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I shot hundreds of pictures during our two-week stay in Croatia (Zagreb, Split and Zadar). This might the most beautiful shot (Krka National Park) but it wasn’t my favorite moment. We were glad to have arrived early in the park because swimming at 10am was a beautiful experience, at noon the whole place turned into a selfie-stick hellish kind of thing

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Split was definitely the highlight of the trip. What a miraculous city with a living and breathing palace that was built 1,700 years ago.

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Even the emperor shows his face once a day and expects a strong “Ave” from the crowd. Or heads will roll.

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My dinner view one night.

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I sat here for an hour one night, sipping on a beer and listening to live music.

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While this young lady enjoyed her ice cream. Not a particular fan of Croatian ice cream. Too sweet and overprocessed. I’d rather enjoy an Italian ice cream.

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Every morning I took different routes exploring the city during my morning run. On the one side an ancient building carved into the mountains.

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On the other side, yachts and their crew waking up to the morning heat.

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And hot it was. More than 38 degrees C (100 degrees Fahrenheit) each day. Our apartment featured this view in Split and I wish we could have sat outside a bit more to enjoy it. But we often opted to stay under the aching AC to make it through the night.

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Who is complaining about heat? Nobody. A beach was always close by, the water clear and cooling and many opportunities for the little one to play and swim.

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We took a Catamaran ride to Hvar, a small part island about an hour away from Split. We rented bikes but heat concerns led us to ride to the next beach to hang there for the day.

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Watching numerous luxury yachts. First, I expected a Russian oligarch but, after further googling, this is just a luxury yacht for rent for the 0.0001%.

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Wherever you go on the coast, this is a typical perspective. Small labyrinths inviting you to explore.

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Zadar was our last stop. Ruins are as common in the city core as cigarette butts.

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Kids pose on them, play on them, and I’m concerned over time these ruins might just disappear by the recklessness of tourists.

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Each night, Zadar celebrates the sunset at the port. the Sun Salutation, designed by Nikola Basic, is a vast circle of solar panels paved into the ground. At night, the panels light up in an array of patterned lights that flash in dancing sequences, attracting huge throngs of visitors to the Croatian seafront.

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It’s rather wonderful and reminded me of Burning Man installations.

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Alfred Hitchcock claimed Zadar features the most beautiful sunsets in the world. Who am I to argue with the master?

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While I didn’t have any expectations for Croatia, I wonder now: Is there a better place to spend the summer in Europe? It’s warm, everybody is outside, it’s a Roman playground for adults and water sports is just everywhere.

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On the last day we had lunch in Nin, the smallest and oldest coastal town in Croatia. It was a quick, hot walk. Did I mention it was super hot in Croatia?

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Astrid opted to rub Gregory’s toe in Nin.

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Just like she did in Split.

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The beauty of Croatia are the little details, way above your eyeline.

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Architecture as poetry.

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Very unique attraction along the waterfront in Zadar: Holes are drilled into the wall where water is forced in by the waves and causes a pipe organ to play. The sound is very other worldly and ethereal and is very calming as you sit on the steps formed along the water. A perfect ending for the surprise in the Balcans.

We will be back: Dubrovnik and thousands more islands to explore.

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P.S.: I wonder if Croatians are the nation with the highest consumption of coffee products. Their breakfast seems to consist of two cappuccinos and three cigarettes, and 10 more cappuccinos throughout the rest of the day. Stay awake, Croatia.

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