Note – photo gallery at the bottom of this post.
The morning after we arrived in Croatia, K woke up in the early hours of the morning with an unbearable pain in his right foot. He took some painkillers so that he could get back to sleep but by the time morning rolled around properly, it became clear that it needed to be looked at by a doctor. After a quick call to our insurance company (always buy travel insurance kids!), we went to the local hospital in Dubrovnik where K was diagnosed with gout. This not only affected our holiday in the short term (we spent most of our time in Dubrovnik in the apartment so he could rest) but will also affect our lives in the medium to long term as we move towards a diet that will hopefully make another gout attack less likely in the future.
So what did this mean for our time in Croatia? It meant we didn’t get to explore Dubrovnik the way we wanted to – it wasn’t until our last day that we walked down to the Old Town for a few hours to have lunch and to visit the pharmacy to pick up some medicine for K. The rest of the time we spent in our apartment on the hill, cooking meals at home. Luckily our apartment’s balcony had a fantastic view of the Old Town and the Adriatic Sea, so we spent hours on the balcony reading, drinking tea, eating our meals…we didn’t miss out entirely.
It also meant we tried to make healthier dining choices as we moved onto other cities in Croatia. That’s why we had a semi vegetarian meal at Konoba Matoni in Split, and a completely vegan-friendly meal at Zrno Bio Bistro in Zagreb. We also did a lot more home-cooking to ensure that we were eating healthier meals with lots of fresh vegetables from the local green markets being turned into risottos and vegetable stews. The fact that many restaurants are actually closed in the tourist low season in Dubrovnik and Split also contributed to this increase of home-cooking!
Of course, we couldn’t stop ourselves from having some less healthy, if incredibly delicious meals at Mazzgoon in Split and Mundoaka Street Food in Zagreb (not to mention Kamenice and Dolce Vita in Dubrovnik as well). I also managed to search out a half-decent Chinese restaurant in Zagreb where we could have a small Chinese New Year celebration – thanks Asia T House!
I’m just glad that K got over his bout with gout relatively quickly. By the time we reached Split, he had healed enough for us to go out everyday for long walks along the coastline, watching the sun glimmer off the impossibly azure waters. The whole Croatian coastline is impossibly beautiful, and I know I need to return when the weather warms up and it becomes possible to go swimming in one of the many quiet sheltered coves along the coast. I might even try to overcome my chronic motion-sickness and go on a cruise around the many small islands along the coast – what do you think?
There’s other things to love about Croatia other than its stunning coastline. While it turns out that I didn’t actually take too many photos in Zagreb, the capital, it’s certainly not a reflection on the city as a travel destination but more on the gloomy weather during our stay making lighting for photos particularly difficult! I found Zagreb to be extremely cosmopolitan, but a bit bohemian as well – possibly a reflection of our interactions with our Airbnb host who was extremely extroverted with anarchist views, who also happens to be part of one of Europe’s most popular psychedelic rock bands!
This somewhat bohemian nature is also reflected in the city’s excellent eating scene which caters to all demographics – I mentioned some meals we had above, but it’s important to note that Zagreb offers everything from healthy eating green juice bars and vegan cafes, to American-style sticky barbecue ribs and dude burgers. It’s quite like Australia in that respect – open to different lifestyles and different eating habits, where it isn’t unusual for locals to have a green juice and salad for lunch before going out for juicy burgers for dinner.
Croatia’s the type of country that’s very liveable – the standard of living seems to be quite high when compared to other countries of that region, most people speak good English, and you can live a cosmopolitan lifestyle in the big city before retreating to the coast for leisurely long sunny weekends. It’s well worth a visit for any traveller who loves beautiful coastlines, sunny weather even in winter, and old baroque cities.