Travel

All aboard in Croatia – sailing, sea and sunsets

Camping

For once David’s vacation video has beaten my blog post.  I’ve been in Mississauga for the past week with not much to do but still procrastinating on this post.  It just seemed daunting to describe a wonderful week of sun, relaxation and exploration.  And have to whittle down the 900+ photos to a few that captures the essence of this unforgettable holiday.  I will try nonetheless.  Scroll to the bottom to catch David’s video which is epic.  His best video yet.

 It started months ago with a Facebook post by Martha, my book club friend and fellow Canadian, about “The Yacht Week”.  After some research into what TYW was all about, I quickly realized our 30+ year old bodies couldn’t take 6 nights of non-stop partying but the thought of that kind of vacation remained appealing.  Luckily I came across a post on a TripAdvisor forum recommending MedSailors, a relatively young company which promised a more toned down TYW with more culture and relaxation and less debauchery and partying.  That sounded more like our cup of tea.  Leading up to the trip, we really didn’t know what to expect – seven days on a sailboat with strangers… could go either way really.  And looking back, our worry was all for naught.  It will be one of those vacations we will never forget and keep recommending to anyone we come across.

IMG_0807croatia5IMG_1311We started in Dubrovnik, Croatia and boarded the 44’ sail boat called ‘Mallorca’ with Martha, her friend Rachelle, and an Aussie couple living in London, Sam and Krystal.  Our skipper, Ian, from England and the guest manager for our five boat flotilla, Petra, a native Croatian guided us through the islands and inlets of the azure Dalmatian Coast for 6 nights, and 7 days.

Our route took us from Dubrovnik to Split with stops every night at a new port, marina or protected bay, including visits to the charming ancient towns of Korcula and Hvar as well as the national park in Mljet.  Our trip started with some disappointment as our group of four had paid for and expected the PremierPlus Yacht which we soon realized was nicer, more spacious and comfortable.  We were put on an older boat but tried our best to forget about it and enjoy the trip anyway.   Our bed was actually quite comfortable and I slept like a baby through the nights except for the first night where a fisherman’s village party across the bay kept everyone within a 2 km radius awake with some horrible band music.

Given the relatively low-cost of this trip, we didn’t know what to expect from the breakfast and lunches that were included and cooked prepared by our skipper.  They were a pleasant surprise:  eggs every other morning  with museli, yogurt, cheese, cold cuts and bread every morning.  And lunches consisted of a salad each day: potatoe, vegetable, tuna, pasta with more cold cuts and cheese for sandwiches.  We brought our own drinks and snacks on-board (something not permitted on TYW) and ate dinner out every night.  For four of the nights, we didn’t have a choice of where nor when to eat.  Most places provided great food just the same but once we arrived in Split, we realized how overpriced those sole restaurants in the tiny harbours really were.  When we had free rein on dinner choices in Korcula and Hvar we had some fabulous, good-value-for-money meals.  Usually we went for the fresh grilled fish.

croatia2 croatia1 croatia6Instead of giving you a day by day account of what we did, I’ll just go through the highlights.  Our days on the boat were pretty similar:  sun tanning, reading, swimming, diving, paddle boarding and general enjoyment of the sun and crystal blue waters.   We had some fantastic weather: sunny, clear and hot.  Our skipper towed the stand-up paddle board behind our boat as we used it like a giant water ski.  David and I took a windsurfing lesson in Korcula and most others took the wine tasting tour option.  Wind surfing was really cool.  A lot easier to stand up and manoeuvre than I expected… but then again, we weren’t going all that fast.  The wind was calm.  But it will be something we’ll have to try again.  We rented bikes at Mljet and toured around the national park and swam in the inland salt lakes.  We partied at Carpe Diem across the bay from Hvar after our very late dinner brought us into the streets as people were closing up at the relatively early hour of 2am.  We saw a turtle and multiple dolphins while cruising the Adriatic.  And we also learned some sailing during our mini regatta.  It was all ropes, sails and tacking (i.e. holding on for dear life) for the hour as we raced the other MedSailors boats, narrowly avoiding a ferry plowing right by us.  We came in second.

croatia7 croatia9 croatia8The cobbled streets and narrow pedestrian lane ways in Dubrovnik, Split and Korcula seduced us.  We aimlessly wandered through the ‘old towns’ while marveling at the 14th century construction, easily getting lost in what felt like another century.  Although they were rampant with tourists, they still had an authentic, undiscovered feel to them.  We were then treated to a double rainbow and a fierce lightning storm in the clouds over Split on the last night.  Thankfully, we were off the boat by then.

croatia3 croatia4The best part of the trip was jumping into the Adriatic Sea. Period.  The water was relatively warm and incredibly inviting.  At times, when laziness was about to take over and prevent us from jumping in yet another time, we’d said to ourselves, “we have to do this now or we’ll regret not making the most of this.” And then in we went despite the constant saltiness, wet swimsuits and ratty hair.

croatia11 croatia10We had a great time with our boat companions, laughing, chatting and drinking.  Luckily we all had similar expectations and goals for the trip and all got along very well.  We had so much fun and loved it so much even before disembarking we thought about how we could manage another trip like this. Afterall, Medsailors also offers trips around Greece and Turkey.  We did come across The Yacht Week flotilla which at 50 boats strong, we were thankful we didn’t sign up for it.  We’re just not 20 years old anymore.   The seven days on the boat flew by in a flash and it left us with a beautiful impression of Croatia – magnificent landscapes, charming towns, great fresh food, rich espresso and the trip of a lifetime.

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