I went to the beautiful Croatia at the end of June with my madre. Unfortunately she wasn't so keen on my plan to make a quick pit-stop at Hideout festival on the way (still my ultimate festival goal) but it was a great trip nonetheless.
We stayed on an island called Lopud, one of more than 1000 islands that line Croatia's coast. It makes up one of the three Elaphiti Islands and is accessible via boat from Dubrovnik. In fact, Lopud is so small that the hotel we stayed in is the only hotel on the island so it's great for those who love the quiet life. However, there were many activities still such as jet skiing, kayaking and a range of walking trails that allow you to explore the island in all its glory. We took a coastal path that brought you to the top of the cliffs and allowed you to see the beautiful crystal blue water of the Adriatic sea. We also hauled ourselves up a LOT of steps to reach the castle ruins that stood at the top of the highest point of the island. The view was incredible, particularly as we went in the evening so the sun was beginning to set. When were climbing the last few steps we also came across a gang of goats (trust me, there a lot scarier than the goats of Vine), almost turning around for fear of being charged but I'm very glad we didn't. I found a huge hole in the ground at the ruins, barely just avoiding falling into it, which I can only imagine would have been some sort of dungeon back in the day. It was very creepy. There were also ruins of an old church and monastery dating way back to the ninth century.
On one of the last days we visited the ancient city of Dubrovnik, known as the "Pearl of the Adriatic". The first thing I noticed was the cats of Dubrovnik, sauntering about and sitting wherever they pleased. They were clearly used to tourists stroking them as they didn't bat an eyelid at all the attention they received. For a reasonable price visitors are permitted to walk the 1.2 miles of the city walls that encircle the Old Town. It gives you a great panoramic view of the whole of the Old Town and the sea. When you visit Dubrovnik you can't miss the fact that it is the setting of King's Landing, the mythical land in Game of Thrones. It has become the biggest selling point for the city, attracting Game of Thrones fans the world over. Unfortunately, I'm still on season 2 so I wasn't too familiar with the specific scenes that were filmed there but I made sure to take my fair share of photos for future reference.
For something a little different, we also decided to check out the exhibition War Photo Limited that we overheard an Australian tour guide raving about to his group. It displays war and conflict photojournalism and was really insightful. I learned so much about the city's turbulent history, a history that is much more recent than I had expected; you can even find bullet holes in many of the city's buildings, over 50% of which had to be restored after the Yugoslav war. There was also a feature on the Ukraine riots at the time we visited and there is an upcoming exhibition on the violence in Congo in Autumn that I would love to check out. If you ever visit the city I would definitely advise you to go and visit the exhibition which permanently houses the feature on Dubrovnik and the Yugoslav war to learn about its past. Plus it provides some much needed air con.
So a big thumbs up to Croatia from me. Next time I will definitely be going for Hideout though.