes
Zagreb – The capital of Croatia and coffee lover’s city