Highlights of Croatia #2: Zadar, Split & Brac

Part two of my highlights from my travels in Croatia last year is here! Part 1 covered Zagreb, Karlovac and Plitvice Lakes. This second part is about the beautiful Croatian coastline.

First up is Zadar! I visited Zadar twice last year while travelling around Europe. It is a charming little city perched on a peninsular with plenty to see and do. The historic centre, with its red roofs and white towers, is very picturesque.

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View from one of the aforementioned towers

If architecture or history is what you are in to you can find it all here. Roman, byzantine or Venetian the architecture is top notch!

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But one of the main attractions in Zadar is neither historical nor architectural – it is in fact musical. The sea organ, located on a promenade with a fantastic view, uses the movement of the waves to push air through organ pipes set into the sea wall to produce some pretty amazing sounds. This is accompanied by a solar powered light show (think dance floor) to make a unique experience.

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Te sea organ is set into these steps/seating
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View from sea organ (yes that is a yellow submarine)

Next up was Split. Now I have to make a confession from the start that I didn’t much like Split. I found it to be dirty, smelly, tacky and over-priced. However, I will admit it has its beautiful parts.

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Another great thing about Split is that ferries leave from here to many of the islands including the one I chose to visit: Brac.

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Bol Harbour

I stayed in the little town of Bol on the island of Brac and I loved it! It was the end of September when I visited so the busy summer season was coming to an end and Bol was returning to being a sleepy fishing village. I really enjoyed sitting at a cafe by the harbour (pictured above) and watching the locals coming and going.

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Lovely tree-lined walkway leading to Zlatni Rat

Walking along this tree lined walkway you arrive at Bol’s most famous attraction. Zaltni Rat is a spit of beach that stretches out into the water, changing shapes depending on the currents. What most people don’t realise is that it is a stone beach rather than a sandy one – but I loved it because you don’t leave feeling like you have sand in all the wrong places.

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Zlatni Rat beach
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Sunset at Zlatni Rat – stoney beach not sandy

Bol was my last proper stop on my European tour last year before heading back to Zadar for my flight. And what a way to finish. Despite catching a cold (was lovely and hot in the sun, but chilly in the shade which was not good after swimming), it was one of the best places I have visited and would highly recommend a visit.

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Simply stunning sunset Bol, Brac – no filter needed
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And the sunrise on the way to the ferry back to Split

Final words on the Croatian coastline: is becoming touristy and over priced but there are still lots of gems that make it worth it.

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Highlights of Croatia #1 (Zagreb, Karlovac & Plitvice Lakes)

This time last year I was exploring the delights of Croatia. Most people know by now about the stunning Croatian coastline and wonderful islands. However today I want to share my love for inland Croatia and the cities of Karlovac and Zagreb.

I was travelling from Trieste, Italy where I had spent  a wonderful few days with my mum. Heading into Croatia, once again solo, my first stop was Karlovac. I wanted to stay in a small city, a bit off the beaten track, in an attempt to get to know the ‘real’ Croatia. I had a nice few days in Karlovac, relaxing on the river banks, exploring the old city walls and hanging out at the castle. I even did some embroidery with a view:

While I was in Karlovac, I also took the opportunity to visit the famous Plitvice Lakes National Park.

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It was quite a grey day when I visited – which meant the long walk around the lakes was bearable – but was not so great for getting stunning photos. But with a little help from some filters I hope you will get an idea of the tremendous beauty of the place.

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The greenery and the reflections where absolutely stunning, not to mention the amazing waterfalls that connect the 16 lakes.

After Karlovac and the wonderful day trip to Plitvice, I unwillingly made my way to Zagreb. The capital city was definitely not top of my list of places to visit – I thought I’d had enough of big cities – but it soon became a firm favourite.

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No filter – I just love the light hitting the leaves and the water in this photo.

There is something about Zagreb that really struck with me and I felt at home almost straight away. I say almost….if you discount an incident with a giant moth you could say immediately. I loved the architecture, the parks, the seemingly endless festivals, craft markets and open air concerts, the pockets of alternative culture, the people, oh and the food…

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Lunch

Zagreb is not the most photogenic place, but it has a certain atmosphere that really appeals to me. Perhaps it is the meeting of cultures – the Austro-Hungarian influence meeting the Balkan/Ottoman – that creates this unique place. Whatever its secret to success, it is somewhere I have returned to and will hopefully return again in the near future.

My Top Craft-Travel Ideas

Today I thought I would share a little of my craft-travel wisdom with y’all. For those, like me, interested in crafts and travelling there are several great opportunities available to combine the two.

Craft Holidays

The Raku Garden – Brac, Croatia

Maybe, like me, you have been watching the BBC’s Pottery Throwdown and were inspired by the Raku challenge. Well here’s your opportunity to try it out yourself! Join Julie and Tim on a beautiful Croatian island to experiment with this exciting ceramics technique. I spent a week on the island of Brac last year so I can attest to its beauty and I’m sure it would make a great place to get creative.

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Dipping my toes in the beautifully clear water of the Adriatic Sea. Brac, Croatia.

Stitchtopia

From a weekend of knitting in Yorkshire to a fortnight exploring the textiles of South Africa or India – Stitchtopia has it all! As the name suggests these holidays are a real utopia for all you stitch lovers including knitting, crocheting, quilting embroidery and all things textiles.

Responsible Travel, Craft Holidays in the Scottish Highlands

Responsible Travel is a website dedicated to tours, holidays and excursions which invest locally, save water and energy, and protect local wildlife and culture. They have several craft related holiday options, but the one that particularly caught my eye was a holiday in the Highlands of Scotland learning about organic wool, natural dyes and felting techniques. Sign me up!

Helpx and Workaway

For a totally unique experience and craft-travel on a budget, check out these websites.They offer free accommodation, food and  cultural exchange in return for 4-5 hours work a day (can be more, or less, depending on the host) all over the world. Alongside farms and family-run accommodation businesses several makers are listed.

Searching using keywords such as ‘ceramics’ or ‘weaving’ in the websites’ host lists will unearth some amazing opportunities to live and work with makers. You can help a ceramicist in the Netherlands, learn about natural leather tanning in Austria or join a weaving project in Portugal. Not all helpers offer hands-on experience with their craft (some require help around the house or garden or looking after children), so be sure to read the profiles carefully.

Whether you are an experienced maker or a total novice, looking for a short break or longer learning experience, there is plenty on offer here!

Last year I spent two weeks in Slovenia with a couple who grow herbs and berries and collect wild flowers to make various teas, herbal salts etc. You can read more about my crafty adventures in Slovenia here, here and here. And finally, here a few photos from my HelpX experience in Slovenia to inspire your craft-travel:

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Experimenting with weaving and wild flowers in Slovenia
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Explore amazing places that your average tourist never sees
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The view from my bedroom during my helpx experience in Slovenia.