Thursday, May 30, 2013


Another day, another train. This time we are backtracking our way to Switzerland. We know, this doesn't make geographical sense. But with our Eurail passes and overall plans, it somehow works out best.

Well, we successfully travelled through Croatia! Its probably the country that we knew littlest about on our itinerary, so we went in pretty unsure of what to expect.  Unfortunately, we went in expecting beautiful weather and a lot of beach time. After Croatia, we realized that we can no longer set this expectation.

We spent our stay in the seaside town of Split. In Split it rained. It rained a lot. We were able to make it to the beach our first and our last day, and one cloudy day in between, but it was not "hang out at the beach all day" kind of weather.  I did manage to take my first dip in the sea, but the water still has a little bit of warming up to do before any real swimming can be done.

Split was a beautiful town with red roofed homes lining the coast and covering the hills. We stayed in a place called Hostel Lero, which we were unsure about initially. Conner called the hostel to move back our reservation only to be screamed at by the owner for no acceptable reason. We would have changed places if it were not so darn cheap. When we arrived at the home there was no reception and we could not figure out how to get inside. After calling several times we were met outside by the owner whose jokes did not seem to translate well as we found ourselves more irritated than welcomed. I thought Conner was going to slap the guy at one point. After already being yelled at by him, it was a little more difficult to be tolerant of the jerk.

After being close to turning around and looking for new accommodation for a second time, we were taken to where we would stay which was down the street from the hostel building to which we arrived. We went down stairs, through tiny alleyways and winding streets and finally arrived at this wonderful home. There was another traveling duo sharing a room downstairs and we were given a private double room upstairs with access to a large balcony with a table and hanging lights. We shared a kitchen, living room and bathroom downstairs. It was an awesome place to stay. Too bad you have to put up with the owner first...

Down the street from our hostel was an amazing view of the city and harbor with a long stair path leading to the coast, as well as a path upward around the cliffs. The area was called Marjan and it was wonderful for walking when the weather was nice. We walked the path, picking flowers for our hair...some us (me) were more successful than others (Conner). :)

We tried to take walks along the coast and visit beaches as much as we could, but sometimes the weather made it impossible. Because of this, we spent a good amount of time walking through little shops and finding shelter in cafes. One night we even went to an English screening of Great Gatsby. Movies are much cheaper in Croatia than home. So much cheaper. We're talking like only three bucks.

Most of the shops are within Old Town and are situated in and around what is left of Diocletian's Palace. It was really interesting to see how the old building was integrated into the busy town.   Outside the walls of the palace was the fish market on one end and the fruit, vegetable, and cheese market in the other. We bought some amazing goat cheese and strawberries one night, along with fresh bread from the bakery and had a great little dinner.

Also at the bakery were the best and fluffiest marmalade donuts. The picture below was our pastry overload day. Two of the pastries are split in half so technically we only ate two each.
We're on diets.

We ate at the house for most meals, but we did enjoy some great food at local places as well. We had the best sandwiches at a little shop called Rizzo. We also picked up calamari and a traditional sandwich called cevapcici at a stand on the street. We were a little nervous watching the lady make these items. I was about 50% sure we would have food poisoning later in the evening, but it turned out delicious, and we ended up in the happier of the 50%.

As our final meal we went for seafood at a restaurant called Fife. Conner ordered mixed grilled fish and I ordered the black cuddle fish risotto, which seemed to be a local specialty. Despite appearances, both were very good. Conner had three whole fish on a platter, which were both appetizing and fun to poke at and play with at the table (maybe we should still be traveling with our parents). For my meal, I ate tar. Not really, but that's what it looked like since the ink of the fish dies the risotto completely black. I was afraid to smile in fear of looking like Heath Ledger in The Patriot (Katelyn, you're the only one I can rely on to understand this reference).

Our last full day in Croatia we decided to take a trip to Plitvice Lakes National Park. Don't ask us how to pronounce it, because there are  three of four possibilities that we can't decide between. Anyways, we packed our bags and took the bus to the park where we were able to spend about four hours walking a trail around the upper lakes.

Plitvice was gorgeous. The water is crystal clear and waterfalls are everywhere you look. So are Asians but that's a different story. At one point Conner and I were the only non-Asians on a tram in the park and when we took a sharp turn the whole bus went "oooOOOHHhh" in unison in a way that only Asians and the alien toys from Toy Story can. We couldn't stop laughing.

On a side note: We both agreed that our dads (shout out to Mark and Howard) would have loved this National Park! Father- daughter trip 2014?

Our only disappointment with Plitvice is that we didn't have more time to explore the park...and that we didn't have a cup of coffee before leaving. It seems we're both addicted to caffeine and get headaches in its absence. Great. We left Plitvice very glad we had taken the time to make the stop, and ready for for our next destination of Switzerland.... not quite ready for the 16 hour travel day. We'll talk about that later. I'll let the suspense eat at you for a few days.

Conner and I are both so grateful for this opportunity, but we are even more grateful for having such great family and friends back home. I think our understanding of how wonderful you all are only grows as we travel and experience new people, places, and cultures. We love and miss you and pray for your health and safety.

See y'all in five weeks and we'll share with y'all again even sooner! Ciao!

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