06 September 2015

Venice + Croatia

We're back in the states after visiting Venice, Italy and Croatia for our Honeymoon journey and I have to say, really missing the view. Both lands of photo-paradise and adventure. The first stop was Venice, arrival around 11 am, and this here below the first photo I took after exiting the Alilaguna. 

Venice: We ate at 2 restaurants in Venice on our evenings there: Ai 40 Ladroni and Osteria Anice Stellato, both in the Canareggio neighborhood where we stayed, and more on the local spectrum than those towards San Marco. At Ladroni, I nearly froze when we sat and realized we were in the company of only locals-- smoking, drinking and eating multiple courses of shellfish in the garden and not speaking a word of English, and we'd have to play it cool with the staff. We immediately ordered a carafe of wine. Then a pesce misti for 2, and it was perfetto. The photo above is the slightly more modern but homey, Anice Stellato. We loved this place and were there for about 3 hours. I'd go back right now if possible. Noteworthy is the fish and vegetable antipasti, with tiny samplings of cooked vegetable and fish pushed in rows to the sides of the plate, and the bucatini with head and tail on shrimp, as well as the grilled fish fillet. 

Croatia: Dalmatian Coast We began in Dubrovnik and then drove to Split, both on the coast but a bit different. When on the coast, focus on the Adriatic seafood which is super fresh and sweet. If you tell anyone familiar with the area that you are to visit, you'll most likely be asked, "do you like seafood?" The answer should be yes, and even if you think you aren't as into mussels, clams and (not fried) calamari, you will be wrong. Everything is delicious. A platter of mixed fish is the best way to sample the offerings. We ate at Plava Alga in Hvar, Nautika (!!!) in Dubrovnik, Makarun in Split. Also, a boat trip with lunch is an authentic, economical experience (2nd below). We saw a few islands that way. And when you're craving meat, head for Konoba Dubrava--a simple setting (3rd below) but not to be missed, even for the winding drive up to it. The grilled meats (steaks, cuts, kabobs) are the specialty here or iron-bell slow-cooked advanced ordered lamb. We went during an off time, for a late lunch and many of the tables were already set and reserved for dinner. 

Croatia: Plitvice/Zagreb Heading inland, we spent a good part of the day at Plitvice Lakes National Park--an incredible force of nature, then drove to Zagreb where we were flying out of, for the evening where we stayed the night and left far too soon in the morning. For the evening, though it was late my dying phone led us on a 6 minute walk into town to Lari & Penati, an example of a Pinterest Pin turned reality thanks to the iPhone. Think East Village cafe nestled on a side street in the middle of the capital. We got crispy chicken tenders served with dips and mixed greens and again couldn't make out much English on the packed front patio. 

When planning our trip we tried as much as possible to piece together an outline beforehand while leaving some fill in the blanks. And while from here those blanks felt daunting, it's those moments of surprise that are most memorable now. It's amazing how you could have no lay of the land from afar, just areas, but completely throw yourself in and see the etched map in your head once you're in it. Kind of like how I felt when I moved to New York 12 years ago...

Until next time! 

Dubruvnik - Old City
Lead Photo-Dubruvnic: coast
Accommodations in Croatia : Bellevue (Dubrovnik)
                                                Divota Apartments (Split)
                                                Esplanade (Zagreb)

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