I’ve been MIA for a little while and that’s because I’ve been sailing the Adriatic Sea on a Topdeck tour. Lazing around in the sun, cruising island to island on one of the oldest boats still working in the Adriatic, Petrina, she is 130 years old, which is quite cool when you think about it.
We were the first tour out for the season which meant we had weren’t a full boat and we did have three “shadow leaders” (essentially they were in training) on our boat, there were about 24 of us including the tour leader and shadow leaders. I honestly can’t imagine what those boats are like at the height of the season with like 35 people on board, it must be crazy.
Starting in Dubrovnik, the first island you head to is Mljet which you have the option to do a walk through the national park, we decided not to because we had already done Plitvice and Krka and Gemma said really it doesn’t compare to those so there’s no point. The town itself is quite small and not much to see so we headed round to a little cafe and grabbed ourselves a beer and just chilled out until it was time for dinner. The one thing I will say about this tour was the food, we were provided with breakfast and lunch every day (Inc in price) with the option of two onboard dinners at an additional cost of 150kn each (about £17ish) but the food was always amazing. The first night was just the onboard dinner and then a few drinks and drinking games not much else.
The second day we cruised into Markaska, which was just beautiful, we had a few hours of free time before heading out to dinner as a group to a restaurant called Riva – which obviously have some sort of deal with Topdeck as do most places they take you on the tour. The food was good, probably slightly overpriced for what it was but yeah. That night was the pirate party and let me start by saying this, I am not a partier, I could count the number of times I went out in the last two years on one hand, I much prefer drinking at a pub or at home or something and so Lachy and I lasted about half an hour before we ditched the clubs and went and got some food (a reoccurring theme throughout the week). However, the place we went to get food, honestly, the burger I had was the most amazingly fresh chicken burger and it was actually more enjoyable than the fancy dinner.
Our next day had us sail into Omis briefly for a swim stop and so we could head out to our ziplining (an optional extra activity 400kn each). Don’t let the price put you off, it was definitely worth it, as someone who is terrified of heights I manned up and actually found myself volunteering to go first in my group, mostly to get it over with and after the initial shock of hurtling over nothing at 70-80km it was kind of nice, I did find myself shaking as I got off the first line but really I got better over the next 7, Lachy and I even got to do one together which was really fun! After the zip lining, we got a bus to meet the boat which had now docked in Split. I think the group did a little walk around the city and had some drinks but Lachy and I chose to spend the afternoon/evening on our own exploring as we went and we ended up finding this amazing little family run restaurant called “Kod Sfinge Vaneuropske”. The Grandmother who owned the place was sitting outside when we came to look at the menu and she was so sweet we decided that we would eat here, the waitress, which I think was the granddaughter was so sweet and when we couldn’t decide on a starter she said we could get half serves of the ones we wanted so it wasn’t too much food and we could try everything! EVERYONE I mean everyone if you’re in Split it’s worth going here for just the truffle salami itself! That was amazing.
The next day we headed into Hvar which is another huge party night, I was calling it the Ios of Croatia and yeah that’s essentially what it is. We spent our afternoon walking up to the fortress for the view but to be honest I think the view as you’re pulling into the port on a boat is better. Hvar is also famous for its lavender fields, which means there is so much lavender throughout the place, they even have lavender gelato, it’s such a pretty colour and it tastes like I think the best way to describe it, is that it tastes like lavender smells. Later in the afternoon we headed to Hula Hula bar which is a beachside bar where you can swim and whatnot, the drinks are kinda expensive, but also European free pour means that your mojito will be 90% rum and 10% everything else so like buy one and you’ll be drunk, as we all were when we left two hours later and headed to dinner! Later in the evening we all we to Kiva bar where we were provided with free shots (to be honest, everywhere Topdeck takes you you’ll most likely be given a free shot). Moving on to the next bar, which for the life of me I can’t remember the name of but they did do an amazing espresso martini, however, Lachy and I lasted one drink before ditching the group and heading back to the boat for bed.
Hvar from the fortress
The next day we headed to my favourite island, Korcula. It was absolutely beautiful and had the relaxed, chilled out vibe that we love. We sat in a cafe for 2 hours just looking at the crystal clear waters drinking coffee and just relaxing. That night we all went for a group dinner and had a traditional Croatian meal called Peka, which is a baked dish which can either be meat or seafood, we had a meat one with pork, chicken and veal, it was amazing, the meal also included a glass of wine or a beer which actually ended up making it quite a cheap dinner! That night everyone went out drinking but Lachy and I just ended up walking around the city, getting some gelato and just chilling on the beach because as I said we really don’t go out partying an awful lot and just wanted to chill out for a bit just the two of us.
The following day we headed to an even smaller island called Sipan, there really isn’t much there but a few restaurants, cafes and bars, so we spent our afternoon just hanging out at a cafe with an iced coffee because man it was hot! Before heading back to the boat for the Captains dinner, which was again, like all meals we had on the boat amazing, dinner was Pasticada, which is beef with gnocchi and it was delicious (you can also get this at the restaurant I mentioned above in Split, it looked amazing!) Sipan also provided one of the most amazing sunsets I have seen!
And now we’re on to the last day which we ended back in Dubrovnik! There were two optional extras for Dubrovnik which were sea kayaking or a Game of Thrones walking tour. We did the sea kayaking and yes it was really good, but oh my gosh I’ve never kayaked before and this was not easy. The kayaking went out and around an island and back it was 7.5km total and took us 3 hours, it’s been two days and my arms are still sore! Later in the evening, Gemma had organised a last group dinner, which she was kind enough to organise as an early dinner so Lachy and I could come because we actually had to be on our ferry that night which meant we were leaving earlier than everybody else.
Overall, I did enjoy the tour, this was my second sailing tour with Topdeck and it was interesting to see the difference between this one and the Greece one I did last year. I don’t think you’ll find me on another tour really ever again and there are a couple of reasons, one being, on this boat and same with Greece, the rooms had no air-conditioning, it was incredibly hard to sleep, like almost impossible. I even resorted to taking my super strong antihistamines, that literally knock me out for 10 hours just so I could get a decent nights sleep. Another reason is really the pressure to drink and go out, I don’t mind a drink but I’m just really not the going out and partying type, like drinking on the boat outside just chilling with some good music, but small clubs full of people just not for me.
Also a huge shoutout to our tour leader Gemma, she was honestly amazing and none of the pressure to party or anything came from her, she actually gave us recommendations of things to do instead when we said we were gonna pass on some of the nights out. She knew so much about every place we went to and put so much effort into making sure everyone was having a good time and just genuinely seemed to care.