How do you sum up your favorite trip you’ve ever taken? I don’t know what made me love Croatia so much. Could it be that I was thrilled to get to be on my own time frame after having everything planned for me in Thailand? Was I looking for something more familiar, like the European trips I had taken many times before? Or was I searching for some sort of independence I had yet to find, despite four years living away from home? I still can’t answer that question.
I know for sure that what made Croatia so great was the people I met. When I first got to my hostel, I shyly sat in my room and unpacked but said a nice hello to two British boys in my room. Later in the day I worked up the courage to actually talk to them and we spent the rest of the afternoon laughing over what words we say differently (“aluminum, khaki pants, water wings”). I made them try grits, which they said tasted like cheesy vomit, before we went to dinner at a nearby konoba. The next day they took me to the water for a swim and they recalled the Neil Diamond song for which I am named. Damn, I was hoping some things weren’t international. The rest of our time in Split I was referred to as “Sweet Caroline” and even the thirty people on the pub crawl caught onto the unfortunate nickname. When we went our separate ways the next day, I was somewhat disappointed, but I realized our trip friendship had run its course. Any more time with them or any more choruses of “Sweet Caroline” and I might have stabbed someone.
Sunset over Mljet National Park
Once I boarded my BusAbout cruise, I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was an all Australian group and most were traveling with friends. Would I be able to infiltrate the groups? I was pretty shy on my first day, but I laughed when some of the Aussie girls referred to the two things the boat didn’t have enough of: D and D, or deck chairs and …boys (or some variation that starts with a D). The first night out in Hvar was hazy, but I recall not knowing the words to most of the songs because somehow we had found ourselves at an Australian bar in Croatia. This may sound bizarre but there are HUNDREDS of them. I was feeling down until I heard my absolute favorite song, “You Get What You Give” by New Radicals. I felt like myself again. The same night, Tommy asked me to dance and thereafter became known as my “boat boyfriend.” The trip definitely wouldn’t have been the same without him (see future posts for more details).
the cliffs in Dubrovnik
Where else but Croatia can you find a bar with a tree in the middle of it (Kiva Bar, Hvar), one that serves drinks in sand buckets and vases (Gallerie, Dubrovnik), one in the middle of a cave (Club Deep, Makarska), one where you wear helmets to take shots (Kiva Bar, Hvar), one on the side of a cliff (Dubrovnik), and one in a tower that retrieves your drinks with a pulley (Korcula)? And without that great exchange rate for the kuna, how would you pay for your drinks?
flowers in Hvar
The scenery definitely tops what I’ve seen in my lifetime. The ocean is the bluest I’ve seen outside parts of Mexico and the buildings are so old and well kept up for a country that has been a war zone in my lifetime. Mountains would come up from out of the sea and tower over the horizon. Terra cotta roofs, historic bell towers and protective city walls are found all over the Dalmatian coast. I could go on for days about why I love Croatia and it wouldn’t sum it up at all. So I guess this post didn’t exactly do it’s job, but all I can hope is that seeing my photos and reading my not-so eloquent words will make you want to find out for yourself.