Croatia Through a Lens: An Overview of the Adriatic Coast & the North

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I take a sip of local beer and lean back in my chair in the street side cafe.  The sky is grey and rain threatens, but the air is deceivingly mild. My last day in Croatia signals the end of my latest career break and my head is full of conflicting thoughts and emotions.  Watching strangers walk by is a welcome distraction and the conversations going on around me in a language I don’t understand is almost soothing.

Just over seven months ago I started my second significant career break with a photography trip in Tasmania.  Four continents, six countries, an Arctic archipelago and many memory cards later, I end it in Croatia’s capital, Zagreb.

Croatia has been on my bucket list for some time and the opportunity to join a photography tour run by Glen Campbell seemed like the perfect introduction to the country.  I first met Glen a year ago in Scotland and joined another of his Lightstalkers workshops in Tasmania earlier in this year.  His passion for both photography and the countries he explores is something I find contagious and inspiring.  So I arrived in the country ten days ago to meet the four other photographers who would follow Glen around the Adriatic Coast and North region of Croatia, keen to explore this country for the first time.

I’ve yet to meet anyone who hasn’t described Croatia as “beautiful” after a visit and I am certainly no exception.  It provides all my favourite landscape photography subjects – lakes, waterfalls, seascapes, mountains – in addition to characteristic little villages and relaxed and friendly locals.  I am leaving with an appreciation of its natural beauty and interesting culture.

But I’m also leaving with a number of conflicting and unsettling thoughts in my head.  Where have these come from?  Is it the timing of ending this career break and returning to ‘regular’ life in London?  Is it the challenge I felt being a solo traveller (and personality) in a group of diverse characters who I liked but didn’t really connect with?  Are my recent unmatchable adventures in Antarctica and the Arctic causing my future travels to feel underwhelming?  Or am I simply tired, travel weary and ready to return home after a seven month nomadic lifestyle?  Time will tell…

In the meantime, here is a taste of Croatia, through my lens.  More posts to follow over the coming weeks…

Zagreb

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Croatia’s relaxed and picturesque capital contains Austro Hungarian architecture, a characteristic old town and a number of street side cafes from which to enjoy a coffee (kava), beer (pivo) or red wine (crno vino).

It was here that I remembered one of the things I love most about travel is the ability it has to eliminate the differences created by age, culture, nationality and background and connect people through a mutual love of exploration, photography and travel.

It was also here I realised that sometimes these differences can be insurmountable and how unique and special that connection is when it’s found.  I also began to reflect on the pros and cons of group v solo travel.

 

Plitvice Lakes National Park

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This UNESCO world heritage site is only two hours south of Zagreb and contains a series of lakes, caves and waterfalls.  The turquoise lakes and cascading waterfalls are accessed via wooden paths and bridges and the intertwining vegetation with its vibrant autumn colours create a hiking and photography dream.

It was here that I was reminded the environment I feel most “myself” and comfortable is the great outdoors, where the fresh air and natural environment both soothe and energise me.

It was also here that I questioned whether too much travel destroys the WOW factor.

 

Island of Cres (Sres)

Cres Town/Harbour

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Beli

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Loznati

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Veli Losinj

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The Island of Cres sits in the Kvarner Gulf on the Adriatic Coast and the drive towards Cres Town after a short ferry crossing culminated in sunset over a pretty little harbour.  Throughout the island, medieval hilltop towns tower over secluded beaches and bays, and neighbouring islands are visible across the sea.

It was here that I was reminded it’s sometimes important to put down the camera and enjoy a location at face value.

It was also here that I doubted my ability as a photographer, feeling uninspired and incapable of capturing the pretty town and harbour when I first arrived, making the mistake of comparing myself to other photographers instead of focusing on my own development.

 

Istria

Rovinj 

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Grozjnan

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Motovun

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This region is known for fine wines, black and white truffles, olives and other local produce.  Our base in this region was Rovinj, a Mediterranean fishing port with a strong Italian influence.  Its narrow, winding cobbled streets are perfect for getting lost whilst exploring the old town and the Church of St Euphemia dominates the skyline, provided a great sunset subject across the water.  Groznan and Motovun were beautiful little villages that provided an escape from the persistent rain and an opportunity to explore the characteristic and artistic architecture and streets.

It was here that I was reminded how long it had been since I took a moment to “holiday” instead of travel, enjoying some time to myself to just relax.

It was also here that I remembered not every day can be a great day and the ability to “disconnect to reconnect” is a key part of being a Professional Career Breaker…a lifestyle that is more challenging that people realise, but more rewarding than I could have hoped for.

 

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Kellie is a traveller and photographer who is most at home when exploring the world beyond it. Through the intersection of her travel, writing and photography passions, she shares her experiences to inspire others to create there own. The desire to live life instead of existing through it has introduced Kellie to inspirational locations throughout seven continents and from this a passion for landscape and wildlife photography has evolved. She feels a particular connection to the polar regions and Africa. You can see more of her photography at www.kellienetherwoodphotography.com

Comments

  1. Fantastic photos! These are truly beautiful. Croatia is high on our list.

    Cheers!

  2. Beautiful photos of Croatia! I want to see more of the islands. Glad to see you also made it to Istria. That part of Croatia is so often overlooked.

    • I agree Jennifer, it is a very overlooked part of the country – which is also why it’s so appealing. It’s a fine line between broadcasting how great it is and keeping the secret so it’s stays that way!!

  3. Croatia is definitely high on the dream destination list! LOVE these pics!!!

  4. Love the photos. Croatia is my home country–I was born in Zagreb, though my family left when I was five. I grew up in the U.S. I love how you captured the rooftops in Zagreb.
    Sitting at sidewalk and town square cafes, drinking kava and people watching is one of my favorite pastimes when I visit there.
    I’m so intrigued by your Career Breaker lifestyle. I hope you’ll write about it some more in the future, especially about the not-so-obvious challenges. Or put another way, what should a person contemplating such a lifestyle be prepared for.

    • Oh wow, I didn’t realise you were from Croatia! I loved Zagreb! I’m certainly planning on writing more about being a professional career breaker in the coming weeks, especially the “highs and lows”!

  5. I have to be honest, I never had a desire to go to Croatia. But after seeing these photos I REALLY want to go. You are an amazing photographer!

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