Croatian mosquitoes

By Rob Packer

I’m sitting in Mostar with an itchy neck from a mosquito bite I got while I was in Split, which has got me feeling a bit cheated: mosquito bites and cold weather don’t intersect in my mind. I’ve had mosquito bites in places that get cold before—my most spectacular bite ever was in Ukraine—and malaria must have survived in Italy somehow, but biting insects and cold weather definitely not. It feels like they didn’t get the memo.

On second thoughts, at least it was cold and my neck was all that I dared show above the blankets; otherwise I’d be covered in bites.

Hvar: An encounter with the obvious

By Rob Packer

As if it weren’t obvious that January is not the time to be visiting Croatia, a day trip to the island of Hvar from Split really brought it home.

The view over Hvar's harbour.

Hvar lies two hours south of Split—or one hour on an inconveniently-timed catamaran—and is known as one of the world’s most beautiful islands, and has an award to prove it. Read more of this post

In Need of Imagination: Split

By Rob Packer

Split, Croatia’s second-largest city, has one of the best stories of any city that I know: the city’s location was originally the site of Roman Emperor Diocletian’s retirement palace until he died in 313. It was conveniently close to the Roman Empire’s declining heartland in Italy and was near Salona, one of the most important cities of Rome’s province of Dalmatia. As a result of “barbarian” invasions that caused the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, life in Dalmatia became more and more dangerous and by the 7th century Salona’s inhabitants had abandoned the city to take refuge on Croatia’s islands or within the walls of Diocletian’s Palace: out of the palace came Split’s historic ore with inhabitants using the original palace structure as the basis for their houses.

The view of Split's old town from the harbour.

I’ve wanted to visit Split since I first heard the story of its founding, but I have to say I was slightly disappointed by the city. Read more of this post

Dubrovnik: One Time, One Way

By Rob Packer

No matter how many places you visit, some places will always end up overwhelming you by just how spectacularly beautiful they are—and the really special places, like Lake Atitlán in Guatemala, keep having the same effect no matter how many times you visit. I can’t speak for the effects of a second visit to Dubrovnik, Croatia, but from the first glimpses of the old town below me as we flew over it while landing at the airport and then passed it on the road from the airport, it’s obvious that there’s truth to the physical beauty that’s made it so popular in so little time.

The view over Dubrovnik's old town.

I think I have a decent feel for what was the “Eastern Bloc”[1] for the first six years of my life, but as I’m writing this I realize I have no frame of reference for mass tourism in a former communist state: Read more of this post

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