I’ve heard fabulous things about Croatia for years. Many state that the Croatian Riviera is fast becoming a rival to the glitz and glam of the French Riviera. Certainly high profile visitors such as Beyonce, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Prince Harry indicate that it is a popular destination for the hip trendsetters. But is it good enough for Ms Scandinasia? That is the real question. I visited to make up my own mind. Let’s just get this straight. My standards are high. Very high in fact when it comes to rivieras. Many of you would have heard my epic stories from a few years ago, when I not only visited Cannes, St Tropez, and Monaco, but did it in style as a guest on my friend’s superyacht. Oh yes, and we had 7 staff at our beckoning call and we also partied on a certain ‘A’ list celebrity’s superyacht. Probably the best day of my life – one of those days when you pinch yourself at least a million times to make sure you aren’t dreaming. Hence my standards are ridiculously high when it comes to holidaying in glam destinations.
My mode of transport in the French Riviera
On board my friend’s superyacht, departing from St Tropez to Nikki Beach!
Needless to say, Croatia is up against some tough competition when it comes to winning my affection. Let’s see how the two destinations rated: 1. Best beaches – Winner: Croatian Riviera The limestone rocks throughout the Croatian coastline have resulted in stunning emerald coloured water, unlike anything I have ever seen before. Water is slightly warmer than the French Riviera as well.
Dubovica beach, Hvar, Croatia
2. Best place to people watch – Winner: French Riviera I love people watching in France – the locals, the tourists, everyone. Especially when there are some super wealthy heavy hitters involved. Designer duds, massive egos, and the odd tantrum. It’s a fascinating sociological experience. The people I met in the French Riviera were from all over the world: Europe, US, Middle East, South America. When I said I was from ‘down under’ the response was “oh yes, we have a good friend from there – do you know our friend James (Packer)?” In Croatia, the mix of visitors is different. I would estimate 80% of the tourists are Norwegian. Everywhere you go, Norwegian is being spoken. Which brings me to the following observation: Ms Scandinasia does not need to go to Scandinavia. Scandinavia comes to Ms Scandinasia! 3. Best lounge bars – Winner: Croatian Riviera Ummm, so Croatia wins really by default. Lounging around drinking Veuve on a certain celebrity’s yacht in St Tropez was about as close as I got to a lounge bar in France. But Croatia really does have some seriously cool lounge bars. My favourites in Hvar were Laganini’s at Palmižana, Falko, and Hula Hula.
Laganini’s at Palmižana
Laganini’s at Palmižana
Craziness of Hula Hula Lounge Bar, Hvar
4. Best food – Winner: French Riviera As you know, I am obsessed with French food, and when you have your own personal chef aboard a superyacht preparing all your favourites, it is hard to beat. Having said that, I have tasted some incredible food in Croatia, especially the seafood. I was lucky enough to be taken to Restaurant 360 in Dubrovnik and Di Vino in Hvar. Both have stunning views with exquisite food and impeccable service. These restaurants certainly do showcase a high level of quality – however, it wasn’t quite the same as having your own personal chef…
Divine food at Restaurant 360, Dubrovnik.
5. Best small bars – Winner: Croatian Riviera If there is one thing I know, it’s a good bar. Having worked in the alcohol industry for many years and frequented many many bars around the world, everywhere from New York, Guatemala, Tokyo, Bogota, Bali – I’ve seen it all. I believe I know a good one when I see one. So when my Airbnb host recommended a wine bar owned by his friend, I was intrigued. I love a good wine bar. This wine bar was aptly named ‘Red Red Wine’ which I assume is after that great 80’s UB40 hit. What I loved about this place, was that the minute I walked in, I was greeted like an old friend. For small bars that kind of rapport is essential and these guys were masters at it, as we chatted most of the night. I was lucky enough to try various Croatian reds and whites and let me tell you – Croatian wine is a.m.a.z.i.n.g. – not to be missed. I tried many a bar in Croatia, and this was by far my favourite. If you head to Hvar, check it out, you won’t be disappointed.
My fav – Red Red Wine bar – Hvar Island
Closing up the bar at Red Red Wine Bar – Hvar.
Fabulous Croatian hospitality at Red Red Wine Bar, Hvar
6. Best service – Winner: Croatian Riviera Yes, I can see some of you rolling eyes as I write this, saying ‘French service? What service?’ I actually find French service quite endearing and humorous. In fact, I have placed and won many bets around the length of time it would take a French waitress to serve us. French service = extra pocket money for me. Anyway, I digress. Yes, Croatia is without doubt the winner. Everyone from the old pensioner who came up to me to ask me if I was lost and kindly gave me directions when I was in Split, to the waiter in Hvar who didn’t want me to eat a meal by myself, so ‘stole’ the next door restaurant’s wifi password and we went through a long list of destinations he recommended in Hvar. Wow, everyone is so friendly and really do want you to have a great time here. They are proud of their country and it shows. On top of that, I have not had to carry my heavy luggage at all since I arrived in Croatia. All the men, whether young or old are very chivalrous and believe me it is much appreciated. You hear that boys at home – chivalry is not dead in Europe – take note!
Beautiful view of Hvar Town
Whilst overall, my holiday in the French Riviera will always be the ultimate experience, when breaking everything down you can see Croatia has placed very well. Well done Croatia ☺ A big thanks to Makiko, my partner in crime in Dubrovnik this past week. Loved the adventures, especially watching the football alongside the world cup players – always in great company with you ;)
Partner in crime in Dubrovnik this past week – Makiko!
Any regrets or negatives about Croatia you may ask? My first negative – nudist beaches. Why are the most unattractive people the ones that are taking their kit off at these nudist beaches? There were a multitude of nudist beaches along the coastline that we had to pass by. OMG, my eyes have been traumatised forever by the amount of beer guts, saggy man boobs, and saggy arses. To the nudist people on beaches around the world – please work out before taking it all off, it gives me nightmares. On a more serious note, my other biggest regret is that I didn’t visit Croatia five years ago, before the hordes of mass markets tourists arrived. Not to worry, I briefly passed through Bosnia en route to Dubrovnik and have earmarked the Bosnian and Montenegro coastlines as a future trip. Watch out Bosnia & Montenegro, I’ll be there as soon as I can! Bisous, Ms Scandinasia xxx