I have officially completed five months of traveling the world. It seems like a lot longer. Now I officially have to spray deodorant into my shoes every time I want to go out into public!
I was lucky to be able to spend two and a half weeks in Croatia but I could have stayed forever! It was the perfect place to start exploring Eastern Europe and it was a nice change from Spain, France and Italy. The coast of Croatia is not really off the beaten path, it is very popular and gets flooded with tourists (like me!) during the summer months. High season is July and August. Early June was perfect: not crazy busy, great weather for swimming in the crystal clear Adriatic Sea and not too hot for exploring various medieval towns. It is really easy to travel around Croatia. Most people know basic English, it is very clean, they have nice buses and road infrastructure, it is super safe and always sunny! I felt very comfortable there; the people are amazingly friendly even with their expressionless faces. Here is my one second, first impression, shallow judgment of the people: everyone is super tall, the women all look like supermodels and the men all wear jean shorts down past their knees. As I moved past that shallowness, it was fascinating to hear people speak about the recent history related to Yugoslavia and the tension between some of the bordering countries in the region. I had numerous conversations with people that ended with them saying, “It is fine now but I am Croatian, we hate everything!” followed by a sly side mouthed smile, high five and a hug. Also, my favorite waiter at my favorite restaurant introduced himself at every table with, “This is the best restaurant in Croatia but the service is horrendous” as he maintained a solid stare with no expression. I thought it was hilarious so he gave me a free shot of rakija. He told me that only 40% of people laugh at his jokes. Finally, someone that understands my pain, HAHAHA!!
The natural beauty of Croatia was as lovely as the weird personalities of the people. I guess I was pretty overwhelmed with the ancient man-made infrastructure in the parts of Italy that I visited prior to Croatia so these natural wonders were refreshing and timely.
The Southern Coast
I took an overnight ferry from Bari, Italy to Dubrovnik. The ferry ride was an adventure! I was too cheap to purchase a cabin so I ended up sleeping in the bar/restaurant area with some other travelers that I met. An Italian lady kept coming by with extra food that her and her family brought on board, so generous! I had all of the meat stuffed bread I could handle and then slept for seven hours. Not bad, oh and the sunrise introduction to Dubrovnik was a nice bonus too…
Dubrovnik was a very beautiful place. I love walled cities. I spent my time shuffling through the shiny marble-paved streets, exploring the numerous rocky local swimming spots and staying up too late to enjoy the fun night life with new friends. Dubrovnik was probably the most expensive place that I visited in Croatia but it was still affordable compared to Western Europe. Sell your TV and go see the location where some of the ‘Game of Thrones’ show was filmed! You are correct, that was a sarcastic TV show reference, thanks for catching that.
Next, I took a ferry up to the island of Hvar. Yes, I crashed a scooter in Hvar, other than that, I wore myself out swimming all day, exploring and pub crawling. Yes, the water really is that clear! There are mostly pebble or rock beaches in these areas, no sand, just blue, blue liquid heaven. I stayed at a really fun hostel and one of the girls that worked there cracked up when she caught me singing “…lookin’ for love in all the wrong places…”
I went from Hvar to Split for a few nights to recover from the party coast. I was actually pretty sick with a head cold in Split so I did not get to do much except stare at the beautiful geography that I was about the explore on the mainland! The color of the sky blends in with the sea.
Plitvice Lakes National Park
Nacionalni park Plitvička jezera was magnificent! It is made up of turquoise colored lakes that are so clear you can see the brown trout at any depth, along with alpine forests, waterfalls and caves. More heaven! This park is very well protected and well run. You cannot swim in the water but the experience was as refreshing as the cool mountain air. I stayed out there at a great backpackers hostel and hiked the park for about eight hours.
Finally, I went up to the capital of Croatia, Zagreb. Zagreb had a great feel to it, lots of culture, arts, architecture, food and music! I saw some local bands playing which were very entertaining. If I had to classify the genre of music I would label it as rock/folk/metal/80’s female lead singer/screamo/with an accordion/playing perfect covers of Bon Jovi. I think a lot of people skip Zagreb to go to the other parts of Croatia but it is definitely worth a visit.
Why didn’t I stay in Croatia forever? Well, the language is pretty hard to learn, I gave up after trying to learn the sounds of these letters: c, č, ć, dž, đ, š, ž. Also, I had a feeling that Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia are equally as amazing. I will tell you about those soon!
You can check out all of the Snaps by clicking the image below. Hvala, doviđenja!