Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Croatia: A Beautiful Country of History, Sea Views, & Natural Parks

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Do you believe in "better late than never"? Given all the work I've been doing over on my teaching blog, The Teaching Cove, and the strenous task that is a PhD, plus my English teaching jobs, this post is a good four months late! (In fact, it's so late that my friend Dayna and I have planned to meet up again already, in Berlin in April. So stay tuned for that, too)

However I late am, I did think you might all want to hear about the last travel adventures I had when Dayna came to visit last October. Now, we also did a lot in Barcelona itself, but that'll have to be another post on eco-friendly, vegan and ethical shops here in this beautiful city. Dayna definitely introduced me to some new places here in the neighbourhood of Gracia, and a whole bunch of restaurants.

Zagreb & Plitvice Lakes

Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
We actually met up in London first for a night because the flights were cheaper that way. Can you believe that? It was cheaper for me to fly Barcelona - London -Zagreb than simply going to Zagreb. If you're looking for a place to stay in London by the way, Temple Lodge Club was great.

 We landed in Zagreb on a Friday night in October, and basically spent the next day catching up, eating at great vegan restaurants and an awesome organic grocery store called Bio Bio that had vegan sandwiches to go. We ended up walking a lot. In fact, according to the app I had on my phone, we walked 25 km a day! (That was before I got my Garmin Vivosport). You know me, when I love a product, I rave about it, and when I hate a product, I hate on it.  So, I have to say that Garmin did a fabulous job making this fitness band light, elegant, comfortable, and easy to use (it even swims!). 

The Museum of Broken Relationships is definitely worth a visit. It was incredibly sad, quite artistic, and is basically full of people's sad love stories and accompanying items about the love they thought they had, or the one who got away. It's heartbreakingly beautiful.  You can even submit your own story here.

Our first stop after Zagreb was a bus ride to Plitvice Lakes so that we could hike. It was a three hour bus ride, so I ended up reading a book, Nourishing Traditions. Dayna had just come back from a Norwegian vegan health cruise, so I definitely learned a lot on that trip! I'm doing my best to add more fermented foods to my diet, and see how that affects my mysterious weight loss struggle.  Thankfully, I'm totally healthy and they can't find anything wrong with me after so many tests, but wow is my progress with my personal trainers so, so, so slow.

A beautiful, but way overcrowded boardwalk runs along Plitvice Lakes trails, but I wouldn't exactly have called it a hike. Apparently we were in low season, so it "wasn't crowded", but that was more than enough people for us! We stayed in a great hotel called Bellevue and enjoyed wine and veggies on the terrace for dinner.

Check out the slideshow below for Plitvice Lake photos. If you're on a mobile device that can't load Flash, click here to see the photoset.




So, this is the stop where we decided we are too old for hostels! We had a private room and "kitchen", but I think we're going to splurge for the hotel next time. Split itself is a beautiful town with excursions out to gorgeous islands.

We basically took a guided tour to see the Old Town and wandered around. We even managed to see a couple posing for wedding photos - quite the opposite experience to the Museum of Broken Relationships! They look so in love, don't they?

Couple posing for wedding photos in Split, Croatia

Donkey wagging tail in motion

We also stopped by some handmade stalls and bought a few items like Dayna's fleece poncho and my "donkey backpack", which ended up being quite useful! 

Our time in Split ended up being quite an adventure the following evening when we headed to one of the islands for a drink on the beach, only to find that the bus didn't show up on the way back - it was cold, rainy, and we were stranded. So, we tried to catch a taxi back to the mainland (a much shorter way than we had originally anticipated!), only to find that the road had been blocked by the police.

A few elderly women coming home with the day's groceries were trying to explain to us what happened - except they didn't speak English, and we didn't speak a word of Croatian. We managed to get them to understand that we could help them carry their groceries, and we ended up all walking up to the point of the police barricade.  Sadly, it turned out the reason for the barricade was that someone had committed suicide, had a gun, and the police were previously trying to talk him out of it.  Yikes.  Our rainy, cold walk back to the hostel didn't seem so bad after that.

Dubrovnik & Lokrum Island   

We started out time in Dubrovnik with a cable car ride and wow, was it beautiful. Short, kinda pricey, but totally worth it. Our accommodation improved drastically, as we stayed in a beautiful AirBnB with lovely hosts.  In fact, our host had been in the 1991 civil war and shared his experiences on Dubrovnik (the richer area of Croatia) wanting to separate from the rest of the country, and the war that ensued. His stories were sad, and a great reminder to be thankful that I'm from a peaceful country.

 The next day, we headed to a Game of Thrones tour for Dayna. I was more interested in the history as it occurred in real life, but I have to stay the places on the tours were beautiful, historic and make you feel as if you were walking in a different century.

Lokrum Island ended up being a gorgeous day away from the busy city full of tourists. We spent the day hiking the island, getting a bit lost, getting great de-knotting massages and randomly getting free tickets to the first annual music festival on the island. Unfortunately, the singers were really not great, and the set-up was disorganized, but hey - not bad for a free night out!

Check out the slideshow below for photos from Split, Dubrovnik and Lokrum Island. Remember to head here instead if you can't play Flash on the device you're on.   


Have you been to Croatia? Are you planning to go? I'd love to hear about your adventures in the comments below! Stay tuned for my annual memory post to Stephanie Wertz, coming up next week.

Enjoy your week!


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