The Warm Lakes of Mjlet, Croatia

I love exploring cities and getting lost in mazes of streets, but I also love trekking through woods and swimming in the sea, and so, a¬†trip to one of Croatia’s many islands was inevitable. We opted for the island of Mjlet which is a national park with two salt water lakes and an island in the middle of the lake¬†with a disbanded Monastery. You can take day trips to Mjlet at a minimum cost of ¬£65 (528 Kuna), which will get you picked up from your hotel, a catamaran to the island and entry to the National Park. Or you can make your own way there for approximately ¬£30. We thought it would be fun (and cheaper!) to make our own way there. On paper, it didn’t sound simple, but in reality, everything went smoothly and was actually very easy. There is one boat which leaves Port Gruz to Polace¬†at 9am with only 200 tickets available. We got to the port at 8.10¬†to start¬†queuing for our ticket – this is highly recommended to ensure you get a ticket. Our return ticket cost ¬£17 (150 Kuna) and in 1 hour we were stepping off the boat onto the island. The entrance to the national park is at the port where you purchase your ¬£12 (95 Kuna) NP ticket. This ticket includes entrance to the park, return bus journey to the lakes and a return boat journey over to the island where the Monastery is.
My followers will remember that I love exploring and so instead of using the free bus service, of course we decided to take an hours walk/hike in 33 degree heat, on open roads, up steep hills, down rocky paths and through dense wooded areas  to the lakes. Finding the clearing and stepping out onto the shore of the lakes was a stunning view that will always stay in my memory. After the long hot walk, jumping off the rocks into the salty lake was blissful. The water was warm and the only sounds I could hear whilst swimming around were the birds and the gentle lapping of the water.
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We had so much fun walking around the lakes, stopping off to jump in the water whenever we wanted and eating our packed lunch by the side of the lake in the sun. We didn’t have much time to explore the whole island so we did a quick trip over to the former Monastery erected in the 12th century, using the boat service included in our ticket. It took about 10 minutes to cross over to the small island which also has a caf√©. We explored the Monastery and the Roman ruins, had another swim in the lake and then sadly¬†it was time to head back so that we didn’t miss the last bus back to the port for the only ferry going back to Dubrorvnik. A day trip is not long enough to really appreciate Mjlet. You can stay overnight which will give you the opportunity to hire canoes and bicycles and really enjoy the beautiful island.

My 5 days and 4 nights in Dubrovnik were truly memorable and it is safe to say, I love Croatia!

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Red Roofs & Ancient Walls

The following day I was so excited to explore the site that welcomed me when I first stepped off the shuttle bus РThe Old Town and the City Walls Рbeautiful red roofed buildings surrounded by a stone wall which was built throughout history to defend the city and the port.
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From the ground and once you have entered through the Pile Gate you step inside the Old Town where you can wonder along narrow streets, climb stone steps, marvel at ancient architecture, shop, eat and drink. From above, walking along the city walls,¬†you can see¬†an abundance of red roofs, busy streets and glistening sea. For ¬£17(150 Kuna) you¬† can walk the full 2km circuit of the wall. Even though we walked in 33 degree heat with the sun blazing it was an amazing experience. So picturesque and full of history, and it also helped me to appreciate exactly how the city walls protected the town. Stopping for numerous photos, taking moments to appreciate the scenery and sipping on the local beer, Ozujsko (¬£5 (42 Kuna))¬†in¬†Buza Bar, built into the cliff side just on the outside of the¬†City Walls, the walk took us around 2 hours. I would totally recommend doing the walk. If 2km with upward slopes and steps sounds a bit challenging, there are exits along the way so that you don’t have to do the full circuit.
As the bus from Babin Kuk to the town was only about 15 minutes at a cost of ¬£1.50 we decided to head back into the town for dinner and drinks that same night. We had dinner in 1863 Dubravka, which is a lovely restaurant set just outside the walls and looking out onto the sea, and for the Game of Thrones fans; Kings Landing! It is a busy outdoor restaurant but don’t be put off. We asked for a table for 2 by the sea and although it was extremely busy they managed to find us the table we requested within minutes. You don’t know if don’t try! Now, I am not a huge seafood lover, but I have it on good authority that it was exceptional in all of the restaurants we ate in.

Dubrovnik really is a beautiful city filled with history, nice restaurants & lovely views.

Dubrovnik ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’

Sun, beaches, natural beauty, history and architecture all in one holiday, what more could you ask for? Perhaps delicious food and friendly locals? Check!  Because of this, Croatia has made it to my top 3 Europe destinations, joining Paris and Rome.
Following an early flight into Dubrovnik on Friday morning we began our journey to Babin Kuk, an area approximately 4km from the Old Town, where our hotel was situated.  We easily found the kiosk selling shuttle bus tickets at the airport and purchased our tickets at a cost of approximately £5 (40 Kuna). The bus took an hour to the city of Dubrovnik due to traffic, it should have been about 35 minutes. The bus stopped just outside the city walls and looking out to the sea I was instantly taken aback by the beauty of the white stone walls set against the calming blue Adriatic Sea. Having to pull myself away from the scenery, we then had to jump on the No. 6 city bus to Babin Kuk at a cost of £1.50 (12 Kuna) for a single. Tickets can be purchased on the city buses but in peak time the bus drivers can refuse you and you have to purchase your ticket from a kiosk which is easily found near the bus stops. We missed our stop thinking we had to get off at the last stop on the route but the bus driver kindly informed us it would be a difficult walk and told us to stay on the bus until he turned it around to do the return journey.
We arrived at our 3 star hotel, Hotel Tirena, booked through Expedia and was instantly happy with our choice. The reception staff were friendly and informative, the room was a good size with a sparkling clean bathroom and the pool was always so inviting.
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We decided to stay in the area of Babin Kuk for our first day and visit the beach. A couple of minutes walk from our hotel through lush greenery and stony paths and steps we were greeted by the sound of the ocean and relaxing Deep House music. Copacabana Beach is a¬†gravel beach, but don’t let this put you off. It is a lovely little beach with warm, clear, calm waters, drinks, food, water sports and plenty of sunshine. A few minutes away is Cava Beach,¬†this stretch of beach has been taken over by a¬†beach club,¬†charging for¬†large¬†comfortable loungers, cabanas¬†and a restaurant where champagne is likely to be the top selling¬†item.
Only my first day and I instantly knew I was going to love Dubrovnik.