Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New culture. New conjugations. New craze. CROATIA.

The last weekend that I was living in Italy and Europe in general, I decided to make a trip across the Adriatic Sea to the beautiful country of Croatia.  Before I ever left for Italy, my sister and I talked about traveling to Croatia together sometime in June.  But since my sister had just moved down to San Francisco, our plans of going together werent going to pan out. Since I'm a highly determined person, once I put my mind to something, its hard for me to let go of it. And going to Croatia wasn't about to be an exception.  A few weeks before my tentative trip, I waltzed into a travel agent on my street in Florence to plan my trip.  There I made friends with the owner and he helped me plan my trip including trains, ferry and all that good stuff.  Since I was traveling alone, I wanted to figure out all of the logistics before I left.

Friday August 29th at 4am, I started my journey.  I had to catch a train that would take me from Florence to Ancona which is on the Eastern side of Italy where I needed to catch the ferry to Split, Croatia. Let me just tell you now that this was the LONGEST traveling day of my lifeeee! Once I got to Ancona which was about 5 hrs later, I boarded my 6 hr ferry to Croatia. When I was waiting to catch the ferry I overheard a few people speaking English in the sea of Italians.  I went over to the guy and asked to make sure if I heard them correctly. "Excuse me, do you speak English!?" Thats when he said yes and that they were going to Croatia as well and that I could join them on the boat. PERFECT!

Jim was traveling with his wife, Holly and her mom, Carol. He had just traveled in Africa and hiked Mount Kilimanjaro.  Talk about inspiring.  He was the same age as my dad and had a daughter my age so we had a lot of fun chatting.  They were from Scottsdale, Arizona but used to live in Oregon.  They took me in under their wing and made sure that I made it safe everywhere that I had to go. I seriously have them to thank for getting me to where I needed to be. We had to transfer from Split to another Island called Brac (pronounced Brach) where I was staying in a town called Bol.  I missed the last ferry that went directly to Bol so I got on the ferry with them and went to Supetar and planned to catch a bus. When I got off the boat, I almost missed the one and only bus that was going from Supetar to Bol.  Jim and Holly were in Croatia for a wedding of a family friend and knew a relative who was nice enough to help me get there because he obviously spoke Croatian.  I didn't have any of the local currency because they dont use the Euro in Croatia and almost got kicked off the bus! I was seriously about to break down in tears when an elderly woman in the front seat looked at me and said that she would pay for my ticket.  I started to think that if there is a God, he was looking out for me and my safety.  Once I made it to Bol, I checked into my hostel and met the guys that worked there and went to dinner with them.

Holly and Jim 

Me and Holly right before I almost got kicked off the bus

The name of my hostel :)

Steve, Ben, Rai, Will and I

The Croatian currency... this is equivalent to $51

My first full day of being in Croatia, I decided to spend it on one of its most notorious beaches called Zlatni Rat which means "Golden Horn" in English.  Thats when I found out that Croatia was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been, not overrun by tourists and had so much to offer a traveler.  The beach was made of little tan pebbles instead of sand and jetted out into a tip where thousands of people were sunbathing. I joined the masses (without sunscreen) and decided to work on my tan. I laid out there for the majority of the day listening to music and dipping into the water whenever I needed a little cool down.  The sun in Croatia is drastically different from the sun in Washington as I'm sure you can imagine, so I turned a lovely shade of purple for the remainder of my trip. Perfect.

 My breakfast on the beach

Walk along the beach to Zlatni Rat

Croatia is known for water sports

Me with Zlatni Rat in the background

Windsurfing lesson

Crowded Zlatni Rat

Fresh fruit on the beach :)

The next day I woke up somewhat early to catch another boat to Jelsa on the Island of Hvar. I stayed at a bed and breakfast in the quiet town of Jelsa for the next two nights.  After checking into my room, I wondered around the town to see what it had to offer. Not a whole lot but I knew that Hvar town wasnt too far away and could potentially have more.  I opened my guide book that night to read about what I could do and found a company that offered sea kayaking for the day for only $60. Done deal! The next morning I caught the bus out of town and decided to sea kayak the day away, wearing a hat to shield my purple burnt face from the sun.

My room in Jelsa

Sea kayaking

Kayaking around the cruise boats

The kayaking group with one of our guides in the red! :)

The group was fairly small and full of nice travelers. Two honeymooners from New York, an older couple from Ontario, Canada and a guy my age from England. We toured around the island before heading to a little cove where we got lunch and had time to snorkel.  I had fresh pasta with fresh tomato sauce and of course tried snorkeling for the first time. I absolutely loved it! The next hour or so following was spent kayaking back towards town past all of the cruise ships that were in town.  This part of my experience in Croatia was my favorite.


Posing with the cacti

Sunrise on Jelsa

I spent the rest of the day cruising around Hvar before I had to catch my bus back to the quiet town of Jelsa for the night. Once I got "home" I cracked open my book to read a bit and then fell asleep.  In the morning I caught yet another ferry back to Split to spend the rest of my trip.  I toured around the town including Dioclati's Palace where I did the tourist rub on his big toe for luck and then spent the rest of my day in a beach chair sipping on a beer and finishing my book. Ahh traveling is heaven! :)


Getting my good luck in

Inside Dioclati's Palace 

Old portion of the palace with a new portion

View of Split from the ferry back to Italy

Croatia was a land full of completely different people, completely different culture, language, currency and climate but it was beyond amazing and I would love to visit it again someday if I have the chance.  Next time I'll bring a friend, my family or maybe even lover. I'll just have to wait and see.



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