Initial thoughts on Croatia

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I am unsure what to make of Croatia. It’s definitely beautiful. It’s definitely a bit rough around the edges. It’s definitely ‘on the up’. It feels like a country that is yet to find it’s own identity and is full of contradictions. There are influences of Italian, Greek, Austrian and the old Yugoslavia. An interesting mixture. Walking around Split, you can see the different influences in the architecture; Venetian, Renaissance, Gothic, Austrian…. But what is Croatian?

I have mixed feelings about Croatia. I only spent a week there. Of that week I spent 4 nights on the island of Hvar and the remaining 3 in Split. I enjoyed it but I have no desire to return. At least not to that area. I’d maybe spend a weekend in Dubrovnik or possibly Zadar, which I’ve heard good things about, but I’ve seen enough of Split. I admit that I didn’t get to see the whole country (I didn’t realise how big it is!) so my opinion may not be representative of what Croatia is like, but I just found it to be lacking something.

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Split, Croatia’s second largest city after Dubrovnik, has obviously benefited from the rise in tourism over the last few years. Since joining the EU in 2013, Croatia has been considered an ‘up and coming’ travel destination. Coincidentally, my parents honeymooned in Split and Hvar 31 years ago, when it was still Yugoslavia and a communist country. Nobody went to Yugoslavia for a holiday in the 80s! It has definitely changed since then. My mum told me that there were hardly any proper roads and public transport wasn’t what it is now. Also, shops used to have hardly any stock in them, so it has definitely improved!

The Riva, on the waterfront in the centre of Split is really nice. It appears clean and modern, a wide, pedestrianised street lined with cafes overlooking the water. Fantastic for people watching! However, just slightly outside the centre, the buildings appear as literally concrete blocks. This was evident around the airport and on Hvar. From the outside they appear ugly and are a reminder of the country’s past. There’s also the labyrinthine Diocletian’s Palace in the city centre, which has been wonderfully restored. This mini city within a city represents a variety of architecture and influences on the city.

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Overall, I enjoyed my trip. I got to relax, chill out, sunbathe, sightsee and explore a new (to me) country but I’m just not sure that I love Croatia.

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