This summer, Ryan’s mama invited us to go on a family vacation to Croatia. We’d meet up with our family in Germany and drive south to Pakoštane, a small town where the Beresches have been vacationing for decades. We decided to extend the trip another week and a half to take some time to ourselves in Munich and Paris as well- so coming in at 3 weeks away from home, this was our first extended family vacation. It was exciting and a little nerve wracking to plan for an almost-monthlong trip!
Magically, our flight over was super smooth. Liam and I sat together and lucked out with the window seat! Also lucky- our flight left around 5 PM so we had a (somewhat) normal evening routine for L, just on a plane. I tried to keep everything as close as possible to how we’d do it at home, down to changing our pajamas in the airplane bathroom (the one thing I will never do again). As seen above, he was kept mostly content thanks to his tiger headphones/iPod combination. I’m sure everyone around us loved hearing him hum along to the Young Folks music video on repeat.
Most exciting was having the opportunity to share in Ryan’s family tradition and build on those memories. After a 10 hour overnight drive, we finally made it to beautiful Pakoštane- a little town on the Adriatic Sea. My favorite part about driving into a beach city is getting that first smell of salty air, and this trip did not disappoint. We stayed in a huge, bright yellow villa with a balcony view straight to the coast.
The weather during our week in Croatia was up and down… some days had bright cloudless skies; others were grey and ominous. I ended up being thankful for the rain because it allowed us to explore more of the Dalmatia Coast, see some beautiful cities and soak up some history and culture. I love a vacation where you can learn about the place you’re visiting. A trip both relaxing and educational is my kind of trip.
Our first day we went to Split, a city built around Diocletian’s Palace. It’s hard not to be amazed by a building that’s still standing after 1,700 years.
And here is Liam, throwing a small fit at the steps of the palace! Those stones have been around for centuries and my kid is flailing around on them. Very cool.
The next day we spent in Zadar, a historic city built on a peninsula. Entering the city from the coast, you pass through an ancient Roman forum surrounded by beautiful churches. Another “how crazy we are walking through a place that’s been around for hundreds of years” moment! We climbed to the top of the St. Anastasia Cathedral’s bell tower to get the best view of the city. Liam especially enjoyed our descent: the bells rung right as we passed them. We had gelato almost every day of our stay in Croatia-a euro for two giant scoops can’t be beat- and we took our cones back to the harbor to sit on the Sea Organ‘s steps. Though it had been turned off for the day, we were still able to enjoy the view of sailboats, submarines, and a few brave people who had decided to take a swim in the chilly waters.
Thankfully the clouds disappeared for the weekend and we spent two beautiful days at the beach. The water was too cool to swim in for long but we waded up to our knees, combing the sand for hermit crabs. We spent the mornings searching for sea cucumbers and urchins, skipping stones, and snacking on cherries, apricots and “salt bread”- delicious fluffy rolls topped with a salty glaze. Ryan and I hiked up the side of the mountain to get a look at the city below and found the biggest dandelions we’d ever seen- as big as Liam’s head! And of course we ended each day with ice cream.
Monday we took the drive up to Krka National Park, which was built to preserve the Krka river and is full of waterfalls. We were all sad that we didn’t bring our swimsuits- dozens of people were enjoying the swimming hole beneath the falls. Next time! Because yes, I’ve decided there has to be a next time. Croatia is just that amazing.
And just like that, it was the last day of our first leg of the journey. We enjoyed a lazy day in town; Ryan and I spent the afternoon sans Liam, walking around and enjoying the sun. After dinner we had a final walk by the little harbor, listening to the church bells ring one last time.
Before the trip I already knew that Croatia would be gorgeous- pictures of turquoise waters and terra cotta roofs before a background of mountains is enough to sell anyone. Being able to see it in person and explore it’s history made it even more beautiful and had me wishing we had time to get to know it more. Fingers crossed we will be together again soon.