With more than 1300 beautiful islands, hundreds of miles of gorgeous coastline, and spectacular (inland) national parks, it’s pretty tough to see as much as Croatia has to offer in a 18 days! As reluctant as I was, I knew we eventually had to return home, if only for fear my dogs would no longer recognize me.
From Dubrovnik, (where I left off in part 1 of my adventure in Croatia), we traveled on by speed boat to the Lesic Dimitri Palace Hotel (Stories Hotel Brand and a Relais & Chateau member). It would be our castle away from home on the uber charming island of Korcula which is home to Marco Polo and the beginning of the legendary Silk Road.
The medieval old city, its fortress, ramparts and ocean front promenade are stunning! The boutique hotel, in the heart of the old city, has only 5 suites, but they are each so unique and luxuriously designed that you will feel like you’ve stumbled upon a little slice o’ Heaven! And I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re resident Master Chef winner, Marco Gajski, ends up with a Michelin star soon. The food and wine pairings are that fantastic!
Let yourself be spoiled by taking the hotels private sailboat (with a stop to dive for sea urchin appetizers, washed down with the perfect glass of delicious Croatian Chardonnay!), to the new hotspot, Moro Beach Club, on nearby Stupe island. Great spot for some sun, a swim and an absolutely delicious, island sourced lunch with incredible wines and views!
Just as an all important side note ladies, Dalmatian is famous for its beautiful red coral jewelry! So don’t miss the beautifully designed pieces in a famous store called “Irena” in the center of Korcula’s old town. I went slightly crazy, but sooo worth it! I’m sure MasterCard is throwing a small party in my honor.
Then we were off to Zadar with its fantastic combination of history and art installations. We stayed in the elegant and history rich, Bastion Hotel which is the jewel of the city! Their personalized service and hospitality went above and beyond! One of my absolute favorite moments of the whole trip was the surprise serenade the Bastion planned for me in the Rectors Palace Museum, by an award winning, traditional (Klapa) Croatian singing group called the Klapa Kozino. Their a cappella voices were so soul stirring and transcendent- unbelievably gorgeous! Before the night was over, I managed to squeeze in a glassblowing lesson at the Museum of Ancient Glass and visit to the Archaeological Museum of Zadar.
One of the things that has to be experienced in person to get the full ambience, is visiting the two modern icons of “Greetings To The Sun” and the “Sea Organ” during a spectacular sunset on Zadar’s historic, ocean promenade. Created by esteemed architect/artist Nicola Basic they’ve received numerous international and national awards.
His interactive “Greetings To The Sun” installation is a monument that symbolizes communication with light and nature. While the “Sea Organ” represents the aim to communicate with sound- the organ has an entrancing, otherworldly sound! Definitely a don’t miss!
Then it was off to our last stop in the pretty town of Sibenik. I felt like medieval gentry surrounded by the views and sites surrounding our visit to the Life Palace Hotel. It is in the center of the old city that is crowned with a hilltop fort. Their unique activities brought us to the spectacular waterfalls and natural wonders in of Krk National Park, another must see spot!
Our last stop for some complete R&R, was the D Resort Sibenik, artfully designed by the same famed Croatian architect (Greetings To The Sun) Nicola Basic. Rumor has it that he is partnering with Brad Pitt to build another luxury resort in the area over the next couple of years. The D Resort is a contemporary luxury retreat with a dramatic design overlooking the Mandolina super yacht marina. Beware, their state of the art spa, complete with a traditional Turkish Hamam, is so incredible, it may send you into a clinical depression when you have to leave. Our peaceful view of the turquoise blue sea and yacht marina from our private plunge pool in our stylishly, sleek villa made us want to stay for another week!
Honestly, there’s so much to see and do that even after 18 days, I’m heartbroken that I didn’t have the time to see more! Already on my list for what to hit next time are the islands Vis (where they will be shooting”Mama Mia 2″ this year), Brac, Mljet, Kornati Islands and so many more! Also, special towns like the UNESCO city of Trogir, and of course wine tasting and truffle hunting through Istria. That’ll have to be a whole separate trip – the Chronicles of Croatia Part Tres!
Croatia is like a traveler’s best kept secret, except it’s quickly becoming the new vacation hot spot, and for darn good reasons! At every turn, on every island, beach, coastline and city in Croatia my daughter and I were overwhelmed by the unrivaled beauty, friendliness, hospitality, culture, history and delicious food! Oooooh and those wines! Croatia is absolutely gorgeous, from city to Village, everything is pristine, safe, charming, romantic and magical. Their stories are worth sharing and I will be back again and again.