Croatia is a beautiful country with many intriguing small villages spread along a winding coastline and numerous small islands, and an inland range of mountains.
We first noted the mountains when our plane flew level past the windows of houses and landed at the small Dubrovnik airport on the only level piece of land for miles. The Albatross hotel was only a short drive and we were soon checked in to this very smart, large modern hotel with good rooms, delicious buffet dinners and breakfasts. Travellers were quick to explore the nearby coastal town of Cavtat within easy walking distance, a small lively harbour, many small restaurants, bars and even an entertaining youth church festival on one day.
After a ‘free time’ day, our first excursion was to Montenegro – outside of the EU with corresponding customs and border delays. Passing first through the large city of Herceg Novi, our coach then followed the coast road round the four arms of the Bay of Kotor, noting the beautiful surrounding mountains and small villages. A stop at Perast, to board a small boat to reach the Church ‘Our Lady of the Rocks’, built on a small artificial island in the middle of the Bay. A fluent and efficient guide filled in the intriguing history for us. Return to the coast road, and onto Kotor, a delightful walled city, whose walls extended from the sea-level moat, up the mountainside (1600 steps) and a history to envy. The town itself was a delight of historic civic buildings, churches and small restaurants in winding alleyways. Everyone liked Kotor. A welcome stop on the return Journey, back in Croatia, was the wine-tasting at Konavle – a delightful environment, entertaining hosts, prosciuttio, cheese olives and bread to offset the wines, and not least, delicious wines made from local, almost unique, varieties of grape.
Our second excursion was to the living museum of 1000 year old Dubrovnik, where little has changed over the years. We learnt the history, whilst sheltering from the rain under umbrellas or taking refuge in churches, Franciscan monasteries, a pharmacy or other buildings; we noted the damage caused in the civil war – mostly now repaired. Points of interest on our walking tour were Orlando’s Column, the large and small Onofrio’s fountains, and the Placa Stradun. Some hardy souls ventured up the steep steps to reach the city’s medieval wall walk with intriguing views over the sea of red rooftops. An alternative attraction was the cable car rising up the hill beside the town – super.
Next day, an hours ride by small boat from Dubrovnik’s harbour of Gruz, to two of the Elaphite Islands, Sipan and Lopud, each with very small communities. A walking excursion to a ‘fort’ church, was an insight to earlier times. A tasty (local) fish lunch with wine on board, was a perfect complement to the environment, the opportunity to see the rugged coastline and scattered villages from the boat, and the sun, which shone all day. Delightful.
Overall, a pleasant and efficient hotel, experiencing varied cities and villages and architectures, different cuisine, different customs and traditions, and the company of fellow –Probians, resulted in a very enjoyable holiday.