Note: I'm giving up on uploading pictures until we're somewhere with good internet. Which means it might not be until Austin.
I talked alot previously about being disappointed in Croatia. In fact, we certainly bear some responsibility, both in terms of unfair expectations and suboptimal planning. And most of the issue on planning comes back to Airbnb. We've rarely been pleasantly surprised by our Airbnb rentals. Where we were happy with our choice, we are now irritated by the fact that we probably could have booked the same unit through Booking.com and saved Airbnb's significant fee. Further, I think many (at least European and "whole house") Airbnb hosts misunderstand the "bnb" part of airbnb. Not that I'm expecting breakfast, mind you, but if you really expect me to be able to use the IKEA pots and pans and tiny range, perhaps you might provide basic necessities like salt, pepper, or cooking oil. Only three times (Helsinki, Krakow, and Korcula) have our Airbnb units actually had any of those basics. To make a long story short, I really regret falling in love with the idea of airbnb when planning this trip, and I don't think I would ever book another one. In Europe it seems as if it would only make sense when booking an individual room, and from what I've heard from other travelers you're better off using couchsurfing.com instead there anyway.
So enough negativity.
We spent three nights in Hvar, 1 in Korcula, and then 4 nights in Dubrovnik. Hvar and Korcula are both islands relatively close to Split. Hvar apparently has the reputation as the jet-setting riviera of the Adriatic. That's not really what we witnessed, but we did see a sailing superyacht (good grief that thing was impressive!) and we didn't walk over to the luxury hotel, so perhaps we missed the jet-setter crowd. We spent time at three beaches in Hvar, one a short walk from our apartment, another right across the little bay directly in Hvar, and then on our second full day there we took a water taxi to an even smaller island, Palmizana, and spent the day at the beach there. Hvar itself was relatively unremarkable, but the day trip to Palmizana was a lot of fun. We took the first taxi over and so got choice seats on the rocky beach and basically just relaxed away the day there. The water was incredibly clear and Walter found a sea urchin shell (looks like a little green pumpkin). Unfortunately, his prized souvineir later broke on the way to Korcula. We also had lunch on the island and took thorough advantage of the incredibly inexpensive house wine found throughout Croatia. It's usually from the specific region you're in, reasonably good, and around $5 for half a liter.
On Korcula we rented a beat up little Opel Astra from a local agency. The clutch was worn out but the brakes were so touchy that I kept inadvertently slamming on them. It was a fun combination to try and drive through the winding, hilly landscape. We drove through the island and located a really beautiful beach right off the road. There was a small island located right off the coast, connected to the land by a narrow stretch of land (ok, so I guess it wasn't an island since it was connected to land, but it looked like one!). They had made both sides of the narrow stretch into a rocky beach, so you had a windy and wavy beach on one side that faced more of the sea, and a calm beach on the other. Walter and I changed into our suits and had a fun half hour or so swimming on both sides. Later on we drove to the only sandy beach on Korcula (or in all of Croatia for all I know) and Walter went wild building sand castles. I think that was his favorite couple of hours in all of Croatia, even though the beach itself paled in comparison to Destin. Regardless, it was a good day.
Dubrovnik was one of those places that lived up to expectations. Well, almost. It was still a little too "Disney-like" and during the day it was absolutely packed with tourists, but it is a sight to behold nonetheless. We stayed at a really nice resort hotel about 20 minutes from the center by bus, and made 3 incursions into Dubrovnik, 2 in the evening for dinner and 1 during the day to see the walls and ride the gondola up to see the city from above. We enjoyed every incursion, though I'm very glad we were there during a cold snap (high's in the low 80's) as I can't imagine hiking all the way around the walls in peak summer heat. When not in the old town we spent our time relaxing at the rocky beach at our hotel. In fact, we spent an entire day lounging by the ocean, where I made the regrettable decision to download a trilogy of novels on to my kindle. That stopped my blogging dead in it's tracks until I finished the third book in the Rome airport while flying from Athens to Lisbon.
Particularly fascinating to me in Dubrovnik were the signs showing the locations where each bomb hit when the city was shelled by the Yugoslavia People's Army in the Balkan War in the early 90's. It was moving and tragic to see the photos of men born just 5 years before me who took up arms and tried to defend their city when it was besieged during the war. On the other hand, it was disappointing, if entirely understandable, to read the very one-sided commentary about "Serbian aggression" in the Homeland War, as they call it. For our day trip to Bosnia showed that while Croatia may have been the victim in Dubrovnik, it was the aggressor just a two hour drive away.