Croatia is a little piece of paradise you wouldn't expect to find in Europe. The country is home to beautiful beaches, palm trees, a thoroughly chilled atmosphere... and mosquitoes. Well, you can't have it all, can you?
As group of two Brits and an honorary Brit (though her Aussieness came out many a time where bugs were concerned: barefoot spider squishing, knifing a wasp to death, squashing a mosquito with one hand, while calmly holding a glass of wine with the other), we unintentionally hit most British stereotypes while on holiday. Hey, you can take the girl out of London...
Talk about the weather
Come on, the most British thing EVER. Excessively, too. Initially, we were worried as it was forecasted to be stormy on all but our first day. However, this was completely unfounded, and even as we looked at the weather app stating rain, we looked up at the sky to see something very different, thank God. The September temperature was perfect; hot enough to feel completely comfortable in a bikini, but cool enough not to sweat like a waterfall. It averaged at about 27 degrees each day, and at about 18 to 23 each evening.
Get a round in
Despite the early start (very early, like could-still-be-on-a-night-out early) the train to the airport and flight were fairly smooth. Of course, the British way is having a tendency for drinking that an alcoholic would be proud of, so my housemate and I cracked on with 7:30am gin and tonics, while playing a round of cards. In front of us were a group of lads lads lads, who were caning it a hell of a lot heavier. Pretty much the most British way to start a holiday.
Apart from our first night, we went out in the evening to explore Hvar's nightlife. The most prolific club on the island is Carpe Diem which, although a good premise - you get a boat to a little island - it was a bit pretentious and expensive AF. Instead, head to the bars and clubs next to the marina like Aloha, Nautica and Kiva. The drinks are well priced, the vibe is great, you can watch the boats and chat with everyone - people are very social. Maybe a bit too social, as my flatmate found out when we had to rush past the bar, so a certain bartender wouldn't see her the next morning...
Kiva, which we went to on our last night, was our favourite. The music and drinks were good and we had a great chat with an Aussie couple who were 3 months into a 2 year trip in their camper van. We were incredibly jealous. It wasn't the British rowdy atmosphere you'd expect for all the heavy drinking going on either, which was refreshing. There are only 6 policemen in Hvar for a reason!
Take advantage of any freebies
Our AirBnb, which reminded us of an old Italian winery (and they actually made their own wine and olive oil there, too), was situated walking distance from everything and had a great view of the sea and islands of Hvar. We had no need for a car; each day, we would walk down through the beautiful old town and down to the coast. The beaches in Hvar are rocky, but the water is breathtakingly clear. It's like being on a European version of a Caribbean island. We sunbathed on rocks, on stone walls, on concrete, wherever basically, because we didn't want to pay that 100kn for a sunbed. And, you know what? We got just as tanned and enjoyed the beautiful sea view anyway!
The fortress is a free viewpoint that looks over the town and other islands below and is thoroughly recommended. For someone who isn't an active fan of hiking, I always end up climbing up some sort of viewpoint in cities I visit, but this one really wasn't a hard climb and could be done by most people.
Another freebie we loved was the use of a pool in the neighbouring hotel. It was fashioned with ornate stone, surrounded by palm trees, and you walk into it in the same way you'd walk into the sea (i.e. you don't climb into the pool using steps or a ladder; the water starts at about two inches and gets progressively deeper).
We even managed to score another freebie in the form of bread and shots from a restaurant we visited a couple of times. Carbs and alcohol, what more could you want?!
Being the heath and safety police
So, us Brits do take health and safety a little too far sometimes, but even our flat's "it'll be fiiiiiine" attitude was tested as we stepped into a tiny boat on rough waters to Zdrilca. Who was driving the boat, you ask? A seasoned sailor and Croatian native who has been on these waters everyday of his life? Nope, my flatmate. But we had life jackets just incase, right? WRONG AGAIN. To be fair to my flatmate, he actually did so well, driving, anchoring, and whatever else he had to do to keep us afloat while I had a mid-sea panic that we were about to capsize and drown.
The mild panic attack was worth it though, as we docked on the first beautiful island. We headed straight for the beach bar and ordered mussels, bread and roasted vegetables, as we listened to jazz and observed the incredible view, not quite believing where we were. We soon moved to sun loungers, played fetch with dogs in the sea, and had a dreamy afternoon. The other two went to explore other coves on the boat, but I was not stepping back on that thing until absolutely necessary. Instead, I found out what happened in the "24 hours that shatter Walford" thanks to BBC iPlayer and my 4G.
We were in what literally felt like paradise. We even had jazz versions of Christmas songs playing at one point; surreal, but why not fuse together the two really great things?
Last but not least...
Queueing! This was much better than queuing at the bus stop, though.
Following such an incredible break, coming back to London wasn't a fun task. Not only was it 12 hours door-to-door and involved about five different modes of transport, but of course, it ended in the most British way possible: a rail replacement bus and drizzly rain. Classic.