Hvala, Dubrovnik.

I started writing this after I landed back at London Gatwick Airport back last summer and I keep meaning to post it up. I do apologise! So here is my review of a fantastic trip to Croatia, a country which I already had a lot of love for before we visited, back in August 2015.

I’d already had the pleasure of visiting Croatia a couple of years ago, after visiting the North coastal town of Porec, but I couldn’t wait to go back. In particular, I was excited to see Dubrovnik for the first time, and I’d only ever heard good things about it. Everyone who’d asked where I was going, would often say “Oh Dubrovnik! I’ve heard really good things about there, it’s meant to be really pretty.” So an instant bonus before I’d even boarded our flight.

The heat hit us instantly as we set one small step onto Croatian soil, the sun blaring down intensely, as we made our way to our hotel. The stunning Valamar Dubrovnik President was utterly perfect for our stay, immediately impressing as the bellboys handed us a glass of tasty fruity Prosecco, and a cool flannel to refresh our travel-worn faces. The reception is a vast area, decked out modern yet simply, with massive glass panes covering half a wall drawing your attention, looking out to a wonderful sea view. The infinity pool is refreshing and the facilities were fantastic – in fact, most of our trip was spent by the pool, making the most of the sunshine. Yes, we definitely were going to love it here.

Our hotel was a twenty minute bus ride from the Old Town, but for the peace around the pool, it was worth it. The hussle and bussle of tourists merging in the centre made it too busy at times, so our location was spot on. The Old Town itself – or Kings Landing to you Game of Thrones fans – is full of culture, history and sheer beauty. Many of the buildings, including some rustic and beautiful churches, bore the scars still of the Homeland War, over twenty years on. I highly recommend taking a walking tour around the city, as well as walking the city walls for rooftop views of Dubrovnik; full of absolutely stunning views of the city from the rooftops, with your eye line full of terracotta tiled roofs over the setting sun. If you wish for an even higher view, the cable car is well worth a visit, with fantastic views of the Old Town and the rest of Dubrovnik, looking out to sea and the islands nearby. I give one piece of advice though, if you wish to visit in the height of summer, to take the tours in the evenings when it’s much cooler. Then you shan’t be faltering and not particularly listening to the tour guide!

I’ve found on my two trips to Croatia that it is a beautiful country, an absolute gem of Europe. For a keen photographer like myself, Dubrovnik is perfect to photograph, and I found myself with my camera constantly in my hand. Even the small town of Cavtat is stunning, a nice peaceful town if you seek a bit of quiet away from the city. There’s plenty to offer with the refreshing and crystal clear Adriatic Sea on the coast, with lots of water sports available – I highly recommend paddle-boarding!

But it’s not just the physical beauty that makes Croatia such a wonderful place; it’s the people too. Many people, from the hotel staff to taxi drivers, are genuinely friendly and will help you out as best they can. After taking the bus back from Cavtat, we almost missed our stop, had it not been for the waitress we’d spoken to in our relatives’ hotel! We’d asked her earlier in the evening about the right bus and luckily, she tapped me on the shoulder and told us that this was the right stop. She’d done that out of her own kindness and however small it may be, it just shows how good natured and friendly the people of Croatia are.

My first time to this wonderful place resulted in beginning to fall in love Croatia and now I absolutely adore it. I wasn’t ready to leave the heat and the beauty; sure enough, it was absolutely miserable with rain the first two days of being home. Sigh…