Our eight-week trip through Eastern Europe was one of my travel highlights of the year. Although we were on an extremely tight budget, we managed to save a lot of money by travelling by bus. This allowed us to visit five countries, eat loads of delicious food, and go crazy with sightseeing.
This summer we got our first taste of travel in Eastern Europe. Although we barely scratched the surface of the region during the eight-week trip, we crammed as much culture, history and delicious food into our adventure as we could. Our journey took us through UNESCO towns and turquoise seas in Croatia to sedate Slovakia and the heaving capital cities of Budapest and Prague. So, how much did our Eastern Europe trip cost us?
How much did we spend during our five and a half week stay in Croatia? Andrew and I travelled along the Dalmatian coast of Croatia exploring UNESCO protected Old Towns, waterfalls, islands, national parks and beaches. Here’s a detailed breakdown of our Croatia travel costs.
You’ll find some of the best Croatian islands just off the coast of Split, and hopping from one to the next is a perfect way to get a taste of Dalmatia. Brac, Hvar, Vis and Solta are all packed with pebbly beaches, mountains topped by ancient forts, monasteries and seaside towns full of colonial buildings, churches and restaurants serving fresh fish. There are caves and lagoons to discover, mountains, fields of lavender and never-ending views of the Adriatic Sea.
The Split-Dalmatia County has it all: from steep gorges, waterfalls and colourful lakes to seaside towns crafted from local stone and islands surrounded by impossibly calm, blue waters. When we settled in Split, we unwittingly picked the perfect base from which to explore the Croatian coast. With our friend Bonner in tow, we packed the trunk of our rental car with snacks and sun cream and set off to discover the best day trips from Split.
There’s a place you can go in Dalmatia where mountain-fresh water tumbles over rock, crashing in continuous heavy curtains into topaz pools. As you follow shady paths through dense forest, toads croak on the riverbed and the earthy smell of nature scents the breeze. It’s a landscape formed of limestone karsts; a place where you’ll find fortresses, waterfalls and ancient caves, churches and a red-roofed monastery which sits on a tiny, isolated islet. This place is Krka National Park.
Lately we’ve made a habit of staying in historic towns. First we rented an apartment in the heart of Toledo, the former Capital of the Spanish Empire. Next we made a pit stop in Croatia’s most famous UNESCO town, Dubrovnik, before settling in Split, the ancient home of Emperor Diocletian. Here’s a snapshot of Split Old Town, which became our local hangout during a five-week stay on the Dalmatian Coast.
These days small, ordinary things count as luxuries. Things like being able to sit down at a proper table everyday to write and having a kettle and four different types of tea within touching distance. This is where I’m sitting now, in our apartment in Split. Here the kitchen cupboards are stocked with food, we sleep in the same bed every night, watch TV programmes on our comfy sofa and have a washing machine at our complete disposal. For me, these temporary home comforts have become as wonderful as the moment we step off a plane in a brand new country - well, almost.
On our first evening in Croatia I stopped to watch the sun from our balcony, and as it sunk towards the black mountains on the horizon, I tried to remember the last time I’d paused to watch this everyday ritual. For me, sunsets and sunrises are entwined with travel. In my ‘ordinary’ life back in the UK I rarely took notice of the sun’s daily rounds, it was travel that made me stop and look properly at the world, inspired me to hike up hills or seek out special spots to witness this simple beauty.