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Sunny Bol, Croatia! (Plus some travel & Frankfurt)

Sunshine and blue water. Let's get this vacation started!

The clear waters in Bol, Croatia. Just how did we get to this beautiful place?
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It is still feeling a bit surreal to be so far from home after such a complicated and tumultuous year and a half. Somehow after two long travel days, we have found ourselves in a little bit of paradise on Brac Island in Croatia. We left Oregon on Monday and I am finally starting to unwind on Friday as I write this entry.

Day One - Loads of Travel and a Frankfurt Layover

We flew to San Francisco where we discovered the new outdoor lounge. It is so nice to get outside when you are waiting in an airport. As we were waiting and hearing announcements in other languages, it was hard not to be a little emotional about how lucky we felt to be able to travel internationally. This trip was complicated for a number of reasons. We had to change dates rather last minute, kept close track of covid restrictions in every place we would transit and visit, and plan for a variety of scenarios.
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When we settled into the giant plane that would fly to Frankfurt, it all felt a little real and oh so right! Even the plane food tasted better than ever.
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We all managed to sleep a bit and watch a few movies. We arrived in Frankfurt around 9am and had eight hours to spend in the rainy city. We bought an all-day u-bahn pass and took a short metro ride into the city. After some wet wandering, we found pastries, coffee, and traditional German architecture that we had missed so much!
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Germany had only recently opened up to tourism and covid precautions were very much in place. When we finally found a nice restaurant for lunch, we had to show our vaccination cards and register to eat there. It was so worth it though for a fabulous meal! The Frankfurt-famous green sauce was my favorite! I also enjoyed the flammkuchen (onion and bacon pizza-like thing), spaetzle, and schnitzel. We were stuffed and ready to head back through security at the airport.
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We were hitting our limits of exhaustion. We all took turns taking naps in the airport and on the final short flight to Zagreb, Croatia.
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We arranged a short shuttle ride to our simple room for the night right near the airport. It was already nearly 8pm and somehow we were still a little hungry. We found excellent salad and pizza nearby and called it a night. Those two travel days were long, a bit painful, but worth every minute!
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Day Two - Drive, ferry, and drive a little more

We had an incredible breakfast feast at our hotel (Rooms Barba Niko if you need a place by the Zagreb airport).
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DH rented a Volkswagen T-Roc and we were on our way. We took a long but easy toll road all the way to Split. The countryside was green and lush with very few towns or traffic. This was a good thing because we were trying to make a 1:30 ferry to Brac Island!
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We made great time and were super impressed with the giant ferry. There was even a below-deck secret passage for small cars. One woman begged the ferry worker to not make her drive down there! We got an easy spot on the main level. Phew!
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The forty minute ferry ride was beautiful but boy was it hot!
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When we arrived on the island, we had another 40 minute drive through some twisty roads to finally arrive in Bol. We were struck immediately by the beautiful blue water and white stone buildings.
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We bought a few groceries and checked into a nice two bedroom apartment about 5-10 minutes from the beach. The AC was working well in each bedroom. Thank goodness!
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DD#2 and I checked out the cute town, found some ice cream, and a friendly looking place that had Czech Staropramen on draft. The rest of the family joined us and we still felt a little disoriented with all the travel we'd accomplished in just two days.

We ordered easy pizza for dinner. Pizzeria Gogy was just next door! The kids and I hiked down at night for a late-night swim. Ahhhh! We'd arrived.

Day Three - Bol, Bol, Bol!

I was determined to pack as much as possible into our one day in Bol. Even though it was in the mid-80s, I set out for a hot run to scope out some of the nearby beaches. I found the perfect spot just beneath a monastery outside of town. I went back, had a simple breakfast in the apartment, gathered the family, and hit the beach! We loved swimming in the clear waters. I especially loved hearing the church bells as we swam.
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Here are some abandoned communist-era hotels with some impressive graffiti.
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Amazing cemetery with a view.

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We cooled off in the apartment for a while, ate some snacks, and DD#2 and I set off for the most iconic and famous Zlatni Rat beach. The beach was very busy but we still hopped in and enjoyed people watching. I was happy with the smaller beach we spent more time at in the morning. The famous beach was about 20 minutes away so we looked at little shops, and swam in another beach on the way back.
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DD#2 remarked on one of our walks that she had forgotten all about covid. It's true. There were few masks (except for indoor situations) and people just seemed relaxed and in holiday-mode. There were random covid testing sites - even along the beach! There were cute beach cats everywhere.
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Somehow, the heat was keeping us from being very hungry. But is was happy hour again!
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We bought a couple souvenirs in the small town, ate more gelato, and enjoyed an amazing dinner at Ranc Restaurant. We had black risotto, octopus salad (my favorite), calamari, and Greek salad. I tried my first Croatian wine (very good) and we were stuffed. I love that my family is willing to try new foods!
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A few of the kids cute instragram shots around town.
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Between the heat, walking, running, and swimming, we were exhausted. In our short time on Brac, we felt like we got over our jet lag and remembered the true bliss of being in vacation mode!
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Day Four - Bye Bol, Hello Dubrovnik!

The kids had been eyeing this amazing floating obstacle course so naturally, we had to start our day here before leaving the island.
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DH and I relaxed with coffee at a little cafe that overlooked the obstacle course. I grabbed a few pastries at the local bakery, and we cleared out of apartment number one. It served us well. We drove about 25 minutes to another part of Brac (Sumartin) where we caught a very different ferry to Makarska. This was one tiny ferry! I had serious doubts that we would fit. DH had to back the car onto the boat along with trucks and vans.
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The dramatic white and grey mountains jutting out of the sea in the distance were stunning!
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It was hot once again so took refuge in the air conditioned car and drove about three hours south to Dubrovnik. We passed through a small part of Bosnia where we had to show passports both leaving and reentering Croatia. The communist-style architecture was most evident in Bosnia.
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We found a large grocery store before finding our apartment in Dubrovnik. We were stocked for four nights in this fabulous city. I will stop the entry here and save Dubrovnik for next time. This adventure just keeps getting better. We feel so lucky to be so far from home.

Posted by familyineurope 19:27 Archived in Croatia Tagged swimming croatia frankfurt brac bol layover air_travel covid Comments (2)

Ten Years of International Family Travel

We are off to Croatia in exactly one month!


View Croatia 2021 on familyineurope's travel map.

A New Adventure in a New Time

I started this blog ten years ago with four and six year old daughters. What an adventurous, memorable, and challenging six week trip around Europe!

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Croatia 2021

Now we are off again (fingers crossed) to Croatia, Montenegro, and Bosnia for one month with fourteen- and sixteen-year-old daughters!

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Throughout the last decade, we have fully embraced travel as our number one family activity. The four of us dream and brainstorm future trips pretty much every day. I still do most of the itinerary planning. DH is the flight booking and car rental guru. After a lot of practice, I have a pretty good idea of what kinds of activities and pace our family enjoys. The girls are speaking up a lot more about their preferences. DD#1 even has her sights on college in Europe.

Like everyone I know, we experienced sad cancelations in 2020. Our six-week trip to Europe was postponed among so many other activities. Luckily, we have stayed healthy and have all been fully vaccinated. The timing feels right for us to get out of the country. We chose Croatia for many reasons:

1) It is open to American tourists. It was actually open to tourism in summer 2020.
2) Our family absolutely loved Greece in 2019 so it makes sense to visit another country with a beautiful coastline.
3) We have never visited this region and think a month will be a good amount of time. I can't wait to get lost in old towns and eat new foods!
4) We are sticking to a smaller region just in case Covid causes border closures or last-minute shut-downs.
5) Croatia has always been on the list!

We planned this trip in April which is rather last-minute for me. We relied almost entirely on booking.com for fully cancelable apartments.

Here is a brief outline of our itinerary.

Zagreb

4 nights. I am so excited to be in a European city again!
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Rovinj, Istrian Peninsula

4 nights. This region is very close to Italy and has hill towns, beaches, a great waterpark, an adventure park, and an ancient amphitheater in Pula.
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Zadar

3 nights. I am drawn to this city because of its famous sea organ! It also looks beautiful and is maybe less touristed than other cities.
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Split

3 nights. This is Croatia's second largest city and has tons of history. I can't wait to explore Diocletian's Palace and the nearby towns of Trogir and Omis. We might even go zip-lining!
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Bol, Brac Island

3 nights. We will ferry to Brac and drive to the town of Bol. Bol is home to one of Croatia's most famous beaches. There's also a great hike to the island's tallest point.
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Dubrovnik

4 nights. This is the most visited and most famous Croatian city. We will walk the famous walls, get lost in the old town, and take some day trips. This city is usually mobbed with cruise ships. I suspect summer 2021 will be a little different.
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Kotor, Montenegro

3 nights. We will hike up the old city walls to the fortress above, drive around the bay, and the mountains. Another new country!
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Mostar, Bosnia

3 nights. I'm so eager to see this picturesque city with its famous bridge, minarets, and delicious food.
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Sibenik, Croatia

1 night. I knew I wanted to visited this beautiful town so I decided to break up a drive with our only one-night stay.
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Plitvice National Park on the way back to Zagreb

2 nights. This national park has always been on my radar for obvious reasons!
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I will be updating this blog as we travel and hope to provide not only stories about Croatia, but some insight about traveling during Covid. It feels like it has been so long since we have traveled and we know how incredibly lucky we are to have such an opportunity. Let the countdown begin!

Posted by familyineurope 16:28 Archived in Croatia Tagged zadar croatia dubrovnik split zagreb mostar kotor brac bol rovinj sibenik Comments (1)

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