Trogir sits in close proximity to Split, Croatia’s second largest city. The heart of Split is its Old Town which gradually sprouted around a giant Roman palace that was built there in the 4th century. The man behind the fortress-like structure that now composes about half of the old town area is Diocletian, a Roman emperor from the Dalmatia region who rose to power from humble means. When it was about time for Diocletian to hang up the robes once and for all he had the frankly ingenious idea of building himself what amounted to a giant, secure and military equipped retirement home on the Adriatic coast. What remains today is a rich heritage of well preserved ancient architecture and artifacts, including a handful of granite sphinxes from Egypt dating back to nearly 1500 BCE. We spent the majority of the day exploring the ancient Roman peristyles and squares, looking at art, watching street performers and eating gelato. Not bad at all, Split, not bad at all.


Visitors of Split will likely come across this statue of Gregory of Nin, looming across from the Old Town’s Golden Gate. Gregory is known as one of the fathers of the Croatian language, and a hero for speaking up for Slavic people when Pope Ivan X banned all languages other than Latin in church. This was a problem because very few people in this region spoke Latin. Gregory of Nin lost his fight at the time, but was not forgotten, for centuries later in 1570 the Dalmatic Region of Croatia was finally allowed to celebrate the mass in their native language. It is said to bring good luck to rub the statue’s big toe, which has been worn down and brightly polished from all the attention. From our point of view the good luck charm worked, as the beautiful, sunny days kept on comin’ throughout the duration of our trip.


mljet to trogir


Turns out there are some upsides to getting up before dawn to catch a 6am car ferry back to mainland Croatia. In this case it was witnessing the most stunning sunrise of our entire trip as we traversed the serpentine two-lane highway toward Mljet’s ferry landing. We were compelled to stop multiple times along the short drive to get the perfect vantage of the light show over the undulating form of Croatia’s rocky coast. After being waved onto the ferry we headed up to the top level to watch the last bit of the suns fiery ascent and bid the island of Mljet goodbye. Bittersweet as it was, we were looking forward to the next few days; we’d be meeting up with Max’s parents in Split and exploring the area with them!


We dropped off our beloved rental car at the Split Airport (it had been our mobile home base for almost a month!), met up with Max’s parents Di and Thad, and headed toward our accommodation for the next few days in a seaside neighborhood outside of Old Town Trogir. After settling in we wasted no time in exploring the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of Trogir. Pictured above is a part of St. Lawrence Cathedral’s romanesque portal created by a man by the name of Master Radovan. Interestingly enough, pretty much no information exists about Radovan other than this doorway which he completed in 1240. He somewhat conceitedly inscribed the words, “FUNDATUR VALVE POST PARTUM VIRGINIS ALME PER RADUANUM CUNCTIS…” above the door, translating to “Master Radovan was the best of all in this art”.


mljet day 2


By our last full day on Mljet, our little cove hideaway was starting to feel like home. It didn’t hurt that we were the only guests currently present at our villa (yay to pre-preak season) and thus were treated to a nice suite upgrade. On a trip this long it really is a treat to spend a few days in a remote location without the constant lingering feeling of needing to get out and see everything there is to see in each new place. We decided to make proper use of the strong Croatian sun and our apartment’s nice infinity pool before heading out for our last Mljet adventure.


One of Mljet’s most famous attractions is Odysseus Cave. The egg shaped cave has an entrance facing the sea and appears as a giant open-air gash from the land side, resulting from when part of its ceiling collapsed. Legend has it that Homer wrote about this exact cave in his epic poem The Odyssey. Apparently, the part of the story when Odysseus encounters the Cyclops in his cave may have been based on the island of Mljet. We visited Odysseus Cave in the afternoon and reached its seaside entrance after a steep hike from the road through ancient farming plots and down the Dinaric limestone shore. After passing a seemingly defunct bohemian cafe bar, we rounded a corner and could see the mouth of the cave agape; drinking endlessly from the Adriatic. Upon further investigation we realized that some hand painted symbols on the rocks around the cave entrance denoted cliff-diving platforms; some about 20-30 meters above the water. Looking down at the water below even from a much lower platform definitely gave a sense of vertigo. The significant depth of the cave’s channel was obvious, as the crystal clear water descended into a stomach turning midnight blue color. Still, one cannot simply come to Odysseus cave and not jump in (at least, one that is Max - not Addie). After a few jumps from novice height, we felt we (Max, and Addie by proxy) had properly experienced the landmark and headed back toward our car with a satisfied feeling.


mljet day 1


We devoted our first day on the island to exploring the 54 square kilometer Mljet National Park, for which the entire western part of the island is reserved. The park was gorgeous, uncrowded, and had a discounted entrance fee as we were still months ahead of peak season for the region. We wasted no time beginning a moderate hike to Montokuc lookout point, which is perched on one of the park’s rocky hills and offers some of the best views of the area. From the old fire watch cabin we could see the crystal waters of the Park’s saltwater lakes (named Veliko and Malo, ‘large’ and ‘small’) and the Adriatic stretching out into oblivion beyond.


We hiked down from Montokuc to head towards the ferry (complimentary with a national park ticket) which would take us to visit a small island in the middle of the park’s larger lake. Sveti Marija is home to a Benedictine monastery that dates back to the 1100’s along with some scattered roman ruins. On the island we popped in and out of a cool old cathedral that had some impressive stained glass, walked around the ruins a bit and then headed to a lakeside promenade where we took a dip in the pellucid waters and read our books until the ferry returned.


dubrovnik to mljet


Croatia’s coastline is flanked by more than a thousand islands. Offering a wealth of recreational, historical and natural value, the redeeming qualities of these islands seemingly have no end. Roman ruins? Check. Abandoned Yugoslavian submarine pens? Check. Adrenaline pumping cliff diving? Check. Glamorous beachside clubbing? Check. There is an island perfectly matched for anyone’s personality and travel style. The island we chose was Mljet, known for its densely forested national park, gorgeous blue saltwater lakes and relative lack of tourists compared to some of its more populous counterparts. Setting off from Dubrovnik, we reached the island via a car ferry that we had booked ahead of time.


After feeding our newfound addiction to octopus salad and grilled squid at a seaside village near the ferry landing, we drove to the eastern-most part of the island (Saplunara) and checked in to our accommodation. The Guesthouse was tucked into a natural bay dotted with sailboats and sandy public beach areas. It was pretty apparent that the next couple of days on the island were going to be just our speed. We bought some basics at the market next door and ate a homemade dinner with the view above as a backdrop.


dubrovnik day 3


Having thoroughly explored Dubrovnik’s Old Town over the past couple days, we decided to embark on a self-guided tour of the city’s spots for sunbathing and swimming. Dubrovnik offers a considerable amount of public beach areas scattered from the Old Town in the east all the way to the less touristed residential and business districts to the west. We spent the day walking from one to the next, eventually settling at the cliffside waterhole pictured above. At the bottom of a steep set of stairs descending toward the water from a small unassuming park we found a concrete lounging area nestled in the rocky shore. We enjoyed soaking up the sun, reading and diving from various boulders into the refreshing emerald waves.


We capped off the day by heading back toward the Old Town area to check out one of the only major attractions we hadn’t seen yet, Fort Lovrijenac (St. Lawrence Fortress). In addition to being featured in many scenes of Game of Thrones, the fortress serves as a theater in the summer, is the location for the Croatian leg of the Red Bull Cliff Diving Tour and was historically of great importance in the Republic of Ragusa’s efforts to resist Venetian rule. We wandered casually around the fort for a few minutes before catching the sunset over the Old Town Walls, the island of Lokrum and the rugged Adriatic coastline fading into the distance beyond.


dubrovnik day 2


One of the most popular touristic activities in Dubrovnik is to buy a ticket to access the extensive city walls and walk their circumference, enjoying the awesome views of old town they provide. The attraction gets pretty busy during the day, so we were sure to get there right when the walls opened at 8am to enjoy the walk in relative solitude. Dubrovnik Old Town features a nice stew of gothic, romanesque and baroque architecture which can be appreciated properly from the vantage the walls afford. The nearby Island of Lokrum was also visible during the walk, but unfortunately we weren’t able to catch a ferry over to enjoy its apparently gorgeous environs (at least on this trip). At the end of the day with we ducked through a hole in the city walls to check out one of the Old Town’s popular cliffside beach bars. These watering holes offer a unique scene of locals and tourists drinking, swimming and hanging out with the stray cats that adopt the rocky waterfront establishments as their home. Heeding the advice of a blog post, rather than paying exorbitant prices for drinks at the bar, we bought some cheap local beer at a market and brought it down past the bars seating area to the public beach below for an equally awesome and much cheaper experience.


dubrovnik day 1


We began our first morning in Dubrovnik with a walk to the Old Town area, which we spent most of the day exploring. Along the way we were treated with a series of awesome views of typical Adriatic coastline below us; beautiful blue water colliding with light tan Dinaric limestone and dark green stone pines. Entering the Old Town gates it’s hard not to feel charmed by the narrow cobbled lanes, marble squares and the general picture of municipal medieval life the whole scene is able to render. In an area of the world famous for its old towns, its pretty clear that Dubrovnik reigns king of them all because of its size and exquisite preservation and restoration. Dubrovnik has also gained popularity due to its role as the setting of city of Kings Landing in the HBO series Game of Thrones. Many organizations offer tours specifically focused on locations used in the show. The first image featured above is a cool little bay side staircase that was used for a scene in one of the earlier seasons. We spent the rest of this memorable day wandering the endless labyrinth of narrow, shop-lined avenues in search of other familiar locations from GOT.


kotor to dubrovnik


Setting off from Kotor we spent the first part of our day navigating along the bay to reach the coastal highway and continue driving north towards Dubrovnik. Gloomy clouds and rain followed us for the first bit of the drive, adding an eerie hue and movement to the otherwise glassy, blue-gray water. Finally, the sun peaked out as we made our way up the Adriatic coast to cross the border back into Croatia. After a beautiful if uneventful drive, we pulled in to our accommodation for the next few nights in a residential area of Dubrovnik. Despite a siege on the town that occurred during the War for Croatian Independence (a part of the larger Yugoslavian conflict), Dubrovnik’s historical old town stands in great shape, and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Mediterranean.




On our full day in Kotor we embarked on a hike to explore the fortifications of the city which, along with the surrounding geography, are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. During Medieval times a series of ramparts, towers, citadels, gates, bastions, forts, cisterns, and a castle protected the town and the hillside above it. Situated on the bay below a steep incline, settlers of Kotor had to build walls that protected the city from being attacked from high ground. The result is a stony city wall that meanders high up above the old town. Visitors can enter, hike and explore the walls from the old town area for the price of 8 euros. However, on a tip from our friend Branco, we discovered that there's a hike that takes you up a mule path to a ruined village behind the walls, where you can then enter the fortification through an old outpost window for the favorable price of free ninety-nine. The 16th century village is home to stray cats, the odd grazing cow or two and an abandoned 1000 year old church (pictured above) dedicated to St George and St Maria. After getting our fill of exploring the ruins, we ducked inside the city walls and explored the remnants of the fort and castle that were once crucial in protecting the city. Anyone willing to brave the 1,352 stairs of the fortified city walls will be treated to a stunning view of the Bay of Kotor once at the top.