Again, when we planned this trip, we knew there would be some driving involved. I think we just didn’t anticipate how much. Our 2 1/2 hour journey from Split to Dubrovnik was filled with windy, slow driving roads making it closer to a 3 1/2 hour trip instead. So it should be no surprise that our trip from Dubrovnik to Stinica in the north, where we would catch our ferry to Rab Island, took 10 1/2 hours instead of the expected 6. Yes that is 4 1/2 hours longer than we planned. It was a LONG LONG day! I will say this though – 1. The kids were amazing. 2. Liam didn’t puke once despite the super windy roads (and they were ridiculously windy and I almost puked) and 3. This is a beautiful country to drive through.
Google maps is a little deceptive at times. What appears to be a relatively straight road can actually be laced with miles upon miles of twists and turns meaning you are driving at significantly slower speeds that you anticipated.
Sat we left at 8AM for our 6 hour drive up north to Stinica where we would take the ferry to Rab Island, our home for the next week. We drove along the Dalmatian coast and into the valleys were we had already driven a few days before. This time we were able to see the islands that float off Croatia in a different light and it was beautiful. These are not flat little islands but huge mountainous islands full of trees and very little (at least what appears to be) civilization.
As we moved inland for a little bit into the valleys we saw where much of the farming happens. Vineyards and orchards abound. Tons of little fruit stands lined the roads and we stopped yet again for some fresh fruit for our journey.
Eventually we got to the highway where we drove somewhat inland for about 2 1/2 hours. The highways look relatively new and are also beautiful to drive along. What is interesting is how few exits there are off of them, similar to driving the Mass Pike – at times there were 50 miles between exits. As we got closer to the end of our highway time, the exits became closer together but so did civilization at that point.
We hit ridiculous traffic suddenly while along the highway. One minute driving 80 and the next minute a complete standstill. And it was like that for a good hour. And the traffic was odd because all of a sudden it would move at a good clip, like 60mph and then it would stop again.
Eventually we got off the highway and drove along the water again – this time the scenery was completely different. Mountains to our east and barren islands to our left. Since Josh was driving, I wasn’t able to get any shots of the islands. And in the end, I was so frustrated that I didn’t want to (though in hindsight I wish I had because they were beautiful against the turquoise waters). Why was I frustrated? Because as we were driving along the water, something didn’t make sense to me. We shouldn’t have water on both sides. At first I wrote it off that it was a lake on our right. But looking at the map I had printed out, I wasn’t so sure. There is an island called Pag and it can be accessed by a small bridge. This island supposedly can also take you to Rab but there aren’t many ferries that do it and I didn’t know if any took cars. So I had to say to Josh, once we crossed the bridge… “I think we are going the wrong way”. So I looked it up on google maps on my phone and yup, we were on Pag Island. Shit! So aside from losing an hour in traffic, we had now been driving close to 40 minutes on this island and now had to turn around. I could tell Josh was pissed and hey, so was I. As I said to the kids tonight, I think they behaved better than Josh and I did today!!
So we got back on track and made our way up to where the ferry was in Stinica. It was a beautiful drive literally along the edge of the coast, high up on the cliffs at times, a little nerve-wracking especially since I knew that I was exhausted and I hadn’t been driving – how was Josh doing after close to 8 hours and hairpin turns around every corner FOR 50 MILES? I was gripping the car for dear life. I could not get to the ferry fast enough. Now we couldn’t find the ferry on the GPS so had just plugged in Stinica. Well, pretty much that’s all that’s there and the roads were incredibly well labeled. It basically took us right to the ferry and we drove right into line and were on the ferry within 20 minutes of arriving and to the tune of about 20 euros for the 4 of us and a car. When was the last time you took a car on a ferry for so little??? Um, never!!
We got to Rab within 15 minutes of getting on the ferry. It was a quick ride and you would have thought it was Liam’s first time on a boat, he was so fascinated. Where is this kid when we go on all these trips?? Anyways, we drove off the boat and on to Rab and at first we were a little disappointed. It was pretty barren and there was no sign of life. So where are all these people on the boat going?
We drove a good 3-4 miles before all of a sudden the road opened up and there were trees (til then there had been literally none, just brush) and cottages and small apartment buildings. This was island life. This isn’t vineyard life with the island over whelmed by tourists. Sure they are tourists, but this was much quainter. It only took us about 20 minutes to drive to where we are staying and I was reminded once again of my trip to Italy with Michelle where we drove along the pedestrian street. If we hadn’t been greeted by cars exiting the road as we were entering, i would never have thought this to be a road. But it was. The beach is huge and incredibly shallow (at least at night it is, we’ll see in the morning). The water doesn’t appear as turquoise blue as we are used to in the Med, but still is crystal clear with sandy beaches. We’re going to explore the other beaches too which I hear are amazing.