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Rijeka

We had an amazing time in Croatia.  Pretty well everywhere we go is amazing, but Croatia was even more so.  The weather was mainly glorious, the food was fantastic and affordable and there were all sorts of things going on to keep us entertained and enjoying ourselves.

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Goran Yakas has been telling us all about Croatia for approximately 30 years.  He was ‘taken’ from Croatia to Australia as a 10-year old and has been making pilgrimages back here since he could afford it.  Those trips have now become annual, but this was our first trip, other than a day we spent in Split a couple of years ago as part of a cruise. It was worth the wait.

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Goran and his parents went out of their way to share their part of the world with us.  We didn’t want to impose on Goran too much so we only stayed with him in the village of Betina, on the island of Murter, for 3 days. We were nearby in Tisno for another 4, just up the road, plus we stayed in the capital Zagreb for a while, and in Rijeka for a while, and in Zadar, and in Split!

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Old Town Split, Croatia – one of our favourite places.

So we certainly got a good taste of Croatia.  That’s another of the great advantages of extended travel.  You can hang around in countries for extended periods if it suits you.  And after a fairly fast pace through Scandinavia, Russia and other areas of the Baltics, we were ready for a slightly slower pace and a month in Croatia.

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Beautiful Betina Village

 

Highlights of Croatia, and Betina in particular, were many.

It was great fun just ‘hanging out’ in the cafes and the bars around the main square, or in the heart of ‘old town’, or at the beach, wherever you happened to be.

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Betina

 

It was wonderful choosing which beach or beaches we would go for a swim.  The beaches have a lot more ‘character’ than most Aussie beaches.  There are many of them.  Some are rocky, some require climbing down a lot of steps, (Rijeka!!) but they are enjoyable to visit because there is always shade available, always a café/bar/restaurant nearby and always plenty of people of all shapes and sizes to gawk at.  I liked the topless, occasionally bottomless, sexy females best, but each to their own. Jenny loved the warm water and hospitable people.

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We had some great feeds of seafood and local treats: goulash, home-made wine, dried figs, sweet pastries and so on.

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Goran’s dad and his mates had a singalong one night which was great to witness.  Five of them have formed an informal group that gets together, usually twice a week, to eat, drink and sing Croatian songs.  And they certainly know a few of them.  It was a great cultural experience.

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The Betina Sailing regatta was on while we were there.  It was good to watch all the preparations plus the race itself.  Goran took part in his sailing boat, along with about 30 other old-style boats, with designs dating back to the 1700′s.  The yachties traditionally put on food and drinks for themselves and their supporters.  This included more seafood, goulash, plus unlimited beer and wine.  Sometimes you just have to over-indulge.

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Goran sailing his boat.

Traveling along the Croatian coast.  We traveled for hundreds of kilometres along the Croatian coast.  Sometimes we were only metres from the water, so we saw some amazing sights: the natural beauty plus literally thousands of beach-goers enjoying the European summer.

 

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Goran took us out a couple of times in his sailing boat.  Once we sailed over to his private island where he has built a hut and has big future development plans.  Another time we sailed to a church for a funeral.  We saw the graves of many of his relatives and friends plus the banner that he and Sue Gerrie made for the church.  Goran’s daughter Zannia and boyfriend Nick were also visiting the same week.

 

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More beaches.  Among the many millions of tourists that flock to Croatia in the summer, there are supposedly around a million ‘naturists’.  You don’t get them on the many public beaches, but if you go walking along the coasts, as Jenny and I often do, you sometimes come across them around corners!

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Goran’s mum & his daughter Zannia.

Accommodation.  Goran’s parents have 4 apartments available for rent, plus we stayed in another owned by a friend almost next door.  The rest of the time in Croatia we used our usual site, Airbnb.com

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View from our guest house in Tisno looking back to Betina.

 

Sunsets.  We saw some beauties, especially in Zadar, where many people go out to the ‘point’ each night and they have music made by the waves, entertainers, and some solar powered lights going off.

 

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Zagreb – has a beautiful Old Town.

 

Croatia.  It’s everything Goran says it is and more.  Go there.

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Goran feeding us fresh sea urchins

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Betina village