[DAILY MAIL] No sign of Brangelina, but plenty of glamour! Radio 1’s Jameela Jamil reveals why she’s fallen in love with Croatia (except for the angry sea urchins).
For at least a decade I have been bombarded with proclamations from friends and strangers that Croatia is the most beautiful place in the world. Having travelled a fair portion of the planet in my 28 years, I denied that anywhere could match Rome, my favourite city. But at last I decided to put it to the test – and found myself sitting at Gatwick Airport, arms tightly folded, marinaded in a light scepticism.
Our time was limited, so we chose just three portions of Croatia, starting in Dubrovnik. We landed at 9pm and were taken straight to our hotel, the Valamar President Hotel up in the hills, a ten-minute drive from the popular old town. From the outside it looks like a golf course. From the inside, it looks like somewhere Brangelina would stay. (Cue me immediately looking around for Brangelina. They weren’t there.)
To call this hotel grand would be a vast understatement. It had the panoramic views of the ocean and the space and luxury that I’ve not yet encountered anywhere before. I skipped all the way to my room. My boyfriend was mortified. At £200 a night (although it would have been far cheaper had I not booked about 15 minutes before we left for the airport…), I hoped for something relatively decent. But a lovely kingsize room, with full patio and breakfast table, practically on the beautiful private beach was not what I was expecting. One very inelegant hop over my balcony and I would be feet-on-sand.
Morning came after a wonderful sleep and the view was officially ridiculous. Miles and miles of perfectly clear-blue Adriatic Sea, surrounded by untouched islands and peppered with the odd palm tree for effect.
By 8 o’clock we headed out to the famed Dubrovnik old town, which is hidden within enormous stone walls. Everything inside is made of marble, so you walk into what feels like a grand, pristine film set, bursting with character and beautiful architecture. It is insane to think that little over 20 years ago the place was brutally bombed in the 1991 siege. It is therefore doted upon and cherished by its residents.
The restaurants are busy and full of traditional Italian cuisine (pizza, pasta, fish). And the town is packed with young people. The little alleys contain quaint bars with the steps covered in cushions for passers-by to rest and drink. The atmosphere is bustling and alive. It’s genuinely one of the most stunning places I have ever been. It takes hours to investigate every nook and cranny and every staggering view at the top of the enormous flights of marble stairs.
After only three days investi-gating Dubrovnik and falling madly in love with the sights, I had shamelessly replaced Rome with this as my favourite city.
We hopped on the ferry back and had our last sleep in Croatia. It was miserable to be leaving. The final day was spent wandering around Split’s lovely old town, full to the brim with people wearing ancient Roman clothing acting out historical scenes in the streets to the delight of the crowds, mostly the women. The soldiers wear very little skirts… And Croatian men are HOT. (Wear sunglasses if with partner to allow you to ogle in peace.) Generally I give what I saw of Croatia five stars.
What a beautiful country, what lovely people. What a relaxed and welcoming place that has over-come staggering adversity to become one of the most desirable spots on the planet.
I was horrified to be leaving and I booked my next trip there the minute I finished this review. Sorry Rome.
Read the rest of the article and find out what Jameela thinks about Split and Brac on the link below.