Since our last day would be pretty packed, I thought we might as well head into the Old town for the day. This time our Airbnb was about a 15-20 minute walk from the main town but it wasn’t a bad walk and it was so much more affordable and easy to park a car. Once we got in the city we walked around and eventually found ourselves at the cable car to go up to the Fort Imperial that overlooks the city. I

Views along the outside of the wall near Pile Gate.
The Pile Gate Entrance
Just inside the gate there is this massive water fountain ( of drinking water!! So awesome right?!)
More exploring… The street I KNOW was used in part of the Walk of Shame.  

                                           The other entrance to the old city near the marina. 

It’s a quick (packed with no AC so thank heavens) ride up to the top and has magnificent views! We walked around the top as much as we could and explored the fort (which was falling apart and not much to see) before heading back down to find some lunch.

Views looking North of Dubrovnik. Croatia has over 1000 islands along it’s coast!
The old town with a cable car making it’s way up. Also the Island of Lokrum which we kayaked around the next day. 
Looking to the South of Dubrovnik toward Montenegro. 

The fort Imperial which is instrumental in defending Dubrovnik from nearby countries. There was also another museum/ exhibit on Croatia’s fight for Independence (in a war we would soon learn was quite recent…) however our stomach’s were growling and we were ready to find somewhere to chow down. 

Heading back into town after the Cable car.. Notice the Game of Thrones store sign on the right… We would be visiting that sure enough later. 

We also popped into a church and curiously found this exhibit? near the entrance. There is a Saint (or Mary?) tucked back in there as it resembled a cave and went quite far back in there. I wish I knew the reasoning for this as it was quite interesting.

Again for lunch/dinner we got some delicious pizza (making this our 2nd most expensive meal of the trip) and meandered around before deciding to just head back to the apartment. As we were wandering we noticed a nice little sitting area with benches on the coast so we walked down and saw another stair case that seemed to lead down to some cool swimming area on the rocks. As it turned out that particular stair case DID NOT lead down and the stairs disappeared making it quite a difficult climb so back up we went. BUT just as I was about to give up hope,  we noticed an gap at the far end of this bench area with a legit stair case. (I still think the other one which is a lot more obvious when you go down, is there to act as a decoy) So we climbed on down and sure enough there was a great little cement slab where people could lay out while others cliff jumped on the close by rocks and just swam in the ocean. 

The sun-setting on the most perfect swimming spot. 
See the people swimming in there? Aww ya I was one of them 😀

I eventually worked up some courage to do the smallest of jumps but the water felt AMAZING. Even though the sun was going down, the water wasn’t cold at all and it felt great to wash away all the sweat from the day. I probably swam around for an hour of so before I could tell Braden was getting bored (he hadn’t prepared and worn his swimming trunks so he was just waiting on me) so I climbed out and we continued the walk to the apartment so I could shower and we could go to bed. All in all a great day highlighted by finding one of the best swimming spots of the whole trip.

Day 14: Our last adventure day. We woke up and got some delicious pastries from the bakery next door as we headed down into town. At 10 we met just outside the Pile gate with our tour group to begin a 3 hour Game Of Thrones Walking Tour. Our guide was so cute and fun so she really made the tour for us! We started with a lovely climb up to the Fort Lovrijenac, which starred in many scenes as the Red Keep.

 We wandered around the main interior square and she had photos of the place in the show to compare what was used from reality and what was added through CGI. Surprisingly a lot of it really was real and the CGI was used more decoratively in these scenes. We also learned a little about the history of the Fort. One of my favorite notes was that when the Croats began building the fort, they had only 3 months until the Venetians were set to arrive with materials to build their OWN fort in that same spot. By stroke of genius. the builders first built up the outer wall facing the sea so when the Venetian army was set to arrive to build their fort, they were very surprised to see a “fort” standing in its place. Thus they returned to Venice without staying in Dubrovnik as planned. 

Listening to my tour guide through my audio device. 
The top of the fort provided easily my favorite view of the city with the ocean surrounding. 

Compare with the photo below which was taken from a scene in the movie. They really didn’t have to add much to these scenes CGI wise!

Compare with photo below for comparison with show: that same rock that;s behind me!

After the fort we climbed down some different steps and into the smaller bay of Dubrovnik (where all the kayaks leave from) and learned about the filming a few scenes there, again comparing the photos from the show to reality. 
Then onto the Pile gate, the city walls, etc… It was fun walking through the town and learning of how filming proceeds when they must close whole sections of the town to anyone but locals.This is just inside the Pile Gate.. 

We unfortunately did not go into the Rector’s Palace as part of our tour but we did get to glimpse in at this beautiful building. To switch it up from the Game Of Thrones tour, here’s a bit of history:

Dubrovnik used to be governed by a Rector who would govern only for 1 month before the city would vote for a new one and in this way they hoped to avoid corruption. While the Rector governed, he would not leave this palace at all ( not even to see his family) as his foremost responsibility was seeing to, well, governing. (Maybe another way they kept them from being corrupt lol) The palace is home to a museum now though which in hind site I wish we had had time to explore as it seems pretty interesting.

Annddd back to the GOT tour, it was also a filming location. They even kept that bust statue.

 I was also ecstatic to learn I was right about which sections they used in filming the Walk of Shame! Booya! The tour covered our admittance to the city walls so we got to climb along the South end of the city. BOY IT WAS HOT! It was about 1 when we finished and despite really wanting to walk the entire wall… I also really wanted to swim. 

Walking the city walls. 

Taken around the outside of the most “castle-y” part of the walls. Also where they filmed a scene.. compare below.

Looking down on the Pile Gate Entrance. 
While walking the city walls, you do pass this rather humbling area that just serves as even more proof of the recent war and damage it caused to the city. 

So we said goodbye to our tour group and started the walk back to the apartment so I could double check our tour time for kayaking later and we could grab lunch from the bakery again. (This time we got some yummy ham and cheese rolls plus a pizza pouch thing) 
Then we had some options of beaches, but I really just wanted to swim in the same spot from the day before so we headed back there for a couple hours. This time Braden wore his suit so he could swim as well! 
The water felt PERFECT! It was so refreshing (not even cold!) and it was so much more clear with the sun on it than it was in the evening. (you could see tons of fish swimming around beneath you) Braden and I both did a fair bit of jumping from the rocks and I worked my way up to the biggest one even! Around 3:30 we walked back to town to get ready for our 2nd tour of the day. 

 We found out then that we actually had until almost 5 so we killed time by visiting the “official” Game Of Thrones merch store. They had an “Iron Throne” you could sit in for a photo op if you purchased something in the store. I decided on a mug (unfortunately a 35 dollar mug) but we also got a free magnet ! so worth it right? Photo op = priceless. Then we headed back to the Pile Gate to await our tour. I killed some more time swinging on this really cool swing set just below the gate. 

Finally our time arrived and we redeemed our voucher, stripped down to our bathing suits, donned some attractive life vests, and took a crash course in tandem kayaking. While this was one of the tours I was honestly most excited for, I didn’t realize just how difficult it was going to be. This was probably the most heated and irritated time of our whole trip Braden and I were. Mostly because he was in the back where most of the steering seemed to happen and being in sync when I’m a crazy perfectionist constantly trying to “steer” a certain course I see, would be challenging. But beyond just steering, it was hard work! And we went way out to this cave area, plus around the bay so it was close to 2 hours of constant paddling with little breaks put in here and there. The experience was definitely cool however as nothing really can compare to sitting in a little boat outside the grand Old city walls of Dubrovnik. When we weren’t killing ourselves paddling, it was really rather peaceful. 
The cave we paddled to was a great picnic spot and we got to swim! WHICH it was a little chilly as this was the evening sunset tour and we didn’t have any sun to warm us up. I made the most of it however and watched a couple people jump from a really high cliff, all the while anxiously trying to decide if I had the balls to do it or not. ( I didn’t, and when I discovered they provided snorkels which I could’ve been using I realized I really had NOT been making the most of our time lol) After about 45 min in the cave we paddled out close to the island of Lokrum. Here we were given the option of the long hard route going around the other side (an hour of constant paddling) or the easy route just staying on the side we were on and making our way back to the city. (about 35 minutes of paddling) I bet you can guess which one we chose. yep the hard one. JK! the easy one and thank goodness! 

Leaving behind the large cave where we swam and headed to the Island Lokrum. 
 The sunset on the city walls from the water. So Stunning! 
Trying to get us both in the shot. hahaha 
It was cool even still though cause I doubt the other side of the island really looked all that different, and we got a lot of chill time hanging out with our guide, floating and listening to her stories about the town. And even more so interesting learning about the recent (somewhat) battle for independence Croatia went through in the early 90s. We’d been hearing and seeing exhibits about the war in different areas we went. (i.e. inside the Pile gate there’s a map of the destruction that was done to Dubrovnik alone when Montenegro attacked) but we hadn’t really heard much from other people with the passion this tour guide had. It’s hard to convey what we felt considering I never really learned about this war in school and it had such a big impact on the country we were visiting. 
Anyways so glad we took the easier route cause not only was it less work, but we got cool stories. Plus we actually got to sit and enjoy the sunset on the water from our spot just outside the city walls which was really really neat. Once we paddled in, we through back on our clothes (even though I was dripping wet from all that vigorous paddling and waves…) and we walked back into town for just a little bit to explore it at night. They were celebrating independence days and in the main square they had music pumping and different colored lights shining on the old buildings. Tons of people were dancing and hanging around so that was a really cool experience. We got some gelato and walked around the quieter marina and had a laugh about how seriously FULL all the restaurants and cafes were at 9:30 at night… like what?!? It’s bed time! And then we headed back home on our 15 minute walk, again getting a kick at the constant stream of people walking into town at 10…??? All in all it was a great last day of adventure and even though it was hot, crowded, and a little on the pricey side, Dubrovnik was easily one of my favorite cities to visit. 

Anddd since I didn’t really get any pictures from the travel days here’s the remaining 2 days of our trip:

Day 15: The journey home: And so we began our long journey home that would take over 2 days. We didn’t necessarily wake up crazy early, but we were up and ready to hit the road. We were delayed only a little by a nice chat with our host as she made us Turkish coffee, gave us some rather interesting fruits (it was good but the texture was weird so I could really only eat one….) and then I think she gave us some sort of Grappa (an alcohol) we couldn’t really understand her other than her saying it was good for you and she took a shot herself. It was some strong stuff! She has a really nice balcony that she likes to chat with her visitors over and since we didn’t stay for long the day before, we spent a little extra talking about her family and our travels… as much as we could with the language barrier. Then we grabbed a few more snacks for the road from the bakery and we were on our way. 

The drive as a whole, took FOREVER. We had quite a bit of traffic in the narrow coastal highway to get back to Split area (again crossing through the Border control stations of Bosnia for that 15 Km stretch of road) Even once on the large highway we hit a big slow down that took forever. To make matters worse, there were so many people traveling the gas stations were a MESS! The most inefficient way to pump gas ever. We’d noticed it before, but you REALLY notice it when you are stuck behind 3 cars to get gas and each time the person fills up, then has to go inside and wait in ANOTHER line to pay and the person behind them at the pump can’t start filling up until it’s paid! So ridiculous! We spent 45 minutes at one gas station alone just to get gas, a snack, and use the restroom. Anyways again thankful for Braden driving the whole way as it allowed me to pretty much read the whole way back and not get frustrated about these things. We stopped on last time in Slovenia before crossing into Italy for gas and dinner. (one last ham and mushroom pizza!) and then we were on the final stretch (the technically 4th country of the day driving through lol) The weather got dark and crazy fast! It poured down rain and there was tons of lightning around us on the highway. Not to mention the insane Italian drivers… it was a little scary. BUT we made it in one piece back to the Venice airport where the last struggle bus arrived. We went to one gas station to top off: it was closed and there’s wasn’t a way to auto pay. We went to a 2nd gas station: it was closed. BUT it had a place to pay outside (still raining by the way) it took us forever to sort out how to use it (even though it claimed to have “English” instructions.. it really didnt. Another family was there and revealed the “secret” you have to pay first here. Oh? ok. So we inserted a 10 euro bank note and did it give us gas? NO it didn’t even tell us anything more, just ate it without any messages or anything. (my guess in hindsight is that it was a pump and then pay, however the people who had visited these stations before us had pumped and driven off… no surprise there since how else are they going to stop you?” so we returned to the airport frustrated and angry only to learn we had to pay 30 euro fee for returning it a 3/4 tank instead of full! (even though I explained we really had tried!) So even more ticked off and frustrated we waited for our shuttle over to our place for the night. (again in hindsight.. keep the car until the next morning and you can get gas.UGH!) 
Our host was awesome though getting us from the airport and the airbnb was this cool renovated Villa. We had the “Heart” room since we were on our honeymoon which was pretty nice! The shower was the coolest part as it had a cool blue lighting, you could play music, and you could change the water stream to be side jets or a waterfall top. Unfortunately though sleeping was hard as the AC unit was incredibly loud so I had a hard time sleeping but Braden was hot so he wanted it on. Finally I won out and got to turn it off cause he wasn’t going to be able to sleep with me moving about anyways. (Plus I also realized the next morning I was covered in some weird little bites.. don’t think they were bed bugs since Braden didn’t get bitten and it went mostly after my left arm which probably wasn’t covered… but still weird)

Day 16: Up and at em for the final day. We had a complimentary breakfast that was already provided in the room. (seriously genius, all hotels should do this now) then we caught a taxi back to the airport around 8:30 for our flight out around 11:30. It didn’t really take us long to check in at all so we had time to peruse the Venice airport (small though it was) we had plenty of time to relax on top of that. Then it was the first flight back to Toronto and I felt sick a majority of the time on this one so that was rough. In Toronto we had a little over an hour so we got some burgers (hoping that would even out my stomach issues and it did help a little to have legit food)Our flight from here unfortunately got delayed a couple times getting us in over an hour later than expected but we were home! and it felt good! Braden’s dad came to get us and dropped us off and after another 30+ hour day with no sleep, it didn’t take long for us to find the bed. 

Day 12: Today was an all day sailing day. We were up again bright and early to grab some breakfast and find our boat at the wharf so we could check in and be ready for the 8:00 departure. It was a huge catamaran so tons of people including one dog were aboard (which I found interesting.. who brings their dog on one of these trips?) Anyways we quickly set sail for the all day adventure starting with a 2.5 hour ride just to get to the Island of Hvar. We had one swim stop just before the Island where it was hot enough I wanted to get in.. but then I didn’t want to be sopping wet when we were going to be getting on a bus and touring an Island only 10 minutes later… so I postponed swimming for later and we just laid out enjoying the warm sun

Once we docked and boarded the bus, we took a quick detour out to the charming little town, Vrboska. It is known as a little Venice because of the long Sea channel that goes right down the middle and the numerous little bridges that cross it. We took a short walking tour there and got back on the bus to head to the Hvar fortress above Old Town.

The church that was fortified into a fortress (those dang Turks!) in Vrboska. 

Hvar Fortress

The view down into Hvar bay with the Pakleni Islands in the distance (seen from the Fort)

I tried to convince Braden to walk down through the town… but we hopped back on the bus to get driven down instead. The little town of Hvar is actually way charming and a lot less crowded that I anticipated. When I had been researching the difference between Hvar and the Island Brac, most reviews claimed Hvar was more of a “party” town which wasn’t all that appealing. It was however a gorgeous town with a couple great little beaches and a WAY COOL old wall and fortress up above it. We had about an 1.5 hours to mill around the town so we got Lavender gelato (as lavender is one of the main products grown on the Island along with grapes and olives) and then headed to a beach to swim as this was probably during the hottest part of the day. 

The water was soo clear and felt amazing! 

 First swim spot
 Such amazing water! Seriously haven’t seen more beautiful beaches, sandy or not. 
 Leaving Hvar in the distance. You can see the fort up on the hill above. OH and check out that Yacht! 
Once we met back on the boat we sailed out to the Pakleni Islands which are just off Hvar where we weighted anchor for another swim spot and a lunch of Caesar Salad. We could still see Hvar town off in the distance which was pretty cool, however unfortunately the wind had picked up and the air had started to cool off.. making it difficult for me to want to swim when I was sure I’d be cold the rest of the ride. Soooo we didn’t ever actually swim off the catamaran as both of us were cold enough dry when moving and getting wet wasn’t all that appealing. They did break up the long ride back with one more swim spot off Brac Island (not near any towns but the little cove was very beautiful) and we had dessert and watermelon which was nice. We got back into Split right about 8 about as exhausted as could be so we headed back to the apartment to eat left over pizza, catch a bit of a special about Edward Teach (Blackbeard) on the History channel that was cool, and head to bed. Overall a great day to relax and not worry about getting around on roads or dealing with crowds. It was a great way to split up our Croatia vacation.
Sailing back into Split at the end of the day.

Day 13: We slept in a bit and then headed to find some breakfast which amazingly enough we found a place that actually served us eggs and bacon! lol one of the few full breakfasts we had on this trip. We also had about an hour extra of time before check-out so we wandered around the palace again, found the giant statue of Diocletan so that I could rub his giant gold toe for luck, and explore a bit more of the historic center. Then it was back in the car for our 3 hour journey to Dubrovnik. Luckily we were getting out of the city just as it started to rain. Great timing for us! lol The drive down was very scenic as it was mostly coastal through more quaint little towns. We also drove the 15 km or so through Bosnia (as you have to since it splits up Croatia) and had no problems with Border Patrol there other than it slowing us down a little. We pulled into Dubrovnik around 2 and again had a free parking space which took the stress of that away greatly. This airbnb was the only really shared space we had on the whole trip as it was in this cute little old Lady, Ina’s apartment. We had a nice bedroom with a big bed, mini fridge, and private AC. We could lock our door to the room but we shared the bathroom with another single guest and the landlord. She was so sweet and welcomed us with delicious lemonade as we relaxed and planned                                                           the rest of our day.  See next post for deets on Dubrovnik! 

Kliss Fortress from the road into Split. It’s quite well camouflaged but if you look close enough you can see quite the long length of stone buildings along the top of those rocks. 

The hour to Split did get stretched out a bit as the traffic getting into the city was considerably more than anticipated and we may have taken a few wrong turns. BUT we got there not too long after 1 and thankfully this AirBnb came with free parking cause I have absolutely no idea where we would’ve parked otherwise. The parking was crazy with people literally parking on the side walks. It was a small little parking lot that was a challenge to maneuver in and out of but we made it ! Whew. And it was a nice little apartment again with the SOFTEST bed we had the whole trip! It was so nice like sleeping on pillows! And again had a small kitchen within.Shortly after checking in we hopped back in the car to go check out Kliss Fortress.
Exploring Kliss Fortress 

(I had initially planned on seeing this on our way into Split since it was on the way… but traffic made it so we wouldn’t have had enough time to explore) so back on the roads we got and up the hill we climbed. As far as historic sites, this was one of my favorite places we visited. This fort dates way back to the time of the Ottoman Empire as the Croats used it to protect themselves against the Turks. It has since been used in multiple World Wars and my favorite: it was a big filming location for Game Of Thrones. It’s set up on a narrow cliff/ hill with drops on both sides of the fort and incredible views of Split and the surrounding hill side. We spent over an hour just learning about the different spots and taking photos and well… exploring the place as thoroughly as we could.

The first entrance into the fort with views of the ocean and city below

You’ll see more of these iconic windows later on. They are quite noticeable in the Game Of Thrones show as well. 
Moving up to one of the higher levels. That dome roof behind me is over the small church.
Clearly a devout church goer. 
Looking down the top of the first half from above. 
The view of the fort fro the backside where you park and then climb the hill to go in.

I love the even larger mountain in the background. The landscape of Croatia is just amazing!

Braden explored every bit even wandering into the “danger” zone. I made him 
get down at that point. haha 
Looking down at the cliffs and village below the fort. The panorama-ness of this photo makes it look not quite as far down.. Trust me it was far down.  
The very very top of the fort
The surrounding cool rocks and highway that you come into Split via. 
I couldn’t get enough of that view! 
Another sort of hidden place among many in the fortress. 
Looking up the many levels of the fort. Switchbacks.. my favorite 😉
The Game Of Thrones Tour room. There wasn’t a tonnn of information in here but there were scene shots you could compare to the outside so I took a couple photos of photos for comparison. 
Recognize these switchbacks? 😛
They added a few structures to the top but the switchbacks and those square windows are still there! 

Braden was pretty excited about all the exploring and touring. He hasn’t told me a favorite place yet but I bet this is up there since I haven’t been able to get him to pose for so many photos ANYWHERE else. He actually ASKED me to take some of him! hahaha 

After that it was back in the car and back to the AirBnb. We grabbed dinner at a restaurant 2 buildings down from our place and I had the BEST PIZZA of my entire trip there! It was seriously so delicious with Smoked Ham, mushrooms, and oregano! And even with us drinking 3 Sprites between us and Braden getting a steak, I think this was only the 3rd of 4th most expensive place we ate. After dinner the sun was kind of setting and it was getting late, but we walked down by the wharf to sort out where we’d go the next day and also explored Diocletan’s Palace for a little while. Again our apartment was less than 5 minutes from the historic center so we were in a great spot to explore for a little bit before heading home to hit the sack.

Left: Inside Diocletan’s Palace 

The main center. There was a cafe that people could sit on these cushions and order from (on the left stairs) It was so busy we pretty much just strolled through but a pretty near area none-the-less. 
Part of the ceiling in Dicletan’s Palace. 
The market underneath the palace. It was a huge area with an amazing brickwork ceiling. Mostly markets but there were  a couple museums we were tempted to do but a little too pooped out. 
Looking back at the outer walls of the palace from the Marina side. It’s almost hard to tell all that history is still in there but people live in those apartments, and work in those shops. It’s a very much living, breathing piece of history. 

A little further zoomed out view of the city center. 
Our little car in the parking area for our Airbnb. So grateful to have it! 

Day 11: It was another up and early day for us as we were going to try for the 2nd waterfall National Park in Croatia: Krka. Luckily this time we only had about a 40 minute drive so we got there 30 minutes after it opened and before the mass crowds arrived.  We parked a little ways a way and then walked through the small town called Skradin which is the main entrance to the park. 

There was a very small line to buy our tickets and then we hopped on a ferry to the main part of the park. It was about a 40 minute boat ride but soo beautiful! There were swans everywhere and the sun was out! And we even had a nice spot by a window to look out.

Us on the ferry boat to the Main Krka falls: Skradinski Buk
The other ferry boat (1st of the day) passing us to go get another boat load! 
Peaceful and quiet river! 
Then we were there! The main set of waterfalls really was just stunning and every bit as beautiful as I knew it would be. We could see the park was starting to fill up a bit so we went ahead and did the walk around first exploring all that we could of this part of the park. There were multiple little boardwalks around smaller falls and the main large falls cascaded multiple times so it was fun getting to see it from all the different angles.
The next level up above where we just were.
And again, another level up! These waterfalls went on quite a ways! 

Looking down length-wise of some of the falls 

The upper level near the mill you could go in for a short history or water power plants. 

Coming down the other side from where we went up. You can see the original bridge we crossed and posed for a photo on. 

 After the walk we were nice and warmed up for a swim! Yes you can swim in these waterfalls! Another big reason I really wanted to go here. Braden thought the water was a little too cold but I thought it felt perfect! I swam around and took a million photos of the same spot. Classic for the whole trip lol. And after a bit of that I hopped out and we got right back on the boat to head for some lunch. We didn’t stay too long in the park, but for the area that we saw specifically it was a perfect amount of time.
 Braden safe guarding the purse

 The water was so clear! Here’s my feet sporting my favorite water shoes ever: Merrells.

Back in Skradin we grabbed a quick lunch at a café (ham and cheese sandwiches) before hopping back on the road for another hour to Split. This park is basically proof though that fairy-tale places due exist. Even though I was sad to miss Plitvice Lakes, Krka was a real gem and an amazing swimming hole. 

Day 8: We were up and out early around 7 to make our way to Plitvice Lakes National Park which I had been dying to go to ever since my best friend from Freshman year in highschool, Petra had introduced me to the incredible country, Croatia. Unfortunately we had a 3.5 hour drive to the park, made into 4.5 hours as the GPS took us to the wrong entrance and we had to go all the way around the south side of the park… which put is there about noon. The parking area was all back in these trees and woods and PACKED. We somehow managed to find a decent spot but the number of cars did NOT look good. We walked up to the ticketing area to find 2 distrubingly long lines or people JUST to buy tickets… Braden stood in one while I went to find the bathrooms where I stood in a line for the worst toilets I came across the whole trip. (It was weird cause the toilets had paper and flushers.. but were just holes in the floor with little tread areas to place your feet and squat. This was quite difficult as I also got a stall with a door that didn’t latch so there I was.. trying to squat over a hole that was set too far back to simultaneously hold the door close as well. I resolved it would actually be easier to pee in the woods, so that was what I was going to do) I walked back to Braden to discover he’d barely moved at all in 20 minutes ( which meant that line was easily 1.5 or more) Based on the types of narrow trails in the park and how crowded it was going to be, I knew we were going to be miserable if we stayed (plus I still had to pee) so we paid the 7 Kuna parking fee for the 45 minutes we’d been there and left.
On our way south to our next lodging we stopped for some lunch… pizza. and for me to finally use a realy restroom. Hallelujah! Then it was only another 30 minutes or so to our hotel for the night situated in Jasenice (about 45 km outside the large city ZADAR) and kind of on it’s own piece of coast. We checked in and relaxed for a bit while I searched feverishly for something to do instead with the rest of our day. Zadar would’ve been cool, but we would’ve had to drive and we were kind of over having to find parking spots so that wasn’t sounding appealing. We discovered from our host that we were only 10 Km from one of the entrances to the lesser known Paklenica National Park. Done. With preliminary research (meaning I checked trip advisor and people said it was cool) we headed to the closest entrance… which was a dirt road to free parking which was nice and a closed office…. ok? So it was free as well. sweet. only we had no idea where we were going to hike. There was one main trail leading from the parking area into a canyon so we followed it.

The one and only trail… 
I kind of just hoped there would be some trail splits for us to explore and maybe hike up to get a view. Well the good news was we didn’t see another soul. Seriously there was NO ONE hiking with us. There weren’t any trail splits and the canyon was cool.. but you just kind of follow the bottom without ever hiking up to get much of a view. We followed it for about an hour before turning around to hike back. 
The little spots were trail markers… just in case you couldn’t find your way lol. My favorite part was climbing up this section. It added a little excitement. 
Braden climbing back the other way since we turned around not far past this section. 
All in all the solitude was cool, but the canyon bore a lot of resemblance to Utah as it was mostly rocky and not all that green. lol So maybe not the most unique place we saw but at least it got us out of out hotel. 
We had left over pizza from lunch for dinner with some snacks from the store that was just underneath our rooms. We also had  private terrace that we watched one of the best sunsets of the whole trip from while we drank like 1.5 L of coke. lol We found we were getting a little addicted to the beverage on this trip but it was a pleasant evening and a fairly relaxing day. 

Day 7: We got up, checked out, and payed for our underground parking place which totaled oh… 47 eurors for the 3 nights we were there. OUCH. But then were on our way to.. Croatia! The drive itself was not supposed to take longer than about 3 hours but with traffic around the coast and border control, was probably closer to 4. We rolled in around 1, sighing with the stress of again trying to find a parking place but lucked out when we discovered our airBnb apartment was literally RIGHT NEXT to a parking garage that was about 15 dollars for the day. DONE. The apartment here was a very cool loft style with the main living area, small kitchen, and bathroom below and the bed upstairs in the open air loft. It was very light from floor to ceiling windows and had the BIGGEST SHOWER we saw in all our trip to Europe. Seriously it was huge. The overall style of the place screamed Ikea but it was very comfortable and tidy and our host was very friendly and professional! The other best part about the place was how close it was to everything we wanted to see. Easily within 10 minutes walk.

And lo and behold, the Colosseum was less than 2 minutes walking!

After relaxing/ recovering from the drive for a bit, we headed out into the Midday heat (which was quite hot!) and down to the wharf. I had put it in the GPS but was sort of wandering just in the direction and then BAM there it was. A massive Colosseum! It was in amazing condition and since I never got to go in the ROME one, we paid the entrance fee to go in the Pula arena. Sadly they didn’t have any of the Gladiator areas still in existence but they did have a pretty cool stage set up that had me wishing I had booked tickets for a concert while we were there. Just outside the arena we bought some cheap pizza by the slice and coke for lunch.

Setting up for the concert with that huge stage! So cool! 

Then we happened upon the Hercules Gate on our way up the hill to the Kastel fort… just by complete Happenstance. 
Again we paid the entrance fee here, cause why not it all seemed relatively cheap in comparison to the other places we’d been. There was a cool exhibit on Croatian resistance during WWII occupation and a tower that had awesome views of the arena and coast.. but otherwise not much else going on in there. (Check out the Colosseum! so close to the water!)
Another stage… Pula does concerts EVERYWHERE
Just outside however was an old Roman Amphitheater literally in Ruins that you could just walk around and explore. No fee or supervision or anything. We explored every nook and cranny of that place just loving the feeling of standing in a place that felt so authentically old without the touch ups and renovations. 

We then decided to wait out the rest of the heat of the day in the apartment so we headed back the 5 minutes to our place where we could clean up and get ready for dinner. For dinner we went to a fish market restaurant that all in all, was one of the fanciest we ate at! (though still not as expensive as Venice) Braden got a steak that had cheese in it! Which was pretty good. And I got the only seafood of my entire trip (I know.. fail) fish. Still have nooo idea what kind of fish I ate or if I ate it correctly, lol but once you got over the creepiness of having it’s head and eyes still on staring at you.. it was quite delicious. lol Then we spent 10 minutes walking around searching for the “Triumphal Arch” which according to the GPS was in the same square as the Fish market. Eventually though we gave up since it obviously wasnt there and we were losing daylight.

So we plugged in the Temple of Augustus and headed that way and by happenstance just ended up in the square where the Triumphal Arch actually was! It was so hilarious we both busted out laughing that we just happened upon it afterall. The square was pretty big and had a pretty good band playing in the center. We snapped a couple photos with the arch and then continued on our way to the Temple

We passed several more live musicians who were all actually REALLY good and a bunch of fun shops as well. Our favorites were these wacky candy shops (that were almost entirely gummy candies and peep like marshmellow candies) and all had the same theme: Pirates of the Carribbean. Yep! SOO Random but hilarious. Unfortunately I didn’t get any photos of the shops since they request you NOT to take photos but we did go in one and bought like 15 bucks worth of candy! haha
We soon found the temple of Augustus and decided we didn’t care enough to pay the entrance fee there.. as you could kind of peek through the door and it was just a center statue but the outside looked like a mini Pantheon so that was cool.

Then we took our candy and headed back the the Triumphal square where we listened to the band for close to 30-40 minutes. I fell in love with their music almost instantly so on our way out I bought all 3 of their CDs. (at about 60 bucks! which is more than I’ve paid for music in forever. lol) They are called the Wishing Well and are from Melbourne, Australia. Here is a link to their website where you can listen to some samples. soo good. sooo soo good!

Then it was just another 5 minute walk (if that) back to our apartment which we maneuvered without even a GPS! (I was really starting to learn my way around there) We watched a bit more of the Olympics (turned out to be the match where Slovenia beat Poland at Handball so that was fun to cheer on one of our new favorite countries at a sport we literally knew nothing about) and then headed to bed. Another great city!