Every preconceived notion we had about former Yugoslavia has been crushed by our experiences here over the past week. Croatia is as modern and forward thinking as any place in the world and its natural beauty ranks right up there with the Greek islands – it has everything you could possibly ask for in a country. The cities are safe and clean, the culture is neat and well organized, everything just seems to work the way it should.
Our first stop after leaving Hvar was the mainland city of Split, which is Croatia’s second largest city and a major sea port. Unlike most of the coastal cities here that focus heavily on tourism for income, Split is a “real” city, meaning you get to see real Croatians doing their thing. The attraction in Split is the harbor promenade and the adjacent historic Old Town which is a maze of cobblestone pedestrian streets (cars not permitted) filled with street cafes, taverns, and retail shops on the ground level, and small apartments on the upper levels. It’s a lifestyle so efficient that it makes you wonder why we ever bothered inventing cars in the first place.
After leaving Split we headed back into the islands and have been anchored in a small bay near two tiny towns (Tisno and Jazera) that we access using the dinghy. The original idea was to relax for a couple of days and recharge our batteries, but that plan took a dive when we discovered a music festival in the next bay over. Because the festival was sold out we cooked up a plan to swim in under cover of darkness, but then the Italians on the boat next door gave us their wristbands as they pulled anchor to sail home – thanks to them for that. Figuring we can sleep later (when we’re dead) we’re about to head in for a second night in the festival.
Tomorrow we turn around and begin our trek back south. This is as far north as we will go on our circumnavigation. Because we are now backtracking towards Greece we’ll get to see some of the spots we missed on the way up – many of which we’ve been saving for the return trip.