The Croatian Vacation

Trip Start Sep 11, 2008
Trip End Dec 19, 2008

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Okay, I am back and have a ton of work to do, and have no idea how to sum up my trips into a blog entry. But I am going to try, so bear with me. We left on Thursday the 9th after I had Ethics class in the morning (blahhh!). We got on the bus and drove to Cologne Bonn Airport, where we flew out of. We got on the plane after checking in and security and all that, and began the flight to Split, Croatia. I sat next to a German couple on holiday, and they were very interested in what 85 American teens were doing going to Croatia. I fell asleep for most of the plane ride (I had to write a paper for ethics the night before - grrr.), but I woke up in time to watch us land, and it was spectacular!!! Croatia is stunning! It is no wonder to me why the Dalmatian Coast has been so fought over throughout history! I would fight to live there!!! We landed in Split among the mountains and beaches, and then boarded a bus to take us to our hotel right outside Trogir, which took about an hour. Then we got to our hotel and got our rooming assignments. After getting settled in the hotel, a bunch of us went out to get dinner and explore our small town a bit. We wound up at this little Italian restaurant with most of Emerson. We were all starving, and enjoyed dinner a lot. After dinner, we walked along the water for a long while just seeing what was around and admiring the beautiful scenery. At around 10, we headed back, but on the way we found almost all the Emersonians were hanging out at this adorable bar on the beach next to our hotel. We stayed for awhile and had a couple drinks. We headed in at around 11ish. I changed into my pjs, and went out onto the balcony of my room to write in my journal, watch the moon over the Adriatic, and listen to the obnoxious chatter of my fellow Castle Dwellers. haha. Here is a little excerpt of what I wrote that night:
"It is 11:30 pm, and I am sitting on the balcony of room 513 in the Hotel Medena in a small town outside of Trogir, Croatia. As I sit here, I am looking out over the Adriatic Sea. It is a clear night, and the stars are out. I can see the sparkling reflections in the water below. The moon is illuminating the sea and is hovering exactly over a small island in the middle of the bay. I can just see the mountains and hills of Croatia in the distance."
The next day we got breakfast from 8-9. I ate with Nicole, Vanessa, and (surprise!) Dulcia, who is the director of the program and my new favorite person ever. Then, the whole group of us got on the bus for 15 mins to get to Trogir. There, we were split into groups to go on a walking tour of the city. I was in Chester Lee's group!!! He's so adorable! haha. He had on some hott Prada sneakers!! We got to see all of Trogir, which is an incredible medieval city. Chester started off by giving us some history of the city, but while doing so a Croatian Police Officer threatened to arrest him because he didn't have a license to give tours! Anyone who has seen Chester can picture how hilarious this was. Chester then took us to the Fortress, which gives some of the most amazing views of the city. It was BEAUTIFUL! Words will not begin to explain. After the fortress, we went to the City Museum, where we had a pretty laid back tour guide, to say the least. He kept leaning on the ancient artifacts and almost knocking things over. He handed Chester the bones of a 2000 year old body, and Chester's reaction was hilarious. We then had some free time during which Sammy, Chris, Vanessa, and I got some lunch and shopped around. I bought some postcards and a beautiful watercolor painting from a woman street artist. I love it. At 2:30 we had to meet Chester again to go on a tour of the St. Lawrence Cathedral. It was a beautiful church, and we even got to go into the Belfry. I couldn't make it to the very top (wayyy too high and scary!), but where I was the view was still unbelievable. You could see all the orange rooftops or Trogir, and the green palm trees, and then the blue ocean peeking through.
After that we had more free time during which I bought myself a Croatian coral necklace at a little shop. It is so pretty! The rest of our free time we wandered through a flea market and saw some more of the city. The we grabbed some dinner with a big group of people, followed by some yummy gelato. We met the bus at 7 to head back to the hotel. I hung out in Vanessa and Nicole's room for awhile on the balcony until 9:30ish, when we headed back to the bar on the beach. We stayed there for awhile with everyone, enjoying being together as a group. At around 11, V & I headed back to the hotel with Monty and Taylor (2 new friends! Yay!). But then Monty decided he was hungry, so we had to go back and search for some food for him. We walked all along the beaches of Seget, only to find that everything was closed. But it was fun and I enjoyed hanging out with them.
The next day we packed up and got on the bus to head to the Solin Archaeological Park, which is located in the old Roman town of Salona, the former capital of Dalmatia. We were split up into groups again, and my group's tour guide started the tour by saying, "Hello, my name is Dino and I am a history professor in Croatia, so if you do not pay attention, I have permission to molest you afterwards." WTF? If you could have seen our faces! But the best part is then he goes, "And I have much experience in molestation." OMG! Hilarious!!!! He kept bringing it up throughout the tour. Now, we are pretty sure he didn't understand the true meaning of molest. He thought it meant to annoy us or bother us. But still.....Oh god! The tour itself was ok, but we were baking in the sun, and our guide was not really enthusiastic or interesting besides his obsession with molestation. After the tour, we got on the bus again and drove to Split, where we had time for lunch. V, Kara, and I went to this cute little restaurant where V ordered fish, and when it was whole. Like, head and eyes and everything. It was hilarious. After that, we got gelato and walked around for awhile before heading back to the bus for the 4 hour drive to Dubrovnik. Let me just say: It was the single most beautiful bus ride I have ever seen in my life. Almost the whole time, we clung to the coast on our right, and the huge mountains on our left. We drove by village after village clustered against the clear blue sea. It was such a fun ride. We made to pits stops, one of which was actually in Bosnia, which you have to cross part of to get to Dubrovnik. So, add that country to the list! By the time we got to Dubrovnik, it was dark, so we didn't really get to see much of the city. We got dinner when we arrived, and then V, Audrey, and my new friend Cara, all decided to go to the beach. We got on our suits, grabbed our towels, and went out. It was a little tricky to find, but when we did, it was more than worth the search. To get to this beach, you have to go down zig zag staircase in the cliffs. The beach is completely surrounded by cliffs with caves and coves in them. There is no sand, but rocks that are made smooth and polished by the surf, and they, along with the water, were glistening in the moonlight! We got in the water, with a little difficulty due to the temperature. But we all did it! We swam for awhile, and it felt like we were in Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Thats the only way I can describe how amazing it felt to be there. We all collected rocks to keep from that beach after we finished swimming. It was gorgeous beyond words there. (Chester Lee just interrupted my blogging!!! Haha! Love him!)
The next day we had a tour of Dubrovnik, which is too beautiful to be allowed. We walked all around the city and had a tour of the city walls that surround it. From up there, you can see all the orange rooftops and then the teal and turquoise sea. The water in Croatia is a color I have never even seen before. It is mind boggling it is so beautiful. After the tour, my guide bought us gelato and we hung out in the city center for a bit. Then, we had free time, so I grabbed my stuff for swimming and headed out with a big group of people. We went to this cliff bar we had seen on our tour. We all climbed down the stairs all the way to the water, dropped our stuff, and jumped in! So incredible. I don't know how deep the water was, but we were nowhere near able to touch. However, you can still see straight through the gorgeous water to the rocks and coral below. After swimming for a few minutes, we heard familiar voices and swam around some cliffs only to see a bunch of Emersonians jumping off a really high cliff into the ocean. I was nervous, but I decided I had to do it. It was rough. To get to the jumping point, I had to climb out of the water and scale a cliff-face. It was pretty terrifying, but everyone was really supportive and helping each other. When I got to the top, I got vertigo a bit because I was up so high. I was really nervous, and standing up on the edge of the cliff was terrifying, but then everyone started counting me down: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.... and I jumped! As I was falling through the air, it was the most amazing feeling. Every thought left my head and all I could see was the beautiful water below me. Before I knew it, I hit the water and it was over. It was the most amazing feeling to know I had done it.
After cliff diving, I swam a bit more before getting out and getting dinner around 6. We got some pizza and sat by a fountain to eat. After dinner, we went back to the hotel, rested, showered, and got ready to go out that night. We met again at 9:30, and ran into Johnny and Dojna (the RDs) who asked if they could tag along with us! Absolutely!!! We love them! So it was me, Vanessa, Chris, Audrey, and the RDs. Amazing. We went to a couple bars, and wound up at a bar called Fresh, where a bunch of Emerson kids were. Johnny and Dojna were so kind, and wound up buying us drinks multiple times. I had a lot of fun talking with them and learned a lot about them. Dojna is a serbian refugee and is trying to get Dutch citizenship. She is pretty much one of the bravest women I have ever met. I totally admire her. At the end of the night, they also paid for cabs so we didn't have to walk all the way back to the hotel at night. I love them forever.
The next day (Monday the 13th), was spent going on tours of the Dominican Monastery and the Franciscan Monastery with my art class and Rob Duckers. It was really cool and interesting to interpret all the buildings and pieces of art he had us looking at. In between the two, Duckers bought us gelato (why is everyone so nice!?!). We had an hour and a half lunch break, during which I went back to the cliff bar to hang out with people and watch others jump. So I ate lunch at a cliff bar...and that actually counted as a day of school. At 2:30, we continued our lessons by going on a tour of the Rector's Palace. I am getting pretty good at reading buildings and classifying what style they are in. Rob let us out for the day at 4, so I went swimming again, knowing that it would probably be the last time! It was gorgeous and I soaked up every second of it. After, we went shopping for some souvenirs, and me, Nicole, Vanessa and Cara got dinner and headed to some different cliffs to eat there. It was so much fun. We hung out and talked and enjoyed our last hours of Croatia.
That night, everyone went out to Fresh again, and we had a blast. It was packed with Emerson kids and RDs!, and Australians for some reason. We all had so much fun, even though there were some totally sketch Croatian men creeping us out! I had so much fun talking to people. I feel like Croatia as a whole made us all bond. I made so many new amazing friends on that trip, and I am thrilled to be here with them. I love them all!!! The next day was our last day in Croatia, and I spent it going on more tours and reading more buildings for art class. I love Dulcia and Rob. Best professors ever!!! Our program ended at 12, and we were set free for our independent travel breaks. That is going to be another entry, because this one is long enough! But next entry: The Adventures in Budapest!
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