(Yes, I’ve used a click-bait title)
I have made a 10-day roadtrip in Croatia in August 2017. If you plan to do the same in the next month or Summer, here are a couple of hints that might be helpful.
We were two, we planned – almost – absolutely nothing before setting foot in Central Europe.
The reason for this post is that although this not knowing how tomorrow will be thing can be fun, to have some things planned will allow you more peace and relaxation during your holidays (i.e., you won’t need to spend each night struggling with air b’n’b or booking.com).
2. Time of the year
I know it is complicated, but if you can, do not go to Croatia neither in July nor in August. The coast is absolutely crowded with tourists, just like you and me, but it always feels like an Us/Them thing.
Plus, food and groceries are expensive in the coast, and I don’t know if it is a seasonal trend (on average we paid 30€ for a meal in a restaurant).
I once googled “road trip planner” and endend up either on the first or second result which was Furkot. I have never heard about it before – how come! – and it.is.wonderful. It is a road trip planner in all its glory: where you will go, eat, sleep, how many hours you will drive in each day, how many kilometers between stops, among others.
It does not have the easiest interface and it annoyed me a couple of times, but after customizing your journey with how much driving you want to make per day, whether you want to pay tolls, whether you want to camp or sleep in chain hotels, you can configure pretty much everything and Furkot spits a proposal that you can analyse, edit and share with anyone.
This was how I saw my initial plan was too ambitious – of course – and maybe I would have to, reluctantly, compromise and not go to Montenegro.
Another nice thing about this free service is that it allows you to export your road trip in a lot of formats. You can add it to your calendar, GPS, excel, you name it. The not so nice thing is that it does not really have a mobile app.
In short, I cannot recommend it enough. Here is a print screen of our journey’s initial plan.
4. Car rental
This was one of the things that was stressing us a bit because the internet only has bad stories about car rentals, how they charged for stupid things after you returned the vehicle or how they charged extra for insurances or green cards.
Because of that, our first criteria was that it had to be a well known company such as Avis, Europcar or Hertz. The second criteria was: the cheapest.
I’ve compared the prices between rentals in Slovakia and Croatia and the difference was huge! More than double in Croatia.
Wait, what, Slovakia?
Oh yeah, sorry. We’ve spent a couple of days in Bratislava meeting old friends, and since we had to return to Viena in the end of our holidays, we’ve decided to rent the car in Bratislava – it was cheap (180,00€ for 10 days!). We went to Avis in Seberíniho 1765/9 and the service was great. We got an almost brand new car with all documents and insurance and when we returned it we only paid 0,05€ more!
Still about the car, while we were about to cross the border to Bosnia and Herzegovina (you have to if you want to go to Dubrovnik from where we came) I started reading these scary things about a certain “green card” which I’ve never heard about before. Some people wrote we had to ask for it in advance to the car company, others that it costs 130€. As we were getting closer to the border I started thinking that we might have some problems with the lads.
In all borders we’ve crossed they’ve never asked for this document, only the ID card. Because of the number of tourists doing the same as we, we had to wait a bit in lines at the borders, but nothing much.
Nevertheless, car companies do not ask where you are going with the car so by default all cars should have this document which states that the car holder is minimally insured in case of an accident.
6. The Internet
This lack of planning meant we had to be online a lot of times to search for accommodation, travel apps from the cities we were at, Tripadvisor or Yelp, or general information. I had maybe 1,5GB of internet available (no roamming now, hurrah) and it was enough.
So I recommend considering this ammount of GB available thing when travelling. The signal in Croatia was perfect everywhere we went, and all apartments had wi-fi.
7. Google maps
Although we had Furkot, we’ve travelled everywhere with Google maps. It is very trustworthy and probably the most up-to-date map. When we did not want to pay tolls it never made a mistake – even when we thought it was wrong because the road was too good to be free.
8. Motorways and Highways
Croatia has a similar system – and while we’re at it, similar prices – to those of the motorway system in Portugal. You grab a ticket, ride and ride and ride and when you’ve reached your destination, you leave and pay with card or money (or another electronic system) at a toll stop.
Since we had to cross a few countries, the information is that Austria, Slovenia and Hungary require vignettes to ride on some motorways, which you can buy beforehand. Croatia does not.
9. Road app
While we were travelling a friend asked us “Is everything alright, no wildfires where you are?” and we were surprised because we did not know about wildfires. Turns out it is rather common in Croatia to have wildfires during Summer. A few hours later we’ve actually seen a big wildfire and I was shit scared of actually being driving into it. So, on the road, I’ve installed HAK’s app, which is a very good app from the Croatian autoclub with English version. It notifies you of the roads which are closed, what to do in case of accident, where are the nearest petrol stations, etc., very useful and no one should make a road trip without it.
10. The cigarette lighter charger
Since we where always online with our smartphones to navigate using Google Maps, our batteries went out faster. That is why on the second day of our journey we bought this USB double charger in a croatian shopping centre, and it became indispensable.
11. The Music
As much as you can have fun listening to foreign radio stations, you NEED to start singing something familiar eventually. I thought of this beforehand and brought a USB pen drive which I prayed our car could read. Well, not only did it read USBs, it connected via Bluetooth to our devices, so: sweet. Anyway, I just wanted a reason to say we’ve listened to a lot of Fleetwood Mac and that this is one hell of a song. They are good road trip companions.
Seriously? Having a rented car?
Yep. Well, we didn’t actually use Uber in Croatia but we’ve never used it before and we absolutely loved the experience in Slovakia. But let me tell you, we seriously considered it in Dubrovnik. You see, this city is impossible. It is sweet and beautiful and I am glad I went there, but it is small for the ammount of tourists and Game of Thrones fans that go there. One way to avoid the inherent traffic is, for example, to charge 6€ for an hour of parking in Dubrovnik.
If your staying near Dubrovnik but not exactly there, do not take your rented car there, but Uber there.
Also, while we were there, they were trying a new service: Uber Boat! You could go to some Islands from Split using Uber, pretty cool.
And this is it. I hope this post is useful to some people. But it is so easy to travel in Croatia that in reality you can just go. Everyone is very nice and speaks great english, the food is great, the weather is good, the beaches are good (spoiler: all images are edited, the sea is transparent, not really THAT blue!) the roads are good and road triping is fun.
Obviously, we are in love with the Internet since our teenage years and we are that type of travellers. But you can also do everything offline, using paper maps, and sleeping in those rooms advertised by ladies and lads by the road!
Este post e os seguintes vão ser escritos em inglês porque poderão ser mais úteis assim. Quero também partilhar o “relatório” com pessoas que não falam português.
It happened. I went again to one of my cities, my sweet Bratislava, to meet the friends it holds, the corners I’ve known, the corners that have changed. I lived there in 2010, came for a short visit in 2014, and this year we took more time for the comfort of being in a city that does not need to be explored to be known.
On the day we’ve arrived, we met L. and J. and their children. They’ve each had two girls and two boys in these last years. In Slovakia the parents (one of them at the time) are allowed to stay home with their children until they turn three – under some conditions of course.
We all met in Bratislava Magio beach, with real sand and music and a loooot to talk about.
Of course, one of the first stops was Slovak Pub. The place is great, the food never disappoints and the fact that all remains the same, is great. Most bad comments you will read on the place are about the service but…you have to get used to it, most slovaks in services are not smiley and joyful, they do their job and that is it.
So. Kofola, a MUST HAVE in Slovakia and Czech Republic. A replacement of Coca-Cola (forbidden during the USSR) that remained. A fruity, fresh, delicious drink for summer. Also, Kapusnica a sauerkraut and sausage soup with cream that works as a great dinner.
In Bratislava we stayed in a very nice air b’n’b in Rača. Also, we’ve used Uber for the first time – as it is forbidden in Portugal – and became absolute fans. Nevertheless, public transport is wonderful in Bratislava, almost every stop has a ticket machine and the tickets are cheap (0,70€ for a ride). If you’re staying there for a few days I would recommend the IMHD.sk app with all the lines and timetables.
Speaking about public transport, we jumped on a train to meet E. in Pezinok! It was so good to be with her again, and so familiar and confortable.
We went to a pizzeria Lailia. They make good pizzas but what I was waiting for was the bryndzove halusky, which they did very well in this restaurant. Bryndzové Halušky is one of the national dishes in Slovakia. This meal consists of halušky (boiled lumps of potato dough similar in appearance to gnocchi) and bryndza (a soft sheep cheese), optionally sprinkled with cooked bits of smoked pork fat/bacon.
Bratislava has obviously changed a lot in the past seven years. It has cool new places, hipster places, coffee breweries, etc.
Dobre&Dobre is a beautifully designed and decorated caffe serving breakfasts and quick meals. It is also a project from the civic association Vagus, dedicated to helping homeless people.
Right next to Dobre&Dobre there’s this cool lego corner!
When I lived there, I’ve never went to the National Gallery. But we’ve seen posters about the current exhibition and got interested: Fashion in Slovakia 1945-1989. The exhibition was really good and it was funny to see some videos of people dancing in the discos with aerobics gear and such.
After seing two exhibitions, it was time to eat. A great place to go with a group of friends, Fabrika is a big space with good food. I’ve eaten gooey fried cheese – which i loved and missed. Don’t judge (there were veggies).
Then, a place which only serves organic things that come in a bottle. But has a nice garden outside.
Another stop with L.
And then, our Verne, where we always come back to.
The place has a beautiful decor. And I ate something new: lentil stew with sausage.
In Bratislava we rented our car for the Croatia road trip (Avis in Seberinhio 9, we recommend). Our first journey was to my previous house in Petrazalka!
And then we met with beautiful Y. for lunch in Presto BBC 1.
It was wonderful to be back, to be with them, and to see new places like the Petrazalka Drazdiak lake, which I’ve never visited before and is such a nice summer place.
I will, of course, be back.
Passámos uns belíssimos serões, às vezes juntos às vezes solos, a ver todas as sete temporadas de Parks and Recreation.
Os episódios são bem moderados, 20 minutos de comédia e filmagens ao estilo do The Office. O departamento de Parques da câmara municipal de Pawnee é retratado no seu dia a dia, que passa de deprimente a uma grande família, com as melhores personagens das séries de comédia dos últimos tempos.
Vejam que faz muito bem!
Não sei se já falei aqui da minha adição a podcasts. Um dia escrevo sobre os meus preferidos. Mas é um vício que me acompanha há mais ou menos um ano. (Joui, ainda tenho este post guardado para ouvir os teus favoritos.)
Há um que oiço regularmente, oiço os arquivos, faço refresh semanalmente – e confesso, me fez querer criar um podcast. Mas falta aquela voz. É o 99% Invisible do Roman Mars.
A descrição trata-o como um podcast sobre design, mas para mim é um podcast para pessoas curiosas com fenómenos de design, de sociologia, de religião, de manias, de ciência, de tudo em geral. Os episódios são muito curtinhos, e são sobre temas mesmo engraçados e divertidos. Por exemplo, como criar um país, como aconteceram alguns desastres aéreos, erros de arquitetura, para onde vai o correio perdido, comunidades malucas dos anos 60, etc etc.
A investigação é cuidada. O relato acessível e muito bem feito.
Mas este post é sobre um que me marcou e me fez escrever sobre ele. Foi este, chamado Bathysphere (sim, sim, claro que começou com esta música). Versa sobre as tentativas de investigação do fundo do mar, e da luta contra a pressão que destruiu inúmeras expedições a profundezas desconhecidas.
Gostei da história por trás da batisfera criada. Como o criador e o investigador não se entendiam mas tinham de partilhar um espaço minúsculo, ventilado com ventoinhas e ligado a um telefone.
Gostei particularmente do funcionamento da exploração do fundo do mar. Lá, eles viam criaturas incríveis, monstruosas, luminosas, nunca antes vistas! Do outro lado da linha do telefone, num barco à superfície do mar, estava a ilustradora científica Else Bostelmann. Eles descreviam o que viam, e ela desenhava. Ninguém acreditava que aquilo poderia ser verdade, mas era, e as ilustrações acabaram por figurar na National Geographic.
Estes pioneiros fascinam-me. A criatividade e paixão é imensa, e graças a eles crescemos mais um bocadinho. Até ao abismo.
Há uma semana fui a Groningen. Sozinha, com muita chuva, fui ver alguns museus. Às cegas, e um pouco reticente, fui ao Groninger Museum. Já sabia que a entrada com desconto era 10,00€ (!!!), mas fui.
Tinha duas exposições temporárias, e uma delas, a de H.N. Werkman, fez-me sentir aquilo que se sente muito raramente com arte. Eu pelo menos. Lembro-me de sentir com Seurat uma “coisa”, e com o Werkman senti o mesmo.
Os seus trabalhos eram muito limpos, simples, de experiências que fazia na sua tipografia. Gostei mesmo muito, e fiquei cheia de vontade de experimentar como ele, com composições em blocos de cores, pensei até em como fazer algo parecido com…carimbos de batatas!
Werkman, depois da invasão alemã da Holanda em 1940, começou a distribuir uma publicação clandestina chamada The Blue Barge. Publicaram cerca de quarenta números, todos concebidos e ilustrados por Werkman. Em 1945 foi preso pela Gestapo e executado por um pelotão de fuzilamento, três dias antes da libertação de Groningen.