What happens when you are an expat living in London, about to return to your hometown with an 8 month old, and none of your hometown friends have kids a similar age? You are introduced to another new family to the area by a mutual American in London, find out that in this sprawling city you live a mere 2 miles from each other, with boys the same age, and you become fast friends. When they move to Annapolis18 months later you are all heartbroken but realize that even when a year or more goes by between visits you all, boys and new children included, pick up where you left off. This is a guest post from my dear friend B, who was brave enough to take her 5 year old and 18 month old to Croatia for two weeks, and I think you will enjoy reading about her trip as much as I did!
Part I: Air Travel and the resort town of Cavtat
Croatia, or Hrvatska as the locals know it, has been on my travel radar since 2006. My husband and I are sailors and we heard through various friends how its crystalline waters and coastline were a sailor’s dream. So after a quick web search we were smitten with Croatia’s breathtaking coastline, gorgeous Mediterranean climate, and stunning old world architecture. We were newlyweds, young-ish and determined to watch the races of the Louis Vuitton Cup (precursor to the America’s Cup) in Spain in 2007. We hoped to add Croatia to our itinerary back then, but work commitments and lack of vacation conspired against us. Hence, Croatia was shelved for a later date.
Fast-forward almost 7 years, 3 moves and two kids later and we finally had Croatia within reach! My husband, Ray, received a sabbatical through his company; a lovely perk that is extended to each employee after 7 years of service. And without question, we knew we wanted to go to Croatia. While our original dream included sailing the Dalmatian coast and visiting wineries while we ate well and slept late, that dream needed to be tweaked to accommodate our two boys, a 5 year old and an 18 month old.
So in May of this year, planning and preparation came together and Croatia finally became a reality. We booked a red eye out of Dulles Airport on Lufthansa to Dubrovnik. There were no direct flights so we had one connection through Munich on our way to Croatia. And with it being a red eye, the children did better than expected. We did bring our car seat for the toddler because he is high energy and always on the go. While bringing your own car seat can be a hassle, for us there was no other option. He was comfortable in it, it was familiar to him and he was able to sleep for a few hours. Which is more than I can say for me!
There is a 6-hour time difference between here and there so when it’s 8:00 am in Washington, D.C., it’s 2:00 pm in Croatia. It did take a couple of days to adjust but we did our best to acclimate to the time change as quickly as possible. We left on a Thursday night and arrived Friday late afternoon. Since we couldn’t get into our villa rental until Saturday, we rented a room for the night in the town of Cavtat. (The ‘C” is pronounced with a ‘Z’, so it’s pronounced Zahv-tat)
Cavtat isn’t very well known to American tourists but Europeans love this quaint seaside resort town a mere 21 km south of Dubrovnik. It has some luxury hotels and properties and offers a relaxing beach getaway. We opted to stay the night at Hotel Croatia, a very James Bond-esque property made of stucco, metal and glass. We used Priceline and got a great deal for our one-night’s stay. It had an indoor and outdoor pool as well as several restaurants, stunning views and a quick ride to the center of the old town of Cavtat.
The room at the hotel was decent sized and we scored a room with a view and a child friendly balcony. Although, after our very long travel day we really didn’t use it or enjoy it all that much. We ate dinner in the buffet-style dining room and called it an early night. The chair in our room folded out to a twin-sized bed and they brought in a crib for the baby while we slept in a queen-sized bed. It would have been a bit cramped if we were staying longer but it suited us well for the night.
I wish we had more time to explore the town of Cavtat; it was quite beautiful and hosted some mighty fine looking mega-yachts in the harbor. Plus, after that long travel day and my older son’s whining I really just wanted to lounge by the pool like all those bronzed and chic Europeans I passed on my way back from breakfast. But we decided it best to check out of the lovely Hotel Croatia and headed north along the coast to Dubrovnik our home for the next 7 days of our Croatian vacation. Dubrovnik, ancient and stunning city by the sea (which in my opinion) really is the jewel of the Dalmatian Coast.