We planned to fly to Sardinia for two weeks at the end of August. We ended up in Croatia for almost all of September instead. And now we’re spending our mandatory quarantine at home. Where to start?
Sardinia or not?
This summer was an eternal loop of planning and cancelling. We booked this flight to Sardinia in February. Then came spring and COVID-19, and our early June flight was cancelled. But instead of asking for a refund, we moved it to early September. Well, yes, now it’s easy to tell we should have asked for a refund, because air travel is still not predictable.
But in June we were hopeful. Borders were reopened and COVID numbers were declining, at least inside Europe. Then came July and August, news started getting worse again. Most European countries introduced new travel restrictions. Sardinia still seemed to be okay though.
Then at the end of August our government announced that new travel rules will soon come… And a week later Hungary’s borders got shut again. As Hungarian citizens we would have been able to return home with a 2 weeks mandatory quarantine, but we knew it’s not that easy. We knew flights would be cancelled in this situation. Maybe all flights back to Budapest? Our flight was supposed to take off in a few days. It did take off, but without us on board.
Why Croatia instead of Sadinia?
With the fragile situation and the skyrocketing COVID-19 case numbers in most European countries, including our own, we didn’t feel comfortable flying to Sardinia with our baby. And to justify our decision, a few days later we got an email about the cancellation of our return flight. We felt relieved we didn’t have to deal with the hassle of getting home from Sardinia.
By the time we got that email, we were already in Croatia. It might not seem to be a good decision in general, but for us it was. First of all, Croatia is close to our home, we can get there by our own car. Would there be any reason to go home, we could get in the car, drive about 5-6 hours, and that’s it.
Also, Croatia was put on the red list of many European countries due to the growing number of COVID-19 cases, so lots of tourists left the country throughout August. But some regions were less affected, and the overall situation was not worse than in Hungary. And September is not high season, anyway, especially not this year.
We got what we hoped for. Sunny September days and lack of crowds. We had no problem with social distancing, neither on the beaches, in the national parks or on the streets of old towns. We felt as safe as we could, going shopping only when necessary and minimizing our contact with locals. (Apparently, it’s a good thing these days…)
Croatia… Because our September was about Croatia. We had a two weeks holiday, then we lengthened our stay, thanks to remote working. In the end it was one month. In Croatia. We haven’t been away from home for such a long time since we moved back from California. We really didn’t expect it this year either, yet we’re so grateful it has happened.
Croatia in a way we’ve never seen it. We know the reason is not good. We know how tourism is suffering these days. I guess we could all tell a hundred reasons why this year sucks. Still, seeing Croatia (almost) without tourists was an intimate and unique experience. No crowd on the beaches of the Makarska Riviera or on the streets of Rovinj. In Istria we had some of the beaches only for ourselves for a few hours if we arrived early enough. And the people we found on the beaches and streets were mostly locals, enjoying their unusually hot September. And we enjoyed our September, too. It was probably our happiest month this year.
Exploring Croatia beyond its beaches. Yes, we loved the beaches and had great beach weather, but Croatia offers so much more! We liked hiking in Risnjak, Northern Velebit and Paklenica National Parks, walking in Pula, Rovinj, Šibenik or Varaždin or discovering astonishing places like Biokovo or Cape Kamenjak Nature Parks.
Finally visiting Istria. Istria is a region we’ve been longing to visit for a while, but it just hasn’t happened. Now was the time. And while we’re in love with the Dalmation coast and will always be, Istria surprised us and got a special place in our hearts, too. Hidden beaches and coves. The unspoilt landscapes and bays of Cape Kamenjak. Croatia’s own Colosseum in Pula. The pretty cobblestone streets of Rovinj. Istria even has a fjord, did you know?
Destinations visited (all in Croatia)
- In Istria: Pula, Rovinj, Cape Kamenjak Nature Park, Lim Fjord
- In Kvarner: Opatija, Risnjak National Park
- In Lika-Senj: Northern Velebit National Park
- In Dalmatia: Paklenica National Park, Starigrad-Paklenica, Makarska & Makarska Riviera, Biokovo Nature Park, Omiš & Omiš Riviera, Šibenik, lakes of Imotski
- In Northern Croatia: Varaždin
- Islands: Krk, Pag and Vir (these islands are all accessible by bridge; not a coincidence)
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The most popular posts from September
Old or new, these posts were the most popular on the blog in September:
In Search Of The Basalt Column Canyon Of Eastern Iceland. One of the most popular posts on our site ever. This canyon is a barely known treasure from a barely known region of Iceland. We show you how to get – and why it’s worth getting – there!
8 Best Hikes In Lassen Volcanic, California. We guess our American readers are searching for national parks and hikes inside the US. Though living in Hungary we’re definitely not experts of where to go within the USA these days, our post about California’s spectacular volcanic park might give you some ideas to consider for a hiking trip.
Best Autumn Hikes In California. We’ve written a series of hiking posts, each one telling about our favorite hikes in California each season. Looks like it’s time for autumn hikes now.
Coming up in October
Hah, not much. Our arrival from Croatia is followed by a 10 days quarantine. Once it’s over, we’ll meet with our families and friends. We hope for some sunny, colorful autumn walks in the Buda Hills, too. These are our boldest hopes right now.
No further travel plans. A tiny voice in our head says that we better be satisfied with our happier-than-expected summer and not have high hopes, least big dreams for the rest of this year, or even next year. But we are dreamers, we can’t help dreaming…
How about you? How was your September? What are your plans for the next month?
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