Stepping foot on Croatian soil was a breath of fresh air.
We had been in Italy for a month and while we loved the romance of the country, we were tired of their non-caring attitude; Especially in Venice. We felt as if they thought, “if you don’t like our service or establishment, who cares? someone will be here to take your place tomorrow.”
Croatia was an entirely different story. Located in the Balkan Peninsula, it still has those old fashioned values where people are nice to one another and they greet you with a smile when you say hello. They care whether you are having a good time or not and give you water with your meals and coffee. They don’t charge you a €3 sitting fee or inflated price just to sit down at a table. Everyone is welcome and everyone is a friend.
We were visiting Croatia to kayak our way around some of the islands of the north.
We arrived in Rijeka and were instantly drawn to its warm and welcoming atmosphere. We pulled up a chair on the patio of McDonalds to take advantage of their free wifi and cappuccino from the McCafe while we looked for a place to stay.
Visiting the Balkans? Check out 8 Unforgettable Things to do in Slovenia
Using Google maps on our iPhone, we searched for nearby hotels and then hopped on line to book a room at one of the hotels on the water. Our trip was taken care of by American Express Gold Rewards as we were on a trip decided by our readers. Would we be kayaking in Croatia or Kite Boarding in Spain? It was up to your votes and clearly you can see that Croatia came out a winner.
We only had one night in Rijeka before heading over to the beautiful island of Rab so it was a quick stay but we enjoyed the warm breeze of the Mediterranean. We took a ferry up the coast and arrived at an ancient walled city sitting on the Adriatic Sea.
Rab, Croatia – We've Arrived
Jogi and Bafo of Sea Kayak Croatia greeted us as we stepped off the plane. They were easy to spot as their kayaks were attached to the roof of the van. Staying true to Croatian hospitality, they took us out for a coffee before dropping us off at our hotel that they scoped out for us. They were careful to ask if they took American Express and to their surprise, both of the hotels that they chose for us, did.
They dropped us off to go shopping for our 8-days on the water. We’d be carrying everything with us in our kayaks and we had to go through our gear to see what we’d be bringing with us and leaving behind. We scaled it all down to two dry bags plus another dry bag for our camera gear.
Bafo packed much lighter than us, but as we packed up our boats the next morning, we were amazed to find that it all fit.
I was a little worried paddling a kayak filled with gear as we’ve only paddled in empty boats, but I was quite surprised how stable it was. As Jogi and Bafo told us, a full kayak is more stable than a light one and he was right.
It was here that we said goodbye to Jogi,the owner of Sea Kayak Croatia nd started our journey alone with Bafo. Bafo is a serene man who truly loves to paddle and is so proud of his native land. He talked to us about history and politics, wildlife and kayaking.
He and Bafo had just finished a 200km paddle along the coast to scout out more routes. They are always looking for other places to take their clients and their love for paddling keeps them exploring even when the season is slow.
The morning was peaceful and relaxing, as the waters remained calm. We stopped for lunch in a quiet bay and ate some home made local food made by Jogi’s wife.
It was the little things like this that made the trip special. We had our choice of any Kayaking company in Croatia but we liked the personal touches of Sea Kayak Croatia. It’s a family run two man operation. Bafo guides while Jogi takes care of booking day trips, answering emails and preparing for the next group. His dad helps him out once in a while to pick up the clients and take them to the ferries. They make sure to take care of every detail.
But most importantly, they take great care in making sure that you are having a good time.
After a full day of paddling, we set up camp on a deserted beach and enjoyed our first night out on the water. With a boatload full of food and some home made wine courtesy of Jogi’s dad we enjoyed a picture perfect sunset over a neighbouring island.
It was a perfect ending to a perfect day and as we tucked into our cozy sleeping bags, we thanked our readers for choosing our extraordinary adventure.
Apply for your own Gold Rewards Card and see what benefits you can earn with American Express.
For your own Kayaking Adventures in Croatia visit SeaKayakCroatia