Croatia – Krk 2013
A chance to drive down to Croatia with an amazing girl offered itself as an opportunity in the summer, before the winter and cold had a chance to surround and engulf Vienna, Austria. We planned our route by car, from Linz through the mountain range, down to the island of Krk – a popular destination with its own airport. People often camp, taking their RVs and families for vacation. Total drive time, ~6 hours. We were wise to plan our departure earlier than when schools had summer break, to avoid huge crowds. The freeway system charges for entering and exiting on and off ramps at toll stations, which I’ve heard can be horrendous in the peak season, with cars waiting in the lines for hours making trips a horrible ordeal.
We were lucky to breeze through parts of Slovenia and Croatia with no real trouble, albeit the toll stations just from Linz to Krk, which surprisingly did cost quite some money – more than I had expected. Gas prices are also high in Europe, so it is hard to say if a road trip is really worth the money, being that cheap airline flights are becoming more and more prevalent.
The drive was nevertheless nice, we had a summer mixtape blasting and life was good. Finally off work and carefree for a good week, we turned a last bend and saw the ocean. We were high up in the mountains, slowly driving down the winding streets following a lot of German license plates in a chain of cars all heading to the same island. I am not much of a beach person I must admit, and my companion showed a lot more excitement and enthusiasm for laying around and sunbathing all day. I could only muster a half-hearted agreement knowing that I won’t stand that for long, but we agreed on making this a vacation both of us would enjoy.
We hadn’t booked any hotels or anything in advance, we just figured we would stay where it looked nice and at a place that catches our eye. Our first stop was Malinska, a town that had mostly carved out cement steps resembling areas to lie down, lots of restaurants and a strong boating community offering tours. It had nice winding roads going up and down the small town between tightly built houses. Though there were a lot of families with loud kids running around.
We checked our finances and exchanged our Euros after finding the best rates, got a ball of ice cream from a wide and odd selection of choices. (The best they had there was dark chocolate.)
We drove out to the next town which was Krk, where we ended up parking and exploring. It had a nice feeling to it, with the buildings and main city streets flowing right next to the ocean but on a ledge higher up. Old castle-like walls surrounded parts of the city, and later on we stopped in at a bar that was inside the ruins of an old fortress. We decided to stay there and got a very big apartment for 3 nights, it easily offered enough room for a group of 8 people for an extremely low price.
After getting situated we unpacked and headed out on sandaled feet to the water’s edge, built with big cement steps with chances to lie near the rocky shores. Further up the beaches were smoother, but still like gravel. It was easy to get into the cold water from ladders, and the water was very clean and pretty clear. After a round of paddle boating, and a first disappointing meal at an Italian restaurant, we called it a day.
The next day we explored more of the city and went to the supermarket to stock up on all the unusual items we could find to consume and cook at home later. Then another round of lying in the sun like salamanders and a walk through the streets. Towards the evening, we settled in a small pub where a Brit was playing guitar with an older lady singing enthusiastically. They played and sang the songs in a drunken fashion. Next to them two Germans were escaping their life at home after both divorcing their wives. It was the best spot we found to relax and enjoy some drinks well in to the evening. At some point we left because the Germans were becoming extremely annoying, one hugging and breathing in my face, stories of how much of a whore his wife was. I believed him, but I am sure he wasn’t completely innocent either. How could anyone stand this guy let alone marry him?
The next day we embarked on some more driving, and took a ship that was able to transport us and the car across to another island called Cres. It was a bit more remote, with small villages and a lot of free-range sheep in the mountains. The food was a whole lot better and we found small corners with less tourists so we could enjoy our time together strolling through the streets. This island was more rugged and wild and we hiked around, exploring the different small paths in the mountains with abandoned buildings and a small church.
We ended up in a tiny town at the bottom of one of the cliffs. There was a parking area at the top and we slowly walked down steep steps snaking through small balcony houses. Finally we reached a small harbor and town with a giant campground and a tiny beach off to the side. We had that area just for the two of us to enjoy, and we relaxed there until the sunset.
At nightfall we returned to the dock and took the ferry back to Krk. It had a spectacular view from the top deck. In the distance huge clouds were forming and a giant thunderstorm with lightning was hitting the water. We could view it from a far and dry distance. Back at our room we enjoyed dinner on the balcony with huge rainfall and loud thunder roaring all around us. We went to sleep hoping for better weather the next day.
Sure enough it cleared up and the sun returned. So we drove to the southern tip of Krk, to the town of Baška: a small beach town surrounded by high mountains. It had a lot of little shopping carts with small handmade trinkets and gifts, endless tourist souvenir items, and some cheap food stands. The main attraction there was a big half-moon shaped sandy beach that was packed with people laying shoulder to shoulder, drinking and having a good time. To my horror in the background there was a bar blasting top 100 hits and the epitome of bad electronic music artists.
A ridiculous amount of the beach was offering sunbathing benches to rent for a day, with hardly anyone using them because everyone in their right mind saw it as a rip-off, including me.
Later, after pizza and more unusual tastes of ice cream, we decided to return again for the last night in our room, before heading back home. I’m eager to see more places in Europe, since I haven’t had the opportunity while living in the United States. I recommend Croatia to anyone looking for a summer getaway, friendly people, and interesting small villages for a chance to unwind from their lives at home. It’s a country that has many beautiful spots to visit!