Having never driven on the right hand side of the road, or in a left hand drive car, both Leah and I were anticipating a few scary moments as we road tripped from Dubrovnik to Pula. Getting into the driver’s seat was a little bit intimidating I’m not gonna lie. We were in peak traffic, in the port of Dubrovnik, when the man from Fleet car rentals handed me the keys and wished us well. Our weapon of choice, a Hyundai i30 hatch back thing and of course, a manual. After flying, ferrying and training everywhere, we wanted to take control of our movements ourselves. Our plan, cruise the coast road from Dubrovnik to Pula, staying wherever we wanted, doing whatever we wanted. We had 6 nights to do it. GoPro in hand, we filmed some of the journey so check out the vid below!
First off, we hired the car from Fleet car rentals in Dubrovnik port. It was a reasonable price for the 7 days with a few added extras. Mobile wi-fi, which worked not only in the car, but we took it with us when we needed it, insurance was a must, so we forked out for that, additional driver insurance so we could share the driving and a one way drop off fee so we could leave the car at Pula airport. In total, for the whole time it cost us just over $600nzd including petrol. When booking, used rentalcars.com. We compared the best day rate and one way rate with a bunch of cars and found the best deal on their website. Make sure you check any hidden cost in the fine print and legal ages to hire the car etc. We considered transport from place to place and figured it would be the same, if not cheaper to do the car option and we would have our freedom to do what we wanted.
Staying at Villa Adriatic (found on booking.com) we spent day 1 in Dubrovnik Old Town cruising around looking at all the ancient buildings. The amazing old school architecture really opens your eyes if your like me and didn’t listen in history class or even school for that matter. It’s now a huge tourist attraction for people who love “Game Of Thrones” so if your into it, get your ass there and check it out. Us on the other hand are more into “The Walking Dead,” so we cruised around looking like zombies in the 30 degree heat… at 11am.
After long enough in the sun and not wanting to pay the $25nzd each to walk the Old Town wall, we hit the beach in Lapad. Hitting those rocky mediterranean beaches, we swam and tried to sunbathe on the rock wall which didn’t work quite as we thought, but it was still a breather from the many people in old town. We ate lunch at Tutto Bene for pretty cheap, getting a burrito each and filling us up for the rest of the afternoon.
Next we headed back to Old Town to check out the well known Buza Bars. Theres two of these, situated outside the walls on the rock face, facing the ocean. Our kind of place. With drinks at the bar, music pumping, rock jumps at your leisure and the sun blazing, its hard not to feel good here. If your into your big rock jumps, hit Buza Bar 2, theres jumps for every level. Leah and I hit the lower of the 3 decent sized ones first. The Aussie boy we were hanging with, Kieren, decided to hit the big one. Not wanting to be a pussy, I followed suit. My one rule in Europe now is don’t hesitate, just commit. If you do this you’ll be sweet and sure enough, I came out alive, mind you my balls got a little tickle as I hit the water. Buza Bar 1 is more of the drinking vibe, more area to drink, a sort of rock swimming platform and some smaller rock jumps. After breaking the seal too early, the three off us took turns going to the toilet and by that I mean jumping off the rocks into the Med. Theres literally no toilet here so our only option.
Day 2 We hit the road headed for Makarska. Being told Makarska was a must do, we punched it into the GPS on my phone and set off. Half an hour out of Dubrovnik, we came across a town farming oysters calling Mali Ston. We pulled in to go to the toilet and happened to stumble across this amazing little shack selling freshly picked oysters. No shit, the girls mum had just come back from the oyster farm with a fresh batch. Out of our comfort zone, Leah and I bought a couple each. Squeezed lemon, tabasco sauce and salt and pepper, these things were INSANE. She insisted we chewed them, which we did and I can now say im an oyster lover, Leah too. We headed back to the coast road, feeling that aphrodisiac starting to work…..
If you didn’t already know, Leah is apparently part Croatian. Tina (Leahs mum) told us she had an uncle/family in a small town in Croatia. We thought to ourselves “it’ll be a mission to get to I bet”. Somehow, we just happened to be driving past the small town called Zivogoscre on the way to Makarska. With the help of Tinas directions, we pulled into this town the size of Milford and kept an eye out for the LM apartments and it just so happened it was the first place we found. Leah knocks… A croatian man answers. Picture this, Leah whose loud, energetic and talks a lot and then a man who can hardly speak english relaxing at home. “Hi are you Leno?”, the man replies with a firm “yes” but unsure as to why this girl from a foreign country knows his name. She then goes on to explain that 5 generations back along the line they are related. Looking confused but interested, he invites us in for some sherry and figs. Normal in Croatia. 10 minutes later his daughter shows up who can speak reasonably good english. She helps to explain why we are here, what we are doing and who we are. Leno relaxes and is so impressed with Leah showing up, he offers us a bed for the next few nights. Unfortunately we had already booked and paid for accommodation in Makarska, so we chill, drink some more sherry, exchange photos and head on our way. As we leave, it’s almost a sad time, these people who didnt even know we existed welcomed us into their home. Such friendly people its easy to see where Leah comes from, she even looks a bit Croatian, hvala na Antonovich obitelji.
Makarska. A small town on the coast of Croatia. We decided to spend two nights here. Already getting dark we promptly booked a double bed apartment on Booking.com, yet another family run business. We bought food from the supermarket and utilised our kitchenette to make dinner and breakfast for the two days saving us a fortune.
The first day we set off to a beach called Nugal Beach. Recommended by our mate Churches, we parked the car in an industrial parking lot and headed for the bush walk to the beach. High above the beach we followed the path, stopping every now and then to take in the amazing view of the Croatian coastline. What should have taken us 15minutes, soon became 30. We were well lost. We had made a wrong turn and now found ourselves climbing down the hill face with no track insight. Out of nowhere we came across a small little shack which looked like a hippies house. We could hear the chickens and what looked like animal traps in the trees, but I think we were over exaggerating a little. Feeling lost as hell we reverted to the documentary channel and took a page out of Bear Grylls book. Follow the river. We could see a stream of water trickling down the hill so we climbed our way to the bottom. All of a sudden it opened up and we could see the ocean, we made it…. or not. We look down, a 20 meter vertical drop below us and we could not only see the beach but… 6 older folk walking round in the Nude… thanks Churches ya set us up. We managed to find our way back to the track and ask for directions. Blood, sweat and tears… we made it, wearing birkenstocks and jandles.
At Nugal Beach we found a spot to chill. Leah got her boobies out and i kept my shorts on. No seedy old man is gonna see my willie any time soon. It was definitely an experience, that’s for sure. Freedom at its finest. At one point this little boat parked up at the beach selling fruit. Yuuum, I thought, I’ll head to get us some nectarines… next minute its swarmed with naked men trying to buy fruit, their balls almost touching, well all of it. I swiftly changed my direction and got to the other side of the boat. Pheew. The fruit was so yum and the whole experiance was interesting, even though the thought was stuck in the back of my head… EWW. Not gonna lie, I felt a bit uncomfortable at points, Leah trying to convince me to relax. This whole coast line is full of nudist beaches so if its your thing, you’re in the right place.
That night we had got in touch with some mates on a Sail Croatia. Makarska is the place where a lot of the boats stop for the night to party and somehow, Ben, Bruno, Willie and a few of the other boys happened to be there. This is getting ridiculous… these lads follow us everywhere. Not going to complain though, Leah and I commandeered their boat at about 8pm as the party was on its way. Everyone was dressed up as pirates, “and really bad eggs”. Knowing only 8 of the 16 abroad, we started to tell the randoms, we were on the boat “the Navigator” just across the water and who wouldn’t believe us. Banging back drinks like we do as kiwis, we were well on our way. Sing alongs and pirate hats, it really felt like we were part of the boat, thanks lads.
11pm. Following the crew, we headed to the Cave bar or “Deep Makarska“. Basically a big club in a cave full of shitfaced Sail Croatia people. Epic. This place went off, drinks flying left and right, crazy dance moves and captain hats everywhere. Leah somehow found a pirate revolver toy. We partied here until the early hours of the morning, intoxicated to the point of no return. Approaching 4am and having to drive up to split that day, Leah and I gapped it. On the way home, Leah using the plastic gun, we got immersed in believing we were characters out of “The Walking Dead.” – see told you we like the show. Hiding behind cars, shooting at invisible walkers and holding down the Rick Grimes steeze, we spent over an hour getting home, being idiots and filming on snapchat. Definitely a highlight.
The next day we headed for Split. Unfortunately for us, we were just stopping off for the night, ready to keep driving. We hit the beach for the avo, hungover as fuck and then slept like babies that night. We didn’t spend much time in Split but so many people we’ve met along the way have recommended it. So check it out and let us know what you think. Again, Booking.com for the accomodation here.
From here the coast road ends and the highway begins. On route to Rijeka, we stopped off at the Krka National Park. Ok, this is going to be honesty hour. We chose this National Park because we could swim here. When we arrived, we hoped onto a bus to take us 5mins into the National Park. Thousands of people flock here to see the same thing. It’s basically a big waterfall which, don’t get me wrong, is beautiful but is completely ruined by the commercialisation of the National Park. It’s over run by tourists and in NZ we can see the same thing with nothing more than a few birds joining you. We were so disappointed, Leah didn’t even swim. It’s just another mainstream tourist activity, our bus driver even through his ciggie butt out the window and into the National Park…WHAT?! Not ideal. Price 20 euros each.
From Krka National Park, we hoped on the highway. Speed limit 130km/h, we quickly made that. Cars flying past at this speed, we comfortably got up to 160km/h. Not condoning going fast but our car was so nice it felt like we were just cruising. Lets just say it’s not the piece of shit Mazda held together with cable ties like I had once upon a time back home. Not sure whether the speed limit was open or not but it seemed normal at this speed and cars were hauling past even faster. We were safe.
Rijeka was a similar situation to Split for us. A quick overnight stay and we were off the next day. Booking.com , once again and we scored us a cheap nights stay. On route to Rovijn, we stopped off at a few beaches along the way. Heres a handy tip…we got to a beach club early one morning about 8am, jumped on a lounger, which should have cost 30 euro and pushed our limits. Just before the young lad collecting money got to us about 1030am, we got up and ran to the car, jumped in and headed to the next beach. Call us gypsies if you will but it worked a treat.
Rovijn (pronouced ro-vin) was an amazing place. If you get the chance go there. We once again only had a day and night there. We cruised around the Old Town, which is located right on the water. Literally the water laps up against the building. Such a cool place we really wished we could have stayed longer. It seems as though it’s an up and coming destination for tourists so get there and get there soon. Theres even pirate ships which take you on trips around the islands, but having less of a budget than Captain Jack Sparrow we flagged that idea and just cruised the streets for the evening.
Arriving in Pula the next day meant one thing. It was time. Time to once again get shitfaced for 4 days straight, stay up late, not shower for the entire time and run our immune systems into the ground. En route to Outlook Festival, our excitement levels were at an all time high.
The past week we had experienced some amazing places, people and a whole lot of pirates. The Croatian coast compares to some of the best in the world, so thanks for reading this huge as fuck essay and get your ass off the couch, hire a car and do what we did. You wont regret it.
Bryn | free & addicted
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