Romantic Trsteno, Croatia. The Pristine Adriatic Coast


Croatia Adriatic Sea
Images by Greg Dohlen

Music: Doomed, Bring Me The Horizon

Movie: Game of Thrones, of course!

Book: Vanished Kingdoms: The History of Half-Forgotten Europe, Norman Davies

Hotass has finally asked me out. Gee! Take your time and hurry up! All the signals, innuendoes, body language and blunt reality right in his eyes. The guy still took his time. As usual, time is always limited on a cruise ship, regardless of whether you are cruising or working.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I will receive a commission if you purchase through my links at no extra cost to you. Please read the full disclosure for more information. Thank you!

The port of call today is Dubrovnik. As soon as I finish my tour dispatching duties, I jump on the bus Hotass is escorting since he so nicely invited me to go with him. The destination: romantic Trsteno. A little fishing village on the Adriatic Coast, north of the vibrant, shiny city of Dubrovnik.

romantic Trsteno Arboretum

Hotass has saved the last row and grabs my hand as soon as I take the seat next to him. Immediately I tell him that I was patiently waiting for my hundredth birthday, why the sudden change of mind?

His laughter is contagious. The Americans at the back of the bus are paying more attention to us than to the tour guide who has already delved into today’s destination facts.

Croatia had seen five years of gruesome war in my (young) lifetime. The signs of destruction still show everywhere—bombed stone walls, houses too full of holes to skin, derelict villages deserted years ago when the locals were either assassinated or displaced with refugee status.

A short car ride will expose the still visible horrors some people endured just because they were caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. All the while, the rest of the world carried on living ordinarily.

Amazingly though, the country has recovered quickly and caught up with the times. Today, Croatia is the best (still!) hidden touristic pearl. It is not yet suffocated by mass travelling and a new type of destruction plaguing the planet: the tourism industry. I know, Sapiens is our worst enemy!

Cruise ship docked in Dubrovnik Croatia

The murky blue waters of the Adriatic Sea are abundant with tiny green islands. The coastal road is similar to southern Italy’s Amalfi Coast, but its feel is different. It could be because of the recent struggle these places had known, a strain that shows every step of the way.

We’re both listening to Susanna, the tour guide, and watch through the window eager to absorb everything this little corner of a troubled world has to offer. And, boy, it has! I get the feeling this is how the Earth looked at the beginning. Pristine. Underpopulated. Unpolluted.

I haven’t been on this tour until now, and I had no idea that there was free time at the incredibly romantic Trsteno Arboretum. Cupid has his ways! I couldn’t have arranged for anything better for our first date, nor could Hotass!

His name is not Hotass, of course. It is only a nickname he acquired one afternoon. As always, he was willing to escort a tour I dispatched with my colleague and friend Kinga.

The lounge where the passengers gather before leaving the ship had a small stage lined at the edge with emergency lights.

My beau sat on that edge for a while. When he got up and touched his trousers, he said that his ass was on fire.

Kinga, witty and on the beam as always, quickly granted him with the Hotass nickname which henceforth stuck.

romantic Arboretum Trsteno, Game of Throne Filming Location

Back to our romantic Trsteno, it is just the two of us walking the gardens. I don’t have a clue where everybody else is, and I couldn’t care less. We can thank them that they were too lazy to walk up here. The magnificent gardens that witnessed over five centuries of history are ours to explore and enjoy.

We both wonder how the war caused minimal damage to this beautiful place while munching on figs picked from an old gnarly tree. We can’t have enough of this green paradise suspended over the infinite blue sprinkled with even more green. And we won’t stop kissing on the terrace where Olena will have her lavish table set for Sansa Stark years later.

I shouldn’t even have to write a lot about Trsteno. The series that made it famous had probably sent the tourists here in droves.

romantic Trsterno Arboretum Croatia Adriatic Sea

Nor should I say more about my thing with Hotass. We had a great time for the remainder of his stay on board. As all good things have an end, ours found us. However, it’s nice to look back and remember the fondness, the laughter, the banter, and the heat.

Before he disembarked at the end of his contract, he drew my caricature. I was sitting on a sofa right in front of him; still, I could see him shutting his eyes tight before each stroke of the pen. I know he cared! I was in his mind. He did not need to look at me to see me!

Witty and extremely observant Kinga teased him about this, I have the moment on video! I saw that video aeons after Kinga recorded it. I didn’t even know I had it. I must thank my lovely friend!

What is important is that life granted me with good times that overshadowed the bad ones. At least, this is how I perceive it now, after almost having seen the end of the thin thread the fates are pulling.

I don’t have to shut my eyes to remember! It’s all there in a box called ‘life’, together with many other moments. Important is that I got my date, we visited this fabulous place and many more others, and now I can connect them with something delightful that happened in my life.

With hindsight, more important things happened during that first date. One of them was not knowingly walking the same grounds years later the Game of Thrones cast and crew will walk to make the most-watched series in the history of television.

Hotass and I can say we were there first! He snapped a picture of me perched on the terrace’s stone frame long before Sansa had lemon cake with wicked Olena! The place was bare though, just the two of us, no lavish table whatsoever!


The World Is An Oyster

Working as a journalist during university was pretty exciting. But landing a cruise ship job barely a year in my new graduate career was something else! Overnight, I moved from an already exhilarating job to an even better one. One that would allow me to wake up every morning in a different country. What more can a twenty-something wish for? The fact that I was fluent in a few languages helped. It made it easier to obtain the position I was seeking at the Shore Excursions department. Apart from dispatching tours in the morning and selling tickets in the evening, I would spend nearly every day on different trips. I did this a few years, spending half a year onboard and about two months at home. I enjoyed it immensely. I met fascinating people from all over the Globe and collected memories to last me a lifetime. Not to mention that I received a salary for seeing all those magnificent places the Earth has to offer! In an ideal world, everybody should live as they want. For me, that would translate into travel, then travel some more and keep travelling!

18 Responses

  1. Jeri says:

    What a fantastic article! I hope I will one day be able to travel there and visit all of the beautiful sites! It looks amazing!

  2. Great story. I loved the pictures.

  3. Jean says:

    I did not know that this place have been used for different settings from a series to a book. I havent been to Croatia thanks for sharing the photos

  4. Marita says:

    Such a great destination. I have never been there but this article makes me want to go and visit

  5. Well I never knew GOT was filmed in Croatia. How wonderful that you were there first to see it untouched by production etc.

  6. Demi says:

    Yes, I am a great fan of the “GOT”. We had plans to visit this year however because of the current situation we planned it for next year. Hopefully!! Great post and will add this to my itinerary list.

  7. Daniella says:

    O, such a dreamy destination with so many amazing places to discover- thanks for sharing!

  8. Dubrovnik is high on the list. Will keep this place in mind as well.

  9. I’d love to travel to Dubrovnik one day and then visit the surrounding areas, Trsteno is now on my list 🙂

  10. Olivia says:

    These incredible pictures certainly reminds me Game of Thrones and YES I’m a huge fan! Dubrovnik should be in my bucket list! 🙂

    • Jeannie says:

      what a view! Okay Im not a GOT fan and have only watched 1 episode. I guess I missed a lot but sharing the pics here + your story and how beautiful Croatia is made me curious…

  11. That is a fantastic first date story! The views look gorgeous and memorable. I love your writing style and the way you describe the location, and also your first date. Beautiful post, thanks for sharing! 🙂

  12. C says:

    Cute post. I love Croatia and can’t wait to go back- this will definitely be on the list of places to visit.

  13. Pooja Mandal says:

    The images are just stunning. Never heard of this place but looks like now I have to visit. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  14. Rachel says:

    What a great sounding trip! Once we’re back to “normal” and flying is in a safer place, I would love to visit Croatia and see all it’s history, not just the GOT sets!

  15. Aditi Jain says:

    I am such a hugeee fan of Game of Thrones!! I really hope I can take a trip to Dubrovnik to see the beauty of it. Thanks for sharing!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Skip to content