Final Destination: Dubrovnik!

Where does four weeks go??? From starting in the glorious Lake Bled, Slovenia, to driving through stunning cities and towns, to crossing the Croatian border and visiting the Garden of Eden (AKA Plitvice Lakes), to island hopping to a mini paradise called Korcula, all with my three favorite people in the world….. it has truly been the trip of a lifetime.

For the fifth and final week we topped it off by spending the entire week in Dubrovnik- “The Pearl of the Adriatic.” All of our other destinations have been a maximum stay of four nights so it was lovely to slow the pace down. To really put icing on the cake, my parents and sister and her family joined us for this final week. The four little cousins had a whale of a time together (as did the adults!)

Here was the view from our Airbnb balcony. Wow!

The week in Dubrovnik was glorious with tons to do. I will preface this by saying Dubrovnik is indeed a tourist trap and was extremely busy. It was also by far the most expensive of any Slovenian or Croatian place that we adventured through. To be fair, we have found that the further south we have come, the busier and more expensive it gets. So with Dubrovnik being the most southerly- I suppose these elements are not surprising.

We did a lot in the week so I will try to break it down by activity.

Walking the Walls of Dubrovnik.

We picked an overcast, cooler morning for this and went early as we knew the crowds would take over from 10am onwards. It took about an hour and a half and the views of Dubrovnik were 360 degrees, encompassing red terraced roofs and the sparkling Adriatic Sea from all directions.

Wandering Inside The Walls of Old Town Dunrovnik.

Each and everyday we took a stroll around this medieval town and found something new and intriguing. There are the East and Pile Gates guarding the city, the ever- thronged main street of Stradun lined with cafes, stores and restaurants. There’s the Jesuit Steps, St. Blasius Church, and multiple winding alleys and lanes with something new to discover on each corner.

Real Housewives of Orange County, eat your heart out!

And of course there were many days we participated in grabbing a coffee or an ice cream with the masses on the main drag of Stradun.

Fort Lovrijenac

Fort Lovrijenac is Dubrovnik’s Gibraltar, sitting menacingly atop high cliffs overlooking the city protectively. As with most forts in Croatia, there were a lot of steps up and with a few breaks along the way (and some ice cream bribes) my two little troopers did fantastically! The views of Dubrovnik were breathtaking.

Upon exiting the fort, we meandered down into a snug bay- Pile Bay- with lazy fishing boats and lovely aquamarine water.

Banje Beach

Just outside the city walls lies the tiny Banje Beach. From this beach, the Old City looks like a lego set laid upon the Adriatic Sea. I took my one and only dip of the vacation in the crystal clear waters. Yep- I’m a wimp when it comes to the sea. My sister said it was painful watching me get in! Baahaaahaaahaaa!

 

Eating Out

We ate out every night and found some nice little nooks and crannies. But the restaurant that we came back to over and over again was Dubravka restaurant. With a view of the city walls, good food and fairly reasonable prices (for Dubrovnik!), we ended coming back here three separate times.

 

The City By Night

Because my amazing folks were in town for this portion of the trip, we got two fantastic date nights during the week. The first was just the two of us and we thoroughly availed of the evening by taking in the city by night, and frequenting the secret, but not so secret, bar of Buza. Here we saw people jumping off the cliffs which planted seeds in Wyatt’s brain for a future activity. More on that later….

On the second night out, D and C joined us and we frequented Buza bar again, followed, of course, by the Irish Bar.

D showed me how all the insta models are posing against walls these days. Lol!

Two really lovely evenings!

Diving Off The Cliffs At Buza Bar

Wyatt and I met in Hawaii. He was actually living there at the time, and enjoyed cliff diving with buddies on a regular basis. So when he spotted people cliff diving at Buza bar- he knew how he wanted to spend our final afternoon. It was a lot of fun!

Lokrum Island

The island you see in the background of all my photos is Lokrum Island. We decided to spend a morning exploring. It’s well worth it as there is a lot to do. My parents took the trip over with us. The ferry takes about fifteen minutes to cross.

The island has a monastery, where subsequently a lot of Game of Thrones was filmed. You can check out my GOT Dubrovnik post here. 

There is a fort in the middle of the island with a formidable climb up to it. Ro let a heartfelt groan out of her when she saw the steep incline. The views from the top made it all worth while!

There are also plenty of hidden rocks on every corner of the island to sunbathe on and jump off, as well as a mini ‘Dead Sea’.

But it was the wildlife of Lokrum Island that made my two kiddo’s day. There were peacocks everywhere. KJ called these the ‘peahawks’ (can you tell he is a Seahawks fan?) and referred to them as The Bad Guys as they could peck you.

There were also rabbits all over the island. These were affectionately called The Good Guys. Lots of bunny kisses obtained on this day!

All in all a very enjoyable morning.

Another fantastic extended family holiday in the books!

La Fin.

And so our five week adventure around Slovenia and Croatia draws to an end. I cannot put into words what an unbelievable trip it has been. When Wyatt and I are (hopefully) old and senile, I know we will look back at this time-out we took to spend as a family with our two littles, and light up at the memory of this phenomenal adventure. A massive Hvala Slovenia and Croatia!

It’s back to reality for Wyatt in Seattle, while the kiddos and I continue our Irish adventure for another few weeks.

A Dip in the Adriatic Sea at Mlini, Croatia

We had one night to kill between our stay at Korcula Island and our week in Dubrovnik. We settled on Mlini, a little rocky beach town fifteen minutes from Dubrovnik.

The ferry ride from Korcula to the mainland is much shorter than the inward journey. A little fifteen minute hop across the pond. My head and stomach were grateful!

The two hour car ride from Oberic down to Mlini is stunning! It got a little hairy when the gas light came on and we realized the nearest gas station was a ways away on a one lane street winding its way along the Adriatic cliff face. I think we pulled into the station on fumes but we made it!

A few good friends of mine had visited a travel agency well over a decade ago and asked the agent to book them in somewhere sunny and lively for two weeks. She booked them in to Mlini and they now have the worst memories of Croatia. I can see why. Even though Mlini is a lovely, little town with a calm rocky beach, it would get very small fast if you were in your early twenties and looking for action for two weeks. It was ideal for the night, but to be honest I can definitely see why boredom set in for these ladies. In my opinion two nights is more than enough in Mlini.

There was a lot of construction when we were there getting ready for the beginning of the season in June.

The two littles had a fabulous time looking for crabs in the rock pools and taking a refreshing dip in the sparkling Adriatic Sea.

Next up we meet up with my parents, and my sister and her family in Dubrovnik for an entire week. Little cousins from Seattle and Ireland getting to spend time together in the Mediteranian. Lucky Duckies!

Mini Venice and Mini Rome in Croatia: Rovinj and Pula

Nothing like starting your Croatian leg of the journey with a trip to the hospital in the middle of the night because your four-year-old falls out of bed and gashes his head really badly on the side of the nightstand. That is why KJ looks like this in some of the pics:

All’s well that ends well though! We stayed in Rovinj the last couple of days and took in Croatia’s Istrian towns of Rovinj and Pula. The Airbnb we are staying at is pretty sweet from the kids’ points of view with both a swimming pool and a trampoline in the backyard. They are in heaven!

Rovinj: Mini Venice.

Rovinj is a picturesque, Croatian, Istrian town that is built right onto the sea in the same manner as Venice. There is what we are coming to realize as the typical Istrian town church, a charming port, and a lovely clock tower.

Yes, Rovinj is a beautiful little Istrian town….but if I’m being honest it has not captured my heart to the same extent as Slovenia’s Piran!

Amarin Beach

The beaches of Croatia’s Istrian North coast are not typically sandy. They are the beautiful rocky cove types with gorgeous views of the sparkling Adriatic Sea. Last night we took the daily, obligatory ice cream trip to Amarin Beach and watched the sun dunk lazily into the sea.

Pula: Mini Rome

This morning’s outing involved a quick 30-minute drive from Rovinj down to historic Pula. This Croatian city is spilling over with a breathtaking amphitheater, interesting temples, a forbidding fortress and some beautiful arches.

And we happened upon the fact that Pula has an Irish flare! A 22 year old James Joyce eloped from Irleand with his then girlfriend (and future wife) and spent some time teaching English in Pula.

Monkodonja

Our final leg in this part of the country was a mini hike at Monkodonja. Monkodonja is a Bronje Age hillfort ruin. Today was overcast, but I bet on a sunny day the view goes for miles.

Tomorrow we head for the Croatian capital city of Zagreb to see what wonders it has to offer.

The Gorgeous, Slovenian, Istrian Coastline.

As an adult, there really aren’t a whole lot of ‘good’ surprises in life.

You get an unexpected speeding ticket in the mail- Surprise!

You get a phone call from your daughter’s school saying she has a high temp and you need to come pick her up- Surprise!

You’re late for work and you find out your car has a flat tire- Surprise!

Wyatt and I did not find out the sex of either of our kids ahead of the births as we figured it would be one of the last ‘good’ surprises in life! Well, Slovenia! As we wrap up this portion of the trip on the Slovenian coastline, I would just like to say, you have been the best type of surprise!

Here are some of the gorgeous Istrian towns we visited on the Slovenian coastline.

Piran

This little village has my heart! Our Airbnb was a five-minute stroll from this glorious place and the views on the way down were stunning.

Picturesque, charming Piran has narrow, gothic streets, a beautiful church and bell tower, glorious views of the Mediterranean, and, as Venice is only 96km away, has a real Venetian feel. This is where the locals come to vacation.

We went to Trip Advisor’s number one place to eat for Piran called Fritolin pri Cantini. It’s a little hole in the wall with the most delicious fish dishes. It did not disappoint!

Portoroz.

This is a commercial, Slovenian, coastal, holiday town five minutes from Piran. Tons of restaurants on the boardwalk with music spilling out of them, a city beach and people everywhere!

Koper

This little town has a mix of modern, Venetian and Gothic. Intertwining narrow streets wind towards Slovenia’s largest cathedral. The kids had a blast playing chase in the large square.

Dada decided he also wanted to join in on the game of chase on the streets Koper.

Izola

The final gorgeous Slovenian coastal gem we strolled through was Izola. This old fishing village had its own lovely charm and the sparkling Adriatic Sea added the perfect backdrop to our day.

Tomorrow we drop back our rental car and hop on a bus to continue the adventure across the border in Croatia.

Hvala Slovenia for everything! You started our trip with such a bang!! If Croatia is half as phenomenal as you’ve been, we will be on the pig’s back!