CAVTAT, CROATIA JULY 21st- AUGUST 31st 2018 part 2

The last four weeks of our time in Cavtat have been spent truely relaxing with just the odd day trip to tick off a few on the nearby “to do” list.

This meant taking the local bus one Sunday morning to Cilipi a nearby town where every Sunday during the season they put on a folklore morning. For a small price you get a welcome drink, ticket to the local museum and the folklore dancing show. It was well worth it and we would highly recommend it if you’re in this neck of the woods.

Many of our days were spent waking up going through emails and Facebook from home, then breakfast before heading to “our” spot on the beach as they call it for the next 6-7 hours. This entailed swimming, reading, napping, chatting to our regular Croatian buddies, coffee and lunch after the noon bells from Saint Nicolas church ring out, watching the different boats and ferries come in and out and just soaking up the ambiance oh and the occasional ice cream. It’s then home for beer/ gin o’clock, dinner and often a walk around the peninsula in the evening with the occasional cocktail before home, tea and perhaps a tv series on the iPad before sleep time. Bliss Bliss Bliss.

If you asked me was 6 weeks too long the answer would be a definite NO.

This has been the most wonderful summer holiday in such a beautiful location that we would happily return each year.

If property wasn’t so expensive here on the Croatian riviera and rules for foreign ownership not quite so difficult we’d be buying in.

Saying that we have been extremely spoilt with our hosts Michael and Mira.

They come in once a week to do a thorough clean and top up soaps, dishwashing liquid, toilet paper and change bed linens. Other towels and tea towels changed every three days.

They are becoming like close family friends and we had a delightful long lunch with them at their villa upstairs eating great food and drinking probably too much wine and different limoncello’s. Oh well none of us were off to work after so all good.

My lilo got a hole in it 😞 but luckily someone finished their holiday and left one shaped and decorated like a pizza slice at the beach so after two days we claimed it and I’ve been floating around on it ever since. Even the girl at the ferry ticket stand when we went to take the ferry to Lokrum island asked why we weren’t taking the pizza slice with us.

Lokrum island is just off the old town of Dubrovnik and we’ve passed it many times and finally on one of our last few days we visited it. What a treat.

As a National Park it’s beautiful and there is just so much more to this island than just the most incredible coloured waters and great swimming. There is an old monastery which also had links to those Habsburg’s which are everywhere in Europe, an old fort, a botanical garden with even a few “exotic” gum trees and bottle brush from Australia, and so many other incredible little bays and areas to discover oh and a nudist beach. A few restaurants and bars help make it a great visit.

But Lokrum wasn’t the only trip we did these last few weeks we took a full day trip to the island of Mljet island and national park as well. This was an early start and a fairly long ferry ride from Dubrovnik main port.

We had a very pleasant day there and enjoyed all that the trip offered but feel Lokrum was probably better value unless you stayed a few days at Mljet which is not an option for Lokrum. On Mljet you can hire push bikes or scooters so you could really explore the island over a few days as it really is quite large.

Another day trip which we thoroughly enjoyed that also meant an early start was a fabulous day going to Korcula island via Ston with its walls similar to those of the Great Wall of China, its salt ponds and with a wine and grappa tasting on the way home it was a real winner.

Korcula was just the loveliest town and we would again recommend this at the least as a day trip if not overnight or few days visit.

Marco Polo was born here so of course there is the museum etc to visit, lots of great little shops, narrow lanes where people live and many restaurants enjoying the beautiful views from almost everywhere and that was just the main town of Korcula. This is a pretty big island and you could probably spend a fair amount of days tripping around to the other villages.

We also finally got to the house of Cavtat’s favourite artist Vlaho Bukovac whose family home is much larger than it appears on the outside and is now fairly empty apart from some furniture from back in the day and his paintings some which actually decorate the walls as frescos. There was fairly large grounds for this area as well.

The artist is buried in his family’s tomb at the gorgeous Cavtat cemetery.

And I finally took a peek in The lady of the snow Church and Monastery here in Cavtat. It actually had some pretty amazing art work and one wall structure that took my fancy. I’ll post a photo and I’m sure you’ll see which one I think was amusing.

As our days run out we will remember always this great visit with much happiness and hopefully we will return.

One things for sure I’ll never get sick of looking at the photos of Cavtat and know that I left a big chunk of my heart there.

Our next plane ride is to Frankfurt with a three night stop staying with Andrea and Thomas those lovely dear friends whom put us up late last year when we visited Germany for the Christmas markets. Will also catch up with son Scott who will be in Frankfurt as well that weekend before we all fly home to Australia on September 3rd from Frankfurt.

CAVTAT, CROATIA. JULY 21st-AUGUST 31st. A welcome visit from Craig and our first week.

(The red line indicates approximately where our villa is)

Four years ago we came to Cavtat on the ferry from Dubrovnik on a free day from our coach tour.

The sun was shining, the water gloriously blue, clear and clean, and the surrounding vistas magical.

Loved every second of this day and now four years later we get to spend six weeks relaxing and visiting the surrounding countryside and countries on day trips.

We booked a villa in the old town of Cavtat which is like stepping back in time with its winding alleyways and old stone houses.

The villa being on the top of the peninsula is in the most fabulous location with a few minutes walk down to the harbour on both sides.

One is the more busy side with private mostly luxury boats coming in for the day and where the restaurants and fresh produce stalls are.

On the other side the path which goes all the way round so both sides are linked by this route is the quieter side only one restaurant and places to make a spot for the day for sunbathing and swimming.

Cavtat has become more popular since our last visit which means the prices have gone up substantially in the restaurants and so has the accommodation.

However there is a buzz around and our lovely villa with terrace area is always quiet and welcoming as are our hosts.

We arrived fairly late in the evening with Michael meeting us at the bus stop where he had told our Uber driver he would be. There was handshaking and jolly hellos as we started up the path home. You can’t take a car into the old part which makes it peaceful and great for walking.

There was limoncello to toast our arrival and promises of coming down to show us where to go etc another time. Which of course he did and they have ordered a small freezer for the villa so we can then stock up at Lidl when it arrives. With offers to take us to lidl and a country drive we aren’t complaining about our welcome.

Like all new places everything is slightly different and I’m really impressed how relaxed we are now about quickly sorting out what we will need to buy or ask for to make our stay comfortable.

We quickly realised that paying $6 a day each for sunloungers on the rocky waterfront will add up so we bought thick yoga mats and a couple of cheap beach towels for our stay. We can leave them here for the next visitors.

A few days later we decided to buy an extra layer of padding to our original purchases and a couple of blow up pillows. Our age is catching up with us and our bones need a bit more comfort from the concrete shore front. I also bought a cheap blow up lilo (sea mattress) I can’t wait to try it.

We had bought a SIM card at the airport and after spending too long trying to get it to work decided it was time to go to bed and worry about it tomorrow. I had trouble going to sleep even though I was tired, I was just too excited to be back in my happy place.

A lazy first morning saw us walking to the harbour side for breakfast and walk around the other peninsula that makes up Cavtat. There is a massive hotel over there which we wandered through. A lot of package tours we suspect.great facilities though and awesome coastal views.

Anyway we did a pretty big reconnaissance of the waterline part of Cavtat. It actually climbs up from down here to the main road quite steeply, so again glad we made the choice to spend a little more and stay in the old town.

Ice cream is just huge in Europe and here it is so cheap $2 Aus for a scoop. So many flavours I’m looking forward to trying them all.

On our second full day we took the bus that goes to Dubrovnik but stopped off in the village of where there is a shopping centre.

First we walked down to the waterfront to see what it had to offer. It appeared to be more families here and a newer slightly manufactured look to the development.

Saying that having a shopping centre would be a real bonus for families wanting to self cater as we do.

Unfortunately the fresh produce was not so fresh and the meat not so appealing.

We rethought our purchasers and realised that the more expensive but much fresher and appetising fruit and vegetables down here on the waterfront would be our best bet.

We however stocked up on some other basics and made our way home back on the bus. Oh I also found and bought a bottle of gin for around $8.

Time for a walk to find ice cream and then home to cook our first meal here and of course for me to make my jug of sangria.

On our walk around the town we started talking deals with the locals on getting some discounts. Managed to get ten return tickets on ferry to Dubrovnik for the one way price. A slight discount on one trip we want to make and discount on car hire which we won’t need to have consecutive days. This will allow us to spread our sightseeing over the time we’re here.

We made a trip into Dubrovnik to check out a few things before we take our mate Craig in for a day exploring when he arrives. Having been here before we had some idea of what we want to do but it’s good to have made sure all is organised before we share a day there.

Our days started falling into a routine of getting down to a spot on the waterfront in the shade by 9:30 to spend the time there till around 3 pm when we lost the shade and it became too hot for comfort.

We’d spend the time reading, swimming, either bringing lunch or buying something simple, having a coffee and perhaps a few little shut eyes.

I still am in awe every time I look up from my book to see the beauty of this place.

Although busier than our last visit it still retains a charming village feel.

I like that there is a variety of things to do here which means you can easily stay for weeks or months here. We’ve settled in easily and happily and our first week flashed by.

Over that first next week we started seeing some of the same people each day and started chatting to a local woman who spends her time between Croatia and Germany in fact in the same town our friends Andrea and Thomas live in and where we stayed with them in December 2017. What a coincidence.

Often on the walk home we will pop into the local Pemo grocery store for something for dinner and maybe an ice cream from one of the many sellers.

Back home we relish the aircon and it’s usually early cocktail hour with James having a beer and I’ll make a small jug of sangria or a gin and tonic for me. Crackers and cheese, potato chips or peanuts are the usual accompaniment before it’s time to make our dinner.

We’re waiting for Craig’s arrival for our eating out week. With quite a few long day trips booked for his week with us I’m sure we won’t want to be cooking more than a couple of times.

Our landlord is taking us to Lidl for a big shop now that the freezer has arrived so we’ll have a better selection of meat on hand once we’ve been there.

Our trip to Lidl was mixed. It was great to have a larger selection but we still weren’t finding all the things we normally would in a large supermarket elsewhere.

But we’re getting better at just working with what’s on hand and making tasty enough meals to still believe we’re eating better at home than out.

The time came for us to go and meet Craig at the airport and start our week long program of outings and fun.

Everything went to plan , and we were soon back at our villa and having a beer to celebrate his arrival before it was time to shower and head to the ferry for our trip into Dubrovnik and our 8pm dinner booking.

We had made a reservation at the restaurant as we wanted to score a table with a view. It was a brilliant night and perfect first outing. All three of us enjoyed our chosen meals and after a quick stroll through the town afterwards headed to the ferry for the trip home.

Tuesday we had a three island cruise booked and luckily it didn’t start till 9:30 am so a fairly easy paced morning.

We visited the islands of Kolocep, Lopud and Sipan. The weather was perfect and although the first to stops weren’t long we managed a swim at them both before having our third and much longer stop where we hired a couple of beach umbrellas and a sunlounger for Craig as we had our beach mats with us.

On the boat we started talking to a lovely family from Finland on holiday with their three young daughters. Funnily we kept running into them after that and had a lovely evening drinking beer and cocktails with them on their last night.

Once home from our day cruising I cooked a risotto and we had beer o’clock while we waited to eat.

A fairly early start on the Wednesday as we had to catch the minibus at 8am for our trip to Montenegro.

Unfortunately our minibus wasn’t that comfortable and the windows didn’t allow for the best viewing but we stopped at some great places and when we got to Kotor were able to enjoy a nice lunch, guided tour and a break at the waterfront for a swim and cold drink before the return trip.

This was James and my second time to Kotor and we were pleased at how much reconstruction had gone on since our last visit. Sadly it was just too hot to want to stroll around the town for more than the hour guided tour. The cool water was calling us.

We had a fairly easy border crossing and back home in Cavtat we decided to walk down for a dinner of pizza. Great meal with terrific service.

Afterwards we walked around the waterfront and stopped for cocktails at one of the open bars. Two local girls (twins actually) were playing guitar and singing so we moved closer to enjoy the entertainment. Found out they would be playing again on the Friday night so decided we’d go again then.

Thursday was our designated chill out day so we packed up our beach mats and headed to where James and I had started to go most mornings and set ourselves up for the next four or so hours. Had lunch at the local bakery and by the time the sun had taken over the shade we were all ready to return to the villa for a little rest before we headed out for a walk around the peninsula with the idea of an afternoon swim. In fact we walked right round then headed up to the cemetery for the view.

On the way back down we stopped at a very small cafe/bar for a drink and ended up spending a good while here chatting with one couple from England and then we all welcomed a father and daughter into the group when they turned up. Really great ending to our chill out day.

Friday saw us up even earlier than ever with a 9am coach to catch for our day trip to Mostar and the Kravice waterfalls in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Happy to say we had a proper coach for this excursion which totally made the day so much more enjoyable than the cramped conditions of the minivan to Montenegro.

We had a brilliant day and we’re all blown away by Mostar and it’s bridge, old town and General vibe.

We also visited a mosque in Mostar.

And we went to a museum.

The waterfalls were lovely and though not on the scale of Plitvice were a pleasant stop for a swim and relax.

It ended up being a pretty long day as we didn’t get back to Cavtat till after 8 pm. Having bought some fresh produce including a basil plant I made bruschetta for dinner and we ate cheese, fresh figs and crackers while I made the bruschetta. Although it had been a fairly long day we were all still keen to go out after our easy dinner for more cocktails and to listen to the girls entertain us again.

It was fun to then run into both Michael and Mira our landlords and our Finnish family there.

Saturday was our second chill out day and Michael had offered to take us for a drive to the mountains behind us to get the awesome view and then a drive into the valley area for a complete contrast. We had a fantastic local guide in Michael and we enjoyed a little aperitif and coffee at one of his favourite restaurants which was cooled by the trees and water running past it. Would definitely like to go back sometime.

We found a different spot for swimming in the afternoon and then came home for our daily beer o’clock and dinner of tortellini before heading out for cocktails at our now local favourite bar. It was waterpolo night at the waterfront so an exciting addition to our evening and of course we ran into our landlords again and our Finnish family.

Sunday was our designated Dubrovnik day. Our plan was to get there and walk the walls, have lunch then get cable car up to mountains behind then enjoy a few drinks and swim before having dinner and coming home.

Unfortunately Craig began to feel unwell as we started walking the walls and he went back down and met us on our return from our walk. We had walked the walls four years ago and were amazed at how many more little rest stations offering drinks, meals there now were.

We caught up with Craig and had a pretty ordinary lunch, to be honest once Craig found the slug on his lettuce it put me right off my salad and the boys weren’t really enjoying their meals either. We decided a swim would be a great thing and it really cooled us right down.

We decided we would do the cable car and then head home as it was just too hot and Craig still wasn’t feeling that great.

The view from the top made it worth the trip but the heat really was debilitating and we were all quite sleepy on the ferry ride back but a swim once we got off cooled us down again and a rest at the villa saw us then ready to head out for Craig’s last night for a farewell dinner which was delicious and the meals were huge.

On the way home we did some souvenir shopping with Craig and we were all quite happy to have an earlier night.

Monday was a sad day. After James cooked the boys a grand breakfast and I helped Craig pack his suitcase to fit in all his new purchases we headed for a last stroll of the waterfront and coffee before it was time to walk Craig to the taxi stand and wave him off for his long trek home to Auckland.

Felt sad as we had really enjoyed his company and all our adventures together. It was great having a face from home and an English speaking friend to share some time with.

We went and installed ourselves on the waterfront and read our books and had a swim before heading home for a very late lunch and rest inside in the aircon.

Chatted about our week and how how much we had enjoyed ourselves with our mate.