Our trip to Croatia and Slovenia was a couple years in the making. We had started planning two years ago to do a bike tour in Croatia and then I would do Ironman 70.3 Pula. That turned into being a little too complex with all the logistics. We finally settled on just renting a car and traveling around on our own staying at basic accommodations. We were also lucky to get some airfare at ~$600 RT, which was pretty good. Below is our itinerary and some of the highlights of our trip. Our flight from Newark to Zagreb was pretty smooth. We had about a 3-hour layover in Amsterdam, which gave us time to grab a coffee and a Stroopwaffel 🙂 before the 2-hour flight into Zagreb.
We arrived in Zagreb around
Tavern Lanterna on Opatovina which was very good. We were the only ones there, which gave it a very personal touch.
After a quick breakfast in Zagreb, we were quickly on our way to Slovenia. We made a random stop along the highway and found a fabulous resort nestled in the hills to have a fabulous lunch buffet. When we reached Ljubljana it was raining quite heavily. It would continue to rain for the next 3 days we were there. We stayed at the City Hotel for both nights in the city. They had nice spacious rooms, great breakfast, and
We spent a lot of time at Pop’s Place under the
Logar Valley (Logarska dolina)
The rain continued for our next waypoint which was the Logar Valley. The ride north from Ljubljana was a rather remote one, but good old Google Maps took me up and over some very steep, narrow dirt roads to our destination. The Logar Valley is supposed to be breathtakingly beautiful. However, I cannot verify this due to the very low fog that inhabited the valley during our stay at Hotel Plesnik. We did manage to have a nice overnight stay getting in some running and a fabulous dinner.
The next destination on our tour of
We took a nice hike through Vintgar Gorge immediately arriving in Bled. The rain was still coming down at this point, but it made for some pretty awesome photography of the steep rock walls and greenish-blue water. There is an admission fee to see the gorge, but it is well worth it. The rain had finally subsided on our second day and we rented a rowboat from Hotel Plenta for 15€ to explore the lake and
We did some photo excursions on the bright blue Soca River. The white limestone
We ate dinner at Gostilina Restaurant at Kamp Polovnik and also at Letni Vrt Pizzeria. Both were pretty good, but the service at Letni Vrt was not very good. We also stopped at the restaurant in Trenta on way back from our hike and had a nice bowl of pasta to replenish our glycogen stores a bit.
We were now on our way back to Croatia again for a nights stay in the seaside town of Rovinj. We stopped at Kozjak Falls and Piran in Slovenia to break up the drive a bit. Kozjak falls was a little waterfall nestled in a cavern-like rock formation. The water was bright blue-green and the rock was dark grey making for a pretty awesome picture. Piran was a very busy seaside town. We walked along the seawall and through the town a bit. It was a bit of culture shock after being in the mountains for the couple days. It was very crowded, touristy and also very warm too. I was happy to get out of here.
Motovun made me feel like I was back in Tuscany again. It was walled village perched on the top of a mountain top. We were right in the heart of Truffle season too, so we had to try them out. Honestly, I don’t see what all the rage is about. We had a nice stay at the Villa Borga B&B. It was very well run with modern amenities inside. My only complaint was that I could not find a bottle opener for the honor-system beer fridge they had downstairs. We dined at a restaurant called Konobo Mondo right near the city gate. The food was ok and it was kind of pricey. I would suggest trying another place before this one. We only had one night here so we didn’t have a chance to try anywhere else.
On our way out of Motovun, heading for Rovinj, we stopped at the small hill towns of Zaversje and Groznjan. Zaversje was a town that is practically deserted with only around a population of 40. The town has come under rule of many different empires over the centuries and contains some architecturally significant buildings. Grozjan was a cute little town featuring a lot of arts and crafts type stores. The tiny cobblestone streets were awesome to just walk through.
On our way down to Rovinj, we stopped Konoba Asterea in Brtonigla, Croatia which Rick Steves made a big fuss about in his book. The owner, Antonio, is the chef and he comes out to every table and makes something special for each person. That is all good and well except if you have to be somewhere that afternoon by a certain time. It took forever! And the owner also has to write up the bill for you too, which is also takes forever because he is going around taking everyone’s’ special order. Needless to say, we were stressing a bit. Do not dine here unless you have nowhere to be for the rest of the day!
We made it to our apartment in Rovinj a little late due to the long lunch. We loved Rovinj. We rented a an apartment from Boris at Villa Rosella 1 which was about a 10-15 minute walk from the waterfront. It was a little tricky figuring out which door was ours and then we had to wait for Boris to show up. A little inconvenient. Once we settled in, we did some laundry and headed down to the seaside village.
We walked around town a bit and then settled in at the Cafe Bar XL just below the Sveta Eufemija Catholic Church. We had a few drinks while taking in the amazing view of the sea from this point. I would highly recommend stopping here to chill for a bit. We then walked around the quaint narrow cobblestone streets of the town before settling in at the Maestral Restaurant for dinner on the water. We had an amazing meal and the seaside atmosphere takes the cake.
We made a lunch stop in the seaside town of Karlobag as we meandered down the coast towards Zadar. We had a nice lunch at Ok Karlobag restaurant which has outdoor seating that overlooks the channel of the Adriatic Sea between the barrier islands and the mainland. I had decided to walk down to the water and check out the temperature. I stepped on some large boulders that blocked the sea and slid feet first right into the ocean. They didn’t look slippery, but they were. My wife and another couple having drinks laughing hysterically as I dragged my wet body out of the water.
We rented a tiny little
The Sea Organ and the Greeting to the sun were pretty cool, especially when there are not as many people there. Just walking along the water and through the town were also highlights. There are some ancient ruins laid out in landscape yard fashion that is worth checking out too. We were toying with the idea of taking a ferry to one of the barrier islands, but that never really panned out.
We stopped at the little coast town of Sibenik after our visit to Krka National Park. We had an awesome, plant-based lunch at the SHE Bistro on one of the back streets. I had an amazing veggie burger on a roll that was out-of-this-world. Denise ordered one after I did and when it came out it was on two slices of regular bread. I thought she was going to cry. They ran out of the amazing rolls. Bummer. We walked around the streets a bit, was serenaded by an ad-hoc acapella group in the courtyard and St. James Cathedral before stopping for is gelato and heading back to Zadar.
(Oct 3rd) We headed to Krka National Park to view the waterfalls. It is a bit of a tourist trap
(Oct 4th) We took an excursion to Valika
We started heading north to Grabovac to spend the next couple days in Plitvice National Park. We stayed 4Seasons Guest House both nights which was very nice. They had a shared kitchen facility which allowed us to make our own breakfast. I hopped on Facebook the night we arrived and saw that one of our friends, Kathy, that we met on our Haute Route trip was in Plitvice that day. I messaged here that night and we planned to meet up at the park entrance the next morning. Denise had already fallen asleep, so she had no idea about this until she woke up. The park opened at 8, so we planned to meet at 7:30-7:45 for a coffee. Well needless to say we didn’t get down chatting until well after 8, but it was so good catching up with her.
Out first experience with
Oh-My-God! This was the best thing we could have done. We had practically the whole park to ourselves! All the busloads had left and we could take our time enjoying these amazing waterfalls. This place is AMAZING!! Earlier I was having trouble taking long exposure shots because of all the people walking on the boardwalks were vibrating my tripod and blurring my shots. Now it was super still. We did end up getting a little lost at that end and came out of the park in the dark, but it so worth it. I would highly recommend this park, but go in the evening if you was some peace and quiet.
We ended up heading back to Restaurant Degenija again for dinner. We have this tendency to stick with what we know is good, so we did and it didn’t let us down. Usually you see several different things on the menu and this allows you to try them all without stuffing yourself in one sitting.
Rastoke and back to Zagreb
On our way back to Zagreb we stopped at the town of Rastoke to walk around a bit and take some pictures. It had started to rain again so it was pretty sloppy out. The Korana river runs literally right through the village of Rastoke which provides cool little waterfalls all through the town. The problem everyone in town is trying to monopolize on the viewing of them. You have to end up buying a ticket or eating a meal somwhere to get close to them. It is kind of a shame, but I guess they have to find some way to make a living. Otherwise people will be just trampling over their properties.
We stayed our last night at the Royal Airport Hotel in Zagreb. The hotel was very nice and had an excellent dinner. They had a small pool and sauna area that you could reserve for an hour or so at a time. It was kind of nice to have it all to yourself. I am not sure what happened the next morning, but it seemed like we went to the wrong airport. The airport was supposed to be right behind our hotel, but we ended up in the wrong place. We eventually figured it out and got there on time.
We thoroughly enjoyed Croatia and Slovenia. This was a little different trip for us. It was not quite as active as some of our trips, but it was a good sampler tour of what this area has to offer. I would highly recommend this to anyone looking to explore this area. We stayed away from the more popular and touristy areas like Split and Dubrovnik. The latter is said to be overrun with tourists due to the Game of Thrones fame. I think the less traveled roads are better. Definitely rent a car here to get around. Language was not a big issue here either. Until next trip!