Italy, Part II - Our Adventures

Our main adventures in Italy were all about the sea. Since we didn’t have $100,000+ to spend our entire week in Italy on a mega yacht, we opted for a sunset cruise and full-day rental on a mini-yacht.

Like I mentioned in my last post, one of the benefits of Casa Angelina is that it’s situated right above One Fire Beach and it’s dock. So after a day sipping spritzes by the pool (complete with free snacks and cuban cigars), we quickly changed and descended to the beach. After walking down about a million stairs (the one drawback of One Fire Beach) we were able to have a smaller shuttle boat take us to the mini yacht for our sunset cruise.

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I said before that I don’t care much for Italy, as I’ve always had my least-favorite trips there, but very very very few things can beat the Amalfi coast from the view of a boat. I cannot recommend the company we used more. The boat was lovely and our captain and stewardess were absolutely lovely. The captain was also our guide on the sunset tour and made sure we always had drinks and snacks, gave great information about the spots we were passing, and still managed to drive the yacht (sometimes with his foot as he poured more Prosecco). He was also the captain when Matthew McConaughey rented the yacht, which my husband - a huge Dazed and Confused fan - really got a kick out of.

For the sunset tour, we started by circling past Positano before turning east and cruising toward Furore, which is home to some truly insane cliff diving. Next, we cruised pat Conca Dei Marini on our way to the bustling city of Amalfi. The main reason we staying in Praiano was to avoid the crowds in Positano and Amalfi, and seeing these cities, with their bright lights and bustling crowds, from afar was just perfect. I’m sure both of these towns are beautiful on land, but I honestly can’t imagine the view being better than the one from the Tyrrhenian Sea.

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We kept cruising past the lemon-lined hills of Ravello and toward UNESCO World Heritage site Minori & the beaches of Maiori. A little bit past there, we turned around to take in the sunset and make a very slow cruise back to our hotel. I don’t know if we just got lucky or if the Amalfi Coast always has beautiful sunsets, but the sky was absolutely amazing every single night of our stay.

We hopped off again at One Fire Beach, said goodnight to our captain, and dragged ourselves up the steps to Casa Angelina for a good night’s sleep before jumping back on the boat in the morning.

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After breakfast at Casa Angelina (I still think about that breakfast on a daily basis), we headed back to the beach for a fully day of sun and swim on the boat. Instead of heading East, we started sailing towards Capri. For the full day on the boat, our awesome captain was joined by a stewardess. She was born in London, but her father is Italian, so she grew up bilingual. Honestly, it seems like a little thing, but having two people (or even one) on board who was fully fluent in English and Italian was so helpful and made every excursion onto shore worry-free.

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We took our time getting to Capri and stopped a few times along the way to dive off the side of the boat, do a little snorkeling, and explore some caves. Thanks to my panic attack in the cave near Dubrovnik, J was the only one who swam into the caves. I was perfectly content snorkeling near the boat. I still can’t get over the crystal clear water.

As we got to Capri, we did stop to see some caves that did not require me to swim to. Capri is most widely known for the blue grotto, but we chose to skip it. The blue grotto is only accessible by boat (which wasn’t a problem for us, but is inconvenient if you aren’t already planning a boat day), but the boat you need to actually get to the grotto isn’t the same boat you need to see the grotto. Once you reach the blue grotto, you will need to wait in line with the other boats for a chance to get into one of the small rowboats that can take you inside the grotto - for an additional cost, of course. The lines and crowds waiting to get inside felt too touristy for me, so we opted out.

Instead, we chose to see the white grotto and the coral grotto. There were still lines, but there were maybe only two boats ahead of us at the white grotto and no line at the red grotto. The red grotto was beautiful with bright, rich coral lining the walls of the cave, but the water in the white grotto was beyond. The water was this crazy bright aquamarine, and its one of those rare cases where the pictures actually do it justice, even if they look crazy edited. The middle picture above is the white grotto, and I didn’t edit it at all.

After the grottos, we pulled around to the marina and took a taxi up to the main street of Capri. I probably should have planned better or looked for some boutiques or a place to have a drink because I was immediately overwhelmed by the swarms of tourists on Capri. It was way too much. You couldn’t take more than two steps without running into somebody or somebody running into you. So instead of seeking out small local stores or an aperol spritz, we took refuge in some of the higher-end stores. After walking around for an hour, we ended up leaving the island with some goodies from Hermes, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, and Louis Vuitton. I did, however, demonstrate some self-control and restrained from buying some insane sneakers from Louis. Okay, that’s a lie, I tried to buy them but they didn’t have my size in the color I liked.

After leaving Capri, we sailed towards Nerano for lunch. Nerano is a small fishing town on the coast near Sorrento. While the town may be small and modest, the dishes found in it’s restaurants are anything but. It’s actually home to Wolfgang Puck’s favorite restaurant in the region - Lo Scolglio. Unfortunately, I forgot to give a stewardess a time when we would want lunch (so she could make a reservation) and then we spent too much time on Capri to wait for a table there. Instead, our stew got us a table at Ristorante Maria Grazia, the restaurant that invented the famous Spaghetti all Nerano.

Spaghetti alla Nerano is fresh pasta with fried zucchini and caciocavallo or provolone, and it is unbelievably delicious. We also ordered mozzarella and prosciutto and grilled calamari. The pasta was definitely my favorite, but the calamari was served whole, which was really cool and reminded us how fresh the seafood was.

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After eating, it was time to return to Casa Angelina. We sat on the boat and finished our Prosecco while watching the watermelon party on One Fire Beach, and as nice as our hotel was, we did not want to leave the boat. This day and evening was the highlight of our time in Italy and almost made me want to visit the country again. Almost… there’s still so much we haven’t seen.

Like the Cote d’Azur! Stayed tuned for a recap of our time in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat…

xoxo

Italy, Part I - Casa Angelina

Next stop, the Amalfi Coast! …with a brief pitstop in Pompeii.

I meant to post this three weeks ago, but I had to send out my laptop for repair. When I tried to find this post in my backup, it wasn’t there, but I figured that it just hadn’t backed up before I sent it out. NOPE. I just completely forgot to save about 7 posts that I will now be rewriting. 

In terms of this specific post, that’s probably a good thing. To share a wholly unpopular opinion, I’ve never enjoyed visiting Italy. I know so many people find it charming, and romantic, and beautiful – and some moments in certain parts definitely are like that – overall, I find it a little dirty, overrun with tourists, and it’s the only place I visited where I’ve experiences multiple instances of [attempted] theft and pickpocketing. And yes, I know it’s wrong to generalize an entire country… but with so many amazing places to visit in the world, I wouldn’t return to Italy. I can’t say the same about the South of France (our next stop) and I’m dying to go back to Croatia. 

My original post basically started with this confession and delved into a rant about all the little things that went wrong so my opinion of Italy remained unchanged. To quickly sum it up, I made my opinion clear to our travel agent, yet she still insisted we’d prefer Italy to Croatia. She then decided we’d spend extra time in Italy, taking extra days from my preferred vacation spots. 

To make matters even worse, she had us fly into the Rome airport, instead of the much closer Naples. So not only were we forced to leave Croatia a day early, we spent an ENTIRE DAY in a car driving to Amalfi instead of enjoying ourselves. As someone who gets extremely carsick, I was absolutely miserable. There were also some poor activity recommendations, but it was honestly so disappointing that I’m not even going to discuss it and move on to the good and the great. <rant over>

THE GOOD

We stayed at Casa Angelina in Praiano, which is located between Positano and Amalfi. I personally would not recommend our hotel to most people (especially during the peak season) because it was just ungodly expensive. I would want a bigger room and a larger resort space for the price. For reference, it was about the same price as the Four Seasons in Cap-Ferrat, which we turned down because of the price. HOWEVER, if you are looking for a boutique hotel experience, want to be able to access the crowds and energy of the Amalfi coast but still have a quiet sanctuary to return to, and cost isn’t a major issue – Casa Angelina is absolutely the hotel for you. 

The hotel is located at the bottom of a long driveway scattered with giant abstract statues. Casa Angelina is actually filled with statues, sculptures, and other modern art that contrasts but also compliments the serene views. The long driveway isolates the hotel from the bustle of the main street, but it is still situated high enough on the cliffs that you get gorgeous unobstructed views. The welcome was absolutely outstanding. While checking us in and processing our passports, our bags were taken to our room and we were given a tour of the property. They also arranged for an oceanside table at the pool bar (below) where we could snack on some deep-fried pizza after the check-in process was complete.  

While at dinner this first night, the maid serviced our room. When we returned, the bathroom and our bedside tables were stocked with all the L’Occitane products we could need. There were also bottled waters, a bowl of fresh fruit, small Italian weeding cakes, and a bottle of champagne waiting for us in the bedroom. The bathroom glowed with candlelight (battery powered, for safety) and rose petals were scattered on the floor and in the freshly-drawn bubble bath. It also helped that our room had a big patio with the most beautiful view.

Casa Angelina did a few things better than the other hotels we stayed in. First, their breakfast was absolutely outstanding. I would have lived entirely off their freshly baked breads, still-warm doughnuts, homemade cakes, and savory tarts if I didn’t have to worry about fitting into a wedding dress two weeks after our stay. That actually turned out to be a blessing. If I wasn’t worried about a hip-snugging dress, I wouldn’t have tried the cured meats, salmon, smoked vegetables, smoked cheeses, or the most perfectly ripe fruit (fresh red currant with a little bit of custard – YUM). All that is just in the buffet, there’s more once you sit down at your table overlooking the cliffs of Positano and the Tyrrhenian Sea. Once seated, you will be offered coffee as well as eggs or any other hot dishes. My personal favorite was the eggs stewed with tomatoes.  Also, there’s just absolutely no beating this view.

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After breakfast we would typically make our way down to the pool, which is the second thing that Casa Angelina did better than any other hotel. Their pool is gorgeous, it almost made me “get” Italy. It is a bit small, and there are maybe only 10 chairs in the sun overlooking the sea, which is why we went straight there after breakfast. If you don’t want to sit in the sun, you can sit under the pergola to the side of the pool, which gets its shade from the lemon trees growing over it. That’s right, you can sit under the lemon trees, listen to the waterfall of the pool, sipping on an limoncello spritz, and gaze out to the ocean. Probably the most Amalfi thing you can do. The only downside is that the Aperol spritz is going to cost you 20 Euros…

The pool bar actually has an entire section of their menu dedicated to Aperol spritzes, featuring of course the classic spritz, but also a Passion Spritz (Aperol, Soda water, Champagne, and passion fruit liqueur) and a Russian Spritz (Aperol, vodka Zubrowska, Verbena, and rosé Champagne). The poolside drinks may be expensive, but the service is outstanding. All drinks come with a personal snack tray that contains pretzels, chips, peanuts, pistacios, and fresh green olives – my personal favorite – that was constantly being refilled. I mostly sipped on Campari + Soda or Limoncello Spritzes, but my husband had a different order in mind. Casa Angelina has a lovely cigar selection featuring Cuban cigars that you can request and enjoy at the pool. Snacks, spritzes, and cigars… it’s our ideal pool set up. 

It was about this time that evacuation orders started for the southern United States… specifically for our wedding venue. As weddings across the island were cancelled, a relaxing pool day was exactly what we needed. 

The final thing that Casa Angelina did better than any other hotel is the farewell. The staff arranged for private transfer to the Naples airport and provided a bagged breakfast consisting of coffee, juice, and a variety of items from their breakfast buffet. We were also gifted a bottle of the olive oil that is made in Praiano and used in the hotel’s restaurants. After such a frustrating journey to the hotel, the ease and sense of calm surrounding our departure was the perfect ending to our stay. 

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There was one other highlight to Casa Angelina – it’s located right above One Fire Beach. Unlike beaches in Amalfi and Positano, One Fire Beach is angled just right so it gets sunlight all the way until sunset. While this party beach wasn’t quite our scene, the water at the beach is deep enough that boats can drive right up. Despite the 200+ stairs you have to descend/climb to get to and from the beach, it was so nice to be able to hop on the yacht right from our hotel! 

Up next, I’ll go into our yacht day in the Amalfi Coast. Stay Tuned!

xo

Croatia, Part II - Our Adventures

As I shared in my last post, the beach at our hotel was really just large rocks, but we got the chance to visit sandy beaches on our boat day. We were given four options for our boat day. Full day at Mljet Island national park, a full day with Korcula island tour, and a half or full day exploring the Elafiti Islands with snorkeling.

On the Mljet or Korcula island tours, we would have gone through Elafiti islands en-route, but we ended up choosing a half-day through Elafiti because J doesn’t like hiking and Mljet seemed like a lot of walking and history. We also wanted time to explore Old Town that afternoon.  We didn’t have the best weather that day, so I think we definitely made the right choice not committing to a full day on the boat.

overcast weather

overcast weather

The Elafiti islands are actually a small archipelago made up of 13 islands, of which only three are inhabited. We cruised around or swam by all the islands, but only stopped to walk around the ones that are inhabited. The first island we went to was Koločep/Kalamoto, which was historically known as a fisherman’s island, and lobster populations still love its shores. In hopes of seeing some of these lobsters, we stopped on the south side of the island to do some snorkeling.

There are caves all around the island, but the Blue Cave is the best known. It is only accessible by swimming, and since we went during high tide, you had to go under water to swim in the entrance. Okay, like barely underwater - maybe only your mouth had to go underwater, the rest of your head was above it. The entrance is the center image above, just so you can see how much I was overreacting.

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The water in the cave was bright blue and beautiful, but as soon as we got in the cave, I had a huge panic attack. I got super claustrophobic, tried to snap a few quick pictures of J, and swam out of there as quickly as possible. The pictures didn’t turn out very well…

Next, we went to the bay of Šunj on Lopud. Šunj is famous for its sandy beach. We anchored the boat and swam to shore to walk about a bit. After returning to the boat, we went around the island to stop for lunch. After checking out some shops (where I bought a red coral ring) and walking around Lopud Park, we stopped for some Aperol spritzes and pasta to share. Hashtag Spritz Life. 

View from Lunch

View from Lunch

Before heading back to the hotel, we stopped at the last inhabited Elafiti Island, Šipan. It is the largest of the Elafiti, and is known for all the different species of palm trees. But there are also olives, figs, vine, carob, almond, oranges and citrus plants that are cultivated on the island. It was adorable.  

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Our next excursion was a six-hour tour of the Pelješac Peninsula. I say six-hour to emphasize how long we were drinking. First, we stopped at the Mali Ston bay where we met a man whose family has been farming oysters and mussels in the bay for generations. We boarded his boat for a tour of the oyster farm/trays. We then went to his private island where he showed us traps with mature mussels and oysters, which he then pulled out of the ocean and carried to a picnic area with a grill. First, he gave us some homemade Mayberry grappa and shucked the oysters that he pulled from the bay just moments before. He served the oysters with a few lemon slices and they were absolutely perfect. They didn’t look or taste like any oysters I’d ever eaten in the states.  The shells were very flat and iridescent and the oysters were delicate and perfectly briny.

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While he was preparing the mussels, we were offered a pitcher of his father’s homemade wine. Since he made it himself on the island, there were no artificial flavors or preservatives, and you could really taste the difference. It was earthy and delicious with very little tannins. Then, the best mussels I’ve ever had. I’ve always been iffy with mussels in restaurants, and now I realize that they were not even a little fresh. These mussels were so fresh that they needed very little.  They were so simple – just white wine, olive oil, lemon slices, onions, and some parsley. After filling ourselves with seafood and liquor, we moved on to a winery. 

Vinrija Milos (or Milos Vineyard) in Ponikve is a family-owned vineyard and winery that basically checks all my boxes. They grow Plavac Mali grapes, which is an ancient cross between Crljenak Kaštelanski (an ancestral zinfandel) and Dobričić, and is only grown in Croatia. The vineyard is beautiful, and all the vines are grown on very steep slopes – some as steep as 45 degrees – that are full of rocks and deeply grooved sedimentary soil.  It was NOTHING like the vineyards we visited in Napa and Sonoma.

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The winery is committed to biodiversity and has begun introducing medicinal Mediterranean herbs that share their natural habitat with the Plavac Mali grapes. They plan to use herbs such as sage, rosemary, and St. John’s Wort to produce teas. The vineyards are also visited by rabbits, hawks, and ravens that love the rocky cliffs above the vineyards. 

WINE? BIODIVERSITY? FUN DIRT FACTS? TEAS!? I was sold and ordered a case of wine. 

Well, first we had a vineyard tour, where we got to try the grapes off the vine, and then a tasting with cheese and bread (yum). We also got to sample the vineyard’s olive oil. The olives are handpicked and cold pressed from 80% Oblica and 20% Pastrica.  

Like pasta, I learned that olive oil in America is just awful (also mayonnaise, for that matter - because eggs in the US are so terrible, and the other ingredient is olive oil). We were offered little shot glasses of olive oil at the vineyard, and I was initially disgusted, but the olive oil in Croatia (as well as Italy and France) was nothing like 99.9% of what is available in grocery stores here. It’s fruity, salty, bitter, fatty, and delightful. We also ordered two bottles of olive oil and I’ve been eating it with mozzarella and prosciutto as a pre-dinner snack at least three times a week. If you do want good olive oil from a grocery store, I highly suggest Cobram Estate. If you’re looking online, I suggest Brightland. 

Finally, we went to 360 Dubrovnik for dinner. First, I want to say that I did not intend to drink a bunch of wine, followed by more wine, followed by a Michelin-starred tasting menu. We were supposed to go out to dinner on our ‘leisure day’, but the schedule got messed up and I couldn’t change our reservation. 

360 Dubrovnik is one of three (now five) Michelin starred restaurant in Croatia, and the only in Dubrovnik. They bill themselves as traditional Croatian cuisine framed by French techniques with a modern twist. It’s located right inside Old Town, but the entrance does not do the restaurant justice. As the hostess walks you up the flights of stairs to the top of the wall surrounding Old Town. It’s an incredible view that the food lives up to.

view from our table

view from our table

We were greeted with a glass of Champage, which would have been divine if we had not been drinking all day. I drank it any way.

For the amuse bouche we were presented with a trio of small bites. Herb Biscuit with whipped cheese; crispy Jerusalem artichoke leaf topped with black pork meat and chili mayo; and Aubergine puree coated in liquid charcoal. Before receiving our first official course, we got a basket of house-made breads with a seaweed butter and an olive oil butter – both filled with umami. I could eat homemade bread and butter every day for the rest of my life. 

amuse bouche

amuse bouche

Our first course of the tasting menu was raw prawns with pumpkin cream, hazelnut oil, carpione sauce, and pumpkin seeds; followed by mackerel with bonito dressing, chimichurri, celery purée, and cucumber. We then received octopus with fennel, lime ravioli, and dark fish soup. Our last savory dish was sea bass with cream of garlic and potatoes, cuttlefish, lemon cream, and green sauce. At this point, I was beyond stuffed, but dessert was chocolate & coffee ganache on a bed of cocoa nibs crumble with mascarpone cream and vanilla ice cream, so I obviously kept eating. We were then given more chocolate with our bill, and I began to wonder how I was going to walk back to our hotel. 

church in old town

church in old town

Funnily enough as we were walking back, we heard a guy behind us explain “how are you nervous here, you walk around uptown Charlotte by yourself.” Sure enough, they were another couple from Charlotte on their honeymoon. There was also a girl from Duke Law in our hotel and an older couple from Germany with a daughter at Duke who we met at the bay of Šunj. It’s a small world. 

Overall, our stay in Croatia was amazing, and it is easily my favorite country that I’ve every travelled to. I can’t wait to go back and explore the other cities. If you have a chance to go, don’t think twice! Get there as fast as you can!

If you have any other questions – leave them in the comments!

Croatia, Part I - Villa Dubrovnik

I had been trying to get my husband to go to Croatia for years. YEARS! Even before the inaugural season of Below Deck Med. Initially, he wanted to swap Croatia out of our trip in favor of Greece. Our travel agent said we should swap Croatia out in favor of Greece. Multiple people told me how much they loved Greece. NO! This was my chance to finally visit to Croatia and nobody was talking me out of it. The promise of fresh oysters, lots of wine, and no ferries was enough to get my husband on board.

Adriatic Sea

Adriatic Sea

There are lots of ways to get to Croatia, but I wouldn’t recommend the way we did it. We went straight from a wedding in Ann Arbour, MI to our honeymoon, so we had to fly from Detroit to Chicago, go through security again (which meant throwing away the drinks I already bought for the long flight), Chicago to Dublin, where the customs process was far more calm and civilized than TSA at O’Hare, then our final flight from Dublin to Dubrovnik, which my luggage didn’t make. 

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I would recommend the direct(!) flight from Philadelphia to Dubrovnik, which is new in 2019. There is also a direct flight from Toronto to Zagreb. For indirect flights, try to pick ones with stops in London, Munich, or Frankfurt. A lot of people fly into Dubrovnik via Rome, which I do not recommend. The Rome airport is notorious for theft. At least when I finally got my luggage, the contents were undisturbed. I couldn’t say as much for the person ahead of me in the lost luggage line who had her shoes and jewelry case stolen from her checked bag in the Rome airport. 

view from our room

view from our room

view from our room at sunset

view from our room at sunset

While in Croatia, we stayed at Villa Dubrovnik, which was my favorite hotel of the trip based on hospitality, the hotel restaurants, and the “beach”.  It was a short drive from the airport and within walking distance of Old Town, aka King’s Landing. Villa Dubrovnik is a beautiful boutique hotel nestled into the rocky shore of Dubrovnik with gorgeous water views from every room, restaurant, and lounge area. It’s so nestled into the rocky cliffs, that you actually have to take an elevator from the street down to the hotel. 

walk to old town from the hotel

walk to old town from the hotel

The people who work at the hotel are so kind and welcoming. Every time we walked by the lobby, we were greeted by name and asked if we needed anything. We stayed up far too late at the wedding the night before leaving and I barely slept an hour on the plane, even after taking two Emergen-Zzz, so I was especially grumpy when my bag was lost. But they had chilled champagne waiting on our patio and immediately took over the process of locating my luggage – contacting the airport and airline – quickly making all my worries melt away. 

Relaxing on the Patio

Relaxing on the Patio

After checking in, we went to have our first meal. Our favorite restaurant at the hotel was Restaurant Pjerin. Every night for dinner, we sat at a small table at the edge of the patio, under the bright stars, listening to the rustling of the Scots Pines and the waves crashing in the ocean. The first night, we had their tasting menu, which was easily our best meal at the hotel, and maybe of our entire time in the city. Every meal began with a small amuse bouche, and I wish I wrote down what they all were because they were the most delicious little bites. 

View of Old Town from the restaurant

View of Old Town from the restaurant

As for the tasting menu, we received:  

  • Red Prawns Carpaccio with Avocado and Seasonal Vegetables – paired with Tomac Millenium, Plešivicia

  • Spaghetti with Lobster – paired with Meneghetti, Mavazija, Istria

  • Line Caught Sea Bass with Chili Pepper Scented Mangold and Lemon Mayonnaise – paired with Saint Hills Nevina, Istria

  • Braised Veal Cheek with “Pappa al Pomodoro” and Potato Cream – paired with Tomac Crni Pinot, Plesivica 

  • Mango Parfait with Tropical Fruit – paired with Korlat, Boutique Merlot, Benkovac

Red Prawn Carpaccio

Lobster Pasta

Mango Parfait

Everything was amazing, but oh.my.gosh I was immediately hooked on the lobster pasta. I legitimately ate it every day we were there. I also learned throughout this entire trip that homemade pasta is just so much better than dried, store-bought. While I ate lobster pasta every night, J tried their veal and got the sea bass again (both delicious). 

Restaurant Pjerin was also where we had breakfast every morning. It was included in our stay, but instead of a little buffet, they treated it like a proper meal. We could sit down, read the paper, and order as much off the menu as we pleased, and still didn’t have to pay a chit. Instead of seeming annoyed that we stayed so long for a meal where they wouldn’t get any tip, the wait staff seemed generally concerned if we didn’t order more food or finish everything on our plate. Smoothies, omelets, poached eggs, pastries, fruit... it all kept coming, and it was all amazing. 

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The other restaurant at Villa Dubrovnik is the Al Fresco Bar Giardino, which was open for lunch. There was also a Proscuitto and Wine bar, but it was not open during our stay. The Al Fresco Bar Giardino had a variety of dishes, but we couldn’t be convinced to eat anything but their seafood. It was so fresh and so briny, thanks to the Adriatic. It is easily the best seafood I’ve ever had. We would typically get their cold platter for two, which consisted of oysters with raspberry vingoinette, “knežev dvor” (octopus, squid, cuttlefish, shrimp and crunchy vegetables), and tuna tartar. You could also order food from the AL Fresco Bar Giardino down at the “beach” and pool. At the beach, oysters and local Croatian tuna were our go-to – Tuna Niçoise salad for me and Tuna Wrap for J. The pool was lovely (and heated), but we stayed by the beach. 

Tuna Tartare, Oysters, and Knežev Dvor

Tuna Tartare, Oysters, and Knežev Dvor

oysters at the beach

oysters at the beach

Beaches in Dubrovnik aren’t your typical beaches. There is no sand, just large rocks with more rocks in the ocean. But it is just as relaxing and, I personally think, more fun. Each rock was typically big enough for two to three chairs, which created privacy and prevented overcrowding. You could go from eating oysters to snorkeling with the cutest little fish by moving two inches. I thought I would hate that you had to swim in deep water, but the water is so clear you could see everything – all the way to the ocean floor – which was gorgeous. Plus you don’t get sand in everything you own. 

Aperol Spritz on the Beach

Aperol Spritz on the Beach

the beach at sunset - taken from Al Fresco Bar

the beach at sunset - taken from Al Fresco Bar

There are a few sandy beaches in Croatia, some of which we visited by boat. We were given four options for our boat day. Full day at Mljet Island national park, a full day with Korcula island tour, or a half/full day exploring the Elafiti Islands with snorkeling. I’ll be discussing the boat day we chose and our other excursions in my next post, so stay tuned! For now, here are some quick travel tips for Croatia…

View of Lokrum from our Hotel

View of Lokrum from our Hotel

CROATIA TRAVEL TIPS  

  • They are part of the EU and Euros are accepted in some places, but the official currency is Croatian Kunas. I chose to take out kuna (kn) from an ATM and use those the entire time. 

    • One USD is typically equal to six or seven kn.

    • One Euro is typically equal to seven to eight kn.

  • Gratuities are not mandatory and it is solely at your discretion.

    • For drivers: anything is appreciated for the airport transfers, but €10 - €15 (or 75-115 kn) is appropriate for a half day of service, and €15 - €20 (115-150 kn) for a full-day. 

    • Tour guides: they recommend €12- €18 (90-130 kn) for a half day and €18 - €30 (90-225 kn) for a full day. Boat Captains should be tipped €25 - €35 (185-250 kn). 

    • 10% is a sufficient tip at formal restaurants, but you can just round up the bill at cafés and bars.

  • Uber is new to the country and rides were not easily available when we were there. Taxis were easy to find around the entrance to Old Town and most hotels can arrange for taxis or private car services.

  • Multiple cruise ships stop in Old Town every day and thousands of tourists come aboard from these ships. For the best experience, go early in the day or later in the evening to avoid the masses. 

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 If you have any questions about our stay, let me know in the comments!