Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Dubrovnik, Croatia


Hi! I’m just hanging out on the ship now. We arrive to Piraeus, the port of Athens, Greece tomorrow morning. Greece has been much anticipated by me and Lee and everyone else; you can just tell everyone is really eager to get out there tomorrow! But I guess that’s the case every night before we arrive in a new port. No one really does homework for these nights – we just all make last-minute plans for the city we’re going to be traveling in.

I can’t believe how quickly Croatia flew by – I wish we had had just one more day in Dubrovnik. This trip is going by so much faster now that we’ve already been to three countries! Greece is the half-way point of the trip. But anyway – let’s get on with it! CROATIA is very very bewitching! Beautiful just wouldn’t cut it ;)

Day One: (Thursday, July 8)
Lee and I woke up and caught breakfast with a few friends and were off the ship as fast as lightning. Just the view from the windows on the ship was breathtaking; the port is in a really nice part of Dubrovnik, with tons of resorts around, and across the water on the hills were some nice houses and resorts. The famed, main part of Dubrovnik, the Old Town, was a barely 10 minute bus ride away from our ship, so we took that. But first, we had to all figure out the currency dealio. The currency of Croatia is the Kuna, and about 5 kunas equal one US dollar. So I had all of these “huge” kuna dollar bills on me…100 kuna bill, 200 kuna bill, even a 300 kuna bill! It looked scary, but they actually only equaled out to $20, $40, and $60. The bus was only 8 kuna, woohoo! So we went to the Old Town immediately.

        Old Town was so charming and beautiful. The entire town is on the coast, and is completely fortified; these ancient high walls surround the Old Town, and you can walk on the top of them and get an amazing view of the mountains behind you, the sea all around you, the island of Lokrum, and you can see everything below you, in the Old Town. All of the buildings inside have that reddish orange looking tiled roof and the walls are all gray stone. It’s just an amazing place! Also, the entire Old Town (and ALL of Dubrovnik, that I got to see) was so clean. They really take care of everything. Even though the walls date back several hundreds of years ago, they don’t look dirty or crumbling or anything. It’s awesome. When we were in Rome and especially Naples, you would constantly be running into some funky smells on several streets, but walking around in Dubrovnik, there’s none of that! The weather there was really great, too – warm but breezy! LOVE that sea breeze!!! ;) Anyway, anyway… so we immediately climbed the couple flights of stone outside steps to get to the top of the Old Town city walls. We walked around the entire city, and it only took us an hour and a half! And we did it leisurely, too. Obviously, the city isn’t humongous. The walls are built on cliffs that hang over the Adriatic Sea, so when we would kinda hang over the walls and look down into the water, you could see through it! Ah the water was so clear and blue and beautimous. After taking some pictures and just enjoying our surroundings, Lee and I had to get back to the ship; we both had separate field trips for our classes that we had to go on.

        My field trip was for my Anthropology class; my class and the world music class joined and took a bus to this very small village on the top mountains of Croatia, called Osojnik. The village is known for preserving its medieval appearance. It only took about an hour to get there, and as soon as we did, we all got off the bus and started walking down their dusty streets, peering through their overgrown yards and seeing chicken coops and donkeys! We had a guide (who I couldn’t really understand, he had a pretty thick accent) who took us into their church and let us sit down while he talked for a few minutes. The village only has about 400 people in it, and ONLY 100 families! I’m sure they all knew each other’s business like nothing else – that’s about the same size as my high school! The guide said that there are about 4 people in each family, so that’s where they got 400 from! After the church, we walked down their roads again and were welcomed into one of the “back porches” that belongs to one of the families. It had a wooden roof over it and all these wild flowers growing on the top of it. As soon as we got there, we had to file in a line, and they handed us each a shot glass full of what I thought was just vodka. I was pretty surprised – they practically forced us all to take shots of this mystery liquor, they were encouraging us so much! Haha! It was pretty funny. But anyway, we all took a shot of it, and guess WHAT?! It was definitely not just any old liquor, they told us that it was moonshine that they had made themselves! Haha! Let me tell ya, that was the strongest thing I’ve ever tasted. I couldn’t even get it all down in one shot! It burned so bad as it went down my throat, I almost started choking haha! But I IMMEDIATELY started sweating and my eyes teared up!! It was pretty funny. A handful of the people on the trip were so excited about the moonshine, they had a few* more shots than that first welcoming one. I don’t know how they could handle it! The couple who were hosting us had these little fires set up for us to roast BACON – from their own cows! They also gave us awesome bread and cheese, so we had ourselves tons of little bread, cheese, and bacon sandwiches. Then, the couple did a “folk dance” for us, but it was just dancing in circles and clapping, basically. I was expecting something a little cooler than that, with more people or something! Haha. But after the “folk show”, they served us white wine that they had made, once again. Haha So we basically paid for moonshine, wine, sandwiches, and dinner – that was all we did on the trip – drink and eat! I had a glass of the wine but that moonshine I swear was just crazy strong! We had dinner downstairs, in this room that was built into the stone. It was like a cool cave, pretty sweet! It was just meat and potatoes and bread, mmm!

That night, I was feeling pretty tired and worn out, so I just cooled it at an internet café for a little bit and talked to my momma on the phone! It was a good day but I had to call it an early night!:)


Day Two: (Friday)
Lee and I woke up around 8 and met Bryant, Lindsey, Matt and Erik at breakfast. We had plans to join another big group of people I didn’t know to go kayaking outside of the Old Town. We took the bus to the Old Town and met up with our Croatian kayak leaders! They were so much fun! It was 2 people to a kayak, and it was an all-afternoon deal. We kayaked near the coast and outside of the city walls over to this natural cave, and we all got out and snorkeled for about half an hour. The water was FREEZING – but it felt so good once your whole body was in the water! I loved it! Snorkeling didn’t really end up happening; we ended up climbing up on some slippery rocks and jumping off of them, and attempted to take some underwater pictures with Matt’s underwater camera. I don’t think any of them turned out, haha. We were given these really delicious sandwiches, too! Okay, so after we all ate and got back in our kayaks, (me and Lee switched places this time –she took the back seat, and our paddling and our kayak went a lot smoother. Apparently I suck at kayaking.) we paddled across the Adriatic Sea (not the whole thing) over to an island that is relatively close to the Old Town, and kayaked around the entire thing! We kayaked over 4 miles that day! Lee and I were exhausted when we were done. It was so funny, because we were always in the back of the group! Haha! We claim it’s because a lot of other people had a boy in their kayak and we didn’t! The main kayak leader and other kayakers would wait for us and a few other stragglers to catch up, and then they’d all paddle away again! It’s because they consistently had breaks, waiting for us, and we never had any breathers! That’s our theory on why we were so much slower than everyone else ☺ Oh, we caught an eyeful around one corner of the island of Lokrum! It was a nakey beach, and apparently an Old Man hangout, too. Let’s just say we had to hold back a few laughs while kayaking around that part!
After that, we all headed back to the ship to get cleaned up. We felt good after spending a day swimming and in the sun. The Adriatic is SO salty! My whole face was practically covered in dried salt when I got back to my room.

        After resting for a little while at the ship, Lee and I met up with the Texas girls, Meredith and Shea, and went out for a late dinner in the Old Town. The Old Town is so beautiful at night! You can tell it’s really safe, too. Every time I went inside the city walls, there are groups of children of all ages running around and playing with each other. We had dinner at a pescarria (I don’t know how to spell it, but a seafood/fish restaurant) that was all outside under these huge, towering umbrellas and that was right next to a smaller pier with all these cool boats in it. Dinner was… interesting. Lee and I both ordered “grilled shrimp”, and I was thinking of something along the lines of what my dad always makes when we’re in Florida – grilled shrimp, that’s already pealed and delicious…but NO! That ain’t what we got! Our waiter put down a huge black pot filled with little shrimp that looked like they had just been plucked from the ocean 5 minutes ago! They had all their antennae and EYES still on, everything! Call me unadventurous or whatever you like, but I didn’t like it at all. It took me 10 minutes to peal the darn little shrimp, and then there was barely enough meat in him once I finally got to the inside! I left the place still hungry. But the company was nice, and I loved the scenery of the restaurant! I’ll post pictures later ☺ After dinner, Lee and I got some gelato (that was my dinner) and walked around Old Town some more. At night, bats SWARM the city! It is actually really spooky, but in a good way. All you can hear are the bats screeching and you see them – there are HUNDREDS of them, at the top of the city walls right above you – flitting back and forth. We didn’t even know what they were doing up there, just having fun?!
Anyway, this was a great day. Love Dubrovnik. Love the Adriatic Sea. Love the Old Town. Love bats!

Day Three: (Saturday)
Early early in the morning, Lee and I headed out of the ship after catching a quick bite to eat in the Garden Lounge to catch our buses for our field trip to Montenegro. We were stupid and forgot to sign up for buses ahead of time, so we were assigned to different buses ☹ But, I was happy once I got on my bus, because I was on the same one as our sweet friend, Julianne! We sat together and talked and then drifted asleep ☺ It was early, and the bus ride was over two hours. Montenegro is a different country if you didn’t know, it is not part of Croatia. It shares the border with Croatia and Bosnia among others that I don’t want to mention (meaning I don’t know if there are any others –yes, I need to look at a map, OK!?) So it took awhile for us to get through customs and all that. But the bus ride itself was beautiful – we got to see the countryside of Croatia and Montenegro, and it’s amazing. The mountains are so tall and such a dark green, and then the sea is such a stark contrast of piercing blue! Love love loved it. Montenegro means “black mountains”, which is very fitting. The mountains are so high, and they just slope right down into the sea, it’s not even a gradual slope! When we got to Montenegro, we first went to the Coast of Kotor; it was built up against a mountain, just like Dubrovnik’s Old Town, and had palm trees and ancient city walls and old churches, too. It took us about 15 minutes to be guided by a tour guide throughout the main streets of the city of Kotor – it was that small! I was sad that we didn’t get to spend that much time there, because we had to get back on the bus and head over to another city called “Old Town”! It was sweet and had the awesome, narrow streets that are typical of Italy! We got separated from Lee (different groups/buses) so me and Julianne went exploring through the streets and went in a few shops, and made a pit stop at the sandy beach that was in the back of the Old Town! The whole day was really nice and everywhere we saw was beautiful and unique, I just wish we had more free time to explore on our own and really experience the towns. Ugh! Oh well. It was still a great day. On our way back to the ship, all of SAS’ buses (4 in total) drove onto this huge ferry that took us over to the other side – a short cut, so we wouldn’t have to drive all around Montenegro again, I guess. I slept the rest of the way back.

That night, what did we do?! We went to Old Town (again), of course! Dubrovnik was having a huge festival this summer, and the kickoff night of the whole festival was this night (our last night in Croatia)! It was called “Libertas”. We got there just in time to watch the fireworks! There were so many people there, and everyone was so dressed up, it was awesome. The ground of Old Town is this ancient white, pearly stone. It looks like marble but it’s not, but it’s super slippery and at night, it makes the place look even more neat! So we watched the fireworks go off right behind the high clocktower with all the people. The bats were present, once again! There was a live orchestra that started to play around 10 PM that night, and we could hear it from where we were! We were down a narrow little alley, eating chocolate pancakes (crepes!)! It was so much fun and the whole place had so much energy. It was a really fun atmosphere; I’m so glad we got to be there that night! Lee and I walked back to the ship that night, and it didn’t even take that long, about 25 minutes. It was a beautiful walk, right next to and above the sea. A great way to end the night!

Day Four: (Sunday)
Our last day in Croatia. Lee and I were pretty sad to leave such a pretty, carefree place. I think this was the safest, most low-key port we have been to so far, and probably will be out of the rest of the countries we will visit! We took our time waking up that morning ;) But as soon as we were up, we had our bathing suits on and took off for Old Town. We caught a ferry (less than 5 minutes, for real) to the small island of Lokrum. There’s a fortress in the middle of the island as well as an old monastery and a botanical garden. People usually go there and use it as a lounging beach place. It was so quiet on the island; people were all taking naps on the rocks around us and just taking it easy! There are all these dirt paths between the trees on the island, and they lead you to the rocks and cliffs and the sea. We decided to skip the nakey beach that day. We laid our towels out on these huge boulders that overlooked the sea, and you can see the Old Town city walls. It was sooo nice! There’s no sandy beaches on Lokrum, so a lot of the locals had these roll-up cushiony loungers, I was jealous. I spent the afternoon reading The Bacchae (for my Religion and Literature class) and even swam for a little while in the sea! It was such a gooood day. On our way back to catch the ferry to Old Town, we saw wild peacocks! Yep, they just roam the island. It was so cool. Oh, and I SWEAR that when you’re walking around inside the wooded paths on this island, it smells JUST LIKE Seaside/Watercolor smells, it’s unreal! I loved it! It reminded me of home!
        Anyway, we took the ferry back to Old Town and were starving, so we found a small pizzeria and split a pineapple and ham pizza. Lee and I were already missing the pizza in Italy, so we opted for the pizzeria instead of a fish place! It was delicious. We sadly made our way back to the ship around 5 PM, saying goodbye to Old Town, the birds, the bats, and the city walls. The rest of that night onboard I spent studying for my Anthropology test, wooohoo!

I miss Croatia already! We were all talking about it, and we decided that we could totally move to Croatia; the only thing holding me back is the language barrier (even though most of them do speak English…it’s starting to not surprise me when Europeans can speak my language – America needs to jump on the multiple languages deal. Europe is way ahead of us!). BUT- I could definitely get used to Old Town and Dubrovnik. I could get a job as a kayak instructor! I could totally do that! If I got better at kayaking first, though. Alrightie. That’s all I have to say. Miss yall!

3 comments:

  1. Hi! That was a great blog on Croatia - makes me want to go there, too! Maybe we will someday....

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  2. That good looking guy in the corner...July 13, 2010 at 4:14 PM

    Croatia sounds amazing... when I do my Eurotrip one day it's definitely on the schedule. I leave Morocco for Egypt Saturday.. i'll let you know how it goes and have fun on the rest of your trip! Take a pic for me at the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, it's one of the top 5 places I want to go in the world.

    -Chris

    P.S. I think I will be able to come down and meet you guys for the day when you're in Norfolk. I'll plan on getting there around noon and picking you up from the airport. That way we can grab lunch and chill at the beach all day before I take you back!

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  3. started reading from the first issue and bought from the third. I was wondering what happened as I haven't been able to find it in the book shop for ages. Sigh. It was THE BEST gaming dubrovnikiff along with Mean Machines from England. A part of my youth died today finding this news! I just read online now that the mag might be coming back on Dec. 1st.

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