Category Archives: Croatia

My thoughts in hind sight of Croatia as a tourist destination

My thoughts in hind sight of Croatia:

It is a place worth visiting. Period! It is a nation that takes pride in their country and would do anything to make it better and make you feel welcome! (Again the contrast with Italy is screaming at me!)It is an amazingly clean and tidy country. Some of the remote shorelines have rubbish that apparently are washed ashore from the coast users of the eastern Italy coast.

Croatia used to be one of the cheaper destinations in Europe – well, not any more. But in saying that, it is not expensive either (if measured against Australian standards, food, transport, fuel, medication , services etc. is actually still cheap) but you do get good value for your money. It depends on how much you want to spend too I guess. You can still do Croatia on a shoe string if that is what you want, and you can certainly splash it out and have a very expensive trip too! The food portions for instance are huge (Croatians are tall people hence the portion sizes!) We’ve often shared a portion (which they did not mind at all!) which worked out just fine (with my slightly smaller appetite as Johann’s)

The fortress Kamerlengo
Window beauty
Islands around Murter Island’s entrance

Croatia has a history that has blown me away! Because of the enormous amount of different regimes involved in governing Croatia over the thousands of years, it provides a variety of very interesting architecture over many periods as proof. Every building – no matter how old it is – is intensely taken care of and is well maintained. Tourism is major but subtle. We never had the mad rush of a Colosseum line-up. It was a pleasure even if we had to share it with massive cruising boats with hundreds of people on them. By the way – we have learned that if you get your timing right, you never need to share any space with the masses. The big cruising ship’s coming and going is very predictable. Public transport we found to be exceptional and cheap. The people are warm and friendly and you will often find the younger generations speaking a good enough English to help you and some of the older people would know a friend to help out if they could not speak the language.
Ston Oysters
Fire baked bread at KOBAS
Black Rosotto (our first and best!!) and octopus salad

Gastronomy: The food and wine were superb! (Even the house wine! That is what we really enjoy was the local house wine of each island! It was very enjoyable most of the time). They love out-door cooking on a BBQ. Almost every house would have one and certainly every restaurant too! We had the most amazing bread that was baked on an open fire! They do just about all their seafood and meat that way too.(That is in the konobas / smaller family owned restaurants).

Don’t miss the variety of fig products (dried fruit, jams with coconut combination, fig wine etc), their wonderful nuts and dried sugar coated orange peels, cheeses and cured ham, a whole BBQ Sea Bass, Ston oysters and muscles, their special black risotto, stuffed calamari, their ice-creams (oh my word!!), and their freshly peeled broad beans that you can buy on the fresh food markets! It makes a wonderful salad. Will include the recipe at the end.

The Croatians on top of all these wonderful qualities are also a very refined and cultured nation. They love their fine arts, classical theatre and music. We have been to a classical music performance on 3 occasions – their choice of venues makes it an absolute treat! It was so surreal to listen to such high quality music in a 600 year old monetary or in an ancient church in Dubrovnik’s Old City.

Nature around this country certainly add to its value in its very special and way of diversity. From the lovely fertile Dalmatian islands to the rocky limestone Kornati islands back to the fabulous Krka waterfalls on the main land …Steep cliffs and huge mountains as backdrop of every picture will vouch for it. The variety is endless and it is all so special in its own stunning way!

A note from my Captain: Sailing: It is certainly one of the top sailing destinations in the world. A place we would love to get back to as soon as we can! Absolutely worth another season or two!

Double Peeled Broad Bean Salad:
• fava/ broad beans (about 1.5 pounds)-double peeled
• 1 bunch fresh dill-finely chopped
• 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• sea salt
• pepper
• juice of one large lemon
• Fetta cheese or freshly shaven parmesan cheese

Bring a pot of salted water to boil, add beans, bring to a boil for at most 1-2 minutes (you want them to stay green). Drain and rinse with cold water. Chop and add dill. Add, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. this is a perfect spring salad!Fetta cheese or freshly shaven parmesan cheese can then only lightly be scattered over the salad

Kornati Islands
Krka Waterfalls
Venician influence

Customs’ Dock in Dubrovnik – our last unfortunate experience in Croatia

Leaving ACI Marina Dubrovnik
ACI Marina – What a fabulous place!
ACI Marina – What a fabulous place!
Our new friends and neighbours leaving with us
Backdrop of the marina

After about 6 weeks of a wonderful time in the waters and amongst the islands of Croatia, the time has unfortunately arrive for us to move out and move on!
We both had mixed feelings about leaving – we know another adventure, beauty and more fun is just around the corner, but oh my word! – will we miss Croatia! We have already made plans to get back here in the Nordhavn that we have in the pipelines! It is too beautiful to only visit once!
Our companions on custom’s dock in Dubrovnik
At the customs dock in Dubrovnik
At the customs dock in Dubrovnik

It was Monday afternoon 10 June at 4pm when the captain changed his mind that we are leaving now for Lefkas (Greece) and not tonight at 11pm as per our plans. Well, the anchorage outside the marina was not super comfortable with all the traffic’s wakes and it was pretty windy too. It is a long way to go… the sooner we get going the better! I was ready to leave; have said my goodbyes to Croatia… all that is left is to clear customs at the Custom dock right next to the cruise ship terminal! We were silently hoping there are not 3 or five of the monsters… luckily only two cruise ships were docked, and the custom dock is fairly open except of the police chase boat enclosing the space where we had to dock. The problem was not the space!

Winds up to 27 knots and 1 meter swells were slamming into the dock where we had to go! I have to attend to the ropes at the bow and stern and started to also get all the other fenders on the one side for extra protection! The wind and waves were faster than me and just before I could get the very front fender on, I heard the grouse sound of boat on cement! I felt nauseous and was pissed off with customs more than anything else! Why don’t they provide a safe dock? This one is always exposed to any weather and winds! Anyway! We were docked at last and the fenders are being pushed to thin oblong shapes with only the minimum of play left to protect the edges of the boat from getting grated off like a carrot! As soon as we were settled, investigation showed that the damage was not as bad as it sounded – nothing that could not be buffed out. What a relief!

After the customs were happy for us to leave, and my shopping at the Carifour Supermarket right at the Ferry dock was done, it was time to go…well it was not all that straight forward! Again, the limited space with the police boat on our stern, did not provide many options other than going forward and out. The friendly push from the customs officer was not really making any difference as the wind forced us back to the dock almost straight away! As soon as we turn the bow away from the dock, the waves and wind pushed the stern back onto the darn dock! Not much we can do to prevent that! … The stern thruster would have been the answer here! That is now the only way out.

We got away with a nick on the rubber of the stern but were very lucky that it was not ten times worse! Relieved to be on our way … our 2 day journey to Greek waters has started with wind on the nose initially…which later on just about disappeared. We mostly had the iron sails going, and at times we were lucky to motor-sail with the Genoa and one engine only. At least we are making headway. All along the coast (about 2 nm away) we had the most wonderful display of clouds over the mountainous coast with sunrise and sunset until we arrived in Lefkas early the morning of the 13th of July. A warm Greece welcomed us with clear skies and a windless morning. We have certainly sailed clean away from the cool weather for good this season!