Sunday, 15 June 2014

sail croatia by surprise

As I mentioned in my last post, I was lucky enough to be invited to go on Sail Croatia with a friend for free at short notice, and everything managed to fall into place so it could happen.

So after a couple of amazing days in Split I went and checked in to my home for the next week, Penelopa, and met up with the other girls to start our Sail Croatia adventure!

Beautiful weather on the Dalmatian Coast
The boat had just been freshly decorated and we were the first sail of the season. There were about 12-14 rooms downstairs with single bunks and a sink in each, and 2 above deck rooms with bunks. I ended up with my own room below deck since the trip wasn’t full which was awesome because I got to spread my stuff out everywhere. It also had a bookshelf, mirror, plug and porthole I could open which let a decent amount of light in. They had also just installed air conditioning downstairs which meant it didn’t get too hot at night, something that will definitely be needed in high summer as it was hot enough when I was there for the end of May!

Spied the boat the night before we left

Back of the Penelopa


My cabin before I messed it up


On the main level there were shared bathrooms and the dining room we had breakfast and lunch in everyday. Breakfast was cereal and toast with a variety of spreads, plus cheese. They had a sandwich press for a toaster so you could make toasties or just toast your bread, and coffee, tea and orange juice. Lunch was provided everyday and started with some kind of soup with delicious bread – I must have consumed a loaf a day myself – a different variety of salad each day and then the main meal, followed by fruit or a cake. Since I don’t like to eat meat all the time I had advised Sail Croatia I was vegetarian. They said I would be provided with just more of the side dishes, not a special meal, but each day the chef on Penelopa made me something as a replacement for the meat in the main meal, which was really lovely. With so much food provided we ended up usually grabbing something quick for dinner like pizza, although we did have a couple of nice meals out as well!

Croatian coast!

I didn't realise Croatia had such amazing hills


The top deck of the boat was open at the front with sun loungers so we spent a lot of time there, and the back park was half covered in with a bar, so we also spent a lot of time there!

You are not allowed to bring anything on to the boat to drink, they instead operate a bar tab system. I did pretty well in not going overboard with having drinks, despite spending quite a lot of time on the boat before heading out later in the night. They also provide you with a certain amount of free water which ended up being plenty.

Relaxing on the deck

Getting ready for the first jump!

Each day on the boat consisted of rolling out of bed for breakfast, about which time we would set out for the next place, then relaxing on the boat until we got there, maybe jumping off for a swim, and having lunch just before we would arrive. We could then explore the new place, doing any activity we wanted to do and then relaxing on the boat, having some drinks before heading out to a club or something.

Most of the ports were quiet due to it just being the start of the season, and lots of things weren’t open yet. This was actually really nice though because most of the time it felt like we had the country to ourselves!


Coming in to Omis


First up was Omis which is on the mainland. I explored the little town, including going up to one of the old pirate towers. It was a quiet night since a lot of people just arrived in Croatia that morning and were tired, and half of us signed up for rafting the next day.

In Omis! Right before we walked through a wedding...3 times

The river at Omis

Tiny hill streets

Climbing to the old pirate tower

View from halfway up to the pirate tower

Steep stairs to climb the only way up!

View over Omis from the pirate tower

Looking through to the river

At the pirate tower

View down the coast

Looking over Omis
Rafting was really fun! It wasn’t exactly white water rafting, more floating and paddling down the river with the occasional rapids. Only once did we have to jump down in the boat. We also jumped out and floated down the rapids which was awesome – and scary – and jumped off a rock into the river.

We drove through to meet the boat at Makarska as it had sailed that morning without us. The scenery in the area is amazing with huge high mountains and stunning coastline. That night we went out as a group to a nearby club which was really fun.

Just a spot of sunbathing...

Docked in Makarska

Giant cocktails!

Relaxing in the shade of the back deck with Suzie, Rachel and Jess.

Square in Makarska

The discovery you can drink while lounging in the chair...

The next day saw us finally set off for the islands. First top Stari Grad, which is on the island of Hvar. It is the oldest town in Croatia and was really cute with little alley ways and squares. It was very small and quiet. One thing about Croatia is there aren’t really sand beaches, most are pebble or just rock.

Stari Grad

Walking through the old streets of Stari Grad

Old square in Stari Grad


Suzie, Rachel, Jess and I signed up for the “wine tasting” - otherwise known as wine drinking - at a local vineyard. It was really nice to be in the country with all the animals and try different Croatian wine and some food like cheese, meat, olives, olive oil and bread. We ended up buying a couple of extra bottles of the wine to drink while we were there then headed back to the boat. The night ended up being a bit of a write off...

The "beach" in Stari Grad

Tasting plate on the wine tour

Suzie and I

Drinking wine looking over the vineyards with the animals


Inland Croatia



Donkey selfie!

Baby donkey!

At the vineyard



Next up was the much anticipated Hvar town. A lot of people who go to the islands just take the ferry here themselves. It is a bit bigger with some really nice places to eat and the biggest square in Croatia. We had a delicious dinner and went out to a club with everyone that night which was cool. Hvar is meant to be a huge party town during the summer, and I can see why. I don’t think it had anything terrible different to anywhere else I have been though, but it was fun.


Delicious starter of zucchini

Tuna steak main

In Hvar square, the largest in Croatia

Sunset in Hvar

Rachel and I

Jess and I

Sunrise in Hvar

Some of the boat crew




The following stop was Korcula. The girls and I signed up to do kayaking here, which we needed have really bothered with. I like kayaking so it was fine but it wasn’t anything special as we just went over to an island and back across a bay. We also went with one of the other Sail Croatia boats that had a really young group on it, I would say 18-21. I’m not sure how they manage to do it like this because our boat was around 22-30 and we were sailing Split to Dubrovnik, whereas they were doing Split to Split. So it wasn’t like we were doing the same trip and they divided us by age. Korcula is like a minu Dubrovnik with city walls which was cool. Although the food there seems to mainly consist of pizza places, the one night we felt like something different!


The towns in Croatia are really beautiful

Buildings in Korcula

Pizza for dinner nom nom nom

Our final island stop was Mjlet where there is a national park. It was a nice place but there wasn’t a whole lot there. We ended up paying a lot to get into the national park, which included a boat ride to the old monastery, but they neglected to tell us that we couldn’t get off at the monastery at the moment! We then had a bit of an adventure walking back to where we had started because the boat wouldn’t drop us there, even though Suzie had broken her shoe and there were road works on the way!


Wearing my sailing shirt from Kim!

Lake in the middle of Mjlet National Park

Awesome clear water

Old monastery in the middle of the lake

Croatian flag

Suzie helping out the road workers

Cocktails and sailor hats

Our final day the weather was pretty dismal so we didn’t get any last sunning done on the deck. We arrived in Dubrovnik and made it to the old town just before it started pouring. I didn’t like Dubrovnik as much as Split. After a week of being in tiny places it seemed big and touristy with lots of people, and it was definitely a lot more expensive. Nevertheless we had a beer at a bar through the walls which you can also swim from, would be amazing in nice weather! 

Outside the walls of Dubrovnik

Standing outside the walls

Entering the old draw bridge gate

Sitting at the bar through the walls

Where you could cliff jump from in the summer

Outside the city walls


After that Rachel and I decided to do the city walls since it was my only chance before my flight in the morning. The walls were awesome, just like everyone said they would be. It poured down about halfway around so we did the only thing we could in the circumstances, stopped for a beer! We ran into a few of the others from our boat and continued around with them once the rain stopped. 


Buildings inside the walls...and a storm brewing!

Small square inside the old town

On the city walls

Overlooking Dubrovnik

Looking through a fort on the walls
Looking across Dubrovnik
Succeeding in not falling out the window


It was getting late after that and our boat was docked about half an hour away, so we grabbed something to eat before heading back. I ended up having some delicious sea food! It was a good thing we did that because it was a bit of a mission to get back to the boat, another reason I maybe didn’t like Dubrovnik as much. We missed a bus and the taxi’s wanted to completely rip us off, so we waited for another bus before a taxi would finally take us at a reasonable price! Sadly we had our last night on the boat with everyone before heading to a club and being out a bit later than I should have been with my flight the next morning!

Mmm seafood

Jess and I

Kimmy and I

All in all the week was so much fun and I wish I could do it all over again with the same people! We had a good mix of ages on our boat and nationalities too with Australians, Kiwis, South Africans, Americans and Canadians. The boat crew, especially Big Daddy, the boat owner, and Frankie, our waiter/bartender were all so great and really made the experience. I would highly recommend a Sail Croatia trip to anyone, and especially at this time when it is not so full but we still had really nice weather. Coming home to Scotland with a tan was a definite plus! HUGEST THANKS EVER to Suzie for inviting me to go along and have this once in a lifetime experience!!!

x



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