Focus on Croatia

If you’ve been following the Poland-Ukraine 2012 series, you’ll know that I’ve been focusing on a different country playing in the tournament every day during the month of June; concentrating not so much on the national football team but more about travel to and visiting the country itself.

Looking at today’s fixtures Croatia vs Spain and Italy vs Republic of Ireland I had to decide whether to cover Croatia or Italy; having already done Spain and Ireland.

The reason for my dilemma is that on Saturday I thought Russia would qualify from Group A and I could feature the country in the quarter-finals so I ran with Czech Republic. Russia lost to Greece and now they’re out.

Will Italy let me down if I focus on Croatia first?

I hope the Italian fans will forgive me if I’ve just jinxed their team and Croatia draw (2:2) with Spain; to knock the Italians out, even if they beat Ireland.

Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
Plitvice Lakes – UNESCO Heritage

Spotlight on Croatia.

On June 25th, 1991, Croatia (Hrvatska) declared its independence from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

My first visit to Croatia was quite an adventure – hitch-hiking from London to Split, in 1984; when Croatia was still a part of Yugoslavia.

I remember long rides along the coast in hot, noisy, Russian-made lorries.

I didn’t fancy a return on that road – still largely under construction – so took a ferry across the Adriatic Sea to Pescara, Italy.

The coastal road in Croatia is much better today – with great views – and there’s even a newish motorway from Zagreb, if you’re pushed for time.

Krka Nationa Park, Croatia
Krka Nationa Park, Croatia

If you’re passing through Sibenik be sure to take a detour up the river to Krka National Park.

The motorway is being extended south of Split and might one day run all the way to Dubrovnik, if approval is given in Bosnia – from both the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton and Republika Srpska.

The motorway to Istria ends just north of Opatia. If you want to enjoy the islands and scenic route, leave this motorway at Rijeka.

To visit the wonderful Plitvice Lakes National Park (UNESCO World Heritage List), leave the motorway at Karlovac and drive down through Slunj. The road then continues on south; to join the motorway, near Pag.

Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

There are also excellent motorway connections from Zagreb through Maribor (Slovenia) and Graz (Austria) to Vienna and Munich; through Nagykaniza (Hungary) to Budapest; and through Ljubljana (Slovenia) to Trieste, Venice and Milan. This makes it very easy to include Croatia in any driving tour of Europe.

The next stop for Croatia is joining the European Union (expected by 1st July, 2013).

Croatia National Tourist Board.

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4 Replies to “Focus on Croatia”

  1. I had heard from multiple people that Split was one of the most beautiful places in the world…maybe you can (or can not?) imagine my disappointment when I saw the real thing…lovely, but not quite worthy of that “Most Beautiful” award…

    Love the tie in to Euro 2012….


    1. ‘One of the most beautiful places in the world’ is always relative to where else in the world the person describing the location has been; and probably even where they come from and what their expectations are.

      It might also help if the weather is fine and, in the case of Split, not too hot and crowded with tourists.

      Having said that, Split’s location can be considered beautiful if one knows where else to look nearby. I wouldn’t advise anyone to visit Split in August; cars, crowds and heat don’t make for ‘most beautiful’ experiences.

      I can indeed imagine your disappointment, Kelli…… and the high approval rating from others.


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