14.7.17

Croatia II: Dubrovnik Old Town, Lokrum Island and our cable car experience

Hello, dear readers! I just honestly can't believe it's already July and August is also coming closer and closer. But on the other hand July will bring along our two week summer holiday and I have no complaints about that. Especially because we have an exclusive boutique hotel visit planned for the first week of our vacation but I will tell you more as soon as it's the right time. Today I want to share another adventurous day in Croatia and I have prepared a very generous amount of photos for that purpose so let's better get started!

We took a quite early local bus and started our May 5 in Dubrovnik Old Town. However, it was a short walk that day because the weather turned rainy. We saw St. Saviour Church, built in 1520s, the first comprehensive Renaissance style building in Dubrovnik. The church has survived throughout the history to nowadays almost intact. We climbed numerous crazy stairs and enjoyed the spectacular view across the rust-coloured rooftops of the Old Town. And then we wanted to try the cable car and ride to the top of the Srđ Hill but thanks to the gloomy weather it was closed!


So we swiftly moved to The Old Port of Dubrovnik, took a ferry and sailed on stormy sea to wonderful Lokrum Island where the weather soon turned from lousy to lovely. The first written word about this 72-hectare island originates from 1023 when the Benedictine abbey and monastery were founded here. The name Lokrum, meaning "sour fruit" derives from the Benedictine tradition of cultivating exotic plants on the island. The tradition continued in 1959 with the foundation of the Botanical Garden. In 1964 the island was also declared a Managed Nature Reserve and in 1976 a Special Forest Vegetation Reserve.

The Botanical Garden covers about 2 hectares but there are around 500 species in the 1-hectare public area today, mostly shrubs and trees: cypress, eucalyptus, laurel, magnolia, oak, olive, (black) pine. Probably the most attractive part of the garden is the one with the succulents: cacti, puyas and agaves, also palms, mostly of American origin. By the way, this year they had a rough winter which destroyed or considerably damaged decent part of the greenery.


Additionally the island is inhabited by families of peacocks brought over from the Canary Islands by Austrian archduke Maximilian. They're gorgeous, super curious and bold, and well, they're everywhere around you. The husband was patient enough and got some pretty awesome frames while stalking them. And then there were the cutest little rabbits, fluffy as cotton candy, again super curious and also everywhere around you. And the tricks they did! Someday I will probably share our travel video which includes some of their coolest performances in addition to everything else.


Anyway, we also visited a restaurant on this magical island. It was called Lacroma Restaurant (see here) and their food was simply superb! I had cornflake-crusted chicken with seeds and the husband had grilled squids on a bed of young rocket leaves with potatoes and we shared yummy french fries. Let me tell you it was just the perfect lunch in the perfect place!


Now, at some point we said bye bye to our new friends bunnies and peacocks and sailed back to Dubrovnik. Since the weather was super sunny we rushed towards the cable car and guess what? It was running again! So we immediately bought the tickets and had no regrets - it was a really cool ride up and down, my very first cable car experience.

The Dubrovnik Cable Car (see here) was built back in 1969 when it was the first and only cable car in the Adriatic. The cabin needs less than 4 minutes to travel the 778 metre distance between the lower station in Dubrovnik Old Town and upper station on top of the Srđ Hill. The height of Srđ is 412 metres and it was once forested with oak trees which locals called "dubrava", after which the city of Dubrovnik was named, and also pine trees. But in the second half of the 20th century and during the 1991-95 Croatian War of Independence the forest was almost completely destroyed through numerous fires. Regardless of that the view over Dubrovnik, its Old Town, crystal clear Adriatic Sea, Lokrum Island and the slopes of Srđ was breathtaking! And to complete our super adventurous day with a simple dinner we sat down in Panorama Restaurant & Bar (see here) on top of Srđ and had their cheeseburgers which were filling and tasty.


So I hope you guys enjoyed today's extreme photo flood and my notes and observations. As you probably noticed it took me forever to put it all together and once again it was just one day of our adventure! The abandoned ghost hotels in Kupari, more Dubrovnik Old Town, a day trip to magical Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina and more is yet to come! But I'm quicker and more active on Instagram so you can follow me there if you want to - @maikenteesalu or just find the widget from the sidebar! And of course see you in the next post!

2.6.17

Croatia I: our hotel, Srebreno, Mlini and Kupari


Hello and happy first official month of summer! In Estonia it's currently more like freezing autumn or winter but I and the husband kicked off our holiday season already in May when we spent 7 nights and 8 days in fantastic Croatia. Or actually we landed at tiny Tivat Airport in Montenegro and after that came a pitch black Mercedes Viano and drove us to Croatia. But before border crossing between Montenegro and Croatia we also crossed the Bay of Kotor by ferry. That's a lot of traffic for one day and we were so relieved when we finally arrived at our cosy hotel - Sheraton Dubrovnik Riviera Hotel (home page).

They kindly upgraded our superior double room to deluxe double room (link) with a spacious balcony overlooking the vivid Adriatic coastline. Our king size bed was easily the best one we have ever had in a hotel - I really slept like a baby in it. And I also thoroughly took advantage of our bathtub - a local dm store (link) sold some pretty awesome coconut and lemongrass bath sticks. I brought 3 sticks home with me because one day I will have my own bathtub and I'm going to really enjoy them then!


By the way, Sheraton Dubrovnik Riviera Hotel is situated in small Srebreno village that lies between marvelous Mlini village and fascinating Kupari village. Srebreno and Mlini are connected by a picturesque promenade by the sea and in today's travel post I'm sharing photos we took essentially on May 4 in Mlini but you can also see our hotel and some Kupari village. Kupari is home to five abandoned hotels - a former military resort built for the elite of the then Yugoslav army. In 1991 the Croatian War of Independence broke out and the Yugoslav army bombarded and burned their former holiday spot. But I'm going to tell you about those notorious hotels in a separate blog post because they're totally worth it.


Mlini, on the other hand, is an idyllic little place that has its own river called Zavrelje. The name Mlini comes from the mills (mlini in Croatian) which were used to obtain water from the river. Mlini is filled with historical monuments and legends, fragrant parks, floral gardens and promenades, shallow pebble beaches and protected coves, hotels, villas and summer houses. Some of the historical and cultural sights we saw were the enormous oriental plane tree of Mlini (planted in 1742, height 30.30 m, circumference of the trunk 6.80 m), a specimen of a stone wheel which was used for grinding olives, and the curch of St. Rocco where a holy mess is held only once a year. They even have a really cool outdoor gym! Mlini is probably one of the most beautiful little places I've ever been to in my life. It really left me breathless and I truly miss the place!


Now, restaurant of the day was a Sheraton restaurant next to the seaside promenade, facing their Pool Bar Pinija. My Greek salad was flavourful and heavenly juicy and the husband loved his seafood pasta. But in the evening we used room service for the first time ever and ordered dinner to our hotel room. And it was conjointly the only time we received very mediocre dishes during our whole trip. It was edible but had no love in it, the best part were my french fries. Every other experience in countless restaurants really was great so we learned our lesson - always go to a restaurant, don't lounge in your room!


Anyway, such a long post about only one day of our Croatian adventure but I feel like I really wanted to write everything down because it was one of our best trips. Croatia had so much to offer and I feel like I got so many positive vibes and inspiration! I will definitely tell you about the Old Town of Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik Cable Car, Lokrum Island, the abandoned ghost hotels in Kupari, more about the surroundings of Mlini and Srebreno and of course about our day trip to magical Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina. But would you also like to see a little haul kind of thing among everything else? Let me know what you think! I hope you enjoyed the post and I'll see you in the next one!