The drive back down to Split from Plitvice Lakes National Park was uneventful except for the ever increasing flow of water from somewhere under the dashboard into the passenger side foot space of the rental car. First time that roadside stops have been necessary to empty collected water…
Once the car was safely dropped off and a room secured at Croparadise Apartments, it was finally time to enjoy the warm evening. The first stop at To Je To Caffe, a tiny place with a good selection of local craft brews, was extended as a thunder storm erupted, causing short power outages and pouring down rain. The storm passed in less than an hour, but the soaked restaurant terraces meant that it wasn’t so easy to find a free table for dinner. Luckily, there was just enough space left at Zinfandel, one of the top-rated places in old town Split. The cheese and charcuterie platter followed by delicious housemade pastas and finished off with a lemon surprise, all accompanied with good quality Croatian wines, did not disappoint. Great way to end a long day.
The final day began with a leisurely breakfast at Bokeria in the old town, followed by some window shopping and wandering along the narrow streets until it was time to be picked up for the activity of the day, a visit to the Putalj Winery located in the hillside above Split. Now this is something definitely worth doing it you’re ever in Split with a few hours to spare (and no need to get behind the wheel anytime soon). The most personal and relaxed winery tour ever experienced!
The tour began with a drive up a steep hillside where the first bottles of lovely Putalj rosé along with local cheese were enjoyed amidst the vineyards and olive groves. The tour was hosted by Anton Kovač, founder of the winery, who entertained the small group of four (+ Hattivatti) by recounting the history of his family, the vineyards, and Croatia in general. In addition, Anton described in detail the intriguing story of how the Croatian roots of the zinfandel grape were finally discovered in 2001. A couple hours passed delightfully sitting in the shade, sipping chilled rosé and listening to one fascinating tale after the other.
Once the bottles were empty, it was time to head downhill to the winery itself. Quite a small operation, but they place emphasis on quality, not quantity. The main products are the reds made of zinfandel and placav mali as well as the rosé, but in addition high quality extra virgin olive oil is produced, and a taste of this was also offered along with the 2015 Zinfandel and some local meat and cheese delicacies. All in all a wonderful afternoon!
After two bottles of wine accompanied by mainly snacks, a proper dinner was needed before heading to the airport. Corto Maltese offered up some ok vegetarian and seafood dishes, not the best of the trip but not the worst ever eaten. Then off towards the airport and a few hours of waiting before the boarding the last flight of the evening, which was delayed due to an incident involving an unlucky seagull and the plane on its incoming flight. In the words of the flight captain, “there is one less seagull in the skies of Split after tonight”.
Croatia turned out to be quite a wonderful place. Even though Hattivatti and friends managed to cover 3 different cities, 2 ferry rides, 1 road trip, lots of sights, and a total of about 1000 km of travel over land and sea into 7 days, there is still a whole lot left to see. Croatia, we will hopefully soon meet again!