Croatia Calling

Terraced beach on the Dalmatian coast near Dubrovnik

 Last September I had the good fortune to accompany my friend Karen to her apartment on the Croatian island of Milna.  She insisted on doing all the driving, about 1,200 kilometres or 750 miles. I felt like chauffeured royalty.

Port at Milna

 En route we detoured to Varenna along Lake Como in northern Italy for a two-day break.  (See a previous post, “Bellissimo Lago di Como,” with many photos of the stunning area.) 

Serenity on the Dalmatian coast

The island of Mljet. There is a National Park on the western part of the island.

The journey from Varenna to Milna was long. We waited in a line of cars for almost two hours to cross the border from Slovenia into Croatia. When we reached Split after a day and half of driving from Varenna, my dedicated driver finally had a rest. We boarded our first ferry for the trip to her island. 

Sunset on the Adriatic

Ferries, all sizes,  are the mode of transport  among the Croatian islands. The country claims more than 1,000 islands, but most are small and uninhabited. Some ferries transport cars and people. Some are for passengers only.  Backpackers, families with kids and dogs in tow, old and young – all aboard.  We rode many during our week’s stay.

Karen’s apartment sits atop a hill not far from the ferry stop in Milna.  This was her last visit. She had recently sold the apartment which she had owned for 13 years.  The long trips to reach Milna were getting to be too much.

During our stay we visited other islands, swam in sparkling waters at idyllic beaches, and ate very well. Croatia is paradise for fish and seafood lovers.  We savored  monk fish with truffle sauce, black risotto with shrimp, fettucine with seafood, mussels, calamari, and scrumptious seafood platters. 

I was keen to visit Dubrovnik where I had been many, many  years ago on assignment for the newspaper Stars and Stripes. I remembered those monumental city walls.

Le Stradun, main artery in the old city of Dubrovnik

Instead of staying in the city, we splurged on a luxurious  coastal hotel.    A bus took us to town where we joined numerous other visitors to walk atop the walls which are considered one of the best-preserved medieval fortification systems in Europe. Wall statistics:  1,940 meters long encompassing five forts, 16 towers and bastions. And steps: 1,080.

A Dubrovnik must: A walk/climb on the ancient walls around the town
Get your exercise climbing 1,080 steps on Dubrovnik’s walls.

More steps, a grand total of 4,343, are within the city perimeter. And cats.  Everywhere. As a  cat lover, I was thrilled and spent too much time trying to get the perfect feline photo.  The kitties  are accustomed to all the attention and seem to pose for photos as they lounge in the middle of plazas, take a cat nap on restaurant chairs, curl up in flower pots, saunter through cobbled alleys.

Dubrovnik cats are considered its oldest citizens.  Their ancestors helped fight the bubonic plague carried by rats.  The plague ravaged the city in the 14th century when Dubrovnik, known as Ragusa, was a main trading hub between Europe and the Ottoman Empire.  Trading boats, coming from all around the Mediterranean,  brought goods to the city, ship cats who disembarked — and the plague.   The cats were welcomed and treated well for their help in fighting the disease.

12th century cathedral of Saint Tryphon in Kotor

Even more cats wander freely in Kotor, a coastal town in neighboring Montenegro.  I had read about the country’s spectacular coast and wanted to visit since it was so close  We set off to Kotor with scenery photo opps the entire way. Those travel articles did not exaggerate.  Kotor, like Dubrovnik, has a medieval old town, lively squares and twisty streets.

A stop for a stroll in Perast on the Bay of Kotor, Montenegro

The Kotor cat is a symbol of good luck.  As in Dubrovnik, cats originally arrived via ships. They helped control the rat population, as well as snakes and other nasty critters from  nearby mountains. Today the cat also contributes to the Kotor economy.   Cat shops selling feline souvenirs and cat paraphernalia are popular.  There is a cat museum. As one blogger wrote, Kotor is for “cat-o-holics” (me).

Before we returned to Milna, we spent a day lounging at our hotel, marveling at the beauty of the surroundings, swimming in the clear water, and taking too many photos.  We did not want to leave.

I loved swimming in these waters, but was too chicken to jump from the rocks.

Croatia rates three Michelin stars plus – definitely “worth  a visit.” Croatians are friendly folk, and English is widely spoken.

 Thank you, Karen, guide extraordinaire, for sharing your  swansong journey with me.

More photos follow.

More on Hungary coming: FOOD.

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Croatia is a Mecca for sailors and their boats. In Milna we met a Texan with his boat.
Blissful beach in Montenegro
Primosten, a village and municipality on the Adriatic coast

22 thoughts on “Croatia Calling”

  1. Excellent work, Leah. Libby and I enjoyed it very much.Remember you sent me to hunt pheasants and chukar?

    Norm

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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    1. Hello Norm and Libby. It’s wonderful to hear from you. I am happy you liked the post. I don’t remember pheasants. I thought it was to fish somewhere. I wasn’t sure what chukar is. Now I know, another bird. You are probably right. Where did you go to seek out the pheasants? We all have fond memories of those days. Stay in touch.

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    1. Indeed a top of bucket list destination. I am so glad I had the opportunity to visit — all thanks to Karen. I was very happy to see cats well treated. Too bad that is not the case in too many places.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a wonderful trip. I can see why you took a lot of photos. The ones you included are enticing, to say the least. Great photo journalism – the photos tell the story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, a wonderful trip thanks to my very knowledgeable guide and friend. She knew all the beat beaches –and how to get to them. Sure, you can make it to Croatia. Put it high on your bucket list.

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  3. Hi Leah,Entered a comment but it wouldn’t take my email…anyway, I’m sure it’s my bad but anyway to save time…”OMG, Leah, incredibly gorgeous region! Marvelous photos and story…so glad you had the opportunity to go!”Seriously, what an amazing trip!BTW, we stayed for a week near Varenna a few years ago. More later…off to the pool store…remember what it’s like to keep up a pool?Stay cool!Hi to Bob. Love, Gayle

    Gayle Smith PadgettThe Birdwatcher’s WifePassion for Provence: 22 Keys to La Belle Vie gaylesmithpadgett.com

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The swimming was glorious…. our kind of swimming. I remember those fun swims we had at Lake Ste. Croix with your 4-legged swimmers. And, that very special B’day swim at the perfect beach in MRS.

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  4. Thank you, Leah, for introducing me to the wonders of Croatia. What a stunning coastline! It’s good to know that the travel reviews are not exaggerating.
    Please more food photos! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s good to hear from you, Frances. Yes, Coatia is gorgeous. My food photos did not do justice to the the delectable dishes. So, I deleted. Will try harder next time.

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  5. Thanks, Leah, for the trip to Croatia! I forwarded it to a cat-loving American friend who lives opposite CentCinq in Apt. Wishing you both an enjoyable summer, Jinny (Note from my “editor’s pen”: “in tow,” not “in toe”!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Jinny. I appreciate your editor’s eagle eye. Correction made. I hope you are in Finland enjoying cool temps. It is too hot here.. Enjoy your northern summer.

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