Congratulations, you've guessed it! Jim and I will soon be on our way to Zadar, Croatia. This is a pre-trip to our summer housesitting assignment in France. We'll be spending 5 weeks in Croatia from early May to mid-June.
Croatia is a European country on the Mediterranean Sea. It's located across the water from Italy, facing the back of the "boot." Once a part of Yugoslavia (1945-1992), Croatia is now an independent country that has recently voted to join the EU.
We'll be flying into and out of Zadar, a city on the central coast (across from Italy's "calf.") Zadar itself isn't a big tourist destination, certainly not compared to Dubrovnik, but it does offer an Old Town, Roman ruins, and good transport links to nearby islands and national parks.
So what made us decide to visit Croatia?
First, it looks like a beautiful place, with sparkling blue water, rocky mountain ranges, forests, lakes, and miles upon miles of coastline. Croatia also offers an intriguing mixture of architectural and cultural influences. Ever since I caught a glimpse of Dubrovnik's windy streets, orange-tiled roofs, and city walls, Croatia has been firmly planted on my must-see list -- ah, the powers of advertising!
We also have practical reasons for choosing Croatia. American tourists can spend 90 days there visa-free. Croatia is also a non-Schengen country, so our travels won't count against the rest of the time we spend in Western Europe.
Beyond Croatia, the Balkans offer a wide range of possibilities for future travels. Large city centers, such as Sarajevo and Belgrade, are easily accessible by bus. And aside from Croatia and Greece, most of these countries are cheaper and less heavily touristed than the rest of Europe.
Last but not least, we're excited to visit Croatia simply because we've never been there before. Traveling to a new place always adds to the allure of an adventure, don't you think?