Warm greetings to all my fellow readers!!! Hope everyone is keeping hale & hearty during these challenging times!!!
Today, we are at a point where the World travel has been severely curtailed, but we know for sure, this too shall pass!!!
In this post, I would like to share with you our family trip to the enchanted land portrayed in the epic series of GAME OF THRONES!!! Yes, you guessed it right, it is time to visit Croatia!!!
For all the tourists/wannabe travellers/explorers, please update your bucket list and add this place to visit during one’s lifetime. Without much ado, let us take you on a dream journey we had to this beautiful place:
Time: March 2018
Itinerary: London (Heathrow Airport) to Zagreb, Zagreb to Dubrovnik and back to London (Gatwick Airport).
For the first timers coming across my blog, just like to give a small introduction. We are a family of three with an adorable daughter. All three of us love to travel and share our experiences with wider audience. Our daughter was 3.5 years old when we went to Croatia.
Day 1: Rastoke, Slunj
We arrived at Zagreb Airport at 1 PM. We had our car booked in advance through an agency by the name INDIGO CAR HIRE (https://indigocarhire.co.uk/) and the booking was really smooth. We booked VW Polo 5 door.
Alert: The baby car seat would cost an extra GBP 7 for the booking.
Tip: Make sure that you do carry your UK driving license. We in fact also applied for International Driving Permit (IDP) for driving in Croatia but it was never checked in our entire journey. However, just to be on the safe side, and considering that it does not cost much and can be conveniently applied for, it is better to carry one along.
Once we were at the airport, it took us almost half an hour to get the car (extra time for finding the right car seat for our daughter).
Once all the paperwork was finished, we had planned to drive to Plitvice Lakes; and so, we did!!!
Alert: The drive in Croatia is a right-hand drive unlike London. So, it took a little while to get a hang of it and the best strategy adopted was to train the brain to keep the vehicle on the right whenever there was a confusion.
The worst part at the start was the broken GPS mount the car rental company had given. It was quite a bummer at the start of the trip. We exited the airport and halted for a while to see if it could be fixed. But to our disappointment, it did not work, so my wife decided to guide me for the directions while I sat behind the wheels to drive down to the lakes.
We decided to purchase GPS mount on the way at the first gas station we could stop by. In about 20 minutes’ drive, we found the station and we were quite relieved to know that they stocked quite good quality GPS mounts.
We loaded the vehicle with fuel and drove to Plitvice lakes!!! On the way, we stopped at a small but beautiful village named Rastoke, Slunj. This village had lakes and falls everywhere.
Tip: It is wonderfull to stop here and click few pictures with your family.
After having spent our entire day here, we decided to take a break and straight away head to our Airbnb reserved apartment. The apartment was at a distance of ten minutes drive before Plitvice lakes. The host was very welcoming and the rooms were already warmed for us by the time we reached (it started to become quite cold by then). Here’s a look at our reservation with our car parked:
In the evening we strolled around in lush greens.
Day 2: Plitvice Lakes
Today was a big day for us, as we had planned to visit Plitvice lakes!!!
It is a UNESCO world heritage site and Croatia`s largest lakes. We were very excited for this. But the weather forecast for this day was not good. It was forecasted to rain all day long and it was indeed cold and wet. We were ecstatic but our enthusiasm was soon shattered when it continued to rain very heavily since morning, After having waited for few hours, we finally decided to visit Plitvice Lakes as the rain wasn’t ready to relent and so weren’t we!!!
We wore as many layers of clothes as possible and also carried extra clothes in case we need to change later. The entry fee was just 5 Euro each in the month of March/April.
With a broken umbrella but unperturbed spirit, we headed towards the lakes. It stopped raining by the time we parked our car and there wasn’t too much crowd we could witness. From the very top, we saw the majestic beauty of the waterfalls and it was indeed the best site we had seen ever.
And all three of us were soaking wet in another 10 minutes (it rained heavily). We weren’t ready to give up so easily that we decided to enjoy the park as much as possible. The bridge in the park was a treasure to walk on!!! We spent almost 2 hours before my daughter could not bear the cold any longer. And we checked out of the park back to our car.
Tip: In a good weather, one can easily spend 5-6 hours or even more with kids.
With our hearts filled with joy and fun we had in the park, we spent the rest of the day in the apartment cooking food and playing games with our daughter. And since our shoes weren’t waterproof, we had to dry them on towel rails!!!
Tip: Do buy a good pair of waterproof shoes and waterproof gear.
Day 3: Dubrovnik
We got up early since it was forecasted to snow. We started from Plitvice at 5:30 AM. We had a long drive to Dubrovnik (7 hours long). We had read a lot about the beautiful highways of Croatia and were overly excited to hit the road never travelled!!!
The whole highway had very scenic views. We stopped at so many places just to enjoy those views. In fact, at one instance, we even pulled over our car to not just enjoy the view, but my daughter and wife even danced around on the highway itself.
Thankfully, we did not witness any snowfall. While moving along, we stopped by one of the places during afternoon where there were so many huts/stalls/farm stands selling local fruits etc. We were astonished to see no shopkeepers in all these stalls (later got to know that locals had gone for lunch and they generally leave the shops opened since it is quite safe in Croatia). We took few oranges and left money on the counter. This was a different experience for us, and the fruits were very delicious.
After a good break, we approached the border entry to Bosnia & Herzogovina and further 12 miles, there is another border entry back into Croatia. In between, you have a lovely drive through the relaxed Bosnian seaside town of Neum!
Visa stamping at the border was quite easy and it only took 10 minutes. We had our lunch in Bosnia, there are many restaurants and food is quite cheap there.
We reached Dubrovnik around 4 PM and it took us almost an hour to find our Airbnb stay. Finally, our host came to navigate us as we had missed a small turn leading to his apartment.
The place was petite but lovely and it had a huge window overlooking the sea.
The whole Dubrovnik is built on steps, so do check with your host about the same if you have a difficulty walking up the stairs.
We rested for few hours and then went out to have Pizza and check out Dubrovnik. We generally prefer walking as a team and decided to walk again to experience the people, culture, and local lingo. We had a lovely time eating pizza in one of the many shops. The vibe of the place was awesome at night. And I definitely recommend going out strolling/walking at night. It is very safe to go out at night.
Clicked by my daughter.
Today was a big day especially for me. Being a die-hard fan of GOT, I had long wanted to take the guided tours for all the places where GOT episodes were filmed. I decided to go for Game of Thrones tour while my daughter and wife decided to stay back as my wife has never watched the same. Both of them went around seeing the city of Dubrovnik while picking and playing with fallen oranges all over the stairs.
Here are the clicks from the guided tour (which is a must for all GOT fans):
Finally, by the time the tour was finished, my family was with me and we had fun strolling around for some time before heading to City Wall Tour (few more pictures here):
City Wall Tour:
We went to visit the City Wall (Ticket Price – 29 Euro, children under 7 free). Here are our pictures:
In the evening we took a cable car to head to the top of Mount Srđ, which we heard was a majestic mountain and indeed after having reached there we witnessed a beautiful sunset. Another pleasant surprise was a restaurant at the top, but it was a little overpriced. Luckily, we had our food packed with us to enjoy the nature and we spent good couple of hours before deciding to come back.
Day 5: Depart from Dubrovnik Airport at 10 AM
We checked out early morning and drove back to Dubrovnik Airport. The car drop was smooth and did not take long before we boarded our flight back to London with beautiful memories in our hearts.