Thursday, March 15, 2012

All about Croatia

Hi all,

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.

From CityofArt.net.
Unfortunately, we haven't found any housesitting opportunities in Croatia, so we'll be paying for accommodations out of pocket. But on the flip side, this gives us tremendous flexibility to wander around and explore the area as the spirit moves us.

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?

What do Dalmatians, Balki, and an ugly car from the 1980s have to do with Zadar, Croatia? Here's the answer to our Name That Place puzzle:

We're starting our travels on the Dalmatian coast in an ancient city known by the Venetians as Zara. This area of the Balkan peninsula was once a part of Yugoslavia.

3 comments:

  1. Hi Natalie - Hi Jim :-) I visited Croatia a lot of times maybe it helps to know that there is a big tradition in renting out rooms and appartment "private" like here for example: http://www.crikvenica-info.com/index.php - this is in Crikvenica 200km/125Miles from Zadar.
    A beatyful city with a nice marina etc. near the fantastic island Krk :-) You get smal appartments from 20,-€ a day per person ... You can also ask real privat People in all Seaside Towns - a lot of them offer rooms ( signs on the road!) ...

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  2. Another nice spot to go to is the "lakes of Plitvice - UNESCO world heritage resort national park approx. 140 km/90 Miles from ZADAR http://www.np-plitvicka-jezera.hr/en/
    a breathtaking area

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  3. Andreas, thank you for all of the great tips! We appreciate it! And Plitvice Lakes are definitely on our list! :-)

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