Friday, 10 May 2019

Croatia Holiday Review: Is it worth a visit?

I visited Croatia before I started blogging, but I've noticed recently it's somewhere which people are intrigued by but don't really know if it's worth visiting instead of their regular European favourites like Spain or Italy.

If you're wondering if a Croatia holiday is worth it, or if you'd be better going to somewhere else, then I'm here to give you my thoughts on the country, and a mini-review of my holiday to Croatia. Bear in mind this is based on my holiday in 2014 so it is more a think piece on my experience of the country, rather than a specific up-to-date travel guide.

I've grouped this into headings and talked about each aspect in turn, to try and give my advice on the destination based on what matters to you for a holiday. Think of it like asking a friend in the office if they'd recommend somewhere for a holiday: it's an overall gist of 'what Croatia is about'.

Croatia holiday review- Podstine hotel

Croatia holiday: beach relaxation

The beaches we saw were generally rocky, so most of our time was spent relaxing at the gorgeous hotel pool. I wouldn't say Croatia is the best country to choose if you want idyllic sandy beaches with not much else to do. If that's your thing then I'd go for somewhere else in Europe such as Spain or Greece.

The rocky beaches on Hvar island were still beautiful to walk along when we went out for dinner, as pictured below. The island has some incredible beaches with crystal clear water: it's just down to whether the rocky terrain bothers you.

Split has a public beach which I talk about later on, but this is not particularly aesthetically pleasing. If you're visiting Croatia and want to spend your days on the beach, bear in mind that they are mostly rocky. I'd recommend looking at Zlatni Rat, Brac, which I was promised by a local is the best destination in the country! There's a great article from Time Out which goes through all the best beaches in Croatia: read it here.

Croatia holiday review- hvar beach

Croatia holiday review- podstine hotel

Croatia holiday: nightlife

We didn't really know how much of a party island Hvar was until we got there. This was before the days of me incessantly reading travel blogs before visiting somewhere new! It was a great place to have a good few drinks and unwind. Luckily the hotel we stayed at was enough of a (beautiful) walk away from the bars to make it peaceful when we wanted it to be.

If you want to relax I would definitely recommend staying at a quieter part of the island to get away from the clubs and bars, but the option is there to walk along to the more busy centre when you do fancy a drink. The hotel we stayed in, pictured above, was Hotel Podstine (affiliate link) which I did really like. I would recommend checking out hotels in that area for a quiet stay.

It's certainly not a rowdy atmosphere in Hvar and there are some beautiful restaurants, so anyone reading this who wants somewhere quite relaxing is bound to enjoy it there - just pick hotels wisely and stay out of the party areas.

Croatia holiday review- Hvar scenery

Croatia Holiday: history and culture

I found that Split really oozed history and culture. It is one of those cities which is fantastic to just walk around and soak up the atmosphere, seeing some really nice historical buildings on your way round.

I will say that it isn't somewhere you need absolutely loads of time. We had three nights and this was just enough to get to know the city and explore. I did really enjoy it, but if I had to compare it to other cities I've visited such as Rome and Lisbon, unfortunately they would win for me in terms of things to see. I'd say it's more of a place to wander round and slowly take in the culture than rushing between specific big sights to tick off. Perfect if you want a very laid-back holiday with no pressure to do certain things!

Croatia holiday review- is it worth a visit for history like this

It is quite a grungy city, which I did really like. Cool and gritty street art everywhere. I remember sitting in one of the outdoor bars just near where you take the ferry to Hvar and just people watching for ages. It's one of those cities which relaxes you as there isn't loads to do and it just feels a little off the beaten track.

It's worth pointing out that there is a public beach in Split which we took advantage of for one day. With hindsight it was fine, but nothing special, so you are probably best either visiting Split as a city break on its own, or twinning it with somewhere like Hvar as we did and saving your beach relaxation days for that part of your holiday.

Croatia - graffiti in Split

I would really like to check out Dubrovnik, as I've heard some really great things about the city. I have a feeling it might change my opinion of Croatia somewhat, as I liked the country but didn't fall for it.

Croatia Holiday: the food

I really liked the food in Croatia. It was similar to Italian food in a way, with an emphasis on fresh ingredients. Hvar island had some beautiful restaurants. There is fresh seafood aplenty and this was definitely the highlight of the Croatia foodie scene for me!

I wouldn't say the food is the most memorable I have ever had, but I do remember it being easy to get tasty meals, particularly during our stint on Hvar island. This was the first time I had a whole fish and I still remember it being absolutely delicious.

Croatia food

Croatia Holiday: Nature

One of the highlights of our Split / Hvar twin centre for me was our day at Krka National Park. It is so beautiful and swimming in these natural pools is one of my best travel memories.

Definitely take a trip to either Krka, pictured below, or Plitvice which also looks like an incredible national park. I'd definitely recommend exploring the nature in Croatia as it is stunning and it would be a shame to miss it! It is worth a holiday to Croatia for the stunning scenery alone.

Krka scenery

Croatia holiday: getting there from the UK

My holiday to Croatia was in the height of summer and involved visiting two destinations: Split and Hvar. We flew directly to Split, and then took the ferry across to Hvar which was really easy to do.

Easyjet fly directly from Newcastle to Split which is great as we have limited options for direct destinations up north. You can also fly direct from Newcastle to Dubrovnik with Jet2. I have heard so much about this destination and particularly for Game of Thrones fans it seems worth a long weekend trip.

There are also direct flights from London, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol and Edinburgh so is definitely worth checking for any good deals to Croatia from your local airport.

Croatia holiday scenery

So is a Croatia holiday worth it?

I wouldn't rate Croatia as my number one destination for a European break, as I do think there is more to be seen in countries like Italy. What I will say is that it is a more affordable option than Italy, and it has the benefit of having less tourists and more undiscovered places.

I would say if counting countries is your thing, and you've already covered off other parts of Europe, or you are looking for somewhere brand new to explore which has a combination of beach relaxation, good food, nature and a city break, then a twin centre to Hvar and Split really has its upsides.

I would definitely say a Croatia holiday is worth it, especially if you can find a good deal. For those  fellow Geordies reading this, there are limited places you can fly to from Newcastle so the option of a direct flight to Split or Dubrovnik is a huge plus point.

Have you ever been to Croatia? Did you think it was worth it? I'd love to hear your opinion in the comments. I hope this honest review is helpful to anyone who is considering a Croatia holiday.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

April trips and bucket list

I haven't ever written a round-up post before as last year I was always busy travelling around. Now that things have ~ v e r y ~ much settled down and I'm not travelling every week I thought I'd write a little summary of April. These are the places I have been to over the last month and those which are currently on my never-ending travel bucket list. This is the kind of post I love reading to inspire my own day trips and holidays, so hopefully you will too!

As someone who searches on Sky Scanner every single day, the second part of this post is never going to be a struggle to pull together. So without further ado, here are my trips and tips for April.

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

What Home Means to Me

What home means to me quayside

What is home anyway? It’s a funny question, one which I am sure many expats would answer with a shrug. When your home involves two or more different countries, things get a little more complicated.

What home means to me: two nationalities

I have dual nationality. My mum is English and my dad is Turkish, although they met in the north east of the UK. I lived in Istanbul, Turkey until I was 4 and then moved to England where I lived the rest of my life until last year when I spent 7 months in Singapore. You can read more about that here if expat life appeals to you.

Because I have a parent in each country as well as their extended family, home has always been a weird concept for me. What if you have two homes? What if ‘home’ (where your parents live?) doesn’t actually feel that much like home?