A Less Touristy Destination for Months 4 and 5
Updated: Nov 22, 2019
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Our apologies for not blogging much recently. We have been busy GETTING MARRIED! (woop woop!) The big day went perfectly and we’re so happy to finally be hitched.
“Guys-- aren’t you leaving the country soon? Oh yeah...gotta get ready for our move!” So back to the blog and other trip-related shenanigans….
Before we get into detail about our choice of locations 4 and 5, let’s recap our customs and immigration situation. Reminder that we are booking each accommodation for a full month (in order to take advantage of “long term stay” discounts and also to have a home base from which we can travel to other cities).
As you may recall, our itinerary thus far looks like this:
Location 1 - Lyon, France - Schengen Area
Location 2 - Vienna, Austria - Schengen Area
Location 3 - Glasgow, Scotland - not in the Schengen Area
Since we are intent on visiting Italy during our 6th month (Christmas and new years) and it is in the Schengen Area, that will max out our “90 days out of every 180 days”. This limits our options for locations 4 and 5 to somewhere outside of the Schengen area.
To recap our earlier post, the European countries not in the Schengen Area are the following:
Albania. Andora. Armenia. Azerbaijan. Belarus. Bosnia & Herzegovina. Croatia. Cyprus. Georgia. Ireland. Kosovo. Macedonia. Moldova. Monaco. Montenegro. Romania. Russia. San Marino. Serbia. Turkey. Ukraine. The United Kingdom. Vatican City.
There you have it. Twenty-three countries from which to choose. We have options, folks!
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Without researching all of them in great detail, a few countries stood out to us: Ireland, the UK, and Croatia. We already vacationed in Ireland in 2018 so we will only decide to head back there after visiting several other European countries. Months 4 and 5 will cover part of October, all of November, and half of December. That made us realize the UK probably wasn’t a good choice simply based on the weather.
Croatia it is!!
We’ve seen pictures of the Croatian coast (particularly the Dalmatian Coast, which is the furthest south) that look absolutely stunning. Crystal blue water, white pebble beaches,and terracotta roofs. Croatia’s western coast is just across the Adriatic Sea from Italy, making it even more desirable, as we’ll be heading there once we’re done in Croatia.
We’ve also read that it’s common for Europeans to vacation in Croatia (hey...they need somewhere new to visit to relax too, ya know). Peak season in Croatia is typically July-August (when most Europeans are on holiday), but who wants to visit a place during peak tourist season? Ok… there might be quite a few people, it’s called tourist season for a reason, but we don’t include ourselves in that group of people. We have chosen to visit later in the year to hopefully avoid the crowds while still enjoying the food, sites, and sounds.
The currency used in Croatia is the Croatian Kuna (currency code: HRK, currency symbol: kn) so we will have to exchange our euros. For information on the cost of living in Croatia, check out this awesome video from fellow travel bloggers Dan and Stacey.
Our “home city” in the US has a population of over 1 million and we want to be close to a major international airport, meaning we needed to figure out which are the largest cities in Croatia.
Wow, ok...the population center is clearly Zagreb (and is also the capital). That makes sense.
After double checking another map, it was more believable that Croatia didn’t have any cities larger than our “hometown.” Below is a visual showing Croatia overlayed onto the midwest United States.
We had never heard of the second-largest city, Split (or any others on the list, for that matter). After a little research we decided that both Zagreb and Split would be make good destinations. And they seemed to be different enough that it will still give us some variety during our stay in Croatia.
While most of Croatia is coastal, Zagreb is actually further inland. It’s located just across the border from Slovenia.
Zagreb is known for being a great place for coffee addicts to explore. It has numerous cafes where people relax, socialize, and slowly savour their coffee of choice according to this article. Don’t even think about getting your coffee to go in Zagreb!
Plitvice Lakes is within a two-hour drive of Zagreb and is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful natural wonders in Europe.
[Eddie here… Do you guys think I can talk Megan into a camping trip near the Plitvice Lakes? Help me out and post some awesome comments about it!]
If you are a fan of the TV series “Game of Thrones” you will recognize a lot of scenes are shot in Dubrovnik, which is on the very southern tip of Croatia. While Dubrovnik is a very popular tourist destinations and a wonderful city from what we’ve read, they actually have quite a big problem with overcrowding primarily due to tourism. Large cruise ships dock there and then GOT fans flock in as well, which just overwhelms the city. You can read more in this article. We will certainly visit Dubrovnik but staying there feels like we would be contributing to the existing chaos and we want to be respectful of the local people and attractions.
So we decided our second city in Croatia, location 5, would be...
Split is located between 4 and 6 hours directly south of Zagreb (depending on whether you travel by car, bus, or train and which route you choose). It’s also only ~4 hours from Dubrovnik so it would be easy enough to take a short trip, see the city and sites from GoT, and pop back north a ways to find a beautiful beach front property for the night.
One thing that makes us excited to see Split is that a large portion of its city center (named Diocletian’s Palace) is pedestrian only. Our Airbnb is actually in this area too, so walking everywhere should be no problem at all. Also, Eddie isn’t a huge fan of beaches so not every location on our trip will have beautiful beach front opportunities… Split does. Between the slow pace of a large pedestrian area, lazy days on the beach by the Adriatic, UNESCO World heritage sites, and Krka National Park only an hour away, I think we made a pretty solid choice.
We can’t wait to visit Croatia for months 4 and 5 of our year abroad!
Do you have a favorite location to visit in Croatia? Or at least an experience we NEED to have while we’re there? Let us know in the comments below!
Eddie + Megan
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