Friday, April 11, 2014

Spring Break, Part One: Croatia

Hello! It's been a while since I last blogged...I've been caught up in some amazing adventures and readjusting to the school lifestyle (much harder than I thought it would be...), and finally have the weekend to write about my travels.

This has by far been the most eventful Spring Break of my life. Never in a million years would I have imagined myself sitting on the beaches of Croatia, shooting arrows at a castle in Budapest, or eating gelato three times a day at a shop in Nice with almost 100 flavors.

I began my break by setting off on a 21 hour bus trip (yes, you read that correctly) to Split, Croatia. I have never traveled for so long in my life, and I have to say it made time seem incredibly relative. Where I once "dreaded" the three hour trip to Denver, or a three hour class period, three hours seems like no time at all. The silver lining, right? Getting to Split it almost felt like nothing was going right. But this is often the case with travel, and it was a lesson in patience and definitely planning. The view as we pulled into the bus station, absolutely disgusting from lack of sleep, showers, and nutritious food, made everything worth it.

And so began my less than 24-hour stint in Croatia. Our hostel, Goli Bosi Design Hostel, was incredibly hip and accommodating. The first night there I ate my first hamburger since being in Europe, appropriately named the "Chuck Norris Burger." I'd like to report that it was no where near American standards, but I was so hungry that a patty with some thousand island on a bun was pretty dang delicious. And the french fries. Oh how I've missed the french fries.

We booked the Croatia trip with a company called Bus2Alps, that offered a boat hopping tour the next morning we were there. I was a little worried about the price (40 euros), but now I am so, so glad I decided to go. It was easily the best thing I did in Croatia, and one of the most beautiful experiences I've ever had. The hosts of the boat served us little breakfast pastries and shots of some medicinal liquor that the locals apparently drink every morning. I don't know if the locals have incredible alcohol tolerance, or if it was being on the boat, but that one little shot (plus the bottle of wine we bought for the beach) was definitely enough to put us in "high sprits."

The view from the boat was absolutely stunning. The water was crisp, blue and slightly turquoise in some places. Even though it was windy and not incredibly warm, the water was so inviting! I wanted to dive right off the boat! We stopped at two islands, neither of which I knew the names of. I was shocked at how friendly everyone was! We stopped in a grocery store to get some snacks, and even the cashier was interested in us, asking about where we were from and our study abroad journey. It was a refreshing change from Prague, where the people usually keep to themselves unless you engage them. Croatia was also very clean and family-friendly. There were kids everywhere on the main promenade when we were there! Families would just go for walks along the water, or stop to eat at one of the cafe's alone the harbor.

The last morning of our stay in Croatia we decided to get up to watch the sun rise over the water. It was such a tranquil and serene experience. I felt the presence of my roommates, but also the stillness that only comes when you're alone. In those early hours, I realized that I love being near the water. I love the endlessness and mystery that comes with it, and especially the reflection of lights that make everything seem glamourous. The sunset was all pinks and oranges and with the blue of the water, it was absolutely exquisite. There's no doubt in my mind I'll be back to Croatia one day. Honeymoon? I think yes.