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Croatia Photos

After six hours of trains from Slovenia, I arrived in Rijeka, the largest city on Croatia's northern coast. Christmas Eve was pretty uneventful. Supposedly everyone goes out when church lets out at 1am, but I was tired so went to sleep early. Woke up Christmas Day and got on a bus to the island of Krk. After 2 hrs on the bus, everything I had seen was fairly uninteresting looking and I started to think that if I kept low in my seat the bus driver wouldn't notice if I stayed on board for a free return trip to Rijeka. Luckily the valley in which Baska (my destination) sits is pretty amazing, and before we reached the town I was already plotting out my next day's route to the top of the mountain ridge above.

Baska Mountaintops

Baska Mountains

Baska town

Baska town

Baska is on the Adriatic Sea and has a nice beach with granite cliffs extending out on either side. I was excited to get off the bus and look for a hotel, throw my stuff down and start hiking. Unfortunately, though the town is clearly a tourist hotspot in the summer, every hotel in town was apparently closed for the winter, as no tourists come this time of year. Luckily a guy at the restaurant called around and found me a room to stay in at the Konoba Lucia, then drove me to it, as it was at the far end of the beach. Both heaters turned all the way up maxes my room out at 10 Celcius but the hospitality can't be beat.

Konoba Lucia Guesthouse - View from my balcony

Hotel Krk

I had a quick snack then headed out down the beach to see how far I could get before dark. Four degrees Celcius and the wind ripping 20 knots. So here are the photos of one of the most enjoyable hikes I've ever taken, in a really fantastic part of the world...

Baska beach view, towards the mainland

Mediterranean

Croatian Drum Jam on the Adriatic

Croatian Drums

Baska Coastal View

Adriatic Coastline

Trail Signs

Hiking Croatia

Adriatic Sunset

Adriatic Sunset

Snowy mountains across the way

Baska Beach

Mountain I'll climb tomorrow

Mountain Climbing Croatia

Where the mountains meet the sea

Krk Beach

Finished off my day with a nice meal of spaghetti ai frutti di mare at the local Italian restaurant.

CAPTAIN'S LOG: BOXING DAY 12-26-2008
In the morning the wind had clearly picked up. I put on 7 layers of upper body clothing and took off down the beach under the sunny sky...

Sunny Sky - Baska Beach

Baska Beach Krk

Headed down the coast until I found a good route up the mountain. It was cold, windy and steep, the rock was loose and there was no chance of anybody coming my way...perfect climbing conditions.

Mountain I climbed

Krk Mountains

Going Up

Mountain Climbing Croatia

The alley I came up

Krk Hotel

Krk Coastline

Krk Coastline

Croatian mainland sitting in clouds

Mediterranean Travel

The wind picked up to 30+ knots near the top, threatening to knock me off my feet. I kept low.

Windy Mountains

windy mountain

At the top it turned into boulders. I looked to my right and saw those naked kids from the cover of Houses of the Holy.

houses of the holy

A line of cairns greeted me at the ridge.

Cairns on the Krk Ridge

Cairns

Snowy mountains in the distance

Cairns

The leeward side of the ridge was relatively calm, a balmy 7C in the noontime sun. Wondering why it was so damn cold on the Mediterranean I pulled out my GPS to get a latitude reading...45N, the same as Bangor, Maine or Queenstown, New Zealand. Had a nice lunch of bread and cheese. Thanks to the wonders of GPS and satellite imagery, you can see where I ate lunch...

Krk mountain restaurant

Krk restaurant

The island of Prvic across the straits of Senjska

Prvic

The leeward sides of all the islands appear to be a lot less steep.

Adriatic Dreaming: the islands of Grgur and Rab

Rab Croatia

Sheep Crossing

Sea Shepherd

A good place to be

Kerry Kriger

Baska Peninsula

Krk Beaches

So nice it's worth a 2nd photo

Croatia Coast

The end of the line

Krk Peninsula

CAPTAIN'S LOG: 12-27-2008
I caught the noon bus out of Baska. We crossed the bridge connecting Krk to the mainland. The girl beside me told me that sometimes the wind was so strong that cars could get blown off the bridge. Our bus made it and I got off in Kraljevica. It was blue skies but snow was blowing, which I thought was strange. I had to catch a bus south and there was no bus station. I thought maybe winter backpacking wasn't a very good idea. Luckily the bus came within a few minutes. I got on and after a while the driver told me that there were no buses headed down the coast today, not past where he was going anyway, which was just 45 minutes further. The winds were too dangerous on the coastal road. The ferry to the island I wanted to get to was cancelled anyway because the winds were too strong. The woman beside me told me they had a name for this wind, the bura, it blows from the north for a few days at a time. She offered me a room for a night in her place. The town, Selce, looked nice and I had nowhere else to go. Selce is a picturesque Mediterranean town. She told me it never snows here, that the snow blows in on the wind from the mountains. She gave me cherry brandy from Dalmatia and then proceeded to tell me the history of Croatia from the 7th century through to the bombing of the Dubrovnik arboretum.

View from my room in Selce

Selce

CAPTAIN'S LOG: 12-28-2008

I woke up before sunrise and walked out to the road to catch the bus. It came on time. Buses always come on time in this country. The wind had died. Temporarily anyway. It picked up as we drove, and was whipping up water off the ocean.

North winds blowing

Windy Sea Adriatic

We stopped for a while in Senj.

Senj Harbor

Senj Luka

And then got to Jablanac, from where the ferry to the island of Rab departs.

Jablanac

Jablanac Ferry

We had some nice views of the mainland on the ride across the channel.

Jablanac-Rab view to the south

Jablanac Rab Crossing

Jablanac-Rab view to the north

jablanac rab north

Everyone in Croatia knows somebody with a room. We got to Rab and when I got off the bus a nice woman Vlasta asked me if I needed a place to stay. She took me to Sonja's place, which was definitely the best spot in town.

My room is the bottom right one

Rab Hotel

View from my balcony - to the left

Rab Churches

View from my balcony - to the right

Rab Beach

Rab is 1500 years old and has some pretty cool buildings.

The tower in Rab

Rab Church

I headed out for a walk. I started walking down a fire road but roads are boring so I cut into the forest. It got thick and I had to bushwack a bit but eventually came to a nice beach. They say Rab is the warmest place in Croatia. It's protected from the wind and for a brief moment it hit 16C.

Rab Bay

Rab Croatia

Most towns in Croatia are pretty damn nice looking.

Main Square - Rab

Rab Square

CAPTAIN'S LOG: 12-29-2008

I woke at 4:30am and caught the 5:25 bus out (there are only 2 buses a day). Changed buses in Senj and then headed inland up a mountain pass and changed buses again in Otocac, an agricultural/industrial town that definitely didn't get too much tourist money coming in.

Otocac houses

Ototac

Otocac apartments

ototac croatia

I had the next bus to myself. It took me to Plitvicka Jezera, Croatia's most famous national park. It was snowing, and seven below.

Plitvicka Jezera

plitvicka lalkes

Lower Lake

plitvicka jezera lake

Snowy walk

croatia winter travel

Waterfall crossing

Plitvicka Jezera waterfall

More waterfalls

croatia waterfalls

Below the Big Waterfall

hiking plitvicka

Me at the Big Waterfall (78m high)

plitvicka jezera backpacking

I felt compelled to play some flute until my fingers no longer functioned

Flute at the Big Waterfall

Snowy Flute

Frozen tree

Frozen Tree Croatia

Stalactites

Stalactites

Big Waterfall (that's actually its name)

Big Waterfall

Icicles above the lake

icicles

The path

Plitvicka Trail

View from the cave

cave croatia

Leaving Plitvicka Jezera

Plitvicka Lakes National Park

I was going to stay here the night but most of the trails were closed. The first bus to come by was headed to Zadar, which I'd never heard of, but is has a cool name and is on the coast, so I figured it would be a bit warmer. The old city of Zadar is on a narrow peninsula and made me wonder why American cities are so damn ugly compared to European cities.

Zadar

Zadar

 

CAPTAIN'S LOG: 12-30-2008

I got a ferry to the island of Dugi Otok. It took an hour and 15 minutes and went to the fishing village of Sali. The hotels were closed but a few calls were made and I got a room at Lawrence's place.

Sali Harbor

Sali

Everyone in Sali is related. I hung out with the friendly natives at night and drank some moonshine-like distilled liquor as they sung karaoke.

CAPTAIN'S LOG: 31-Dec-2008

I woke up early and my friendly host Lawrence (aka "the little snail") gave me a ride out to Telascica National Park. His car had no plates and there were empty beer cans in the back.

Lawrence and the leopard print upholstery

dugi otok bus

I walked a few km into the park, following the bay, then cut up the hill to get to Telascica's famous cliffs. The cliffs were about 100m high and stretched for several km in either direction, with open sea to Italy on one side and a calm bay on the other.

Telascica Cliffs - north view

Telascica Cliffs

Telascica east view

dugi otok bay

Telascica south view

telascica cliff

Telascica drumming

Croatian drumming

Adriactic Sea

Adriatic Sea

I realized Croatia is definitely one of the nicest countries I've ever been to.

Sunny winter day in Telascica

Croatia sea

Pines and Sea

Mediterranean Pines

Dugi Otok Peninsula

Dugi Otok Peninsula

Adriatic cliffs

Adriatic Cliffs

I walked a few km along the cliff's edge. I had the whole park to myself, minus a silboat that sailed past in the distance.

Salt Lake on the right

Telascica Salt Lake

Sun breaking through the clouds

Adriatic Sunshine

Islands to the south

Islands Adriatic

I got to where the cliffs end by the Salt Lake. There were a couple hundred cairns piled all around.

Cairns

Cairns

It was a 12 km walk home, but there were some nice views.

New Year's reflections

Island Reflections

I hitched the last couple km with an olive farmer. I slept a few hours then had a New Year's feast and drinks with the natives.

CAPTAIN'S LOG: 1-Jan-2009

I woke up at noon feeling horrible. It was raining. The thought of boats and buses wasn't good. Lawrence made some hot soup and I hung out at home all day. Eventually one of Sali's wierdos (of which there are many) came over and we played some music.

CAPTAIN'S LOG: 2-Jan-2009

I woke at 530am and got the ferry to Zadar. From there I got a bus to Sibenik, the next city down the coast. I found a place to stay then took a boat ride out to Prvic Luka to check out some of the surrounding islands. Sibenik was pretty dead at night. Not the best town in Croatia.

Sibenik

Sibenik

CAPTAIN'S LOG: 3-Jan-2009

I got the local bus to Krka National Park. It was all old people on the bus and we passed through some ugly aluminum mining town. Krka has some nice waterfalls, but definitely not as nice as Plitvicka Jezera, mainly due to the amount of development (old hydroelectric plant, souvenir shops and churches surrounding the falls).

Krka waterfalls

Krka National Park

Krka National Park

Krka Waterfalls

I hiked out of the park and hitched a ride back to Sibenik with an old guy in a Mercedes. Not the first time I've gotten a ride in a Mercedes. That was with an old lady in Noosa, Australia. The next time was with a beautiful blonde machete-wielding girl in El Valle, Panama, whose first question was if I planned to kill her (she'd never picked up a hitchhiker). I got a pizza at Tony's (why do all guys named Tony open pizzarias?) then got the bus to Split, one of Croatia's largest cities. I had an hour to blow before my ferry to Brac left, so I walked down the harbor and played music in front of the Diokletian Palace, which has some nice acoustics.

Diokletian Palace

Diokletian Palace

Half of the Croatian Biospeliological Society was sitting beside me on the ferry to Brac. They were on a caving expedition for a few days and offered me a place to stay at their place in Milna, on the west side of Brac.

Milna

milna brac

CAPTAIN'S LOG: 4-Jan-2009

The biospeliologists dropped me off at a crossroads and the first car to drive by picked me up and brought me to Bol, on Brac's south side. Bol I think is Croatia's most famous beach, a spit overlooking Hvar (a big island across the channel), with mountains behind. The beach is nice, but I still haven't seen a sandy beach in Croatia, only gravel. Sunny day though, and quite peaceful.

Bol - View towards Hvar

Hvar

On Bol Beach

Bol

I caught the ferry across to Hvar. Croatian ferries are government subsidized, so you get a huge ferry more or less to yourself.

Croatian ferry - Jadrolinea

Jadrolinea

Hvar town

Hvar

CAPTAIN'S LOG: 5-Jan-2009

Sven, who I met on the ferry, gave me a free floor to sleep on for a couple nights, so I stayed an extra day in Hvar. The weather was nice and I climbed up to the castle above town.

View from Hvar castle

Hvar castle

CAPTAIN'S LOG: 6-Jan-2009

Croatia has some of the most poorly heated houses anywhere, and too many nights at 8C finally made me sick. I slept most of the ferry ride to Dubrovnik, which gave me enough energy to wander Dubrovnik's walled city that night.

Dubrovnik - walled city

Dubrovnik wall

Dubrovnik - inside the walled city

Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik coastal view

Dubrovnik castle

CAPTAIN'S LOG: 7-Jan-2009

Sleep.

CAPTAIN'S LOG: 8-Jan-2009

Still feeling bad, but good enough for a walk.

Dubrovnik castle

Dubrovnik island

Dubrovnik wall

Dubrovnik walled city

And then to Bosnia and Herzegovina...