Celebrity Race Across The World

Celebrity Race Across the World in Croatia

Tonight’s episode of Celebrity Race Across The World (Wednesdays on BBC1) featured the four celebrity teams making a dash across central/southern Europe from Zermatt in Switzerland to Sarajevo in Bosnia and Hercegovina. There’s no two ways about it – you don’t even need to consult a map – you have to go through Croatia if you make such a journey! And so, with delight (for this is one of Visit Croatia’s favourite TV programmes at the moment) a slice of beautiful Croatia filled TV screens across the UK on this autumnal midweek day.

Celebrity Race Across the World

Rain, rain go away

Well, let’s backtrack a little… Croatia was sadly not as spectacularly beautiful as it normally is. This episode showed it to be more like…very rainy. And even quite stormy at times. It’s unknown when this TV programme was filmed, but I suspect that it must have been at some point in late autumn or early winter last year judging by the light snowfall in Switzerland, the teams wearing warm jackets in most episodes and an apparent lack of tourists in the portions filmed in Croatia.

The four teams – Harry Judd from noughties band McFly and his mum Emma, Mel Blatt from 90s all-girl group All Saints and her mum Helene, weather presenter Alex Beresford and his dad Noel and racing driver/TV presenter Billy Monger and his sister Bonnie – all seemed to encounter and be rather bogged down by weather that’s not typical for most travellers to Croatia.

Each episode of the show sees the teams race (of course!) from one checkpoint to another as quickly as possible whilst also sometimes stopping to work to top up their funds or to take in an “experience”. Whilst Harry and his mother Emma did work in Split by cleaning a luxury yacht, no teams sadly enjoyed any kind of experience in the country.

Two of the teams did however enjoy a little downtime (and work) in Slovenia. Alex and Noel cleaned boats on Lake Bled and then enjoyed a free boat trip, admiring the cleanliness of the water. Billy and his sister Bonnie cleaned the famous Lippizan horses and stables in Lipica, then enjoying what looked to be rather swanky accommodation. (Lucky them!)

Harry and Emma took a direct but surely incredibly tiring 19-hour bus journey from Innsbruck in Austria to Split, even enduring a blown tyre at one point. After a job and an overnight stay, they then took a direct bus from Split to Sarajevo. Here’s a little clip of their “tyring” experience (excuse the pun):

Billy and Bonnie made their way from Slovenia to Zagreb, sadly (apparently) only enjoying the bus station there before making their way to Sarajevo by bus. And Alex and Noel made the same journey too – literally in fact, given they were on the same bus to Bosnia’s capital.

Mel and Helene hopped from Trieste in Italy to Rijeka, staying a night there, to Zadar before choosing this point to make their way over to Sarajevo. Lucky for them, a helpful waiter seemed to plan their journey by summoning up a taxi for €350. (A taxi! From Zadar to Sarajevo! €350!) We wouldn’t recommend you copy them.

Alternative routes the celebrities could have used

The whole point of the show is that the celebrities – and the “normos” featured in the non-celebrity version too, of course – have no access to smartphones or the Internet in any way. So they can’t just bring up a list of bus timetables in roughly five seconds flat as per normal.

The teams travelling from Slovenia to Zagreb to Sarajevo were onto the right idea, as was Harry and his poor tired mum Emma by making the not exactly short hop from Split to Sarajevo. (Although I don’t envy their aforementioned 19-hour bus journey in getting to Split.)

The view of Rijeka from Trsat Castle

Mel and Helene however seemed to waste time going to Zadar (where Mel seemed to think she would hit the beach). They could have in fact taken a bus directly from Rijeka to Sarajevo, although there is only one a day (and it may not necessarily have worked to their timings) and, in fact, only operates 4 hours a week. Taking 10 hours and 45 minutes and costing just €53, it’s a more economical journey than their €350 (normally €500) cab from Zadar to Sarajevo.


Despite the teams enjoying some cheap and speedy trains in Italy and scenic mountain trains in Switzerland and Austria in the previous leg and earlier in this one, trains wouldn’t have helped the racers in Croatia. So thankfully, no one attempted to take a train.

Speaking of trains, my initial reaction on the idea of travelling from Zermatt to Sarajavo (via Split) was “ooh – they should get a ferry over from Ancona!”. To attempt this, they would have first had to travel to Milan in northern Italy. The Die Bahn website tells me the shortest option from Zermatt to Milan takes 3 hours 15 minutes and involves a train, a bus, a train and then another train – so, not particularly straightforward.

But once they had reached Milan, it would have been a straightforward 3 hour 21 minute direct train to Ancona. From here, Jadrolinija have an overnight ferry to Split, which arrives at 7am. The teams could have easily got another cheap ferry ticket and slept on the floor! (As they’ve done in previous episodes.) And then made the onward bus journey from Split to Sarajevo.

Of course, the ferry only operates 2/3 times a week in winter and may not have worked to the teams’ schedule. Perhaps a kindly BBC producer was guiding them away from this option to avoid them getting stuck in Ancona for a few days.

Croatia again?

The next leg of the race sees the teams heading up to Berlin, so no doubt the teams will return to Croatia to then make the journey up to Germany.

More info

You can find out more about Celebrity Race Across the World at www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m001qnk8. You can also watch tonight’s episode (and previous episodes) there.

Photos of Croatia - Dubrovnik

Game of Thrones Tour in Dubrovnik

There’s been quite a bit of press recently about an exclusive new guided tour that’s being offered in Dubrovnik – one that is sure to thrill fans of a certain hit TV series and popular set of novels. US-based tours company Viator are offering a new ‘Game of Thrones’ Walking Tour of Dubrovnik that takes in many of the locations used during the filming of the show, including the sights that double up as King’s Landing and Blackwater Bay. There’s obviously plenty of Dubrovnik’s main sights to see as well – taking advantage of viewpoints from where you can look over and imagine yourself in King’s Landing, such as from Dubrovnik’s wonderful Old Town walls or Lovrijenac Fortress. So whilst you enjoy taking in and imagining everything as it looks like in the TV series, you’re also experiencing the wonderfully historic sights of Dubrovnik, one of the most beautiful and most popular places to visit in Croatia. The tour also teaches participants a little more about the Targaryens, Baratheons, Starks and other noble families featured in Game of Thrones. And maybe, just maybe, it’s a way to comfort yourself after a recent unexpected and violent plot in the TV show!

Photos of Croatia - Dubrovnik
Looking out to Lovrijenac Fortress from the Old Town Walls

This walking tour is clearly a must for any Game of Thrones fans that are visiting beautiful Dubrovnik, but we can imagine that it would be plenty of fun for those that aren’t even that well acquainted with the show. Join the tour and make your friends jealous at having seen the “real” locations from Game of Thrones!

Viator’s tour takes three hours and departs at 10.15am. It includes entrance fees (for the town walls and Lovrijenac Fortress) as well as the facilities of a local guide. Hotel pick-up and drop-off isn’t included, but since it’s so easy to get around Dubrovnik’s Old Town and Dubrovnik itself, that’s hardly needed!

As mentioned, this tour is exclusive to Viator so can’t be found anywhere else! It takes place daily and costs £47.33/$72.66/€55.00 for adults or £23.67/$36.33/€27.50 for children aged 4 to 11. Children under 4 go free.


To find out more details about the tour or to book a place, please see Viator Exclusive: ‘Game of Thrones’ Walking Tour of Dubrovnik.

Check out the following press reports on the Game of Thrones tours:

New Split - Brac - Hvar - Korcula - Dubrovnik catamaran line

A bunch of nobodies visit Croatia

Croatia. A country for everyone – big spenders, the budget-conscious, adventure seekers, sun-worshippers, families, party-animals, culture-vultures…the list is endless. But it has now also been discovered that it’s a very suitable holiday destination for those whom the term “celebrity” is coined very, very loosely.

Channel 4’s Celebrity Coach Trip (don’t lie, we know you watch it too!) features a bunch of “celebrities” making their way across Europe on a coach holiday, taking part in a series of tasks in each destination they visit whilst also generally messing around/getting on each others’ nerves/trying to remind people of their glory days and why they were famous in the first place.

In the most recent series, the gang were lucky enough to enjoy four days (well, four episodes worth of filming) in Croatia, taking in the capital city Zagreb, the Plitvice Lakes National Park environs, the lovely town of Zadar and bustling Split. From judo to a cookery lesson in Samobor, a survival course to glass blowing and klapa singing, the group had a busy time and Croatia served as a very pretty backdrop (bar some rainy conditions in Zadar) – with some very friendly and well presented teachers and guides – throughout the shows.

Split, Croatia
Hilarity ensued in Split (no, really)

You can watch the episodes via Channel 4 On Demand – here’s the site’s Coach Trip page (viewable in the UK and Ireland only) or on YouTube.

In answer to the question I can hear on the tip of your lips – no, I don’t know what Croatia did to deserve Nikki from Big Brother.

Three Men Go To Venice…via Croatia

Croatia was nicely featured in a BBC2 broadcast of the first episode of a new series last night, the latest in the Three Men In A Boat set of documentary shows. Featuring comedians Dara O Briain, Rory McGrath and Griff Rhys Jones, previous programmes have seen them take part in various japes – on boats – in Britain and Ireland. This particular series sees the trio start their journey in Montenegro, making their way up the Adriatic – via various Croatian towns and islands – with the aim of reaching Venice to take part in a gondola race there. (I suppose they could have just gone straight to Venice for water escapades there, but that probably wouldn’t fill two 1-hour episodes. Having said that, Griff Rhys Jones revealed that the original title of the show was supposed to be Three Go To The Balkans, but that was apparently deemed unappealing sounding.)

The Croatian section of last night’s episode (with more of Croatia featured next week) showed them in Dubrovnik, Korčula and Vis. Having sailed into Dubrovnik in rather stormy weather, on a boat that was part of a holiday flotilla, they awake to glorious sunshine and there’s a comedy-sketch-like scene where Rory McGrath returns with breakfast for all of them – including some kind of pig’s ear – only for the other two to have decamped to a local cafe.

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