The Travelling Circus

The Travelling Circus

Possibly the least complimentary way to describe going on holiday with your family, but that is exactly what it felt like taking a 12 year, 10 year and 9 month old to Croatia for a week.

It all starts with the packing. Oh boy, the packing.

Actually, before we even get to the packing, let’s talk about the rental car. Our accommodation was a sleepy little village an hour south of Split, so it was either book a taxi and feel abandoned for a week, or hire a car. Truth be known, we always hire a car and we enjoy the freedom it gives.

But, what car to hire!? Without giving it too much thought, and thinking more of the pennies than anything else, I felt a “Ford Focus” or similar should do the trick….

Fast forward 3 months and it’s t minus 1 day. The vast majority is packed, and I’m already getting nervous for the size of the hire car…..

I should also add that only a few days prior to this we had to take the last minute decision to purchase one of those super fold up compact strollers for Beatrix (baby). We had originally planned to take our main pushchair, but the thing is bigger than my car, and whilst we could take it on the plane (as hold luggage), we certainly would have struggled to get it in whatever car we ended up with in Croatia.

So, morning of the flight. We have 3 overflowing suitcases – Half of which contain baby items of the “just in case” variety – You know, the type of things that you will likely never need or use, but if you don’t pack them, it’ll be the one thing you need at the most important time.

Online check in has been done, and it’s off to Heathrow to fly British Airways to Split!

Yes m’lady….

Having previously been brought up with car parks 20 minutes drive by shuttle away from the airport, the thought of a chauffeur type service (where you drop your car off at the front and leave it for someone to park), was always a little alien to me. I also assumed it cost an arm and a leg, but you’d be amazed at the cost if you look around.

From memory, this service was £60 from Heathrow – Cheaper than a lot of car parks which were miles away, and a service that is amazing for a busy family.

You literally drive up to the front of whatever terminal you are flying from, and someone else takes your car to park it, whilst you go and check in.

But this is 2019, and “in person” check ins are so 2018 – It’s all done via the app isn’t it? Well…. Yes and no. I’d checked us all in the night before (with our pre reserved seats) and that all went fine. But, for reasons unknown to me, they couldn’t issue our boarding passes, so I had to go to the desk for those.

Luckily, it seems that if you have a baby, people move heaven and earth for you in airports (at least with British Airways).

A very kind lady opened a brand new desk for us to check in and got us all sorted with boarding passes incredibly quickly. We had to head down to a different desk to check in the car seat, but all in all, it was quicker than any other airport I’ve been to.

Security was much the same – The queues were non existent, which was a welcome sight after the much discussed “August Strikes”, which had already cancelled over 100 flights, had been postponed until later in the month.

I secured another notch on the bed post so to speak, by bringing my “random security search” completion rate up to about 90%. 6ft 4, dark, beard….. I get searched virtually every time. They are yet to find the good stuff……..

The rest of Heathrow Terminal 5 was very pleasant – The facilities were top notch, and it was as nice a terminal that I’ve been in.

Once our gate is called, we head over and sure enough, we get priority with the boarding (this is great!). If anyone pays for first class for that sweet priority boarding….. Just have a child! They start paying back after 18 years, and seem better value than a one off ticket.

Or borrow someone else’s child….. Both options are winners.

The plane is a bog standard 3 X 3 seating layout, and we make our way to our pre booked seats of 10 C, D, E, F.

Anyone who has flown with a baby, knows that even the smallest things become tricky. Especially when your knees are pressed up against the seat in front of you, and a 9 month old is trying to bite your head.

We finally settle, and the plane is 95% full, before some youngish hipster looking bloke looks at me and says…. “I think you are in my seat”.

I did my best not to make him feel like a pillock, and put on my most proper voice to say “I seriously doubt that”…. Whilst humouring him and bringing out my boarding pass.

Well…… Isn’t this awkward. Hipster boy is dead right, and somehow I have row 21!!

It turns out (this is being explained to me at the time by the extremely helpful stewardess), that row 10 only has 3 oxygen masks for 3 seats, and with Beatrix, that wasn’t going to work.

So the reason we couldn’t get our boarding passes online, is because they had to manually switch one of the seats….. I just wish someone had told me before now!

Well, do you know the game Hot Potato (or pass the bomb?). You have to pass the potato or bomb from person to person until the music stops and the loser explodes.

Beatrix was the potato in this analogy, and if we were playing the family game…. I lost.

It’s about 2:45pm by this point, and she is about 10 minutes late for her bottle…… As a Howard, she’s already established that food is the be all and end all, so the fact we’ve gone 10 minutes already is a minor miracle.

I don’t even remember how much I had to take down…… Baby, a gazillion different baby things (teething stuff, toys, baby wipes, bottle…. the list goes on)…. Not forgetting my stuff (iPad and headphones predominantly), although that was showing major signs of optimism there.

Thankfully, the couple next to me were very understanding and didn’t mind me dumping some stuff on their lap. They were significantly more understanding than the poor woman in front of me, that not only had my big ol knees in her back, but also the little stomping and kicking feet of a 9 month old who was ravenous for some milk.

I’m not going to lie…. By this point, I was hot. Like, sweating buckets hot, which really didn’t add to the placid nature of plane travel……. I even saw the stewardess talk to Jemma 11 rows ahead and say (with a smile) “he’s fine….. a bit hot maybe!”

Ya think?!

The idea had been to save the bottle for take off. Supposedly it helps their ears, and it would hopefully put her to sleep.

Take off is due in a matter of minutes….. She’s kicking off a treat…… I’ve just got settled in front of a load of people who are probably wishing I was on a different plane, so I figured I’d show them my “Dad skills” and make her quiet with some milk.

In quite literally a matter of minutes, she’s downed 3 of the 6 ounces and is on Usain Bolt pace to finish the bottle….. This isn’t good!

“This is your Captain speaking, there has been a delay in airspace, and we are due to wait on the runway for 30 minutes before taking off. We should be able to make most of this back in the air”……

2 things struck me about this announcement.

  1. If you can simply “make up” 30 minutes of a near 3 hour flight whenever you want…. Why not do it anyway?!
  2. FML. For any kids reading, that means “gosh darn it, why me?”

A smiley stewardess saunters on down the aisle and notices that I look a little cramped there, and would I like to move to a bigger seat at the front.

You know that scene in Toy Story where the little alien is picked from the grab machine…… That was me at that moment in time.

The expensive seats, whilst significantly more expensive than our pleb seats, didn’t have any of the luxuries of a long haul flight. Bigger leg room, only 2 people in each row (the middle seat was a shared table), and some complimentary stuff during the flight.

A bitter sweet moment for me. On the one hand, I was now flying semi posh…. On the other… Well, I still had a raucous child to deal with and a flight that hadn’t moved an inch.

The actual take off for her was fine – It was simply the tiredness, and current trend of not wanting to go to sleep – Something she has been fine with for the best part of 8 months, but only recently has she got the whole FOMO going on (fear of missing out).

Let’s not even talk about the world slowest teether, whose first little tooth started showing a few days ago, which now makes her act like some wildling who hasn’t had a meal in months.

So I have a baby who spontaneously erupts into wild cries of anger, a serious lack of milk (I didn’t think Club Class on a BA flight would appreciate it if I tried to breast feed), and an Irish woman who lives in Australia but is over for 3 weeks for her 40th (leaving behind hubby and 3 kids) for a neighbour.

Thankfully, she was super chilled, despite having already done a 17 hour flight that morning! What a hero (really nice woman as well!)

Funniest part of the whole flight was right before take off, when the steward separates the posh customers from the rabble (they have the ceremonial whipping of the curtains down to a tee – If he had long hair, he would have certainly done a hair flick to show just how important he was.

Best of all, the curtains were positioned just in front of row 10 (I was in row 8)….. So Jemma and the other kids were shut off from view, along with the rest of the riff raff……

Afterwards, I asked Jemma what her best part of the flight was…… “When they shut the curtain so I didn’t have to worry about you or Beatrix and could watch my film!”

Life is all about perspective……

After what felt like 15 hours, Jemma came and relieved me of a baby who just would not sleep, and I’ve never been happier to go back and mix with the common folk.

There is also no way on earth I could fit in the changing room and change her, as if I ever need to pee in those toilets, I have to do a reverse Michael Jackson from Smooth Criminal, and limbo my way to the toilet.

It’s good to be focussed

That’s about all I remember from the flight, and departing was plain sailing. Split airport was practically deserted, and our baggage came through super quick.

Whilst Jemma fed the Tasmanian devil, I sorted out the hire car, with the nagging feeling that it was going to be too small for all of our stuff.

As I sat down and started to go through everything, I joked that I wasn’t sure if we’d get everything in the car.

To which, I received the 2 words that every US Soccer Mom must say on a daily basis…… Station Wagon.

The absolute best news I could have at that time – They had ran out of cars, and we had a Station Wagon instead (an Estate car). It was still a Ford Focus, but the boot was massive.

I sat politely through the very hard sell of their own insurance (which started at €25 per day), and declined their generous offer, opting to have €1,600 blocked on a credit card…. returned within 30 days. I mean, there is simply no need to have a 30 day time limit here…. It’s just a scare tactic.

I was ever so slightly less polite when he started haggling with himself, to get the price down (mine for only €18 per day he said, acting like I’’d just haggled him down to the deal of the century, and he’d go home penniless) – All the more impressive considering I hadn’t said a word other than “No thanks”.

I finally get the keys, and we head over to our plush white Ford Focus estate.

“Car is in perfect condition…. Any damage at the end, you pay”. I do wonder how many people they catch with this, because after making the woman walk around the car with me to check it, there were at least 10 different bits of damage to the paintwork which she noted down.

Car loaded, children loaded, sat nav engaged….. Off to the house!

But first, we need supplies.

It’s already about 7:30pm local time, everyone is hungry, the baby is livid with life right now and we want to enjoy what has been described as one of the most beautiful highways in the world before it gets dark (it’s already starting to turn).

There is a Lidl nearby, which I’d earmarked to stop at for the essentials many weeks ago.

Now, there are 2 types of people in life.

There are the kinds of people who would take 2 seconds running in, getting milk, bread and cheese (or whatever) and run out in a matter of minutes, so you can get on with this God forsaken journey and enjoy the epic mountainous views…..

Hint…. This is 7.6999999999 billion (1 short of the current world population of 7.7 billion).

Then there’s Jemma. No word of a lie, but when she went into that supermarket, it was light. When she came out, it was pitch black and all of our souls had been destroyed.

For reasons unbeknownst to anyone but her, “I needed the Gouda”, she said in some kind of Italian New York accent. Gouda is cheese…… I guess they didn’t have the Cathedral City front and centre of the cheese aisle…….

Either way, after what seemed like hours, we are finally on a pitch black road, on the wrong side, in a left hand drive manual estate car…….. Oh boy, what a stress free drive this will be!

After a few wrong turns thanks to Google Maps, we find ourselves at our holiday home around an hour later. Our gracious host had stayed for us so he could show us around.

A really nice chap who I’d dealt with via FaceBook Messenger, and I even bank transferred him the money to save on those pesky Air BnB fees….. I’m all for taking a cut to run the business, but it would have been an extra £300 going through them!

First Impressions are everything

We’ve been to places before, and possibly had quite high expectations that were never really lived up to. Our expectations here were lower – In part because of the photos we’d seen, but also because we consciously decided to play it down so we weren’t disappointed.

The result?

Absolutely blown away. It was clean, spacious had everything you possibly could want, and 4 really big bedrooms.

The outside area was large, and the pool was bigger than the photos made out.

After what had been a rather turbulent day (mmmm love a good Aeroplane pun), it was so nice to have a really good home for the week – Even if we had no idea what the view was like.

Ohhhh, misty eye of the mountain below……

I’ll not bore you with the worlds worst night sleep ever – I like to be cooler, and it felt like a million degrees in the bedroom.

Beatrix was in a cot next to us, although we were conscious at how high the mattress was, as she’s started to pull herself up onto things – It wouldn’t take much for her to high jump her way out of that cot if she decided to wake up and go exploring.

The Hex key was arriving tomorrow (I’d already messaged the owner), so we were only on high alert for the one night.

After an hour or two of incredibly disjointed snoozing, I decided enough was enough and I was going to the sofa, in the living room where there was air con.

At least, I thought I was.

It’s about 3am, everyone is absolutely zonked and fast asleep and I sit up to get out of bed.

Before I can get my feet on the floor, Mother Theresa has awoke like a born again Christian, and is lovingly holding me tight so I can’t escape.

I knew exactly what had happened, and struggled to keep the laughter in (heaven forbid I wake Beatrix up), and after about 5 seconds of silence, with Jemma still holding me tight, she says, “You bloody idiot, I thought you were Bea”.

Absolute top marks to Jemma for parental instincts, assuming her baby girl is 6 foot 4, hairy and on the other side of the bed.

The sofa was…… Well, it was cool. That is literally the only positive. The comfort level was just below “Pray for my back” territory, and I have a feeling I’ll be seeing my osteopath very soon!

Thankfully, the horror of a night turned into a beautiful morning, and it was time to see what this little Croatian village had to offer for a few.

I’ve not travelled extensively, but I’ve seen some amazing places. Norway almost certainly leads the way, but Mauritius, Ireland and Ibiza had some stunning views as well.

Croatia? Well, it was fighting Norway for top spot.

What. A. Few. Just imagine living here and being able to see rolling mountains, wildlife, blue sky and a bright sun……. It was absolutely peace on Earth.

View from the house

The best thing about it was the silence. I live in a village in the UK, but it’s nothing like this. You could hear the crickets chirping, but that was it. Not a single car, person, bike….. Nothing. It was just…. still.

That was of course until the circus awoke from their slumber, and despite keeping a lid on things as much as we could, you can’t stop a 12 and 10 year old from having fun in the pool – Nor can you curb the enthusiasm of a 9 month old when it comes to screaming at absolutely nothing.

Family photo

Still, we did get time for a family selfie (long arms required to get 5 people in)…… There really is no other person who can make a group of adults (or big kids), feel silly about taking a photo, other than our darling daughter. That face is a, “You disappoint me on so many levels” face….. But suck it up princess, because these will come back to haunt you one day!

Despite what the pic suggests, she absolutely loved the water.

I’ll let you make your own mind up about this next one, but I assure you this is her “rock on” face.

Baby swimming

Too many Alans

The English language is rather a peculiar thing at times, so when trying to explain what an allen key was, and what we needed it for (the cot), it took a photo to close the deal.

The “neighbour with the allen key” came over just before lunch, and his English was as good as my Croatian. Whether it was a hospitality thing, or whether he didn’t feel he could trust me with his allen keys, he was insistent on sorting the job himself.

The trouble is, he spent 10 minutes trying to lower the sides of the cot (which would have made the issue much worse), rather than lowering the base.

Numerous times I’d step in and say “No, we need this base lowered” and point to the screws, only for him to smile, nod and completely ignore me.

Once he’d finally lowered the sides, he looked so chuffed with himself…. I felt a little bad bursting his bubble so quickly.

After sneakily taking his allen key whilst he was still patting himself on the back, I undid one of the correct screws and showed him what I needed.

The Croatian penny finally dropped, along with his smile, as he got back to work doing the rest of the job.

Something that would have taken me 5 minutes (tops), ended up taking the best part of half an hour, but eventually, we had a cot which Beatrix couldn’t escape from – Huzzah.

A Howard family outing to the local supermarket was on the cards next. Even the simplest of things becomes a multi step project when you have a baby….. But it’s a holiday and it’s good for the kids to get out.

The local supermarket was only a few miles down the road, and had the bare essentials that we needed. It wasn’t long before we were back home enjoying the fruits of our labour, and tucking in to some Croatian bread and ham (not to mention even more bloody Gouda, which by now, was the most requested food stuff of Jemma and Scott).

That afternoon went by in a blur of swimming pools and table tennis (we had our very own table outside the house), and was the perfect way to finish day one.

The sunset clearly heard my praise for the morning view, and treated us with an even more spectacular sight for the evening.

It was starting to feel like paradise on earth.

Amazing Sunset

Time flies when you are having fun

The following 2 days absolutely flew by in a blur of swimming, sleeping and eating. When the midday sun is nearing 37 degrees C, it’s not a place you want to be with children and no water.

It’s bad enough that from about 9am, the temperature is already 32 degrees, and stays at least that until 11pm!

That being said, it was a chance for the kids to really enjoy the pool and the baby was loving it more than anyone.

Beatrix and Dad
Beatrix and Mum

I’ve always felt like doing nothing in a new country is a bit of a waste. I love exploring and seeing the culture, or finding some hidden unknown gems. But the reality is….. With a baby and 2 kids, it’s hard to truly get around and see these sights. Even more so when the temperature is as hot as it is here.

So for once, it was time to kick back, relax, and watch the world pass by.

Getting out and about

After 3 full days by the pool, it was time to get up early and go and see this beautiful country.

There really weren’t many big towns or cities near where we were staying, but the biggest of them all was Makarska. In fact, the whole region was known as the Makarska Riviera, so it was fitting to go and see this historic fishing town.

It was only half an hour away, and it was back through the 4km tunnel which went under the Biokovo mountain range that bordered our accommodation.

We probably didn’t leave quite early enough, as we arrived around 9:30am, and it was already absolutely scorching.

There also wasn’t a huge amount to see and do, with many people opting to come here for the slightly more vibrant night life. But the sights and sounds were definitely worth the trip, with the main little square and church reminding me of some kind of video game scene

Family by the church

Just after this, I popped to an ATM because Jemma had been hounding me to get some cash out. I’m a digital only person, and never carry cash (opting to pay with card or Apple Pay), and so far…. I hadn’t needed any in Croatia.

But, I figured I’d get about £20 worth….. Just in case.

ATM’s in foreign countries are an Englishman’s worst nightmare – So many options and such a weird layout most of the time.

At that moment, 80 Kuna was equivalent to about £10. but 80 Kuna was often written “80,00” – A weird use of the apostrophe, but so be it.

In a moment of stupidity, the very first option that came up on the ATM said “160,000” – I thought “Perfect, it seems a very reasonable figure to start with, I imagine it’s quite a common amount”……..

Well…. When the notes started flying out like I’d won the jackpot…. I figured something wasn’t quite right. Then my banking app told me I’d just withdrawn the equivalent of around £210……. Facepalm.

Still, I guess it was a good reason to spend a bit more money and have a good time, right?

We carried on through Makarska, down some very quaint streets, with not much to see.

Random flowers adorned one particular street, for no reason we could work out – Still, it made it a little more special.

Flowers over Makarska

The best view was saved for the coastal path, looking back over Makarska.

We had only been walking 30 mins or so, but we were all absolutely dripping with sweat, and ready to get back into the comfort of our air conditioned car.

The route back took us along the sea front, and we took a tiny detour to see the fish which surrounded a slight harbour-esque “sticky out” part.

To turn around and see this, was quite the humbling experience!

View of Makarska

The Biokovo mountain range acted as some kind of protective barrier, and it really made the whole place seem incredibly historic.

Some like it hot

The following day it was back to the pool and some cooling off. The temperature seemed to be getting hotter and hotter as the days went by, and I have no idea how people survive without a swimming pool here!

We decided to eat out that evening, and use some of this god darn cash that I had.

Staying true to our Englishness, we couldn’t possibly eat out too late, so we booked a table down in Baska Voda for 7pm (trip advisor to the rescue).

Come 6:30pm, we get in the car and can’t help but feel it’s still too darn hot. A quick glance at the temperature gauge and I see this….. 43 degrees! 43 holy moly degrees. I mean, I know the car gets hotter, but this was incredible.

Temperature

The beach at Baska Voda was still pretty busy, even at 7pm. The sun was setting over the water, and it looked pretty magical. I could see right through the Adriatic, even from 10 feet above it – Crystal clear.

The food was decent enough, but we were probably an hour too early to really enjoy the experience, as it was still so warm. As soon as the sun set, it was much more manageable.

It’s pretty sad when £70 only buys you an OK meal for a family, but that’s the age we live in!

Having a baby asleep at a restaurant is like having a ticking time bomb, ready to explode at any moment. Thankfully, she slept for the majority of it, and only started getting rowdy towards the end.

After that, it was ice cream from some street seller (which melted before we’d had much of a chance to eat it), and it was back home for some sleep.

The long and winding road

We had promised ourselves we’d do one last “cultural” type thing with the kids (despite them not seeming particularly bothered), so on our penultimate day, we got up extra early and headed to the Blue Lake of Imotski.

This is a natural sinkhole that was formed when an earthquake happened (many many years ago).

The pictures looked OK, and it was only half an hour away – So we figured it would be worth the trip.

In a nutshell, it was supposed to be a nice winding path down to the lake, where you could swim, relax, and then head back.

We were conscious of the heat, so we managed to get there for just before 9am – Although, we could have probably done with getting there earlier again!

We started off with Bea in the pushchair, before getting to the ticket lady, who advised us that it was probably not suitable for pushchairs due to the gravel.

Spoiler alert – Not only was it not suitable for pushchairs, it wasn’t suitable for babies full stop!

It probably took us 15/20 minutes to walk the winding path down to the bottom. For the most part this was a well maintained track (although with no barriers, it wouldn’t pass a UK health and safety check!)

By this point, Bea was no longer being carried like a bag of potatoes on Jem’s back, and had adopted the slightly comfier, front facing position.

Beatrix on Jems back

It did look like quite the trek down to be honest. Given it was already 9:40am and pretty hot, I wasn’t sure it was the best idea! But….. We were here, and the water at the bottom looked like something from a fairytale.

Path leading down to the lake

Everytime we got a glimpse of the lake, it looked more and more blue.

Until after around 10 minutes of walking, we finally got a great view of the Blue Lake of Imotski.

The blue lake of Imotski

How can you not love that? It looked stunning. Even more so because of how hot we all were by this point, if nothing else, it would be a refreshing dip!

However….. Before we could enjoy the sweet sweet dip in this Blue lake, we first had to get there….. and that involved the final 60 metre rock scramble…….

The well kept path literally ended, and it was a scramble down some pretty loose rocks to the bottom. I still can’t work out why someone went to the effort of building a path which spanned the entire cliff face, only to stop so close to the end?

Either way, it was a careful scramble, which super mum Jemma managed to do with Baby asleep…… and she managed to keep her asleep whilst scrambling like a monkey!

The deep blue

Now, I’m tall (as we’ve established), and I can pretty much touch the floor on any swimming pool, and even the sea (we never get too deep….. Sharks and all that!)

But the Blue Lake got deep….. quick. As in, 3 steps into it and it’s near 30 metres deep. The deepest part is 36 metres down…… Wow.

You also can’t see anything, even with goggles. It’s quite murky, but I felt that as it wasn’t open sea water, no Megladon was going to get me……..

It was cold, but that was the nice part for me at least. The kids dipped their toes in and wouldn’t budge, before Maille found a leech (so she claims) on her foot, and that was the end for her.

I managed to trick Scott into getting in (saying there were warm patches), but again, he didn’t last long as it was so deep.

I even braved a swim into the middle (ish), and it felt very peaceful, if not a little eerie.

By this point, the baba had awoken in a grump, and was looking at the water longingly…. So I swam back to shore and collected the little bundle of joy.

As always she loved it, but I was conscious that there wasn’t much water I could stand up in, and even when I could, it was very unstable under foot.

Still, it didn’t stop us from getting the best photo I’ve ever been a part of – Props to Jemma for taking this (and asking me to “throw her higher”). It’s absolutely one for the photo album we can look back on in years to come.

Dad and Beatrix in the Blue Lake

You’d think that nothing could stop magical moments like this, but do you know what can? A water snake.

About 10 seconds after this photo was taken, a snake swam about 5 yards from where we were…. casual as you like. I have no idea if it was poisonous, and I didn’t see it for long (which made it worse) – But it was undoubtedly a snake, and it was an easy decision to get changed and head back up.

It would have been easier if we’d been able to use some towels to dry off….. Butsomeone (naming no names…. Scott!) forget to bring the one thing he was in charge of.

On the way back, it was my turn to “carry the load” – Referring to our youngest. That lasted all of 10 minutes, which is about the time it took us to scramble back up the hill (at times, on all fours), trying very hard not to plonk Bea’s head on a rock!

By the time we were up the first part, Jemma was tired of the rucksack, and Bea felt like she weighed 10 stone on me….. So we both gladly swapped.

The temperature was pushing 37 degrees by now, and oh boy did we feel it walking back up the cliff face.

I would 100% recommend people visit, but make sure you factor in the weather! It was a hard slog to get back up that path.

Once at the top, we had some well deserved drinks, and headed back home – After all, our days are commanded by the hunger of a tiny person.

The afternoon was back at the pool to give our legs some time to recover, and we managed to get most of our things packed for the trip home the following day.

As I type, we have planned to get to the beach by 8am tomorrow morning, so we can have a quick swim in the Adriatic, maybe see some fish, and then still have the morning at home before we head to the airport.

I guess we’ll see how that goes…..

It’s the final countdown

The alarm goes off promptly at 6am. It was our last day and if we were going to go to the beach, spend some time by the pool, pack the suitcases and make the flight home, we needed to get out of the house early.

We went to the nearest beach in Baska Voda, which happened to be right next the restaurant we were at a few days ago. Luckily, we parked up at 7:45am and there were very few people on the beach.

Like a lot of the beaches in this region, there is no sand, and it’s all pebbles – Which is fine, as all we wanted to do was have a quick dip in the Adriatic, see if we could find any fish and then head home.

The sea bed fell away very quickly (a matter of metres) and it was like looking into the abyss after that – But the water was absolutely crystal clear and the little fish didn’t disappoint.

Both the older kids excitement quickly turned into disappointment when the salty water didn’t agree with them, and after an hour, we were back in the car on the way home. Still, at least we can say we did it.

The rest of the day was spent by the pool with more makeshift volleyball and general merriment for all!

Beauty and the beast

The “beauty” of the day was reserved for the drive home. Croatia really is a wonderfully scenic country, and we could have quite happily spent many more weeks exploring the landscape.

The journey back from the house to the airport was filled with rolling mountains and greenery everywhere you could see. We saw signs warning us of Bears and Foxes, but sadly we didn’t see any!

The “beast” part came later at the airport.

It was just after 5:30pm after we’d waltzed our way through security and check in – Compared to the UK, it was a breeze!

We had assumed there would be some kind of restaurant in the Airport – It isn’t exactly a small place. But there was barely anything – A few snack bars and that was it.

So we settled on a sandwich each and a drink…… for fifty….bloody…. pounds. I mean, I was expecting a little pain, but that was a dagger in the heart! The sandwich was crap as well, so note to anyone travelling out of Split….. take food!

So as I sit here, typing on the plane journey home, thankfully winning the game of hot potato (and life), by not having a baby with me, I can finally kick back (with limited leg room) and actually enjoy the flight home (for 5 minutes, until said baby is dumped on me).

Was it worth it?

Having asked the kids and Jemma if they enjoyed it, there was a resounding “best holiday ever” vibe going on. The scenery, tranquility and peacefulness all added to an incredible holiday for everyone.

Whether you are exploring the countryside, visiting the slightly busier coastal towns, or travelling to some of the wonders like the Blue Lake of Imotski, Croatia has something for everyone.

We’ll 100% go back (maybe even to the same place), but until then, it’s back to the rainy summer of England.

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