Two weeks ago I was lucky enough to travel to the Elaphiti Islands of Croatia to soak up some summer sun. Travelling during central Europe's heatwave, I arrived in a simmering 37-degrees. It was a welcome shock to the system after the milder temperatures in London this month. A car journey and a boat ride later, I arrived at one of the many charming and tranquil idylls of the Adriatic.
Dalmatia is the most popular region of Croatia for holidaymakers, for its wonderful clear turquoise beaches, delicious Mediterranean cuisine and long, warm summers. The Dalmatian coast runs along the east shore of the Adriatic Sea, parallel to Italy. Scattered in between the two countries, are 79 islands and 500 islets. So choosing an island holiday truly leaves you spoiled for choice! Some of the most frequented include Hvar, Vis and Mljet. The magical Elpahiti Islands, my own holiday destination, include Lopud, Kolocep and Šipan.
The culture, cuisine and language of the region are rich with history. Dalmatia is named after an Illyrian tribe called Dalmatae who inhabited the region during Greco-Roman times. The Republic of Venice later controlled Dalmatia between the 15th and 18th centuries, and consequently, the region developed an Italianate flair.
Šipan, experienced its heyday during the 15th century when it was a top holiday destination for Dubrovnik aristocracy. Its first town Suđurađ, is home to many notable historical buildings from this era, including the 16th-century castle of the Stijepović-Skočibuha family. The head of the household was a wealthy sea merchant who also constructed a beautiful watchtower in Suđurađ, intended as a look out for pirates. Each morning I read up a little on the history of the island over breakfast - I love taking in the details of a place before exploring it in person. Breakfast consisted of fresh bread, french pastries, and fruit. I especially enjoyed the juicy blood oranges - the tastiest I've ever eaten!
One of my adventures was to find this beautiful 15th century garden in Suđurađ. Sadly it was closed to the public during my visit - but a little door has been left open so you could peek through and take a look. I always love imagining all the interesting characters who must have sunned themselves in here during years gone by!
Despite being the largest of the Elaphiti Islands, Šipan’s population is a tiny 500. Šipanska Luka, the island’s second town, remains busy with fishing boats heading out for their daily catch. The rest of the island is filled with palm trees, vineyards and citrus groves. Several of the restaurants have no menus - only a fish of the day, beautifully seasoned and grilled, fresh off the boat.
Despite being in Croatia, I took full advantage of the U.K's National Prosecco Day! With this exception, I stuck to local Croatian wine at dinner such as Pošip, which I highly recommend it for its dry, gentle flavour. The perfect accompaniement to fish and seafood.
One of the joys of Croatia's position on the Adriatic coastline is the countless harbours and boats you stumble across. This beautiful harbour was our departure point from the mainland towards the Elaphiti Islands. We stopped here only briefly to catch our boat - but I had to capture a photograph!
My adventure in Croatia was made all the more fun for the Palava holidays dresses that accompanied me. Our Kew Gardens dress is one of my all-time favourite Palava prints. I was glad to wear something lightweight and white during the heat. And nothing is more cheerful than exotic animals exploring a greenhouse! Here I am having a little stroll around Šipanska Luka, taking in the view of the beautiful harbour.
Our Rose Pineapple Heaven was also a good choice for the holiday. Here I climbed up to a little spot above the water to shield from the sun. The colours of the Croatian scenery were so vivid and beautiful.
Just look at the colour of that water! I returned to London dreaming of the magical blue sea.
Both of these lovely dresses are in our big summer sale. You can also get an extra 10% off this weekend only by using the code EXTRA10 at the checkout. I hope you've all had a wonderful summer. I certainly don't want it to end! Luckily as I write this, the sunshine has returned to London and we look set for a warm bank holiday. Fingers crossed we get another good few weeks of summer wardrobe weather before Autumn descends!
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