Road Trip through Croatia
The adventure began at the car rental, Argus Car Hire which is an aggregator that helped us get a real great rate through a provider called RIDECAR. $500 to rent the car for 45 days. Outside the airport we could not find RIDECAR so we checked with the other rental agencies. One of these guys made a call to a friend and directed us across the street to a small temporary building with an 8x11” paper that had RIDECAR printed on it. Two young men began walking towards us with smiles and outstretched arms, Bruno and Antonio.
They happily greeted us and we all walked into the temporary building. Their English, as with almost every Croatian we met, was pretty good and they proceeded to fully engage and entertain us while getting the paperwork filled out. Turns out their friend just started this company and they came to meet us as we were the only customers that afternoon. They were cheerful, helpful, and joyful to be around. Bruno explained that we needed paperwork to drive the rental car out of the country and we said we were staying only in Croatia. Antonio explained that to get from Dubrovnik to Split, you needed to go through Bosnia. It turns out that Bosnia is inland and must have access to the Adriatic Sea. So there is a small path through Croatia that is Bosnian territory. To go through Bosnia we would need a 75 Euro permit for the car. They said driving through Bosnia was OK. Montenegro was OK. But we should not go to Serbia.
After the paperwork was completed, Bruno and Antonio showed us how to get to Dubrovnik. Our car a diesel VW Golf. It was in almost new condition. After a 30 minute drive from the airport we were at the walls of Dubrovnik.
The city is an ancient walled city. The city was probably founded by the greeks about 2000 years ago. In the 7th century the Slavs invaded it The name back then was Ragusa. It was part of the Byzantine Empire starting in the 9th century and prospered under Byzantine rule. Shortly after the Venetians conquered Constantinople in 1204 as part of the forth crusade they turned their attention to Dubrovnik. The city came under Venecian rule from 1205-1338. Dubrovnik was fortified with stone walls under Venetian rule in the 13th century. Those walls still stand today. Taking a tour of the city on top of these wars is spectacular. There is a digital clock tower the Venetians built similar to the digital clock tower in San Marco Square in Venice. The streets of Dubrovnik are white marble polished by walking feet through the centuries. Dubrovnik (Or Ragusa) was an independent republic from 1358 to 1806 when Napoleon took it over. With Napoleon's fall, Dubrovnik became part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1815. After World War I, Dubrovnik became part of Croatia which itself was part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes which became Yugoslavia after World War II. Dubrovnik was subjected to considerable shelling by Serbs during the war in 1991/2 in a siege that lasted seven months. The Old Town suffered considered damage, but was quickly restored to its former beauty.
The blue of Adriatic is stunning. The seafood is fresh and decisions. The people are warm and kind and joyful. The walls and marble of the ancient city are incredible. Dubrovnik is a spectacular city. Thats why they film Game of Thrones here.
I have to call out a wonderful restaurant for dinner called Restaurant Orhan. Adam was our waiter. The food was great. There is a spectacular view of the old city over the harbor. It is away from he crowds so it is quiet. And Adam will make your meal a joyful experience. I recommend Orhan very highly. Below is a photo of Orhan at night.
We left Dubrovnik and drove the coastline of the Adriatic to Split. The road was a winding road with spectacular scenery. Every curve was stunning with the mountains of stone dropping to the blue Adriatic waters. Fresh fruit and vegetables were for sale in the small towns we drove through. The entire drive was 4 hours of pleasant scenic roads. WE got to Split and followed the signs the the Ferry dock to board the ferry to Hvar. You want to get tot he ferry at least 30 minutes early. Our boat left at 2:30. The ferry ride to Hvar is about 2 hours. The scenery is stunning. We are spending our first night on Hvar at the base of another walled city. We will tell you more of Hvar in a few days.