Split is Croatia's second largest city and it is completely captivating, with its rugged Dalmatian mountains as a backdrop and the azure Adriatic Sea lapping the shorelines. Its enchanting old town is tucked into the ruins of an ancient roman palace built at the turn of the 4th century. Diocletian’s Palace “A unesco world heritage site” is one of the world’s most impressive monuments surrounded by the old walls of a city that is filled with history and today forms around half of the old town. Split is a breath-taking and beautiful blend of ancient and modern that sits harmoniously together.
There is a huge nature reserve 'Marjan Forest park' with extraordinary views over the city and surrounding islands, shady paths with lush overhanging greenery and an abundance of agave plants, fragrant pine forests, medieval chapels and scenic lookouts.
There are just so many things to see while you are visiting this diverse country and we were lucky enough to spend 10 days with friends aboard a beautiful old privately chartered Gulet sailing from Split to Dubrovnik, stopping along the way to see the many sights and islands to explore. From hiking to dining in the mountain’s under starlight and flickering candles to eating in one of the oldest walled gardens in Croatia our journey was nothing short of magical. One of my highlights was mooring just outside Pomena and disembarking to wander through the forest paradise of mljet national park and its blue lagoons, morning swims from the boats deck to deserted beaches and exploring caves and inlets along the way. Exploring the coast near Pasadur and stumbling across an old submarine navy base that was no longer in service while paddle boarding, every step of the way was a new adventure.
We explored Vis and walked around the beautiful harbour to Kut, the oldest and prettiest part of the island built by the Venetians in the 17th century, Kut is a series of endless courtyards and passageways in soft dusty looking limestone, overhung with balconies and grape vines. Everywhere there are steps rising up into the hills behind and taking you along yet another beautiful and character filled street leaving you feeling that it’s still slightly undiscovered. Vis has a way of creating restaurants and cafes within the walls of ruined palazzos that look so inviting and where the perfect backdrop to our Cabinet shoot with my great friend Harriet. The intoxicating scents of palm, pine, oleander and lavender bushes continue to remind me of this sleepy little island.
We visited the island of Badija and explored the Franciscan Monastery that was originally built in the early 14th century but this was to be an ongoing project for centuries to come with alterations and influences. The Interior is a single nave with a tall barrel vaulted ceiling with a stone altar and a beautiful and well preserved gothic renaissance square cloister that is beautifully decorated with masterfully carved leafy details and is considered to be one of the most beautiful on the Adriatic coast.
We also visited Hvar and all its finery by night and took in the huge super yachts that lined the harbour. Finally we ended our journey in Dubrovnik, A walled sea-battered city. A medieval town reshaped by Baroque planners after the earthquake of 1667, Dubrovnik’s historic core seems to have been suspended in time ever since. Set-piece churches and public buildings blend seamlessly with the green-shuttered stone houses, forming a perfect ensemble relatively untouched by the twenty-first century. Outside the city walls the coastline exudes Mediterranean sophistication, huge gardens, and an explosion of colourful bougainvillea and oleanders and fruit trees weighted down with figs, lemons, oranges and peaches. I was totally inspired by all the pattern and beautiful natural silhouettes, local craftsmanship and architecture that we discovered along the way. Reconnecting my love for the ocean and exploration, this was truly an adventure like no other with wonderful friends and memories that will last a lifetime.