17.6.12

Baska Beach - Krk, Croatia

Sipping local Croatian wine near the port in Baska, Croatia. 
All I needed to hear was "great local wine," and my oversized (and unnecessarily overstuffed) suitcase was packed and ready for the Croatian coast. To be fair, I was excited for more than just wine, but sipping a chilled glass of Zlahtina by the beach seemed incredibly enticing. Serbia and Croatia are neighbors, and while the 7-hour drive to Krk, Croatia seemed easy enough, we had to wait for the weather to turn from spring to summer before planning a beach escape. It is good that we waited until early June because we soon discovered that most of Croatia's tourist spots don't even "open" until the beginning of June. 

The first two hours of the drive from Subotica, Serbia to the northern island of Krk, Croatia took us through winding back roads that were littered with slow moving farm equipment, surprise pot-holes, and oblivious, bike riding baba's and deda's. We rolled up to the Serbian-Croatian border and assumed we had missed a turn. The "border" leading into Croatia is nothing more than a small, rusty one-man shack, and we were the only car seeking passage. I wanted to take a picture, but then Chris reminded me that picture-taking at a border crossing could land me without a camera. I decided against a picture. We sat at the border for about ten minutes as the officers curiously thumbed through each of our passports. They asked all sorts of questions simply because an American is a rare site to see at that rural border crossing. They bid us farewell and a pleasant trip (srecan put), and we felt like we were finally on our way to the beach!
First glimpse of Baska beach in Krk, Croatia. 
We were lucky to find a great deal at The Atrium Residence Baska Hotel right in the center of all the action. The Atrium Hotel is one of the newest hotels on Baska so their listed rates are fairly high, but thanks to hotels.com, we were able to enjoy our beach vacation in style and still have a few dollars left to spend. Chris and I had never before heard of Baska, or the island of Krk for that matter, but apparently Baska is one of the most desirable beach destinations on the Adriatic seaboard. There are not many sandy beaches in Croatia but the small white pebble beaches mean that the aqua-green water is unimaginably clear. We quickly realized that most of the tourists are either Austrian or German; the location is not marketed to Americans so we hardly heard any American English. The picture above is the beach in front of our hotel and it was our first peek of the ocean. 

We met up with our friend Reece and the three of us spent a few days soaking up the rays, enjoying local cuisine, meeting new friends, hiking, and avoiding the FKK (free body movement) or "nude-only-beaches."

Enjoy some pictures from our trip!
No editing here! The water is so clear you can see straight through it! Amazing!
Complimentary shots of Rakija on our first night. 
Met an Austrian painter named "Picasso," he painted me this. . . er . . .  "picture."
Baska Beach Krk, Croatia at dusk. 
This is how the boys spent their afternoons on the beach. 
Great little place called Bistro Francesca on Baska. 
On our second evening, we had dinner at a little place called Bistro Francesca. The restaurant is a little bit off the main drag and away from the water, but the intimate courtyard is so quaint and romantic. We were dining with a party of five so we had a bit of a wait, but it just gave us more time to get to know our new friends. While I was waiting in the hotel breakfast line earlier that morning, I heard a girl speaking English with an American accent. I asked her where she was from and turns out, her and her husband live an hour or so away from where we are from in Kentucky! Instant friends! Tim and Shellie are just awesome! They live and work in the States, but they often satisfy their need to travel and see the world. I half expect to see them again while we're living in Europe! You two know you always have a place to stay wherever Chris and I happen to be!

Tim and Shellie at Bistro Francesca. 
Bisto Francesca is owned by a local family that lives above the restaurant in the summer. All of their ingredients are fresh and the owner proudly makes and serves his homemade brandy to each table. The setting is warm and cozy and we hardly realized that three hours lazily slipped by as we were enjoying each others company. Finally, we were the last table on the patio. The server and owner took one last shot of brandy with us before we bid them farewell and goodnight. 

There is something so romantic about boats in a harbor. 
Hiking in Baska on Krk, Croatia. 
There are 16 mapped hiking trails originating in Baska, and any tourist office or hotel reception can give you a map of the routes. We had heard tales of the FKK (or nudist beaches) on Baska, so we scouted out a route that would AVOID those areas. Unfortunately the route we decided to follow took us on the outskirts of a nudist beach and camping area. A flimsy barbed-wire fence was all that stood between hikers and aging nudists. We quickly learned that "nudists" are never the people you really want to see nude. It was not a pretty site and just slightly uncomfortable with my husband and another guy trailing behind me. Luckily, we found a few hidden coves, escaped the nudists and jumped from jagged rocks into the icy cold water below. We forgot about the nudists and discovered paradise by swimming through Croatia's crystal clear water.

Ohhh so in love!
Amazing fresh seafood plate!
Seafood feast!


Farewell Baska! We hope to visit again!
Croatia: Know Before You Go:

- Tourist season starts at the beginning of June, and the busy months are July and August. 

- Pack shoes for the rocky beaches. Those white pebbles are pretty but they hurt bare feet!

- It is illegal to drive while talking on a cell phone in Croatia. 

- The main tourist routes have updated roads, but that means hefty tolls. We paid about $100 in tolls on our ten day trip. From the Serbian border to Baska, we paid about $30. 

- Make sure you have a good GPS for travel in Croatia. We use Navigon Europe
 for the ipad. 

- If you rent a car with a GPS in Croatia, the country may be listed at Hrvatska or Republika Hrvatska (not Croatia).

- Some places only accept cash (Croatian Kuna). We found that big restaurants, hotels, stores and toll booths took credit cards, but excursions, guest houses, and cafes expect you to pay in the local currency. 

- About 70% of the wine from Croatia is white, but they are known for their reds as well. Usually the house wine is wonderful everywhere you go. Drink up!

- There are a lot of nude beaches in Croatia and they are usually marked as "FKK" or Naturist beach/camping site. Most of the other beaches are clothing optional, and that basically just means a few ladies will have their tops off. 

- Bring a lot of sunscreen because the sun is intense! 

- This goes without saying, but eat as much seafood as you can possibly manage! Most of it is fresh and everything we tried was amazing! A server told us that calamari is only fresh in the winter in Croatia, and in the summer they are flown in.