A thrilling bridge crossing, sunny weather and a change of plans greeted our arrival on the island of Krk in Croatia.
We’d planned to stay at Valamar Camping near Krk Town but hadn’t booked online as they tried to insist on a deposit of around €200, even though the price of a cabin for two nights was only €98.
When we arrived at the campsite about 2pm we discovered Valamar were operating some pretty odd practices. For a start, the cabins were outside the main site in a not particularly picturesque spot. No mean feat as most of Krk is pretty as you please. The cabins were nice enough but we there was no bedding or towels. When we asked why, an embarrassed receptionist informed us these were ‘extra’. It turned out lots of things were extra, including cleaning of the cabin. When it was totted up it came to nearly €80 a night… to stay on a campsite.
We dumped Valamar.
Where to stay in Krk – Mario’s
On the road between Valamar and the centre of Krk Town we spotted Pension Mario (V.Tomasica; +385 51 222 926; email@example.com). The rooms were basic but spotlessly clean with a big balcony – good for sloshing some local wine al fresco. Mario was a lovely bear of a man with a sweet and very pregnant wife. The prices were much cheaper than Valamar’s, €30 for bed & breakfast. It was comfy and friendly; Valamar had done us a favour. Breakfast consisted of fruit juice, coffee, cold meats, cheese, bread and doughnuts. Basically, Mario kept bringing us more food until we begged him to stop. Mario’s was also a mere 5 minute stroll from the centre of the old town.
Where to eat lunch in Krk – Pizzeria Camplin
It was late so we stopped at the first restaurant we saw, Pizzeria Camplin. As it was located on the town ramparts near the castle and had an outside terrace overlooking jade Adriatic waters and the town beach, it wasn’t a difficult choice. They did damn good pizzas at reasonable prices as well. A margarita was €5.50 and a big glass of beer €2.50.
Suitably fed and watered we explored the historic streets of Krk Town
What to see in Krk Town
Although there are no real stand out ‘wows’, there are plenty of interesting snippets helpfully explained by plaques in various languages. The 12th century Frankopan Castle and the Cathedral with its baroque domed bell tower are a couple of the obvious monuments but it’s worth exploring to find the little curios.
The Krusija – an underground stream near the harbour where the Krk women would wash their laundry. The bucket on the head of the statue nearby seems to be a breeding ground for caterpillars.
Vela Placa Square: The hub of the town with bars, restaurants and a 16th century, six-sided well.
The calm house: That’s our interpretation. A stone carving of a lamb at Mitis house shows it was a house of mildness. I like that idea. Everyone should have a carving outside their house to show if they’re mild mannered or Incredible Hulks.
Pizan Gate: Our entrance to the town. Traitors were tied to donkeys here and dragged through the town to the main gate.
When darkness falls, Krk’s good looks go up a notch as the streets turn golden and lights from bars and restaurants around the harbour dance on the black waters.
Where to Dine in Krk
Restaurants around a harbour are always romantic spots for dinner, but we were enjoying Croatia’s konobas, so opted for Konoba Mali Nono near the Pizan Gate (J.J. Strossmayera, 39; +385 051 221 995). With its net decorations and hanging hams it had a cosily rustic feel. Having eaten late we shared a generous tuna salad followed by a plate of fried fish and squid with a portion of blitva (delicious combo of Swiss chard, potato and garlic) swilled down with a jug of Croatian red and a bottle of water (total €21).
The weather swapped moods and it chucked it down. We explored the island in search of somewhere less wet. Roads were quick and straight and we were at Baska on the other side of Krk in no time. Baska is supposed to be a pretty little town with a fabulous beach. It seemed like a nice enough place but on a grey, rainy day beach resorts just don’t look good. We spent most of the time nursing a coffee in the Forza Bistro Café; a stylish and friendly joint with free wifi.
With the weather refusing to let up we returned to Krk for lunch. Finding a snack at lunchtime didn’t seem to be always straightforward and the first bar we tried didn’t serve any until the evening, even though we could see chunky Croatian sandwiches teasing us from behind a glass cabinet. In the end we shared a pizza at Katarina in the centre of the town. It was more expensive than Camplin’s and not as good.
With the rain falling persistently we decided to hit a bar… and took in a bit of Krk’s history at the same time.
Unusual Bars in Krk
Volsonis (Vela Placa Square; www.volsonis.hr) is a one stop shop – wine and cocktail bar, nightclub… archaeological dig. Roman ruins were discovered whilst the bar was being renovating in 1999. These now form part of the cellar wine bar. I’ve never been in a bar that was a museum before. Even without the historical aspect, Volsonis is a great place to hang out – thick stone walls, vaulted ceilings, roaring fire. On a wet day, it’s the place to be.
Coastal Walking in Krk
Masochistic tendencies clearly dictated that we venture out to walk along the Krk coast. On a sunny day it would probably be stunning. In the rain with grey seas lashing the shore (what happened to that lovely jade colour?) it was bleak.
Where to Dine in Krk Part 2
I’m always drawn to establishments called Bacchus, and so we ended up at Konoba Bacchus, another traditional restaurant, this time tucked away off the main square (J.J. Strossmayera, 3). Appropriately it had a neat menu of herb and flower flavoured liqueurs; a couple of which had to be tested. We went for a mix of Mediterranean influence (tagliatelle) and southern eastern Europe (pig neck with potatoes) accompanied, as always, by a carafe of red and finished off with some crepes. It was decent fare and reasonably priced – €20 for the lot.
With the rain still not letting up we made an early start for Plitvice National Park rather than hang around. Unfortunately the PC was playing up and Mario’s wife couldn’t print the bill. As we waited Mario came out with a suggestion that partly illustrates why we really took to the Croatian people.
“You want a drink?”
“You want a drink? Let’s have a pelinkovac.”
So, at nine in the morning, Mario and I downed a large alcoholic blend of wormwood and herbs whilst we waited for the PC to play ball.
I love Croatia.
Jack is co-owner, writer and photographer for BuzzTrips and the Real Tenerife series of travel websites as well as a contributor to lots of other places. Follow Jack on Google+