LandLubbers in Croatia
Trip Start Jun 21, 2010
37Trip End Jul 01, 2011
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Where I stayed
We rented a car and drove up to spend a couple of nights in Split where we rented an apartment from a really nice local family
Another ancient walled city, fun just to walk around and marvel at the history. There are two things that really stand out for me. First was taking the pedestrian ferry across the river that separates the two parts of the city. This "ferry" has been running for over 850 years! It's basically an old man in a rowboat and it costs about 75-cents to cross. The locals as well as the tourists love it as it really feels very old-world and romantic. I've included a short video of it here.
The other thing that we found really fun in Zadar was to walk through the streets looking for signs of fire fights from the latest war
Plitvice Lakes National Park
After visiting three cities in a row, it was a good time to get some nature so we drove to the country and visited Croatia's most famous National Park. We have been to Yosemite, Yellowstone, Big Sur, and many other beautiful places and Plitvice Lakes is just as special and beautiful. It's about a 7 mile section of river that brakes off into thousands of waterfalls of all shapes and sizes. These are the kind of waterfalls that are drawn into all the fantasy paintings with unicorns etc. Very cool!. Wooden walkways were built that allow you to walk across, through, under the falls and river.
Of course, this not being the litigious USA, the walkways are what an attorney would call one giant "trip hazard". Basically made of cut pieces of timber, the entire path is only about 4 feet wide and you really needed to watch your step at all times or risk falling to great harm and/or embarrassment
While in the country, we stayed at a small guest house run by a local family and had a great time and of course, ate great food. The weather was cooler and it even rained! We were SO ready to feel cool, in fact, I don't think I've ever been that ready to be cold. It was a glorious three nights!! Our room however was the tiniest we've ever stayed in. It was on the top floor so all the walls were slanted and you could only walk upright in some sections. I had to duck under the shower curtain to get in and out of the shower. The room itself was very humbling.
The capital of Croatia has about 1 million people and is as cosmopolitan as Croatia gets. We stayed at the Sheraton downtown in a large room and visited the open air market in the daytime and walked a lot. The weather was a BEAUTIFUL 65 degrees!! We could actually be out all day. We visted the cathedral and open air market and ate fresh fruit we bought while we walked around the city
Thoughts on Croatia
As I sit here in the lobby of the Sheraton in Zagreb on our last day in Croatia, I have a few thoughts.
I think this applies to all of Europe, but I may as well talk about it here
The rooms are usually so small that when you get up at night to pee, you're nearly guaranteed to kick a piece of furniture, really hard. These big American feet just don't have the room they need to safely navigate the hotel room at night. The people in the neighboring room must thing there is someone with turrets syndrome over here with the sporadic, unexpected, and sometimes violent cursing outbursts in the middle of the night! I've taken to walking backwards at night to protect my toes.
The air conditioning even in the nicest most expensive hotels SUCK. Even in the Sheraton, with 65 degree weather outside, we've had the AC on max since we arrived and still sleep with no sheets or blankets. The AC in some other hotels are like leaving a blow dryer on, better to not have it at all.
Beds in the hotels also vary greatly and you never know if you'll end up with sponge on spring, two twins advertised as a king, or squeaks so loud you can't move without waking up the family. And sometimes, you get a really nice bed
Americans are so spoiled!! The local Holiday Inn would be 5 star here.
The people of Croatia are wonderful, warm people. We never for a moment felt and animosity towards tourists, or Americans, etc. The Croatians seem to be real live and let live people. Most people speak English and try their best to help when needed.
I'm happy to report that there are lots of big, bald buys in Croatia. I feel really at home here and think that most people take me for Croatian when they see me. It feels good as compared to traveling through Central America where I'm spotted as a gringo from miles away.
No Cops, No Crime
Croatia is probably the safest feeling country I've ever visited. Everyplace we visited, large and small, we asked about safety and were told "no problem, no crime here". It was really hard to believe in the bigger cities, having been around the block a few times, but it turned out to be completely true. There is no crime or criminals in Croatia. It feels weird just typing that statement. There has to be at least one criminal, but we couldn't find him.
I asked a local guy we met about it and his theory was that since the war, all the people want is peace. Crime would not be tolerated for a minute. Everyone is a patriot and to commit a crime would be hugely unpatriotic. Interesting theory.
All in all, we LOVE Croatia!! It's beaches and countryside are beautiful as are it's people. We will come back some day to explore further.
Next stop Greece!