One of our annual holidays this year was to Croatia, Mum having enjoyed her three days in Dubrovnik last year. This time, we decided to spend a whole week there and stay in Split and Dubrovnik although we had planned to visit Montenegro but circumstances conspired against us after I had my leave from work confirmed.
We would have preferred to have flown from Gatwick but the price had shot up rapidly so we took a mid-afternoon flight from Luton to Split instead. We had, we thought, a leisurely rail journey up but a tube closure made the cross London transfer a tad tense but, if nothing else, it meant less of a wait at Luton than we had anticipated.
We had arranged a taxi at Split Airport through and the arrangement worked excellently, the driver waiting to collect us after a slight delay to the flight. In comparison to other websites, the fare was the best also and the driver took us to the Hotel Zagreb. It may look a little aged in places from the outside and it may not be that close to the centre - there are few hotels closer and certainly not at reasonable prices - but the staff were excellent, the breakfast was decent and we had rooms with balconies with lovely seaviews.
We had read that the hotel had a restaurant but it seems - maybe at this quieter time of the year only - to be available only for groups so we were a bit stuck on the first night but made do with bits and pieces which we had brought with us.
The weather sadly was surprisingly poor and our first day, Sunday, was a write-off. We went into Split but it rained heavily and we spent much of the time finding shelter and were back in the early afternoon. I went out later to visit a restaurant but the rains returned spectacularly and I was drenched and didn't remotely make it close to the restaurant. Some of the clothes took over a day to dry. We returned to the city that evening and found a modest restaurant near the Bus Station and enjoyed not only the food but the ambience and went back for the next two evenings. It delighted in the name One Eyed Pig.
Monday brought the promise of slightly better weather and indeed it started off less venomously, even dry. We had booked earlier to take a Jadrolinija ferry to Supetar on the island of Brac and the short journey over was most pleasant. Sadly, the minute we disembarked, it started to rain and remained thus all the time for the two-and-a-half hours we were there. We did, though, enjoy the pretty port area and church and had a damp walk before taking refuge in the church again. A mid-afternoon ferry back saw us back at the hotel around 4 p.m. so we had at least managed to stay out for longer. Supetar in fine weather would have been memorable.
Tuesday finally did bring excellent although windy weather. We had decided to take the bus to Trogir, one of Croatia's highlights and which sits on its own little island linked by a small bridge to the mainland. The booking of a coach seat from Split was confusing, reservations not being allowed in advance. We tried on the day for the 10:45 a.m. coach only to be told it was full and that we must travel on the 11 a.m. one. Okay, no great bother there but our tickets showed 10:45 so it was that coach we boarded and weren't thrown off.
The old town of Trogir was a delight and we loved the narrow side streets, the church and the sea views and spent a thoroughly pleasant two-and-a-half hours there. We ate our lunch by the pebbly beach and remembered the place fondly. We had managed to see some of Diocletian's Palace in Split before taking the coach so I personally welcomed the three days we spent in Split. My interest in travel more than likely started with visits to Yugoslavia in the 1970s but I had never been to Trogir or indeed taken a ferry from Split to one of the many islands nearby so they were highlights of the stay. The weather, though, was a disappointment.
We moved on to Dubrovnik by coach in a route which initially took us down the wonderful Adriatic coast to Makarska and then quite a long way back and inland with a stop in Bosnia. The journey was scheduled to be four-and-a-half hours but took a further hour after lengthy passport stops on both the Croatian and Bosnian sides and our entrance into Dubrovnik was greeted with further, heavy rain.
Mercifully, that was the end of the bad weather and our stay in Dubrovnik was blessed with excellent weather. The forecast had predicted worse but did not happen. Last year, we stayed at the Adriatic Hotel owned by Maestral Hotels on the beautiful Lapad peninsula and this year we stayed with the same group but in the three star Hotel Vis in the same area.
This was again lovely and we had decent-sized rooms. The breakfast was excellent with lovely sea views and it was an easy bus ride into the Old City. We ate closer to the hotel on the first two nights in an area near Sunset Beach. A lot of tourists stay here but it is a beautiful position and an evening walk finished off our days nicely.
We took to the city walls the following morning having bought a Dubrovnik Card. I had not felt it worth our while to purchase it last year but in 2019 the entrance fees for the walls had increased. Having done the sums, it seemed that the Dubrovnik Card had not increased and with a further discount offered for booking online, the card in essence paid for the cost of walking around the walls before the other inclusions.
Mum enjoyed her second walk around the walls and we completed it in the same time as last year. Yes, sometimes going up or down gave us both the odd twinge but it was again most enjoyable in the most perfect weather. When I visited Dubrovnik in the late 1970s with my grandparents, we went to the Franciscan Monastery, opened a door which we shouldn't have and were somewhat chased away by some wine-swilling monks. The Dubrovnik Card included entrance to the monastery and so I had the pleasure of returning and trying to find the offending door again. I believe that all were locked this time.
We enjoyed a packed lunch and some not especially secretive wine ourselves near the Ploce Gate at the other end of the city from the Pile Gate before returning to the hotel.
Our last full day was spent in Cavtat. For peace and tranquillity, this place is terrific and we took a scheduled motor boat from Dubrovnik Old Port for 50 kuna each (approximately £6). The day before I had established that a discount was offered but did not realise that it had to be booked a day in advance so it was with some disappointment that we were initially asked for 60 kuna each when we rolled up for the 0900 crossing. Mother again disowned me when I tried on that we would book in advance for the 0930 sailing but the ruse worked and the ticket chap relented under little pressure. We also travelled at 9 a.m.
Diocletian's Palace, Split

Supetar on the island of Brac


The views from close to the Hotel Zagreb in Split

 Neum in Bosnia

Hotel Vis in Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik Old Port

A different view of the Stradun and Cathedral.

Just to prove that Mum made it around Dubrovnik's city walls. Again.

My visit to the Franciscan Monastery in Dubrovnik in 1979 was less serene than in 2019

The Imperial in Dubrovnik was refurbished after being hit by bombs in the wars of the early 1990s. I stayed there on a few occasions in the 1970s.


A view from Dubrovnik from the Airport bus.

Fashion (and a couple of empty wine glasses/cups)...

Cavtat was a delight and we enjoyed visiting the churches and having a walk along the beautiful promenade. Dubrovnik is wonderful but Cavtat makes for a quieter and totally different day out and was every bit as enjoyable. The Dubrovnik Card included local bus tickets and a return to Cavtat so we made use of this on the way back.
We did eat in the Old City on our last night and returned to the Restaurant Nava which is a favourite haunt of mine. Yes, okay, I remember a nice waitress who served me there many years ago and mentioned this on a later visit and was told by the lady that it was her daughter. And yes, the subject was brought up again this time and the lady, owner and mother, Ana, was every bit as delighted and gave us a free dessert. Oh dear, I fear I am not coming over well here, am I?
We returned the following day to Gatwick where the travel arrangements back to Swindon went smoothly. The next overseas trip together is to Switzerland and Austria where Mum has agreed to take on the mountains (but in cable cars and chair lifts...)