Mercury photographer Kirk Gilmour explores Croatia

You have to smile big time when holiday dreams become a reality. 

One day you’re sitting with friends and everyone’s talking about where on the planet they would love to go on a holiday. 

Scotland, Greece, Italy what about Turkey? 

Then someone throws a new location into the mix: “What about that lake in Croatia that was on TV?”

 Yep, cruising the islands off Croatia’s Dalmatian coast on the Adriatic Sea. 

How good does that look? Let’s go! Book it. Lock it in. Woo hoo! 

Trawling multiple websites and internet page after page of boats for hire in Croatia was fun and daunting at the same time. 

For 50-year-olds we laugh and giggle like kids as we get under way and the crew hand out the beers and bubbles.

From the opulent chrome-plated floating mansions (wishful thinking) to some vessels that should be used for naval target practise ASAP. 

We settle on a boat called the ‘Krila 7’, a Turkish built gulet - pronounced goolet. 

Fitted out with six cabins all with a double bed, shower and loo, too good. 

The boat is 26-metres long with plenty of deck space and sun beds to lie around on at the pointy end. Two oversized bed-like lounges, a large dining table and an always fully stocked bar at the back bit. (Ok serious boating people - the Bow and the Stern. Fore deck and the Aft deck.)

The 10 of us arrange to meet up in the Croatian seaport city Split but before arriving there we travelled to the Plitvice Lakes National Park, three hours drive inland from Split and two hours drive from the capital Zagreb. 

In rain or sunshine, Plitvice Lakes was truly breathtaking and it takes us close to six hours to walk up, down and around the pristine 16 lakes that flow and cascade into lake after lake after lake. 

Believe it, the physical exhaustion of so much walking at the end of that venture is uplifting when I review the photos I’ve taken there. This place is a must see. Serious eye candy for photographers. 

On to Split, which is a great place to get your head around the Croatian coastal way of life. 

Way back in time the conquering Romans must have liked Split, their architecture and infrastructure like viaducts are visible everywhere. 

Our Croatian cruise starts in the nearby harbour town of Trogir as we are transferred from a wharf by inflatable boat to our floating home for the next seven days and nights. 

As the sun begins its red glowing decent into night we are introduced to the crew. 

The gulet ‘Krila 7’ has a full time crew of three, lead by skipper Simon, Tommy the cook and the craggy looking but likable deckhand Eddie. 

We also meet Juan a friendly travel agent from Zagreb on work experience on the Krila 7. 

For 50-year-olds we laugh and giggle like kids as we get under way and the crew hand out the beers and bubbles. Dinner will be served shortly. 

The ‘Krila 7’ sails between the Croatian Islands smoothly each morning and the 360-horse power engine runs no more than 3 hours a day to get us to our next island stopover. 

The landscape of Croatia and the islands off the Dalmatian coast change from rugged steep mountain ranges, towering forests to thinking you’re sailing into something tropical. 

We sail to and moor off the islands of Hvar, Vis, Korcula, Mijet and Sipan, there is a lot of exploring to do and we all swim daily and take advantage of the boat’s toys on offer: goggles, flippers, sea canoes etc. 

On day seven we set sail for Dubrovnik, farewell our great crew and on entering the fortressed walled city I’m lost for words to describe what we see. 

The photos taken on this holiday speak volumes and are proof enough how good a visit to Croatia is. 

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