Plitvice lakes

Today, I joined a tour to go visit the plitvice lakes, a stunning marvel of natural beauty. These waterfalls cascade from tier to tier making really beautiful formations of waterfalls.

I met up with a Japanese girl at the hostel and we walked to the meeting point and joined the 30 others on the bus.

We met a girl from New Zealand and then boarded the bus where Miho, our tour guide entertained us with information about Zagreb, Croatia’s capital city, as well as some history.

After our drive, we got our stuff and were a little concerned about the weather as everything told us that we’d be in rain and thunderstorms during our visit. Amazingly, we had beautiful weather, perfect temperatures, with sun peaking through every so often. It was great.

In line, we met a guy from the uk and back up with the kiwi and formed a group of four to do the hike. We enjoyed walking around viewing the beautiful waterfalls and enjoyed the soothing sounds of falling water all around. Half way through was lunch time and we were pleasantly surprised by a rotisserie chicken lunch available for a normal price. We had a great lunch and then continued on our trip which included one of the slowest boat rides ever across the lake to The other side.

We had a great time together and laughed so much throughout everyone’s stories. As we boarded the bus back to zagreb, the rain started to com down as a dark cloud swept above us. We had amazing luck!

Split, Hvar and Brač, Croatia

Arriving in split after another bus ride, I was immediately thankful for not doing many more bus rides across the country. The roads winding Around the coast made for quite strenuous and exhausting rides.

Once out of the bus, I looked and quickly found the hostel I’d booked was literally across the way from the bus station. It’s exactly what I wanted to see.

I got settled and headed out to explore the old town and find some dinner. split was really lively and had a great vibe about it–not one that would make me stay longer but one that made me see why people do enjoy to come here.

The next day I decided to take a day trip to hvar island, and got the ferry in the morning. The weather turned bad and started to pour down rain literally as I stepped off the boat.

Overlooking hvar city is a fortress that you can hike up to to take amazing vantage points if the surrounding islands below. I was glad I’d bought the umbrella in Sarajevo, but even more happy about the forethought of bringing it with on my day trip.

After wandering around a but the rain started pouring harder and I went to seek cover in a cafe and have lunch. I had one of the worst burgers ever and left about half of it on my plate.

After leaving the cafe I found another one that I got more food at and had another snack. The rain finally let up and I continued walking around the island and enjoying the fresh sun and smell of rain water evaporating from the hearing cement.

It was soon time to board my ferry back home. That night, I went to a great restaurant thy had been recommended by a girl I met in Greece, it was great. Fresh ingredients, prepared in front of you, and small and intimate kitchen like setting.

After dinner I wandered around the old city more and got a good nights sleep.

The next day I got my stuff ready to leave and spent the day enjoying the beach. I met a nice German couple who had a shirt that had a company name with ‘knoxville Tennessee’ written on it.

I went to the water which was just knew high, a little chilly but nice, and watched everyone enjoying playing games in the water. I went a but further out to swim and then headed back to dry and go back to get my boat over to brač.

After a nice ride to the island I figured out where the taxi stand was and went to get checked into my hotel. I found it online and the deal was really cheap as a last minute special, but after riding a good 20 minutes away from civilization, I saw why.

As we pulled up to the runoff on the side of the road, it looked like an abandoned place except for a couple of cars out front. I walked in and saw a girl who was very cute, and quirky and shy. She and I spoke for a bit and she showed me to the room which was a maze of disorientation in this compound. The room was huge, no windows but a great big door that could be shut with shutters to make a cave. Here I could hibernate and recoup for the next part of my trip.

So that I did. The next morning I met a Belgian couple at breakfast and they were going down to the town for the day, so I joined with our equally handsome son of the manager, Ivo. The two seemed like brother and sister, but made it clear they were not.

Ivo graciously drove us down to the town and there we went our separate ways, and I found myself wandering towards the beaches of zlatni rat, an incredible horn shaped protrusion from the island that apparently changes shape during the seasons, truly showing the power of tides.

I spent the day swimming, sunning, relaxing and then went to lunch a different beach nearby. During my walk I found a hilariously fun obstacle course in the water that looked like one of those American gladiator things. So after lunch, I bought my ticket and joined all the kids (big and little) through the obstacle course laughing as people fell on their faces, slipped of to the water, and so on.

That evening, I came back and say by the pool. There were 5 Croatians sitting drinking smoking and partying and they asked me to come sit with them. After their second attempt I agreed and sat and was given a drink which I had to drink due to peer pressure :)

We talked a while and they graciously invited me to join them to go party in Bol, but I stayed back and had dinner and watched cnn.

The next day I went to the north part of the island to supetar, again with the Belgians. They were leaving today and I joined them to their boat. I explored this part of the island a bit, had lunch, and made my way back home for dinner.

The next day I hung out at the pool until the afternoon and chatted with maya the cook. It was fun to be there a whole to get to know them and I enjoyed the chats.

Ivo was there to drop me off at the airport. The airport was tiny and on top of the mountain. Another prop plane, and I thought well, this is the last one of this trip (I think!).

Leaving brač, we got beautiful views of the islands hvar and brač before heading inland towards Zagreb.

Dubrovnik and Lokrum island

Taking the bus from Mostar to Dubrovnik is supposed to be quite easy. However today posed some challenging traveling issues that reminded me I’m not as interested in the ‘quirks’ of various places as I used to be.

At the bus station, communicating was a huge problem and it’s so frustrating that people will not even acknowledge you or respond. They speak English because you hear their answers to other questions but a simple, please look at me, will not even get acknowledgement. The bus I was trying to get on apparently was full. So I waited there until the bus came before surrendering to the fact that it was full.

I waited patiently and no one would tell me if yes the bus is completely full or not despite me sitting with my hand of money out ready to board. Finally I have up and started walking away. That got their attention. They let me on the bus after I paid for a ticket. Why they wouldn’t just say wait and well see or anything when I’m asking ‘is it full’ was really trying.

Anyhow, amazingly I got into the bus and all was fine. When we tries to cross the border into Croatia however, traffic came to a complete stop and people were standing outside their cars because none were moving.

After waiting for almost 30 minutes the bus chose to take the other lane of oncoming traffic and speed Ahead. And we arrived at border control. The driver took all our passports and had everyone checked for the next 20 minutes. We then had a Croatian officer come on board and selectively pick out passports after viewing. It seems as though all Bosnian passports were being taken and the rest of us were just visually checked.

We then got back on our way but quickly stopped again for a rest stop. It was actually good timing because I was hungry at this point and was able to get a sandwich. Here I talked with another American Israeli and we chatted for the rest of the trip.

When we arrived I organized getting money and my next bus ticket out and it started to drizzle. I waited at the bus stop and after boarding the rain started coming down. Bad luck! My hand carry luggage of goods is in a paper bag with plastic inside so amazingly i was able to cover it enough when jumping out of the bus and running for cover.

Luckily I had bought an umbrella in Sarajevo but it was challenging with two back packs carry luggage a bottle of water and umbrella. I managed however and quickly found my apartment conveniently located just in front if the buža gate in the old city of Dubrovnik. The owner, Nike, welcomed me and sent me to my room which was at the top if a spiral staircase that I climbed up to my room. It was a beautiful room and just perfect. It felt amazing to drop everything, rinse off in the shower and relax.

I then decided to head out to dinner after having a nice stroll throughout the old city. I happened upon a Mexican restaurant. Extremely expensive –ie tacos for $20, but after seeing the guacamole, I couldn’t resist. I sat down and had a delicious nachos com carne meal and the flavors were amazingly good.

I then continued all around the old city looking at the roads buildings and people watching ending up sitting and peacefully enjoying the beautiful scenery.

The next day, I headed for Lokrum island for the day. On the boat ride over, I met some English people as well as Japanese people on the boat and enjoyed chatting. The English couple, lewis and Bianca, and myself all walked around the island before finding a spot to check out to swim. Peacocks inhabited the island and were everywhere. Including baby ones. I’d not seen a baby one before and not surprisingly, they look like little ducklings.

The afternoon was spent chatting walking, sunning, swimming and we finally split up during their lunch as I’d already eaten. I found another great place for swimming and relaxing and I pulled out the iPod and relaxed in the sun while looking out at the beauty of Dubrovnik in front.

That evening I went out for a sushi meal and it was pretty good. I hadn’t eaten sushi for a long while, so it was good to have something light. The evening I walked around some and headed back for some tv and rest.

The next morning, nike greeted me and we settled my room and she graciously took me to the bus station for my ride to split. She was an interesting character. A translator, guide, she had the err of an eclectic artist. She would have made a great gifted teacher as her energy was bright and engaging and she was thrilled to speak to me about anything and everything. Wouldn’t it be nice if more people were like this?