Thursday, June 6, 2013


Getting Settled

After a long winter with (albeit some slices of beautiful sunshine in Italy) otherwise lots of rain and cold... the weather when we arrived was perfect. The first thing the kids did when we unloaded the bags was put on their swimsuits and ask to go to the beach. The clear blue water of the Adriatic Sea and the inviting palm frond covered tables right on the sand were just what we were hoping for. 

But, the apartment we'd rented for the month, was much smaller than we'd expected. Sometimes they have creative ways of estimating the size of places... One bedroom was open to the walkway where another apartment's guests would walk right by the door (where Collin was to sleep). The other bedroom was connected to the patio so if Jeff tried to work there, the kids would be under feet every time we came in or out. It did have a beautiful view of the sea and the owner greeted us with fresh greens from the garden, and, this beach was across the highway from it. But, we'd decided to change apartments if possible. Fortunately, the lady we'd rented from had some other apartments for rent so when we told her this just wouldn't work for us, we could hopefully rent her other place.

Despite her very limited English and us understanding only a little of her Croatian/mixed with German, we got this point across and she took us to see another place that morning. It was down the coast in a town called Omis, which was supposed to have some of the best kid friendly beaches on the coast.

This apartment didn't seem ideal at first, only one actual bedroom and the girls would be sleeping in the kitchen/living area, but it was much bigger and somehow, after we got settled in, it worked amazingly well for us. 

We said we'd take it for 5 weeks which was the max time she had available. Finally it was all settled, this Croatian lady was as nice as could be but we didn't think she would EVER stop talking. She didn't seem to care that we understood very, very little of what she was saying.

So, we headed to check out the beaches and get some lunch. Had imagined a waterfront pizzaria/grill for our first meal in Croatia, but this cafe with a playground won the vote.

Giant pizza with shrimp and chicken salad, first meal out in Croatia. Yum!

Five Weeks in Omis - The City of Pirates

After a week or so and I got used to to getting around with the kids here, I really started to love Omis and thought it turned out to be a perfect place for us to spend some time. It has two very kid friendly beaches, beautiful scenery (mountains, river, sea), a lovely shaded main street with a plentiful produce and fish market, several decent grocery stores, and a beautiful old town; all within walking distance of our apartment. 

Brooke already rode her scooter most places we went, but Savannah was in need of a new scooter. We also realized that we can never go back to drip coffee after getting used to espresso, and the kids needed summer shoes, so we drove up to the big mall in Split and bought these few things. 

The mall in Split by the way, has a huge indoor play area for kids that is FREE for two hours. Drop the kids off and shop or relax, just make sure they have socks. Awesomeness!! Europe has it figured out when it comes to family friendly. So many cafes and bars have attached play areas, its a shame the states doesn't have more of this, too many laws I guess. 

Cafe with playground attached very close to our apartment,
spent a fair amount of time here drinking a coffee or wine while the kids played. 

Beach with toys and slide with sand toys. Next to a bar.
Why I love Europe, a restaurant with a play area does not mean McDonalds!

Dinner in Old Town Omis. My favorite night out in Croatia. Big platter of grilled meats and  veggies, liter of wine...  Collin chased cats around, the girls rose their scooters up and down the cobblestone walkways. It was perfect.

The girls ride these scooters everywhere!
The natural beauty of Croatia is really quite amazing. I haven't seen water this clean and clear many places in the world that is anywhere civilization. 

The clear, clean water of the Adriatic Sea. One of my favorite things about Croatia.

These mountains are spectacular. 
Old Town Omis

There is a fort on the top of one of these mountain ranges that Jeff and Brooke hiked to. It doesn't look possible from a distance, I was quite impressed that Brooke did it. Of course, she fared much better than Jeff, who's knees were killing him on the way back down. I think Brooke was really proud and she came home excited to take the rest of us on a tour of the fort (another one at the bottom of the hill). So, she led the way from the apartment through town. 

This way!

Fort  in Omis - built to defend the city from pirates

We read as many pirate stories as we could find while in Omis - the city of pirates so it was fun to pretend we were watching out for pirates from the outlooks.

Fish Market in Omis. She says, "These were caught fresh this morning by my brother." 
Love getting really fresh fish. Everything we tried was great. 

The produce market  was daily and quite plentiful, but I did have to be careful choosing as a few times I spent quite a lot, not realizing what was a deal and what wasn't. Best deal by far, cherries! 

We grilled a lot at our apartment, which we all really loved.

Day Trip to Trogir

Trogir is a beautiful town on the coast. We enjoyed our morning there, walking and scooting the old town walking streets, eating lunch on the water, and perusing boats in the marina.
Beautiful handmade spring towys

Trying to keep up with my scooting girls...

Natural sea sponge, a popular souvenir

Hmm, which way now...
Lunch - Salad, chicken strips, and pizza

Which gelato to have today??

The boys

We'd been seriously scheming when and how we can move on a boat again. We'd hoped to charter or get aboard one here, but it didn't work out.

Dino Park Omis

This small Dino Park in Omis, made for quite a fun afternoon. Not totally cheap, but worth it for one time. The girls were in heaven and we learned a bit more about dinosaurs...

Aquazorbing - I'll have to try this one of these days

What, it doesn't go all the way around?? The daredevil girls were slightly disappointed...

T rex, complete with movements and sounds


Collin was not a fan, he couldn't get out of that dino park faster. Huge moving scary creatures, not his thing. But, since then, he is very interested in dinosaurs.

Lucky girls
So happy!

This slide was fun as I experienced having to climb up and help Collin

Up the River from Omis

The river and mountains in from Omis were quite spectacular and we drove up a few times. We'd considered taking a boat trip up, but decided it would be too hard with the kids.

No need for extra concrete reinforcements in here, solid rock.

Beer garden restaurant on the river, quite beautiful

Nice spot for my Mother's Day lunch
Beautiful clear water, watched rafts float by, caught tadpoles, lots of fun...


We were really impressed with Old Town Split and spent a great day there. Like many other parts of Croatia, its not undiscovered. There are lots of tourists, but also lots of things tourists enjoy... restaurants, ruins, beautiful architecture. It was market day as well and quite busy, we almost gave up trying to find a place to park near here, but glad we didn't.

Along the waterfront in Split

Best and Worst things about Croatia 

The best things about Croatia overall in our opinion:

-The beautiful clear water, which is mostly all public land and easy to find places to enjoy it. There is something like 3500 miles of coastline in Croatia if you count all the islands.
-The availability of fresh seafood. The fish markets have actual fresh seafood that was all delicious and if you like the little ones like anchovies (which were delicious on the grill) its pretty affordable. 
-The old towns are so impressive and lovely to walk through.
-The people are quite friendly and many speak very good English

The worst things about Croatia:

-The food in grocery stores isn't cheap. We find it to be about the same cost as the US, which is more expensive than Czech Republic and Italy, where we have been recently.
-Its not as easy to find accommodation as some other places
-Those locals that don't speak English, speak sort of a combination of Croatian and German that the translator doesn't decipher

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