Dubrovnik and Zadar, Croatia

I knew it was my time to leave Hvar when after a few days I began to walk down the street and people would begin to shout, “OI, CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN!” at me.

Let me just clarify quick. I was not wearing my hat.

These people in the street, to the best of my knowledge, were random. People whose names I did not know. People who did not look familiar to me at all. After about the third time I stopped, smiled and made some small talk. I was confused as hell. I needed an answer. One group of guys all laughed at me, explaining, “You were on the boat pub crawl the other night! You kept coming up to my friends and saying, ‘I AM THE CAPTAIN. YOU ARE MY CREW! I COMMAND YOU TO HAVE A GOOD TIME! CHEERS, WE ALL DRINK!’ You’re the reason we’re hungover today. Still though, it was great!” I thought about it for a moment. Would I truly have behaved so rudely in such a public place?

………………Yeahhhhh, that sounds about right.

So, with a new title that I feel I fully deserved after captaining a pub crawl ship and a real ship, I set sail for Dubrovnik…. literally. Don’t worry, this time I made the ferry.

Next, I was headed to one of the most popular destinations in Croatia, Dubrovnik. Recently, it’s become increasingly popular due to the television show, Game of Thrones. A lot of the recent seasons have been filmed within the “Old Town” of Dubrovnik. This part of Croatia is considered one of the best preserved medieval towns in Europe and is also a UNESCO Cultural Heritage site. On top of being one of the most beautiful towns I’d ever been to, there was a deep history in Dubrovnik. During the Croatian War in the 90’s, control of the city was strategically important. There’s a lot of things I could bore you with that I nerded out about while I was there, butttttttttt I’ll just post all these wonderful pictures and if you’re interested, check out the history of Dubrovnik yourself. Better yet, learn a little more about Croatia. I knew absolutely nothing when I first arrived. The more I’ve traveled and learned, the more the country has blown me away.

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During the war, over 55% of the buildings were damaged in some way. The country has done wonders restoring the old town back to its original state. It was almost hard to believe the pictures of the bombings were real in such a magical place.

As impressive as the Old Town was, there wasn’t a whole lot to do. The place was crawlingggggg with tourists. I was ecstatic to finally see such a beautiful city but I get a little uncomfortable when I’m surrounded by screaming children and overly expensive wines. Not sure if you guys knew it, but that’s not really my vibe. Maybe the wine…. not the children.

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So, the rest of my time in Dubrovnik was spent going a bit further out of old town, hiking these huge cliff hill things (note: I am terrified of heights) and just hanging out at the hostel, meeting new frands. The park I hiked had all these old WWII bunkers and tunnels hidden throughout the landscape. They were so creepy looking. When one finds super cool secret hidden sketchy bunkers in the middle of an abandoned park in Croatia… one definitely enters them to see what’s inside.

 

Let me tell you… all I found were empty beer cans and condom wrappers. Not the most exciting of treasures.

Now for: STORY TIME!

Believe it or not, when a new roommate of mine walked into the room and we did the standard, “Hi, how are you? Where are you from? I just want to get to know you since we’re sleeping in the same room this small conversation will make it less awkward” introduction…. he just goes, “Were you in Hvar a few days ago?”

Oh god.

I just stared at him. “Uhm… yes. Were you?”

“Are you the Captain?”

I wasn’t sure the direction this was going. Half of me wanted to die and half of me wanted to jump on the bunk bed to sing songs of the open sea. I just nodded. He laughed and pulled out his phone, “I have videos of you from the pub crawl!”

andddddddd those are the last words you ever want to hear.

anddddddddddddd the next day I left for Zadar, Croatia.

Don’t worry, it’s not THAT bad.

I mean, bribes will keep anyone quiet.

Haha I kid, I kid. Really, it was nothing……..

MOVING ONTO ZADAR NOW.

So basically, let me throw down this fantastic map to show you a summary of my crazy path through Croatia. I planned this months ago to ensure I would end in Zadar. It’s the cheapest city to fly in and out of Croatia.

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WOW A MAP. 24 days total in Croatia. From Zagreb > Split > Hvar > Dubrovnik > Zadar > flying to Germany

Zadar was one of my favorite stops for a number of reasons. Mostly because I didn’t expect anything out of it. Also, there were wayyy less tourists.

I planned on straight up relaxing for two days.

So on my first day I was walking down the beach minding my own business when I heard, “Alexa????”.

I turned around and, BOOM! It was the Canadian part of the Longest Loaf (aka the ship I was captain of for a period of time in Hvar). My Jester and Navigator, Reid and Mitchell were also just sitting on the beach, now in Zadar, minding their own business too! Neither of us had any clue we were going to be in the same city at the same time, much less the same beach at the same time. This, of course, called for celebration.

The next day I took a day trip to a place called Nin. This was a small town with one of the very few sandy beaches in Croatia (most are pebbled – not sure if that’s even a word but it is now). At this sandy beach they have a thing called “Medicinal mud”. People will rub the mud all over their bodies in order to aid medical ailments. Anything from skin diseases to skeletal system problems. People sometimes do it just because it makes your skin feel super duper soft. Seriously, it’s a thing.

 

Or you could just be a weirdo like me and have fun playing in the mud for a couple hours without the fear that people think you’re acting like a child. NO RULES!

Oh yeah and there’s this cool thing about Europe that people go topless at beaches a lot. So check that off the bucket list. Ayooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. Sorry, have to take credit for the one crazy scandalous thing I’ve done. WOOO.

There was also this thing called a “Sea Organ” that was a bunch of pipes built into the stairs near the water. The waves caused the organ to make music. Pretty neat. There was also a solar panel that lit up at night and looked like a weird disco floor. People were trying to take selfies with the disco floor. I just did the only thing I thought was reasonable and BOOM:

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Work of art, that.

So yeah, that was it. That was Croatia.

The Good:

  • Clearest water I’ve ever seen in my life
  • Pebble beaches
  • Cheap (if you know how to control yourself)
  • Eye opening history (especially for this naive American)
  • Warm weather
  • Mix of many different cultures (check that history ayo)
  • Laid back and chill
  • Friendships forever
  • GOT TAN WOOO
  • The Croatian language is cool as hell
  • Realistic hiking with beautiful views (2-4 hour trips)

The Bad:

  • Wish I would have hit smaller, less touristy towns
  • I got sunburned once
  • The sea organ did not take requests – it just sounded like a sad, dying whale.

So there you have it. VISIT CROATIA CAUSE IT’S COOL AS HECK.

With that I am OUTTTTTTTT.

Next stop: Frankfurt, Germany.

Hvar, Croatia

Leaving Split for Hvar meant I had to leave my partner in crime, Ellen. After about 12 days bumming around together, it wasn’t easy.

As a wise friend once told me, “It’s not goodbye, just see you later”. I’ve been using that motto with everyone I’ve met these past few weeks. After all, a life of a travel leads you to some of the most unexpected places at the most unexpected times. Two traveler paths are bound to cross again by some strange circumstances. Either way, I know without a doubt I will be reunited with Ellen soon. What kind of captain am I without my first mate?img_9306.jpg

So, I was headed to Hvar only due to the kindness of a ship captain who felt sympathy for my situation. Overall, I planned five nights in Hvar. This was due to the fact after Zagreb and Split, I figure I’d be a little traveled out and tired. The city of Hvar is located on island Hvar (creative I know) located off the southern coast of Croatia. When I first looked it up four months ago I thought to myself, “This would be a great place to relax and do absolutely nothing.” Buttttttttttt I found out shortly that Hvar was party central for a lot of tourists traveling up and down the Croatian coast….. yay.

All honesty though if you have the willpower, you can avoid the tourist traps, crazy clubs and intense party animals. I would say Hvar was the first real test of my long term travel plan. For five days I managed to avoid going out to expensive bars and just relaxed. There were many, many beach days filled of reading, swimming and naps on naps on naps. Three things I splurged on when I was in Hvar:

  1. Day trip to Blue/Green Caves and Europe’s smallest beach
  2. Hvar Pub Crawl (It was started with boat drinking and ended on a party island – how could I say no?)
  3. Rented a boat with a group from the hostel

I won’t get too into it, but here were some photos of my day trip to the Blue/Green Caves and beaches. Basically, there was a group of 12 of us on a small speedboat for the day. We had two captains (well three if you count me) – and they took us all around the islands of Croatia. It was a grand day and the waves were rough, which made it more fun for obvious reasons. Our captain FLEW over these huge waves. It was terrifying and fun.

Can’t describe how beautiful the isles of Croatia are, so just go yourself. Trust me, definitely worth it.

Soooooo, arguably, the greatest thing I’ve done this adventure so far (with the exception of INMusic Festival) was rent a boat for the day. A group of new friends I made at the hostel I was staying at rounded up a crew and decided to bite the bullet. The boat cost us each $12 for the day. Yeah, $12. TWELVE DOLLARS FOR FREEDOM ON THE OPEN SEAAAAAAA. I have no idea how this was even allowed, but I was in love with the idea.

The owner of the hostel, Amir, was a kind enough soul to let people rent his boat. We ended up picking up some food and a generous supply of beverages before we began our day of Booze Cruisin’….. I mean… safe boating following only the strictest of guidelines related to the open sea.

Oh yeah…… guessssssssssss who got to be captain all day?

That’s right, the girl who has the least amount of experience driving a boat but the most amount of experience wearing the most appropriate of hats. ME. I WAS SO EXCITED.

The crew was fantastic. I mean, we really couldn’t have asked for a better dynamic. We appropriately named our boat the Longest Loaf (credited to a crew member that brought the longest loaf of bread any of us had ever seen).

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Each of us had our designated and very important roles to make the Longest Loaf would stay afloat.

  • Niini (Greenland-ian) – First Mate
  • Mitchell (Canadian) – Navigator
  • Reid (Canadian) – Jester
  • Ollie (English) – Captain’s Bartender (perhaps the most important of jobs)
  • Alexa (‘Merican) – Captain

It was a hearty day of swimming, jumping off boats, jumping on water trampolines, boarding random yachts, losing the Longest Loaf when we thought we were anchored and then swimming to catch the Longest Loaf before it washed away to sea. Couldn’t have asked for a better day.

Cheers to the best crew a captain could ask for.

As for the Hvar Pub Crawl, all I have to say is that I met a pug on the way, Ollie and Niini came along, and of course, I wore my captain’s hat.

Just make note of these details, one or two play a vital role in my next post.

Split, Croatia

Oh hey, what’s going on world? What is up? What is going downnnnn? I hope you all are ready for another wonderful entry of my blabbering AKA “blog entry” AKA ensuring my grandma that I haven’t joined a gang and become part of some underground European drug mafia……. well… err…. More on that subject later.

From my last entry I believe I told y’all I was leaving Zagreb and headed towards the coast via bus. Yes…. BEACHESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS. Let me tell you, the bus ride was absolutely astonishing. I fell asleep for a bit, only to wake up completely surrounded by MOUNTAINS. I mean like HUGE MOUNTAINS. Not hills…. MOUNTAINSSSS. Being from Wisconsin I’m sure you can understand, the state is pretty damn flat. When I woke up to look out my window and see our giant bus charging down the side of a cliff in the (wait for it……………) MOUNTAINS!!!!!!!!!!!! I freaked a little. Imagine a small child with its face pressed against a candy store window……. Yeah, you get the picture. Here is an actual picture:

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MOUNTAINSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

I arrived in Split relatively late so I decided to be responsible and “go to bed at a reasonable time” to get a “decent night sleep”. Ugh.

All respect though, the hostel I stayed at (Split Guesthouse) was probably one of the best hostels I’ve ever stayed in all my travels. It was a converted apartment run by one guy with the help of his family. There were only 14 beds (three bedrooms) and one common area. When I walked in the door the owner, Josko (pronounced Yas-ko), acted like I was an old friend. He was so welcoming and knew everyone that stayed there by first name. When I first arrived, his young daughters were just hanging out in the common area playing with toys while a bunch of travelers were sitting around, drinking beers and chatting about life.

I knew right then I was going to fit right in. As the next few days passed, Guesthouse became my home away from home. Josko would always stop in the morning to check in on us, asked what we needed, where we wanted to go, how to get there and loads of recommendations. I’d never felt so comfortable staying in a hostel. For three days I knew every single person that was staying at Guesthouse. You have to understand that in a hostel environment, a place where travelers are constantly checking in and out all the time, getting to know everyone is very rare.

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What the Spilt Guesthouse looked like inside. Tons of notes to Josko and Grandma posted all over the walls showing love for them both. I pulled this photo from the internet so don’t try to find me 😉

Besides Josko checking in on us in the morning or if we called him, all of us travelers were basically on our own. No workers to sit there and watch your every move. No one to tell you what you can and cannot do. The place was run on respect that Josko trusted you to be a reasonable human being. Everyone came and went as they pleased. Yet, at the end of the day we always ended up sitting around the kitchen table sharing our daily adventures, future endeavors and ridiculous travel stories. It was fantastic. I mean there was literally a woman everyone called Grandma that worked there. She was Josko’s mother in law and from 7:30AM-10AM she would sit in the kitchen, waiting to make you breakfast or do your laundry. There were sooo many days that we all woke up, shuffled to the kitchen one by one and cured our travel worn, hungover bodies with Grandma’s breakfast. Needless to say, Grandma’s breakfast was the bomb dot com. 

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Grandma’s Breakfast – bless this delicious meal

Over the next few days in Split I got up to the following:

  • Biked/Hiked over 17 miles (coolest park ever right in the city)
  • Got a group of seven of us from Guesthouse to go to Official Pub Crawl #1
  • Got tear drop tattoos with the hostel on Pub Crawl #1 (guess who’s idea that was)
  • Reunited with Ellen (YAY! – we were seperated a few days)
  • Drank a 2L baby of beer (the size just amazed me, how can you not?)
  • Beached it everyyyyyy dayyyyyy
  • MET MY FIRST EUROPEAN PUG NAMED PUDGY HE WAS SO COOL WE’RE FRIENDSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS PUDGYYY YO WHATUP IF YOURE READING THIS I MISS YA HOMIE
  • Made friends with Australian Vanessa who had a car and drove a bunch of us to National Park Krka (praise her kind wonderful soul)
  • Swam in waterfalls at National Park Krka
  • Lead Unofficial Pub Crawl #2 (rounded up some Guesthouse people and went bar hopping – slightly sucessful?)
  • Had my last dinner with Ellen (not yay)
  • Bought a captains hat (yayyyyy!)
  • Official Pub Crawl #3 with Ellen, hostel friends and Ryan (an amazing soul who’s from the US.… we met him at INMusic Festival and now met up again in Split. YAY I love full circle traveling friendshippp)
  • Fought off many drunk men who tried to steal my captain’s hat
  • Took a lot of photos with strangers in my captain’s hat
  • Teared up from sadness when I lost my captain’s hat
  • Teared up from happiness when I found my captain’s hat
  • Got home from Official Pub Crawl #3 at 8am
  • Realized it was 8am
  • Realized my ferry to the next town leaves at 10:30am
  • Oh shit….
  • At least I have this badass captain’s hat

Soooooo let me backtrack a weeeeee bit. It was 7am the night?(morning?)…… relative time after Official Pub Crawl #3. I found myself sitting on a bench with my newly acquainted engineer traveler friend from Australia talking about past and future adventures. He decides to buy a ticket for the ferry to my next stop, Hvar, then and there. Yay!!!! After ages of trying to book it via shitty internet, it happens. His ferry is to leave at 9:45am, mine at 10:30am. Look at that Alexa, you already have a new friend in a strange and unknown place you are traveling. SCORE.

So guess which one of us missed our ferry.

Wellllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll………….

……….let’s just say the real captain of a real ferry ship in Split must have a soft spot for girls with a giant ass backpacks, teary eyes and beautiful, stunning, majestic hats……

….…because one definitelyyyyyy let me on his boat for free.

Bless his soul. Bless his kindness. Bless captains everywhere. Bless this great world and the sea and me not being abandoned in the hot sun with no hopes of getting another boat for at least a day. BLESSSSSSSSS LIFEEEE YAAAAAAAAAA.

It’s the little things.

Here’s some photos to help console you from that rollercoaster of emotions we all just experienced while reading that.

ONWARDS TO HVAR!!!!!!!!!!! AHOY!

 

 


 

Plitivice National Lakes Park

Went to the most beautiful UNESCO World Heritage site with my friend from England, Ellen. It was awesomesauce.

About time she posted something….

Helllllooooooooooo everyone! Yes, I am alive, and yes, I have been MIA, and yes, it is because I’ve been having too much fun. More on that later. As I write you I am on my 11th day of traveling on a bus headed to the Croatian coastline. Yep you know what that means. BEACHESSSS. Yay!

Anyway, I guess I’ll start from the beginning. It feels like months ago that I left Green Bay and drove down to Tennessee for the four day music festival, Bonnaroo. As expected, I had a killer time. Probably drank too much, probably didn’t sleep enough and danced more than enough.

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After a day of recovery, I powered through the eight hour drive to Chicago, caught an eight hour flight to Frankfurt, Germany where I then proceeded to a 16 hour bus ride down to Zagreb, Croatia.

This all sounds pretty terrible, but honestly, it was great. I caught up on soooooo much sleep and managed to meet quite a few people. On the bus ride through Germany I had a two hour layover. I dropped my bags at a luggage locker in the city and just ran around town for a bit. Lucky me I just happened to find a giant beer festival going on that very day. Oh yeah, did I mention it was in a castle? Possibly one of the coolest things I’ve ever just stumbled upon while walking through a city. Naturally, when one happens upon such a festival in a giant German castle the only thing to do is to partake in the festivities by consuming a beer……..or two…….. maybe three if the time allowed. Let’s just say I slept like a baby on the second bus to Croatia.

After the slightly intensive travel journey was completed I found myself walking into my very first hostel in Zagreb. I threw all my luggage on the floor and plopped down on my bed, exhausted. After about 10 minutes I started chatting with one of my roomates. We started talking about what there is to do in Zagreb and he goes, “Well I’m actually trying to hike this mountain right outside of town, do you want to go soon?”.

What do you think my response was?

Three hours later, this was my view.

Worth itttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt.

Here is a fantastic list of all the things I managed to get up to in Zagreb:

  • Walking Tour (learned so much yay!)
  • Saw a guy shoot a cannon
  • Waved at the guy who shot the cannon
  • Learned important words in Croatian (like hello, thank you and fuck it)
  • Pub Crawl (this one hurt the next day)
  • Met a girl from Wisconsin and got way too excited (ayooooooo you know who you are)
  • Met a girl from England who I suckered into going to a music festival with me
  • Ate a piece of pizza that was larger than my head

Overall, I’d say a very sucessful first three days of traveling.

The next stop was what I was truly the most excited for the past few months, INMusic Festival, located right outside of Zagreb. The festival consists of seven days of camping (I was doing 5) and three days of music. It was located on three small islands in a giant lake. Yeah, now you understand why I was so excited. So I grabbed my new English friend and we headed out, unsure of what to really expect.

We ended up camping a short walk from the festival grounds and relatively close to the beer tents. These are both obviously the two most important factors when choosing an ideal camping spot. Our neighbors ended up being just ok. I mean we definitely could have picked a better spot (so much sarcasm in this sentence). Our neighbors were awesome. Potentially the best, but don’t tell them or they’ll just get cocky. Two guys next to us were from Liverpool and as the days went on we ended up making a seriously solid squad of two Irishmen, a Scotsman and the sweetest lady from Spain.

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Over the next five days my life consisted of the following:

  • Building a beer pyramid with the camp
  • Dancing on tables
  • Getting squirt guns and sneakily shooting people to mess with them
  • Swimming in the lake to cleanse our hungover souls
  • Dancing… dancing and more dancing
  • Meeting Alt-J (band – I fangirled so hard)
  • Trying to find my lost sunglasses, key chain, squirt gun and dignity
  • Meeting the bassist from Flogging Molly (he threw us beers during the show – also cried – no shame, my love for them is deep and my happiness was off the charts)
  • Wrestling (I won)
  • Getting lost and making new friends
  • Learning that glowsticks are not a big thing in European festivals (this also may have made me cry at some point)
  • Watching the sun rise every single “night”

All in all I can say it was one of the top weeks of my life. My favorite part was that the campgrounds only held about 1,000 people and no working internet. That meant that over the five days we were there, majority of these strangers became familar faces. People actually spoke to one another instead of sitting on their phones. It was so easy to just walk up to a group of people hanging out and start talking to them. Everyone was just so happy and the music was insane. Cheers to all you beautiful souls that made the festival so special.

Anywho, I guess that’s more than enough for now. Peace out blog thingy.