We started out Croatia in Split. We settled into our hostel and spent some time walking around town. It is beautiful everywhere you go, but also packed with people. We didn’t do much our first day but we did find a way to watch the Steelers game over dinner on the laptop so Rob was a happy camper. We found a pub crawl for the evening that promised to be a lot of fun so we headed out after the game. The crawl started at one bar that had ‘all you can drink’ for the first hour and a half!! (Plus they gave out free pizza!) Needless to say we never made it past the first bar, as everyone started to head to the next one, we headed stumbled home. We woke up the next day and surprise, surprise – I felt AWFUL. I think I had started to come down with a minor cold and the hangover didn’t help. I ended up staying in bed all day while Rob walked around town. We got 2 bunkmates – Chrissie and Emilie – in our room our second day (we had the first day to ourselves). Two English girls, around our age, that were touring Croatia for a few weeks. These girls might have been our first roommates who were instantly friends rather than just acquaintances which was really nice. We had an early ferry to Brač the next morning and I had been in bed sick all day so we went for a mellow night. We headed to the city square where they had live music and everyone sat on steps around square with drinks, dancing and singing… it was a beautiful setting, and ended up being a simple yet amazing night.
We had 5 days at Waterman Resorts on Brač (thanks for the hookup Stevie!). This was an all-inclusive resort that a friend’s uncle owns. We got our wristbands and headed straight to the food! J All we could eat and drink for the next 5 days and the food was AWESOME. Then we headed to our room… A REAL hotel room, just us, no bunk beds, no roommates, no shared bathroom – it was such a treat (plus it overlooked the pool which was awesome). It came with a couple nice chocolates, a plate of cookies and a bottle of red wine. Honestly at this point we got a little nervous that we had accidentally signed up for some sort of ultra premium gold package that would cost us a fortune, but it was all included (even the white robes and slippers!!) We were walking distance to the beach, a few feet from the pool and we were in heaven.
Over the next few days we had fun in/around the resort using the gym and sauna/steam room & the onsite putt putt course, which hosted a few high stakes games. Athena got some spa treatment while Rob participated in an international ping pong tournament. We explored the surrounding community around the resort and bought some snorkel gear, which ended up being quite crappy. We tried a dive and found that the goggles were leaky and the snorkels were more like saltwater straws. Amazingly we were actually able to get our money back from the vendors on these purchases… I guess they realized they were peddling crap. We also discovered a mini trampoline park which gave us 15 minutes of uninhibited bouncing for ~$4. It was a silly thing to do, but a lot of fun just bouncing around and actually proved to be a great workout! The last activity we did at the resort (not including a brief stint on the outdoor duckpin bowling lane) was an odd, but very entertaining one. Each day after breakfast, a resort employee will take any interested guests out to the archery range for some shooting. It was nothing fancy, but fun to get competitive/talk trash during this target practice. I couldn’t convince Athena to go down range with an apple on her head… but I did eek out a win in the contest. Boom, Arched! It was at this resort where we stumbled across a dive center and first contemplated getting our diving certs. Although we didn’t get them here at the resort, we did decide that it would be awesome to be certified and ready to dive before getting to Asia, so we could really fully SCUBA while there rather than just train. All in all the property and staff were amazing for each of our 5 days. Despite all the activities and facilities though, the highlight was the five star meal available for us each day breakfast lunch and dinner. We ate like Croatian kings this week and missed it as soon as we took our ferry back to Split.
We made our way from Split to Dubrovnik. Dubrovnik is a beautiful walled city with some very rich history. We stayed on the edge of the city walls in a great airbnb with an overly nice lady who seemed to apologize for everything. You can spend hours walking through the city’s hundreds of little alleyways getting lost in it’s maze of cobblestone streets. We spent our first day just getting our bearings, finding all the spots, which would soon become our favorites.
One of the popular things to do is to “walk the city walls.” A few sets of stairs up and you can walk above the perimeter of the city with beautiful views at every step. It was so wonderful to see the city from above with the sea behind it. As we exited the steps from the walls and began walking back to our room for a quick bite, we heard someone call our names. We thought we were imagining it because well… we are in Croatia – who would know us here? We heard them yell for us again, we turned around and saw the girls from Split – Chrissie and Emilie! We were stoked, since we had just been talking about possibly going out for the evening and now we had friends to do it with! We made dinner plans to go to a nearby restaurant that we all had wanted to try and parted ways.
Dinner rolled around and we met up at a place called the “Taj Mahal” it turned out to be some AMAZING Bosnian food. After dinner we strolled around the city in search for a good place for a post dinner brew when we stumbled upon an Irish pub – we all know these are perfect for a couple beers no matter what country you are in so we stopped in and got a few enormous beers with the girls. We quickly made friends with a couple of guys traveling around Croatia that were from America, Matt and Vinnie, so a couple beers went to a few which went to many quite quickly. By the end of the night we had merged with a group of Canadians that none of us remember enough to know their names – we only know they were the bearded Canadians.
The next day Rob and I went to a well known café called “Café Buza” that is right on the cliffs edge of the city and has a beautiful view. It is a popular cliff jumping spot so of course Rob had to take the plunge! It was nothing in comparison to the jump he made in France but it was still pretty high so he was pretty satisfied with himself after a few jumps of the highest cliff.
We booked a kayak tour for the evening that coincidentally our friends from the night before had also booked (Chrissie and Emilie as well as Matt and Vinnie). We all jumped in our kayaks and headed out on the Adriatic to a cove that was only accessible by boat that all of the many kayak tours went to. Here we had snacks and went snorkeling and of course… cliff jumping. Except this time I went too! This was my first time, in a long time, jumping off any sort of cliff. The last time I did this was probably around 4 or 5 years ago and it was the most terrifying thing ever. I thought I would never do it again, until now. I decided to shock Rob and go for it. I climbed up the cliff where he was awaiting his turn, knowing full well that there was no safe way to climb back down. I would have to jump once at the top. I handed him the Go Pro and I sat shaking at the top while 20+ people watched at the bottom waiting for me to go. Finally when I was almost ready to give up, they gave me a countdown… 3… 2… 1… Go! I knew at that moment I had no choice so I closed my eyes and I leaped – screaming the whole way down but I made it! Many more people jumped after me, none were of any interest to me because I was still shaking from my jump for the next 20 minutes but I’m sure they were having a good time. About an hour before sunset we jumped back in our kayaks and headed towards a nearby island that we toured around and then headed back to the city walls as the pink and orange sky set on the water. It was stunning.
One of the most popular things to do in Dubrovnik is the cable car. We have both done cable cars in a couple different cities… some cities they are definitely worth it, some they are just so so. We were told that this could not be missed so even though it was a little pricey, we bit the bullet and headed up. The view instantly showed itself to be one of the best we had seen in Croatia to date. It was unbelievable. Once we arrived at the top we could see island after island with faint mountains in the background, it was unbelievable. I believe we were able to see all the way to Montenegro in one direction, and possibly Bosnia in another! We spent a couple hours just walking around at the top getting different views before we decided that we wanted to explore the island we had kayaked around the evening prior. We headed out there on a short ferry ride and were almost instantly greeted by one of the islands many peacocks. The island is covered in them and they are quite friendly if you have food. We even got a few of them to jump for their snacks! The island is small and there isn’t much in regards to a beach but there are some cliffs so we headed over and instead of Rob jumping solo, I jumped with him this time! *trying to conquer a fear!... slowly but surely * Rob spent the rest of the day cliff jumping and I just did some sun bathing, one jump was enough for me for the day. After we had fully exhausted ourselves, we headed back to Split on a late night bus.
Playing the ultra-budget backpackers for the night, we decided on a special plan for the night’s lodging. Given that we arrived at about 2am, we didn’t feel like paying for a hostel, especially knowing we would be heading out at around 8 the next morning. We dropped our luggage at the hostel we had stayed at before in Split, and then headed to a nearby park. To put it unceremoniously, we slept in a park in our hammock that night. It was quite comfortable and went without any sort of incident, except a free night’s sleep prior to our next adventure. While we’re admitting things that will surely freak out our parents, we’ve picked up hitchhikers 2 separate times during our trip so far. (A mountainbiker looking for a ride back to the top of a run in Wyoming and a group of French people at Plitvice NP, Croatia. The total hauling time for both groups was about 22 minutes).