These days photo memories of holidays are either collecting dust, holding onto a lot of storage on your iPhone or computer or sitting up in some frames around your home. Either way, it’s these types of memories that often leave us reminiscing on good times and wanting to be back in time to that very place where you found your happiest self.
Recently I was looking at old photos from previous trips to Croatia and instantly got goosebumps looking back and realising just how happy the place makes me.
It got me thinking about how much this country is loved and how much it just keeps on attracting people to it.
Of course, we are blessed that God’s beauty touches all corners of the world but there is something about Croatia - something that just keeps people coming back to it each year.
Over the last few weeks I was thinking about how important it is to live in the moment and make 2018 our year.
Below I have come up with 5 undeniable reasons why 2018 is the year to visit Croatia. So grab your coffee, sit somewhere comfortable and get ready to read why I think this year is the year to make Croatia your holiday destination.
1. Live in the moment.
So often I have lived in the past thinking of the nostalgic moments of previous trips overseas and wanting to relive them right now. So often I have also focused on the future and thought “Maybe I'll go overseas in 2020”.
How often do many of us think this very exact same way? Yet right now, in this very moment, we are faced with the year 2018. Right now we have the opportunity to make an action that can set the tone for this year. Right now we have the opportunity to acknowledge this very exact moment of reading this article and after finishing it, making the plans we need now.
We hear it so often but tomorrow is never promised to us. The only certainty we have is in this very moment.
So live in the moment. Book a ticket to Croatia. Enjoy the beauty of the coastline. Enjoy the laughter with some friends and family. Enjoy your veliki macchiato* while you people watch the locals passing in the street. Make the plans now to visit one of the most beautiful countries in the world.
2. Enjoy the most beautiful sunset in the world.
I've always found that no matter who you are, no matter your age or where you are from, everyone will stop at a sunset and admire it - even if for just a second.
Whether you are 8 years old or 80 years old, there is something fascinating about a sunset.
I remember a few years ago going to the beach with a young cousin in Croatia who had yet to see the sea for the first time. As we turned around the corner into the small pebble-covered laneway to the beach, his eyes lit up. Before him he saw the beautiful Adriatic sea and surrounding it, a gentle sunset with bright colours of peachy oranges, soft yellows and rosy pinks.
There is nothing quite like seeing the reaction of someone who has never seen the Adriatic sea before, let alone adding a gorgeous backdrop of a sunset, and seeing the sheer joy on their face.
The fact is that this particular happiness that comes from seeing what God gifted us with, the natural beauty he created, is timeless and isn't intended just for a particular target market.
God's beauty surrounds us every day but especially when you travel. You are exposed to it 10 times over because you are more present and less distracted by the everyday worries normally attached with life.
By far, my favourite sunset would have to be in Zadar. I am someone that tends to talk a lot and so if you ever want to take an opportunity to keep me quiet for a while all you have to do is take me to Zadar to look at a sunset. It's the one place that over and over again will leave me speechless at its beauty. It never gets old!
As Alfred Hitchcock said, "The sunset of Zadar is the world's most beautiful and incomparably better than Key West, Florida". If Alfred said it - it must be true (plus, I say it. So that counts, right?).
So add a sunset to your 2018 'to see' list and be sure to visit the beautiful coastal city of Zadar in Croatia.
3. Vis-it the island of Vis.
There are many locations around the world that are known for being film destinations. Take for example the locations of Kualoa Ranch in Hawaii which was where Jurassic Park was filmed and Dubrovnik 'King's Landing' which is a main filming location for the TV show 'Game of Thrones'. These locations now have become busy tourist attractions where many guided tours take place throughout the year due to high interest.
Recently 'Mamma Mia 2' was filmed on the Croatian island of Vis and is due to be released late July this year. Soon enough this small island will also be a crowd-attracting location for tourism which is great for Croatia's tourism industry but it is also nice to enjoy a location without the hustle and bustle of many tourist groups.
So before Mamma Mia 2 is set to be released, why not take the chance to visit the beautiful island of Vis. Live like a local and explore the island on foot (or if you're really in Dalmatian lazy mode I suppose you could settle for a scooter). Be sure to also eat a traditional peka* and enjoy a cocktail while enjoying the view.
4. No better time to afford the long-haul flight prices.
Once upon a time (basically a few years ago), economy return airfare prices from Australia to Croatia averaged to be AUD$2500 - $3000 per person. This was generally because the flights included two connections in order to arrive to Croatia however as competition increases and Croatia is becoming a hot topic in the tourism industry, airlines such as Qatar Airways are taking advantage of the hot destination demand and have flights that only in the last few years have one connection. This means competitive economy return airfares are now averaging to about AUD$1400 - $1900 per person, making it affordable for more people.
If you sign up to some of the airlines email newsletters, they will be sure to let you know exactly when sales are on so you can grab the best deal yet and leave your savings for things like 100 krafne * or 50 cocktails.
With the trip now taking approximately 20-22 hours to get to Zagreb from Sydney it means less travel and more enjoyment of your holiday (plus more time to get over any potential jetlag!).
So given that the affordability is there, and economy seats are generally more comfortable now with the latest aircrafts - why not go ahead and book today!
5. Always something to do no matter what season you travel in
I have only really been a summer-visitor to Croatia except for last year when I spent a generous 7 weeks in Croatia for spring and the beginning of summer. When you experience Croatia in the off-peak season it's so easy to picture yourself as a local. It is easier to get around the country and you really get to enjoy the ambience and surroundings as well as the local music.
I find that once it hits summer, the local Croatian music at cafe's and bars switches to the crowd-pleasing international chart-topping dance tunes and the local music is a rarity to hear until September comes around.
Whichever season you have experienced Croatia in previously (or if you have not experienced it at all then 2018 is the year to start), why not experience the country in a different season to get a new perspective and appreciation of the beauty of its culture, people and beauty.
Croatia Tourism Board (@croatiafulloflife) are always keeping everyone up to date on their website with the latest events and things to do across the country at all times of the year. Here are a few of the popular upcoming events within 2018.
100 Miles of Istria - Ultratrail
For those of you who may have added ‘getting more fit’ into their 2018 new year resolutions list or wanting to work off the 100 krafne you may have committed to after saving money booking your flights, this one might be just for you. Enjoy Croatia in the spring season by participating in one of the biggest international trail races, the 100 Miles of Istria Ultratrail event. Going through Labin, Lovran, Buzet, Motovun and Umag, it is set to be the most picturesque course that will leave you fit and in awe of Croatia’s beauty.
Akapela Dalmatian Songs Festival in Dubrovnik
Appreciate the sound of the Akapela by attending the Dalmatian Songs Festival in Dubrovnik. Be prepared for goosebumps whilst listening to the national vocal groups who perform without instrumental accompaniment or a piece.
Besides the opportunities to find a secluded beach and enjoy the serenity whilst you go for a relaxing swim in the Adriatic or rent a boat and go island hopping for a day, there are many things to do in summer including events such as the Istrian Lifestyle – Handmade and Gourmet Fair. This event takes place this year from the 15th of June to the 7th of September in Rabac and is all about authentic food and traditions. From taste-testing the world’s best olives from the Istrian region to learning how lace handicrafts are made – there is something for everyone to enjoy at this fair.
As the leaves start getting golden and the air feels a little fresh the summer tourists start to head back home and the quietness within cities return. However this doesn’t mean that there is nothing to do in autumn. Events such as the Zagreb Film Festival takes place in November and lasts for nine days, bringing over a hundred screenings, films and programmes. For more information on this event head on over to http://zff.hr/en/about-the-festival/
In one of my articles at the end of last year, I mentioned Advent in Zagreb and how the event is rich in faith, culture and beauty. As well as the Zagreb event, many cities across Croatia also participate in Advent events so that no matter where you are, you can sip on your kuhano vino * and enjoy the entertainment in winter wonderland settings of different kinds. From the snow covered Advent in Zagreb, to the city-lights in Advent in Split there is always somewhere you can enjoy great company and create the very best memories.
So as you are only beginning to settle into 2018, make plans now. Go to Croatia and enjoy every moment and the company you are with. From the views on that flight over to people watching and noticing the group of old friends who meet at the corner of a village town each morning – pay attention to the little things.
Saint Augustus once said “People travel to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars; and they pass by themselves without wondering”.
Make your travel plans now with family and friends. Don’t just exist and wait for things to happen. Live and make them happen now.
*For more details on the seasonal events head to @croatiafulloflife 's page: https://croatia.hr/en-GB/Activities-and-attractions/Events
Learn some Croatian:
Veliki macchiato: Large macchiato for all you coffee lovers.
Peka: One of the most popular meals you can find in the Dalmatian region of Croatia. It is a mix of vegetables, meat, herbs and is drizzled with local olive oil before being baked under a bell-like dome for hours.
Krafne: Delicious Croatian style donuts. If you’re yet to try one of these you’re missing out!
Kuhano vino: Mulled wine.