2 months in Croatia and the Balkans

I can’t believe it’s been almost two years since we left Florida with two of our grandchildren for a summer in the Balkans.

Not that we’ve been terribly busy but being in a house in Sri Lanka while Joe recuperates from his second hip replacement and facial surgery, is the perfect opportunity to finally complete this article.

Hope you enjoy it and please don’t hesitate to leave a comment, we always love earring from you.

I apologize in advance because this is a long one, I promise to keep them shorter in the future. So make sure you are sitting comfortably with a glass of wine, a coffee or any other beverage of choice. Enjoy!

Traveling with our grandchildren

After three months in the US, we were ready to get back on the road.

In early June 2021, armed with a new passport, Joe’s (first) new hip, both fully vaccinated and accompanied by our favorite travel partners, our grandchildren Eva (13) and Noah (10) we couldn’t wait to explore a new part of the world.

Traveling with our grandchildren almost every summer has created some of our best memories, it’s something we look forward to every year, it fills our hearts with so much joy and keeps us on our toes. We also like to believe that it will ignite their sense of curiosity, imagination and sense of adventure.

The summer 2021 was no exception, they traveled with us for 4 weeks, then their father Jason joined us for an additional 2 weeks. They all returned to Florida on July 14 from Dubrovnik, while Joe and I continued on to explore more of the Balkans.

Fun city tour on electric-scooters in Zagreb, Croatia

The Balkans

June 5 – August 2, 2021

Just a little bit of background info on the region before we start.

The Balkans or Balkan Peninsula is a geographical area in Southeast Europe located between the Adriatic Sea and the Black Sea. Eleven countries are part of the region, we visited parts of the following 6 countries over a two month period;

Croatia – 5 weeksBosnia and Herzegovina – 2 daysAlbania – 6 days
Slovenia – 2 daysMontenegro – 11 daysGreece – 3 days

The other 5 Balkan countries that we didn’t visit are: Serbia, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Romania and Bulgaria.

The red markers represent the places we visited in the Balkans.

Why Croatia?

We chose Croatia because it was one of the only countries in Europe that was open to American tourists during the pandemic and after seeing pictures of the crystal clear blue water, fortified medieval towns and small island villages, we were sold!

Hvar, Croatia

Besides it’s stunning beauty, Croatia has such a fascinating history that we were curious to discover.

Between the Covid tests for the 4 of us, filling out paperwork not only for Croatia but also for a short layover in Spain and Noah’s new passport arriving by priority mail the morning of our flight, it was probably our most nerve racking departure we’ve experienced since we started traveling full time in 2015.

As the logistic’s person, it was only once we finally sat down in the plane on our Iberia flight leaving from Miami, that I was able to relax and let out the biggest sigh ever!


Our favorite building in Zagreb, The Croatian National Theater

With all the logistical nightmares behind us, we arrived in Zagreb, Croatia’s capital on a perfect sunny day in early June, ready to explore but a bit jet lagged.

We weren’t sure what to expect since the coastal towns usually get all the spotlight but Zagreb really wowed us. It was the perfect introduction to the country with it’s many museums, markets, cafés, pedestrian streets, beautiful buildings, lively squares and relaxed European vibe.

We based ourselves in a beautiful apartment in the historic Upper Town neighborhood, where we could walk everywhere or jump on a tram. Just a few blocks away from the popular Tkalčićeva street filled with cafés and restaurants.

After our second day, Eva was loving the European vibe so much that she announced that “one day she would live in Europe“. That’s the spirit!

Some of the landmarks we visited:

  • Cathedral of Zagreb
  • Statue of George the dragon slawer located just in front of our apartment
  • Statue of Marija Juric Zagorka, Croatia’s first female journalist
  • Lotrščak tower with daily canon blasts next to the funicular that separates downtown from uptown
  • Nikola Tesla monument, he was born in Croatia in 1856
  • Tunel Grič built as a bomb shelter in 1943
  • Croatian National Theater, my favorite (yellow) building in Zagreb
  • St. Mark’s Church with it’s colorful tiled roof
  • Museum of Broken Relationships, where memories of broken hearts live

Accommodation in Zagreb: Airbnb in the old town, Apartment George & Dragon, highly recommended for families.

This apartment was new on Airbnb, it didn’t have any reviews, we took a gamble and it really paid off because the place was immaculate and we got a super deal.

Meet up with overlanding friends in Samovar

One of the things we miss about our overlanding days, is spending time with other travelers; when we had the opportunity to meet up with Mali Mish, a traveling family from California, we didn’t hesitate a second.

They were camped in a little town just outside of Zagreb and the timing was perfect, we had just finished our 3 days of exploring Zagreb and were ready to pick up our rental car.

We packed up the car, stopped on the way to get some groceries and headed for the country side.

Accommodations in Samobor: Since it was the beginning of the season, Marlene made arrangements with the owners of Camp Vugec Plac for us to stay in their cute one bedroom house equipped with an outdoor kitchen.

As soon as we met Dan and Marlene we felt like we were with old friends, as nomads we just have so much in common.

We were online friends but we had never met in person, somehow in our full time traveler world, it’s not a big deal.

While the kids played soccer and swam, we had a great time swapping travel stories over a few glasses of wine. A very memorable day.

And they gave us tons of tips on places to see and things to do in Croatia.

If you are looking for inspiration, check out this traveling family of 5 and 2 cats.

They have been exploring full time since 2008 through 41 countries. You can choose your favorite platform as they are on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Podcast, Twitter and they have a Blog. Mali Mish means Little Mouse in Croatian.

Marlene’s family is from Croatia, you can find out more on their website in the about us section of their blog.

Joe, Dan, Marlene, Mila, Ava, Luka, Josée, Noah and Eva in front of their home on wheels a 4×4 Sprinter Van. Absent are Twin & Toby, the cats.


After saying goodbye to the Mali Mish crew, we decided to head to Slovenia since we were less than an hour from the border. It was kind of a last minute decision because we weren’t even sure they would let us in, with all the covid restrictions changing daily, you just never know.

When the friendly immigration officer at the land border crossing started giving us a list of places to see, we knew we were good to go.

Lake Bled

I had seen pictures of Lake Bled looking like a scene out of a fairytale, we decided to have a look for ourselves … omg, what do you think?

Located in the Julian Alps this glacier lake, besides being beautiful, is known for it’s medicinal benefits and has been attracting European vacationers for centuries.

With it’s blue water, wooden boats, a medieval castle perched on top of a mountain and a small island with a Gothic church we have rarely seen such a picturesque site.

Accommodations in Bled: We found a nice little hotel Old Bled House a 300 years old farmhouse, in the center of town. Pre-covid this would have been impossible without prior reservations.

At the beginning of June there was hardly anyone, we got to walk around the lake without the crowds, had an amazing pizza dinner and left the next morning after a copious breakfast.

The area is also known for fantastic hiking and has a few campgrounds.

Postojna Cave

Our next stop in Slovenia was the Postojna Cave Park, this magical underground world was discovered in 1818 and has been welcoming visitors for 200 years.

The cave is so big that the first 3.7 km are done comfortably seated in a little train. We walked the remaining 1.5km in 9°C (48°F) and 95% humidity!

The audio guided tour lasts about 1.5 hour and the whole park is very well organized, besides the cave, the park has beautiful grounds to explore, an old mill, an interactive museum and even a castle, which was closed, due to covid, when we visited in June 2021.

As we were walking through the cave Noah touched one of the formations and said “Is this real?”. That’s how beautiful it was.

It was well worth the detour.

Eva and Noah at the interactive museum

Back in Croatia

Istria region

The joys of traveling through Europe, you can wake up in one country and be in another for dinner!

After our 2 day detour through Slovenia we crossed the border back into Croatia in the Istria county, Croatia’s westernmost region and one of our favorite.

Istria used to be part of Italy up until 1947, many of its residents still speak Italian. It is known for its exquisite wine, olive oil, truffles, delicious food, roman ruins, hilltop towns and beautiful beaches. It’s a bit less touristy than the popular Dalmatian Coast further south.

Istria is very popular with German and Austrian vacationers.

Rovinj – Rovigno

After a long day on the road we arrived in Rovinj, in the dark, it was a bit of a challenge to find our airbnb but once we did and got settled, we all fell in love with the little, pedestrian only, old town.

It dates back between the 3rd and 5th century, in the years between 1283 and 1797 it was one of the most important towns in Istria, govern by the republic of Venice.

Just like the rest of Istria there are 2 official languages: Croatian and Italian and English is widely spoken.


On our second day I was talking to our landlady about our plans to explore other towns in the area after a few days in Rovinj and she suggested that we base ourselves here and do day trips instead of changing accommodations every other night since everything was within less than a two hour drive.

We are so glad we followed her advice and stayed in Rovinj for a week, we got to know the town pretty well and it’s definitely a place we would return for a longer stay during the shoulder seasons: May or October.

Golden hour in Rovinj

We rented bikes and toured the nearby Zlatni Rt Forest Park with great trails and beaches, strolled around town to find the best sunset spots, lingered in our favorite cafés eating ice cream and people watching on the water front promenade called Riva, hiked up hill to the Church of St Euphemia, went up the wobbly stairs of the bell tower to take in the views and wandered around the tangle of tiny cobble stone streets.

Noah and I really enjoy swimming, we found the perfect spot just a few minutes walk from our apartment. It was nice to swim in the sea and lay down on the rocks then walk back home and stop for a drink at one of the many cafés along the way.

Incredible view of Rovinj from the St Euphemia bell tower

Accommodations in Rovinj: Airbnb in the old town, basic but comfortable, great location Flora – Family apartment with terrace in Centre


While in Rovinj we did a day trip to Pula to see the Arena, the only Roman Amphitheater to have 4 side towers entirely preserved.

We also visited the Temple of Augustus, a short walk from the Arena, great history lesson for the kiddos.

Temple of Augustus


On another day trip from Rovinj, we visited the oh so charming hilltop town of Motovun, known for it’s beauty and delicious Istrian cuisine with white and black truffles dishes.

It is also the birthplace of formula 1, Mario Andretti and home of Istrian brandy.

The fairy tail little town of Motovun

We parked at the base of the hill and even though there is a bus available to go up, we decided to walk to the top to take in all the scenery.

We wanted to try Konoba Mondo, featured in Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservation, but the only available table was all the way in the back, we kindly declined and made our way to a lesser known restaurant called Pod Napun that a friend had recommended.

Not only did we have one of the best meal we ever had, we scored a table with a killer view and paid a fraction of the price we would have at Mondo.

We had the best taste of Istrian cuisine at this little restaurant called Pod Napun, prosciutto and cheese plate, pasta with local white truffles and olive oil, a carafe of their local white wine and THE VIEW! Even the kids were amazed, they are now truffle connoisseurs!


From Motovun we continued to Hum, “the smallest town in the world“,

We strolled around town but after a big meal and lots of walking, we were all tired and decided to call it a day and headed back to Rovinj in our rental car.

Croatia’s ferry system

With over 1,200 islands, of which 48 are inhabited, scattered all over the Adriatic sea, Croatia has an extensive ferry system.

We were very impressed with the state owned shipping company called Jadrolinija. They offer multiple routes all along the coast since 1947, with a fleet of large passenger ships (4), car ferries (38) and catamarans (10). It’s super easy to reserve directly on their website.

Since it wasn’t to busy, we often purchased our tickets at the different ports just before boarding. At first it can be a bit intimidating because you have to know the name of the ports, the different types of boats and the schedules. After a few trips you quickly get the hang of it.

Jadrolinija also offers a special island hopping itinerary on catamarans (for pedestrian only) from June to September, a very affordable way to see the most beautiful islands. It leaves from Dubrovnik stops in Korčula, Hvar, Bol and ends in Split. You can get off and stay as long as you want on any of the islands. We didn’t use that option because we had a car but I would definitely go that route if we ever go back.

There is a multitude of smaller and more luxurious private options and all kinds of cruises available, it just depends on your budget and timeline. A very popular cruise combines cycling and cruising, another great option.

Dalmatian Coast

Dalmatia is a narrow belt of the east shore of the Adriatic Sea, stretching from the island of Rat in the north to the bay of Kotor in the south. It is the most famous and touristed part of Croatia where you will encounter limestone cliffs, blue waters and the overly popular towns of Dubrovnik, Split and Zadar along with the islands of Hvar and Korčula among many others.

Kali, Ugljan

After a week in Istria we continued our road trip along the coast.

We made a pit stop, to take in the views of the island of Pag, known for it’s moonlike landscape and artisan cheese.

Our first stop on the Dalmatian coast was the little town of Kali on the island of Ugljan just a short ferry ride from Zadar.

We picked a cozy apartment in a somewhat remote section of the small island to enjoy some quiet time, grilling and a cool swimming spot.

This outdoor area was perfect to hang out and to prepare delicious meals on the grill, the wood was provided by our host.

Accommodations in Kali on the island of Ugljan: Airbnb outside of town in a quiet cove Seaview2-Kali-Otok Ugljan, recommended if you want a quiet place for a few days. Super attentive host, she had cakes and a big bowl of cherries, from her garden, waiting for us.

View from the Airbnb balcony in Kali. Seaview2-Kali-Otok Ugljan

We spent the days lounging, swimming and eating good food, We took evening walks, watching Eva and Noah racing each other.

We had to watch for sea urchins that’s why Joe is swimming with his sandals while Noah practices his pole side handstand!


One of our most memorable evening in Croatia was in the historic town of Zadar. While in Kali, we got all dressed up and took a short ferry ride from Preko to Zadar for a night out.

We started with cocktails at the very European chic Garden Lounge where we spent a few hours just goofing off with Eva and Noah, taking pictures and laughing, there was something special in the air that night that made us all giddy and happy.

The Garden Lounge in Zadar

After a 2 hour apéro, we walked around the Old Town and had dinner in a fancy restaurant.

We ended this magical evening on the pier listening to the Sea Organ, an experimental musical instrument which plays music by way of sea waves and tubes located underneath a set of large marble steps where we sat for a while before hopping back on the ferry to return to our little island.


Split is the second largest city in Croatia after the capital Zagreb. It is certainly not as picturesque as Dubrovnik but the old town has a nice riva (waterfront promenade) with a roman palace, a few beaches and tons of restaurants.

Split is a city that invites you to slow down, relax, and enjoy “fjaka,” the Dalmatian art of doing nothing.

Split is also the main port where you catch the ferry to the popular island of Hvar and other day trips.

Split waterfront

While in Split we met up again with the Mali Mish crew, they gave us a mini tour of the old town while savoring delicious ice cream cones.

Noah must have jumped from this boulder a hundred times with the local boys at Bacvice Beach

Accommodation in Split: Airbnb a stylish 2 bedroom apartment in a residential area just a 10 minute walk from the waterfront Heartbeat, Superb Style, Central Location, Comfort

Island of Hvar

Vela Stiniva

After three nights in Split we lined up early, on June 24, 2021, for the car ferry to the island of Hvar. The crossing takes about an hour.

Following the recommendations of our friends Dan and Marlene, after a stop at the grocery store, we headed to the tiny cove of Vela Stiniva, omg what a little paradise … just a few Croatian families enjoying their summer vacation.

It has 2 restaurants a few feet from the water and family style accommodations. A real off the beaten path gem.

Our airbnb was the last building on the right
View from our airbnb
Eating pizza literally steps from the sea

Accommodations in the Bay of Vela Stiniva: Airbnb 2 bedrooms with a tiny kitchen and balcony in a small hotel/villa Villa Mateljan – Lavanda Apartman

View from the Airbnb balcony Villa Mateljan – Lavanda Apartman

If you enjoy pristine water, olive oil. lavender fields and wine, be prepared to fall in love with the island of Hvar, we certainly did!

Hvar town

The kid’s favorite was Hvar Town on the island of the same name. Known as a party town pre covid, we were lucky to discover it with a limited amount of tourists.

It has a beautiful waterfront with mega yachts, a lively main square, a 13th century wall, Gothic Palaces. You can also climb the steps to take in the views from the Fortica (fortress).

Golden hour in Hvar Town
Crystal clear water
Pakleni Islands – Island hopping cruise

Another popular activity, and a great way to spend a day while in Hvar, is a boat tour to the nearby Pakleni Islands. The tour included lunch, stops for swimming in pristine waters and visits of 3 islands.

Hvar Town and the Fortress in the background

Accommodations in Hvar Town: Airbnb 2 bedroom apartment with small kitchen and amazing views and parking (which is not easy to come by) APARTMAN A1

View from the Airbnb APARTMAN A1
Our view!

After a week on the Island of Hvar we returned to the main land to make our way back to Zagreb to pick up Jason but not without making a few stops along the way.

Krka National Park

We arrived at the park mid afternoon, thinking we would find a place to sleep and do an early morning visit the next day. Turns out that the entrance was half price and the attendant said we had plenty of time to see the sites.

Bonus, we had the place almost to ourselves and the pre sunset light was beautiful for photos.

The park is based around the Krka River and it covers an area of 109 sq km including seven beautiful waterfalls.

Eva walking through the park

Unfortunately swimming it is no longer allowed in the waterfalls since January 2021, I can certainly understand why, but it would have been fun!

The Skradinski Buk, the most famous of the 7 travertine waterfalls
Old water mill

Accommodations just outside one of the park’s main entrance in Lozovac: Hotel Vrata Krke

Nikola Tesla Memorial Center

Another fun stop on the way to Zagreb was the birth place of Nikola Tesla in the village of Smiljan. The house where he was born, next to an Orthodox Church was restored and converted into a Memorial Center with a very cool interactive museum, displaying the chronology of all his inventions.

We learned that he held 112 registered US patents and another 196 from 26 countries? Including his most famous, the Tesla Coil, a system that could transmit electricity wirelessly.

Did you know that he died in 1943, alone and in debt, in a hotel room in New York?

It’s not until the 1960’s and a resurgence in the 1990’s that his work was properly recognized.

He is, with reason, a great source of pride for Croatia.

Not sure if this Tesla belonged to a visitor or if it was part of the Center?

back to Zagreb

On July 2, 2021 we returned to Zagreb for a few nights and to pick up Jason. It was nice to go back to a familiar place after a month of traveling.

We booked the same airbnb, in the historic Upper Town neighborhood. The kids were eager to show their father all their favorite spots.

This time we took a fantastic city tour on electric scooters, a first for all of us. I booked it through Airbnb Experiences a wonderful booking platform for more authentic and personalized tours.

I also use Get your Guide, Viator, With Locals and of course recommendations from locals.

The gang with the Zagreb Cathedral in the background
Father and son

Museum of the Homeland War

After a few nights in Zagreb we were back on the road with an extra passenger.

On the drive from Zagreb to Plitvice National Park, we stopped for an interesting visit at the Museum of the Homeland War a.k.a. Croatian War of independence a few kilometers outside the town of Karlovac, to get a better understanding of this tragic war that tore the country apart between 1991-1995 and where many acts of genocide and war crimes were committed.

Plitvice Lakes National Park

A UNESCO World heritage site since 1979 this park is the oldest and largest National park in Croatia, covering almost 30,000 hectares.

We were up bright and early to be the first in lines when the park opened its gates.

Because of the exceptional natural beauty of the area it is an extremely popular site and it is super busy especially during the summer.

We did the B Program which is about 4 km and 4 hours long but there are many more options and it could be done over multiple days during the off season.

So much natural beauty
Walking through the limestone canyon of the lower lakes was an extraordinary experience
Clear fresh blue water. Just like Krka, swimming is not allowed

Accommodations in Plitvice: Pension Danica was the perfect place to stay, the night before, near Entrance 1 of the National Park. it turned out to be a very pleasant surprise with a great restaurant and the kids had a blast.

Here comes the chariot!

Back to Split

From the National Park we headed back to Split where we spent a few nights, took a boat trip with Split Sea Tour to see the Blue Cave and the islands of Vis and Hvar.

Our transportation for the day. Split Sea Tour
The Blue Cave near the island of Vis

We celebrated Noah’s 11th birthday with a high adrenaline adventure near the cute little town of Omis, about 25km from Split. The rafting trip on the River Cetina includes cliff jumping, swimming through frigid waters in a cave and beautiful waterfalls through the Cetina Canyon. Unfortunately we have no pictures but if was an unforgettable day.

We booked this great adventure with Rafting Pirate. We ended the day with a seafront dinner on our way back to Split.

Noah turning 11 and having is favorite meal. Since he doesn’t like cake, a steak will do!
Happy Birthday Buddy, continue to shine your light everywhere you go. We love you so much..

Bosnia and Herzegovina


From Split we drove to the nearby country of Bosnia and Herzegovina to see the beautiful Stari Most, in the town of Mostar, the most important cultural city of Herzegovina.

The Mostar Old Bridge built during the 16th century by the Ottoman, connects the Muslims and Christians sections of the City over the Neretva River.

Jason & Noah with the Stari Most (old bridge) in the background
Watching one of the local divers. Diving competitions are held here every year.

The 400 year old bridge was destroyed in 1993 by the Croatian forces during the Bosnian war.

Fortunately in 2001, UNESCO, the World Bank and the City of Mostar launch a project to rebuild the bridge, using as much as possible, the original white limestone that had been salvaged. It was reopened in 2004.

The rebuilding of the Stari Most (Old Bridge) was considered a symbol of the reunification of Mostar and an integral part of the healing process for the divided city, as well as a major step towards reconciliation, tolerance and coexistence.

In 2005 it was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, in recognition of its strong symbolic value.

Beautifully lit at night

Somethings never change lol …

Dinner with a view at the Kriva Cuprija Hotel

Accommodations in Mostar: We stayed at the beautifully Kriva Cuprija Hotel a short walk from the famous bridge and great restaurant.

The next day we drove up the mountain to the Fortica for amazing views of Mostar.

On the drive back to Croatia we stopped for a short visit of the Dervish House, a historic Sufi Monastery built in a beautiful setting by the water. The site has been of cultural and religious importance since the Middle Ages.

Tekija Blagaj 15th century Dervish House

Back to Croatia

Dubrovnik, the pearl of the Adriatic

A friend once told me that Dubrovnik was so beautiful that when she arrived and saw it for the first time she started crying. Now I know why.

To be able to see it without the usual flow of tourists is a rare opportunity and so grateful we got to experience it with family.

I know it’s a lot of pictures but I just couldn’t choose …

This photo of Dubrovnik was taken from our apartment.

It was quite an ordeal to find our airbnb located in one of the tiny streets on the side of the mountain but once we finally did, WOW! What a view we had.

After getting settled, we strolled down the hill to the walled city for dinner.

They must have known we were coming (haha) because not only did we have a wonderful seafood dinner at one of the many restaurants overlooking the water, we were welcomed by fireworks.

What a way to start our stay in the most beautiful city on the Adriatic coast and our final destination with the kids.

We hired a local guide to learn more about the history of the city, walked the old walls, wandered the streets. Jason and Noah found a whole in the wall, literally, that led to a great swimming spot which was perfect for hot summer afternoons.

Between the coffees, pastries and ice cream, we tried a few of the many many restaurants, our favorite was Lucin Kantun, a recommendation from our guide.

If you are a Game of Thrones fan you can tour King Landings which is Dubrovnik and see all the sites, either by yourself or with a guide. You will recognize locations like the St. Dominika street where Cersei made her walk of shame.

The most popular thing to do in Dubrovnik is to walk the 16th century walls surrounding the city. I went by myself early one morning and got some awesome shots, it takes about 2 hours depending how often you stop to take pictures.

Accommodations in Dubrovnik: Airbnb

First two nights we stayed in a nice 3 bedroom apartment up on the hillside overlooking the walled city Apartments Isabora

Last two nights we stayed in a more modest 2 bedroom apartment in the old town center. Comfortable Apartment Antonio

It was nice to try the 2 options, personally I prefer the old town center especially for a short stay.

Joe making coffee in the little kitchen in the old town apartment while Jason and the kids play cards. Comfortable Apartment Antonio
Time to go back home, what an incredible summer that was. We had a blast and can’t wait to do it again. We miss you already



After saying goodbye to the kids, Joe and I got on a bus to the neighboring country of Montenegro. The bus ride from Dubrovnik to Kotor is only about 2.5 hours including passport control.

Our arrival in Montenegro on July 14, 2021 corresponded with the start on a heatwave that lasted the entire time we were in Southern Europe.

It really put a damper on our exploration, we didn’t really feel like sightseeing, just walking around was exhausting.

The Bay of Kotor is a beautiful place to visit full of old world charm, it includes the medieval old town of Kotor and the absolutely gorgeous little town of Perast with its two tiny islands.

The cruise ships had just started to visit again, we only saw one during the week we were there and we stayed away but apparently they are back every day during the summer months.

A popular activity is to hike Mount Lovcen National Park or up to the Fortress for the view , which we didn’t dare to even think about with the intense heat but we did take a great boat tour in the Bay.

We stayed in a charming little apartment just outside the walled city. It was nice to be there a week just relaxing after six weeks of non stop travel.

Accommodations in Kotor: Airbnb 1BRm Central | 200m from the Old town | WiFi 

Sveti Stefan

After a week we left the Bay of Kotor for the charming resort town of Sveti Stefan a little further south near the city of Budva on the Adriatic Coast desperately looking for a pool or a beach!

We only spent 3 nights in Sveti Stefan but it’s not a place I would return or recommend, the beach was super crowded, the streets are very steep and we didn’t really like the general vibe. But it does make for great photos especially at sunset.

Accommodations in Sveti Stefan: Villa Balic, the rooms are basic but the views and the pool were nice.



By the time we made it to Tirana, the largest city and Capital of Albania, we were burned out from the heat. We just wanted a place to relax, we had hoped to spend a long time exploring the country but our plans changed.

We decided to go to Italy and make our way slowly to Germany to attend an RV show in September.

After booking our flights to Italy, I found out that because of covid, they only allowed EU Citizens to enter Italy from Albania.

Then came a moment of panic and then we went to plan B. Take a bus down south to Saranda and come to the EU through the backdoor, via a ferry to Greece. Let’s hope it works!

I spent a few days figuring out all the logistics for our new travel plans, then we did a bit of exploration in Tirana and found it to be a very interesting city on the rise.

In the last few years it has been reinventing itself with all kinds of cool neighborhoods, parks, great restaurants and night life.

Whit it’s affordable cost of living and mild climate, it’s becoming more and more popular with the digital nomads. Americans can stay up to a year visa free.

We visited a very interesting museum BUNK’ART 2 located in one of the 175,000 bunkers that were built during the communist regime that lasted 47 years and ended in 1992.

From nuclear bunker to museum of memories.

The dome is the entrance to one of the most important bunkers in Albania. It was built by the Ministry of Internal Affairs in case of nuclear attack. I consisted of 24 rooms and an apartment for the Minister, all located underground.

Accommodations in Tirana: Airbnb Pazari Superior by Enjoy Albania Apartments

This is what $50 a day gets you in Tirana. A recently renovated 2 bedroom apartment in a nice central neighborhood with markets and restaurants within walking distance

From Tirana to Saranda to catch the ferry to Greece. The bus ride through the country side was a bit rough and the AC had to be shut off when we went up hill. Let’s just say that we were happy to arrive at our destination after 5 hours …



From Saranda we took a 2 hour ferry to the island of Corfu. We were a bit apprehensive about the possibility that they wouldn’t let us in but there was no issues at all.

Once we arrived in Greece we were officially in the European Union so we could go anywhere in the EU without having to worry if they would let us in or not.

Covid restrictions were still very strict during the summer 2021.

View of Old Corfu from the ferry

I stayed in Corfu in 1984 during a European summer trip with my best friend. I have to say that I hardly recognized the island, my memories of Corfu were small beaches $10 rooms in homestays nearby, local mom and pop restaurants, lots of olive groves.

Now it’s super crowded and that was during Covid! Hotels everywhere, traffic jams and lots of tours of all kinds. Still, I manage to have a good time during the 3 days we were there. Greek hospitality is hard to beat. We will be back …

Accommodations in Corfu: Booking small hotel within walking distance to the Port and the old town Hotel Atlantis nothing special, pretty basic but a good location to catch a ferry and walk to the old town.

The End

To read more about our 2021 travels, click here to read our year in review and see which other countries we visited

STAY TUNED for more travel adventures …

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In 2014 we decided to sell everything we owned to embark on a Journey to discover the world. After five years of overland travel through the Americas driving from Alaska to Argentina, we traded our expedition vehicle for two backpacks …

Let’s see where the wind takes us this time!

The more you travel the more you realize how little you have seen 🌎 🌍 🗺

4 thoughts on “2 months in Croatia and the Balkans

  1. Joe, Loved reading about your travels. The pictures are gorgeous and the text perfect. I just subscribed. I have been missing out. I appreciate your sharing. I have 3 words write a book.

  2. I love following your adventures! We will be visiting Croatia in October. We were supposed to take this trip last September, but an extended stay in the hospital for my husband Louis caused us to cancel. We start in Dubrovnik. We will try and eat at Lucin Kantun. We travel north, ending In Venice. We do visit many of the towns you visited, so thank you for the preview. Safe travels always. I’ll be following along! ( Glad Joe’s recovery is going well.)

    1. Hello Candy and thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment on our blog.
      I am happy to hear that your husband Louis is now well enough to travel.
      You won’t be disappointed by Croatia it is such a beautiful country and October should be perfect weather wise and to avoid the summer crowds.
      Enjoy 🌺

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