The engine of our small ship is humming quietly. I look out at the sea. In front of me lies endless blue, which is occasionally interrupted by an island or a sailingboat. On the land side the rocks and hills of the Dalmatian coast rise. I can hardly get enough of this, just to sit and to watch and to enjoy. What a luxury! The magic of the moment is topped by two dolphins that suddenly jump out of the blue, play with the waves and then disappear again into the vastness of the Adriatic Sea.
MV Thurgau Adriatica – the floating hotel
Croatia has a coastline of 1’778 km. If you count the 1200 or so islands, it’s even 6’176 km long. As I was so completely enthusiastic about the River cruise on the Douro last autumn, it is a great pleasure for me to start on an exclusive Cruise along the Coast this autumn.
My journey begins in Split. In the harbour, right next to the old town, I find my floating hotel and the loevely crew around Captain Neno gives me a warm welcome. Room 210 is quite spacious, with large windows and a big bathroom with a shower. Today I have a harbour view, but as the ship will be leaving tomorrow morning I can`t wait to wake up with a view over the sea.
The MV Thurgau Adriatica is a small, luxurious cruise ship that can accommodate a maximum of 36 passengers. It feels a bit like cruising on a big yacht. The Crew is very freindly and they make feel at home.
The ship has already completed the first part of the journey. It comes from Montenegro and as I learn, it is the only cruise ship of this kind that is allowed to cross national borders due to its construction. The previous destinations were Kotor, Dubrovnik and Island Hvar.
Dreamy nightly split
Unfortunately, the sund already went down. But even iat night time I can imagine that this city, which is declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, would be worth a closer look. The city has developed around the Palace of the Roman Emperor Diocletian.
The huge Roman palace, or rather its remains, merge with the buildings of the following epochs and make an exciting and unique cityscape.
I am very impressed and I would love to visit this city once again. In oder to be on the safe side I visit the Statue of the Bishop of Nin Gregors on the square of Porta Aurea. While the statue is actually black, the naked foot, respectively the left big toe is golden and polished. Those who touch it will be happiny and healthy, so they say. As onbe can nerver have too much happyness and health I tickle the bishop`s big toe.
Speaking of tickling, Split has many gum tickling apecialtities to offer. In the old town one can enjoy an excellent meal. Here I am happy that dinner is not served every evening on the boat. I enjoy the evening at the Restaurant Konoba Marjan (Senjska 1) wich has a cosy ambience and serves delicious fish. That’s what holidays are made of!
♦ The first day on board
In the evening I am gently cradled to sleep by the waves. A small beam of light tickles and awake s me the next morning. I am immediately wide awake and pull back the thick curtains. This view! The sea! My day begins with a smile in my face and after a short morning wash I am on the upper deck. With the camera in the position I wait for the first sunbeams over Split. While the surrounding is turning into a soft morning red, the MV Thurgau Adriatica, accompanied by a short horn out of the horn, leaves the harbour out to sea.
It is time for breakfast in the cosy dining room. And then I do have a lot of time just to enjoy, to sit and to look out at the sea. Rainer’s morning ritual interrupts me. Rainer is the cruise leader who every day at 9:30a.m. tells us exciting stories about the country and its people and who gives us with an overview of the rest of the day. Our daily briefing takes place in the ship’s comfortable lounge.
Today’s destination is the small town Šibenik about 75 km away from Split. So there is enough time to enjoy the view over the endless blue sea and the Dalamtian coast.
The last part of the trip to Šibenik is exciting, before the ship reaches the protected bay tit has to pass through a natural channel, almost all passengers are watching this on the upper deck.
There is one-way traffic here. Our traffic light is green. So we can pass the passage and we watch as the MV Thurgau Adriatica as it enters the harbour.
Šibenik – the city of stairs
In Šibenik the local guide welcomes us. The boat moors very close to the city and so it is only a few meters to the city center.
Šibenik, situated at the mouth of the river Krka, used to be a typical industrial town. The heavy industry, aluminium and iron, however, has been shut down and today the pretty town lives mainly from tourism, fish farms and shellfish farming. Allegedly the mussels grow here 3-5 times faster than elsewhere. Whether it is the good mussels or the 2800 steps in the alleys, which keep the local population so healthy, is not documented. The people of Šibenik are said to be particularly healthy.
The remarkable Cathedral of St. Jacob with its unique stone heads is one of the main attractions of the city. It also is part of the UNESCO World Heritage.
If you stroll attentively through the cosy, narrow lanes, you will discover many small and large monuments and sights. If you are very attentive, you might even find the Dog Potions with the inscription „Amor d Cani“ – „The Love for Dogs“ at the foot of a house in the old town. Animal-loving citizens helped in the 18th century the dogs and cats in the city with water over the hot summers. This tradition is still continued today.
Krka Waterfalls – Wonders of Nature
We are lucky. It is not that hot today. Ideal for a bus trip to the nearby Krka National Park. One of the most beautiful and impressive landscapes I have ever seen. Numerous small and large waterfalls, especially the Waterfall Skradinski Bug, run through the national park. On wide wooden footbridges we walk through a secluded forest area.
Always following the crystal clear water, which splashes over small cascades, sharp edges and wide steps. Here, too, my eyes can hardly get enough. It’s nice to have enough time to marvel and to linger. Our nature is such a unique artist!
With unforgettable impressions we start our way back to the ship.
In the evening dinner is served on board and so I let this enchanting first day of travel come to an end in the company of the fellow travellers.
♦ Day two on board
The morning is mine. As the day before, my first grip is on the curtains. The sun is shining and I am looking forward to another day on the water.
Zadar – the most beautiful sunset in the world
Next destination is Zadar. Our trip passes the famous Kornati Islands. An entertaining journey for the eye and for the mind.
While the big cruise ships have to moor outside the city, we drive halfway around the city, which is situated on a headland, and anchor directly in front of the gates of Zadar.
Zadar is a collection of old, historical and new buildings, more or less tasteful. This alleged conglomeration is a silent testimony of a sorrowful history of the city. Again and again Zadra has been the part of bloody and relentless wars. Most recently in the Croatian war from 1991 to 1995. The people must have experienced terrible things. It is all the more astonishing how colourful and cheerful the city appears despite that. Perhaps it is the view of the sea that makes the wounds heal better?
You can enjoy this view very relaxed at the sea organ near the place „Greetings to the sun“. The famous architect Nikola Bašic has created a sea organ where the waves of the sea press air into tubes, creating different sounds depending on the speed and intensity of the waves. The sea sings its own song while people sit, listen and watch.
Next to it there is a 22 meter large circle with solar glass plates, which catch the sunlight during the day and show this evening in the form of colorful light plays. Unfortunately this was in renovation at the time of my visit. But even without these impressive works of art, this is the place to experience the sunset. According to Alfred Hitchcock, you can here even see the most beautiful sunset in the world.
For me it is time to sit down in one of the numerous taverns. Cruise companion Rainer helps us with numerous recommendations to find the right place.
You can dine very well in the Restaurant Kaštel right next to the city wall, only a few steps away from the ship.
Zrmanja Grand Canyon – on the trail of Winnetou
Not only Zadar itself is worth a look. Also the surrounding area turns out to be a real treasure and a little time trip into the past. After an overland bus ride and a traditional lunch on a farm in the surrounding area, we merge into the world of the Indians.
In Obrovac the small excursion boat sets off its lines. The river looks like a mirror. This is rare situation as mostly the wind Bora blows through the narrow valley.
The river Zrmaja has made its way through wild karst mountains.
Accompanied by the film music we ship into the fantastic world of Winnetou. The exciting canyon served as a setting for various Karl May films.
We experience an impressive journey through another unique work of nature. Rugged rocks rise to the right and left of Zrmanja, while the sun sends its last Sparkling rays over the rough peaks.
♦ Day three on board
I start my day on the water with my beloved morning ritual. I briefly push the curtain aside: Good morning sun, good morning sea!
Sailor Dalibor, who is almost always singing, loosens the lines. As the saying goes: „Where people sing, settle down. Evil people do not know songs!
Dalibor, like the rest of the crew, is always friendly. Everyone has a smile and a nice word.
In the morning glow we leave Zadar with destination island Rab.
Again the vastness of the sea, the endless blue, the white whitecaps on the waves, the passing boats completely envelop me.
Dreamy Island Rab
We are lucky. The feared wind Bora does hardly blow today, so our ship can anchor in front of the beach promenade Lungomare in front of Island Rab and stop for a swim stop. The water is crystal clear and the bath is refreshing!
A stroll along the bay and through the narrow, shady alleys of the little town is great. Now, in mid-October, at the end of the season, it seems in pleasant way sleepy. Many of the shops and restaurants are closed.
The hustle and bustle of the high season is over and the island is once again in the hand of the locals.
Thanks to Rainer’s recommendations, we find an open restaurant right on the promenade. The Sanpjer serves freshly caught fish and local specialties, accompanied by one or two glasses of fine Croatian wine. A blast!
Good that my bunk is so nearby!
♦ Day four On board
Get up and open the curtains. Ok, this time the ship is standing with my side to the harbour and the view is not that nice. Nevertheless I can watch the rising sun, as it is only a few steps to the upper deck.
On this morning the sun pushes itself especially beautifully over the mountains on the island. A sailing boat is leaveind the harbour and the view is perfect.
Today I feel a bit melancholic while leaving the port. It isthe last full day on board. All the more I enjoy the vastness and the tranquillity of the sea.
The last destination for the MV Thurgau Adriatica is the city Opatja In Istria. Opatja is completely different than the other Croatian cities, which we have visited so far with the MV Thurgau Adriatica. Opatja is fashionable and not only its coffee house culture reminds us that the city once was considered a fashionable seaside resort on the Austrian Riviera. The Donaumonarchy is still today reflected in the magnificent facades of the numerous hotel buildings.
Here you can stroll along the sea promenade and enjoy a Sacher cake with a view of the sea in a café. For example in the Cafe Wagner that belongs to the Hotel Milenij (Marshala Tita 109).
But it shouldn’t be too much cake, because the Captains Dinner, the end of every cruise, is on today`s program. It’s time to say goodbye to the crew, our floating hotel and the endless sea. I will miss that!
Melancholy resonates with us as we say goodbye the next morning.
The Postojna Cave – breathtaking and gigantic
But the journey is not quite over yet. A last highlight awaits us on the way to the airport of Ljubljana in Slovenia: The dripstone caves of Postojna. I must admit, I am a bit sceptical. I have already seen numerous stalactite caves. Surely all of them are impressive but all of them are somehow almost the same.
But I was not prepared for what awaits me here. The caves of Postojna are gigantic. On 3.7 km a small train runs into the cave. It passes countless stalactites and stalagmites, through different cave passages and cave rooms.
I am blown away. That is incredibly impressive! This cave is gigantic. It is regarded as the second longest cave in the world. Altogether it is 24 km long. 5 km are accessible for tourists. The highest stalagmite measures 17 meters. Considering that stalagmites and stalagtites grow only about one millimeter in 10-40 years, this is an incredible height. The cave is so gigantic that it has even served as a venue for a basketball game and to various concerts.
Absolutely fascinated I return home with many surprising and wonderful impressions. I was able to save a piece of the sea for my everyday life. Whenever I close my eyes, I hear the noise of the sea and I see the endless blue and a white sailing boat passing by on the horizon. If you too would like to have a piece of it, I can warmly recommend a coastal cruise off the coast of Croatia!
Further information on the coastal cruise with MV Thurgau Adriatica:
On the MV Thurgau Adriatica there are different room categories to choose from. My room was on the upper deck. It was quite spacious and comfortable with 13 sqm. Also the bathroom is especially spacious and luxurious – even with a rainforest shower.
The food is partly served in the restaurant on the ship. But what I personally especially liked was the fact that some evenings you can also eat ashore, so that you can try the regional delicacies. Rainer has always provided us with excellent restaurant tips.
In addition to the cruise guide, the excursions will be accompanied by local guides.
The exact itinerary, dates and prices can be found here: Thurgau Travel
Disclosure: This research trip took place at the invitation of Thurgau Travel. My opinion remains untouched by it.