After four cold and rainy weeks here at the University of York, I decided it was finally time to boost my Vitamin D count and add some color back to my fading tan by visiting the Croatian islands of Split, Hvar, and Trogir. From its highest mountain peak to its deepest ocean floor, the islands of Croatia arguably comprise the most beautiful country in all of Europe (and debatebly the entire world) and are home to some of the most diverse natural geographical features in the world. Don’t believe me? Just ask any Game of Thrones fan how they feel about the capital of Westeros, King’s Landing, which is filmed on the islands of Croatia!
After scoring a cheap flight for the final weekend of Croatia’s tourist season, my friend Brenden and I decided to splurge on a much needed vacation. While we went into the trip naively believing that we would spend three glorious days lounging on a beach and soaking up the sun, we quickly discovered that the beautiful Croatian beaches we had always talked about visiting soon became the last thing on our bucket list. With only three days to squeeze in as much adventuring as possible, how could we do it all?
We started our adventure by flying into the Split airport, which is just a 30 minute drive from the island’s coast. On our first day, we explored the Old Town district and enjoyed our first Croatian beer along the seaport’s promenade. We decided to check out the night life by visiting an underground club, which was actually located beneath an abandoned railroad track (sounds creepy, I know, but it was actually a super rare experience and totally worth a visit if you ever find yourself in Split!)
The next morning, we woke up early to catch a ferry to the island of Hvar, located in the Adriatic Sea. Hvar is known as the modern “beach town” of Croatia, but is also home to a hilltop fortress and an ancient cathedral that dates back to the 13th century. We spent most of our day climbing old, narrow stair cases to get to the top of the fortress, walking along the mountainside to check out the local villages, and wandering the shoreline to find the nearest beach. Despite how physically demanding all of this may sound, the views were totally worth it… plus, at least now we can skip leg day!
On our third day in Croatia, we took a bus to the historically-preserved town of Trogir. The island of Trogir is known for its unique architecture, which features styles from the Renaissance, Boroque, and Romanesque eras. During our time in Trogir, we explored the local farmer’s market, climbed to the top of the Castle of Kamerlengo, and watched the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen. We toasted our last night in Croatia over a bottle of Croatian wine and large platter of fried squid (a Croatian specialty), as we sat along the port and watched the ships sail past.
This morning, Brenden and I awoke with heavy hearts and fear of what was inevitably awaiting us at school- 43 degree weather and consistent rain. We packed our bags and enjoyed one last gaze before finally saying our final goodbyes to the country that stole our heart.
Game of Thrones certainly got one thing right- “Winter is coming.” But unfortunately for us, it’s in our hometown of York, and not the tropical islands of Croatia.