Travel Writing Awards Entry

By Jacinta Garry

We could barely contain our excitement when we arrived in Split, Croatia, the beautiful seaside town on the coast of this amazing country.  We explored the cobblestone streets of the city, stopping at cafés and gelato stands hidden in meter wide alleyways and amazing cocktail bars looking over the coastline. We visited Diocletion’s Palace, a world Heritage and listed UNESCO site in the walls of the old city and took a trip up the Bell Tower, which I didn’t get to the top of, due to my preposterous fear of heights.  We took it easy before setting sail the following day and spent the afternoon lazing by the beach.

In the morning, we eagerly boarded our sea-bound home for the next week, our lovely sailboat, Madona.  We had a crew consisting of 2 of the cutest Croatian boys a girl has ever laid eyes on, their father (the captain), a chef who learnt to cook in Germany and a strange man with a blonde ponytail who, well … no one was really sure what he did on the boat. 

We docked late afternoon at our first stop, Makarska and after getting all dressed up and consuming our magnificent dinner within minutes we decided we would go for a dip at “Deep Club”, a nightclub hidden in one of the caves on the waterfront, our late night swim was wonderful, the crystal clear water was lit up by the neon lights of the club so you could see nearly everything, except for the urchin that took advantage of one of the boys’ feet.  After our swim we went straight to another club in town in our bathers to meet up with our group and partied into the early hours of the morning.

Madona was already loose on the Adriatic when I awoke to the breakfast bell at 8.00 am. It was announced that we were having a BBQ that evening onboard Madona.  The surroundings were amazing as we stopped at midday for a refreshing dive into the crisp salty water along the Peljesac peninsula. After our arrival in Mljet we did a bit of exploring then headed back to the boat ready for our Croatian BBQ.  Before we knew it, it was midnight and the locals had complained about the commotion coming from the harbour and were forced to turn off the music.  With the party dying down, some of the girls (and one of the boys referred to as “muscles”) had arranged a rendezvous at the beach for all of us skinny-dipping virgins. It was a bit nerve-wracking having a boy around but I think he was a little more nervous than the 5 of us.

Our next stop on the map was Dubrovnik. A magical city with an abundance of history, we caught the bus into the old city and wandered around aimlessly, taking in the beauty of the subtle architecture and surroundings. We watched the sunset over the old city walls while enjoying yet another pizza and wine with Pina Coladas and chocolate pancakes for dessert.

Before we knew it, it was morning and we had taken off again for Korcula.  The birthplace of Marco Polo is a wonderfully set out town with restaurants and bars located on the water’s edge, it was hustling with tourists and locals welcoming the mid-week crowd. We found a cocktail bar inside a small castle overlooking the ocean and enjoyed a few rounds of cocktails before taking the party back to the boat with us.

Next stop, Hvar: my favourite place! With rough seas and nasty hangovers to nurse, the 8 hour boat ride, for the first time since the trip began, wasn’t terribly relaxing so we were all hoping this party crazed island was going to be worth it. Instead of assuming our normal positions on the top deck, sun baking and knocking back a few cold Karlovacko’s we were all sitting down the bottom, at the back of the boat, where it was at its steadiest. We finally arrived and had agreed to meet everyone at the talked-up “Castle bar”.  I left the girls to do their shopping and took the 45-minute walk up to the top of the hill to the castle, I took a look in the old prison and a neglected church hidden away in the bush land, exhausted, I received a text saying that it wasn’t the anticipated bar.  My disappointment didn’t last long as I peered out over the old fortress walls and watched in awe as the sun set over the coast of Hvar and it’s surrounding islands.  Back down the mountain again to the correct bar, Veneranda, we paid the fee of 100 Kuna’s and entered what was the coolest nightclub I have ever seen.  Veneranda is a large open club inside the walls of a 15th Century Monastery, it is equipped with a swimming pool, several DJ’s in various rooms to suit any taste in music and friendly bar staff that are only too happy to pour you yet another cocktail even if it is clear you have had too much.  After spending the entire evening chatting and dancing with a fine young man, I realised it was now 7.00 am and had to race back to Madona for her 8.00 am departure.

Our final midday swim was at Zlatni Rat, one of the most photographed beaches of the Adriatic.  The arrowhead shoreline is made up of pebbles and the water is so clear you can see the tropical fish swimming around your ankles, the beach was full of European beauties showing their near naked bodies off and basking in the harsh sunlight.  We moved on to the picturesque town of Bol on the island of Brac We explored the small town before setting out to eat for our last meal together in one of many seaside restaurants and enjoyed the sunset and a few final drinks.

My adventures of Croatia were one of a kind, a fast paced yet relaxing party holiday that most 20-somethings desire.  Our midday swims in the middle of the Adriatic, the mind-blowing sunsets, numerous mouth-watering meals, delectable cocktails and a little holiday romance gives you the perfect recipe for a holiday never to be forgotten.