Category Archives: Croatia

1.05 Dalmatians

Dubrovnik, Croatia

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I parked myself in one of the private rooms in a family’s house in one of these alleyways. The father was a chain smoker and the hallways reeked but, it was cheap and the family was very friendly.

Then, I fell asleep only to be woken up with my constant scratching around my upper shoulder and neck area. I ended up with a cluster of about 10 bites on my right tricep through my right shoulder, then maybe about 2-3 in the middle of my upper back, and another few on my left side. I spent the next hour Googling bed bugs and scrolling through the reviews once again. No mention of bed bugs. Oh wait, the very last page of reviews that were written in Korean? Yea, they mentioned them. I spent the hour after that throwing away clothes that I thought were exposed. Luckily, they were able to give me a room change and the bites stopped. So, I stayed another few days then said “fuck it” and booked the last night at the Sheraton using my points. Throw in a full body massage, while you’re at it. Thanks.

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There’s an option to take a cable car up Mt. Srđ to Fort Imperial to get an amazing view of the city. But, I opted to hike my way there. I tried Googling how to get to the path but couldn’t find too much info for some reason, other than “it’s a winding, zigzagging path” and “there are sculptures depicting scenes of Jesus’ eventual crucifixion at every end” (one pictured above). When I Google mapped it, it really was a zigzag path:

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So, I followed my blue circle until I reached the beginning of the path. I may or may not have meandered through a labyrinth of both public and private properties to get there. It was very hard to distinguish when the paths all seemed to connect and weren’t gated off. On my way back down, though, a man yelled at me for trespassing.

By the way, you know you’re going in the right direction if you see the gigantic red-tipped, blue communication tower up above. You can’t miss it. The entire hike up took maybe about 1+ hour.

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I’ve had better views, like the one I see in the mirror every morning. In my dreams.

You can see the old town with its city walls in the bottom photo above (“bottom photo above” sounds a bit contradictory, no?), and Lokrum Island in the distance over to the left of it. I grabbed lunch at Restaurant Panorama which is at the cable car station. Despite the lack of creativity in its name, the food they served and obviously the views were pretty amazing.

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And, the view on the other side.

I went to go see the war exhibit/museum in the neighboring Fort Imperial. It’s crazy to think that such a touristy place was once a place of defense during the several leadership changes and war(s) that came through this city and country. On the topic of war exhibits, definitely go try to see War Photo Limited located in the old town and, keep note of opening days and hours. It was off season and I tried to go on a Tuesday. It was closed.

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Back down, I wandered around the old town through the alleyway shops and visited the Dubrovnik Cathedral. I opted out of seeing Rector’s Palace and the Dominican Monastery, and walked around the city walls instead.

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Some parts of the city walls housed very cool hole-in-the-wall (literally) bars. A beersie by the Adriatic Sea. Yeaaa, a nice rhyme.

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Other people’s clothesline laundry is another person’s photo opportunity. Hm, no rhyme there.

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A view of King’s Landing, apparently. Shout for joy, you Game of Thrones fanatics. I’ll eventually get there after my House of Cards binge.

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Spectators began to crowd around one stretch of the wall to look over and down below. We were right above the Buza Bar, a cliffside bar by the sea. A bikini-clad girl was hesitating to jump off a rock cliff and one of her guy friends came to join her for support. The more she hesitated, the more people shouted “JUMP! JUMP! JUMP!” And, the more people shouted, the more she hesitated. The more she hesitated, the more people became bored. Then, you do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around. That’s what it’s all about.

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Great, romantic places to dine. I took this photo…then bought myself a cheap sandwich at a hole-in-the-wall (Buffet Škola) instead.

#30while30

1.04 Dalmatians

We had Max, a substitute skipper, join us for the day to help out the wildly hurting Ben. We were now a party of 8.

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We docked in a secluded bay and lounged a bit before jumping in the water. Suddenly, I hear Donal and Erika laughing as they were looking over the side and pointing at the water.

Donal: “Uh, guys, not sure if you want to see this but, it looks like there’s a turd in the water.”

Sure enough, there it was. A turd nugget, just floating past without a care in the world. One of the guys grabbed a paddle, picked up the turd with it, and flung it far into the distance.

“How do we know that it won’t come floating back?”
“I think I flung it far enough.”

Within the next hour or so, two more turd nuggets came floating past. I figured with all the salt in the seawater, it should be a somewhat disinfected territory, right?

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Lunch was served. On one of the very first days, Ben had made a salad dressing in a small jar and handed it over to me for my salad mixing duties. I poured the whole damn thing into the bowl, not realizing that it would be too much. It became a nice oil & vinegar cocktail with a lettuce and veggie garnish, and I was teased for it every lunch after that.

“Hey, Christine, looks like you managed to make a good salad this time!”

Me: “Yay…
…assholes.”

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Paddle boarding and tube lounging came afterwards. Since it was the end of the season, the weather was on the chillier side and Erika usually kept to the boat, wearing a robe and sitting in the sun. At one rare point, Erika was standing by the edge without her robe and Lottie saw an opportunity and took it. She proceeded to wrap her arms around Erika and after a bit of a struggle and some “Noooo!” she jumped off and dragged her into the water with her. It was only afterwards that Lottie became slightly scared of what Erika might say/do.

Erika, laughing: “Oh, the water is not as cold as I thought…but still cold.”

Sigh of relief.

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Then came the GoPro shenanigans. The guys placed their GoPros at the very bottom using weights and filmed themselves jumping into the water. We then had the genius idea of all diving down, placing ourselves in a circle and taking a group photo down under. Cue in chaotic swimming from all 8 of us. Some managed to swim down, some kept floating up. Arms and legs were flailing everywhere without any order. But, hey, we got some sort of group something on that GoPro.

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A previous passenger had made Ben a nice pair of Speedos, proudly ironed on with “Skipper.” During the majority of his employment with MedSailors, he wore knee length board shorts and while the rest of him was nicely tanned, his thighs had been clearly deprived as a result.

Ben: “Let’s take out these great whites,” as he slapped his thighs.

He then took out the paddle board and impressed us with this number. (Photo courtesy of Donal.)

Šolta, Croatia

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Back in Šolta, we docked in Stomorska for the night. As we passed the other docked yachts, I saw a lady on one of them, holding her baby butt naked over the water. The baby then released a few surprises. Possible source of the turd nuggets – traced.

The skippers then through us another white and red (red still tasted better) punch party, during which a dog came up to me, nuzzled my legs in a catlike manner, then lifted a leg. I managed to back off but not before I got hit with a few sprinkles. Don’t know what you’re thinking doggie but, I ain’t your territory.

Brac

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We docked in Milna bay for our last night and celebrated in style with a nice buffet, a sometimes good and sometimes bad playlist blasting on the speakers and, what else but more drinks.

At one point, we all began to talk about our plans for after the trip. Some of us were staying in Split while the rest of us were either transferring to Dubrovnik or flying out altogether.

Donal: “Oh! If you stay in Split, make sure to go to this steakhouse that I went to. Probably the best steak I’ve ever had. Club…something. Chop club?”
Erika: “CHOPS GRILL! Not CLUB!” as she broke down laughing.
Donal: “Yea, that.”

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It was also the night before my birthday and I was surprised with not just a slice of cake, but lap dances and slut drops from 1 Brit and 2 Kiwis decked out in lederhosen. That would be Rob, Dale and Rich, respectively. (Photo courtesy of Donal.)

As the night was winding down, Lottie and Kara decided to go for a skinny dip. I was in the midst of backing out when out of nowhere, these 2 old Germans decided to join them. I backed out for good. The guys (the Brit and Kiwis trio) decided to be assholes, however, and stole the girls’ clothes. A few minutes of death stares later, the trio returned with towels for them.

The next morning, I was woken up with a song blasting on the speakers. “Happy birthdayyy, happy birthdayyy, happy birthday Christineeee,” as the skippers came out with a doughnut and bottle of sparkling wine.

Me: “How’d you get my name in that song?”
Ben: “We called the radio station especially for you.”
Me: “Funny.”

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A nice group photo to end the entry. Another epic trip coming to an end.

Donal: “So, make sure you go to that steakhouse! Club…Club…”
Erika: “CHOPS GRILL!”

1.03 Dalmatians

Sveti Klement (one of the Pakleni Islands), Croatia

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We docked in Palmižana Bay and walked along pathways through an awesome outdoor bar to get to this even more awesome beach, with a frisbee and mini rugby ball in hand. Along one of these pathways were cactuses that Dale proceeded to run through, thinking they were flax bushes. Why? No idea. Sure enough, he came out with various battle wounds and a scowl. Cactus – 15, Dale – 0. Also, the annoying English blonde girl caught the flu and decided to just leave the trip halfway through. Her – Cost of the trip, Us – Relief.

The skippers later hosted a white and red punch (red was usually better) party before we caught the water taxi to Hvar with a very nice buzz.

Hvar

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I think since it was the end of season or whatnot, the water taxi had a slightly different route which led us to being dropped off quite a walk from our ultimate destination – the Hula Hula Beach Bar. By the time we got there, we had missed the sunset and ended up having seriously overpriced drinks with a view of black waters. Whomp whomp. The bar wasn’t that crowded and the night was starting to get cold. And, so, we did our been there, done that checkoff and headed back into town to grab some dinner.

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By this point, we had bonded with 2 others from another yacht – Rob and Kara, another Englishman and New Yorker, respectively. I feel like we all bonded well because we were the oldest of the entire fleet and not involved with any petty romantic trysts or triangles and expect any real relationship to come out of it or, cry over body image issues and do things to compensate the ego or lack thereof. I mean, one yacht was even nicknamed Geordie Shore (quite possibly by us). I guess your early 20s are the years of making bad decisions, after all.

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We docked the next day in Stari Grad, one of the oldest towns in Europe, which I didn’t realize was on the same island as Hvar (town) just on a different end.

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Gorgeous place for wine and olive oil tasting.

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Group photo(s), courtesy of Donal. From left to right – Dale, Rich, Lottie, Erika, Donal, me. Awesome group of people with awesome banter. It didn’t help that Lottie consciously added fuel to the guys’ banter fire:

Lottie: “You won’t believe what my last name is. It’s Toogood.”

Pun most definitely intended. Cue in obvious jokes. Insert subsequent eye rolling here.

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When the 3 of us tried to get a girls photo, the Geordies and other girls began to crowd our space, seemingly on purpose, and Erika was having none of it.

Me: “Um, excuse me girls. Could you move out of the way? We’re trying to take a photo.”

No result.

Erika: “Okay, you. You need to move. And, you. Sit down.”

She placed her hands on their shoulders and gave them a little nudge to make sure that their asses were out of the way and seated. Never mess with a Brazilian.

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As the night went on, the concentration of Long Island Iced Teas and various shots was increasing in our systems and dancing commenced. Dale was somehow challenged to a slut drop-off. Let’s just say that he did not disappoint. It was even sexier than the Geordies’. Boring Ben was also boring no more. We woke up the next morning to a story of him possibly falling asleep on a bench and being woken up and/or escorted by the police back to our yacht. In a friendly manner, of course. Hangovers? Inevitable.

1.02 Dalmatians

Trogir, Croatia

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I booked car service to the marina through MedSailors (the company I was sailing around with) and met 2 other travelers, an Australian and a Brit. They seemed chill and I thought, “Nice! I will have normal people on my yacht.” Then, we checked in at a table set up by the marina, and the 3 of us were on different yachts. Small talk, wasted. And, to be repeated again with different people.

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But, before being separated, the Brit and I decided to meander around the nearby town to pass the time, grab lunch and a liquor supply. I was told to buy liquor in Split before heading towards the marina but, I didn’t feel like carrying it. Well, it’s advice I should’ve listened to because the prices here were higher. Where there’s demand, there’s jacked up supply. That is probably the extent of what I remember from my Economics class. That, and there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

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Meander, meander.

Šolta

And, so, we sailed on. Yacht ingredients: 2 Kiwi guys, 1 English girl, 2 Irishmen (one being the skipper), 1 Brazilian and 1 American. Rich, Dale, Lottie, Donal, Ben, Erika and me. And, Montserrat, our yacht (rhyme alert!). Best yacht in the fleet, hands down.

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This was our itinerary in a nutshell but, sometimes the route can change depending on the wind and weather.

Once aboard, our skipper gave us a brief introduction:

Ben: “So, I have a few rules. First, let’s keep this place clean. We’ll rotate doing the dishes after our meals. After this, I’m going to show you how to flush the toilets which involves pumping 10 times, turning the lever, then pumping another 10 times. Toilet paper goes in the trash. Next, your goal is to keep these basil and rosemary plants alive until the end of the trip. Oh, and only one person on the hammocks at a time. I’m not going to tell you why.”

Other rules may have included learning to sail and helping him out, and keeping our voices down when we’re docked in the marina for the night. Either way, Ben ran a tight ship (yacht) and was known to do so. He was also known to call it a night and go to bed early, leading other skippers to call him “Boring Ben.” Well, he was the best and most reliable skipper, as well as a highly entertaining hip-jerking dancer and high-pitched no-real-notes singer. We never managed to convince him to tell us what exactly happened on the hammocks, though. But, I’m sure it wasn’t too far from our imaginations.

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In a nutshell, there were maybe around 6 yachts, each with about 6-8 people and each of which sailed on its own everyday, sometimes with one another, anchored in some remote bay from late morning through the afternoon, then eventually parked altogether, side-by-side, in a marina where we were to stay the night. The daily itinerary, more specifically:

– Breakfast in port (cereals, toast, various spreads, yogurt, granola, tea, coffee)
– Sail to remote bay, turn on an awesome playlist on the speakers, sunbathe on the bow or stern, go for a swim, paddle board, do some flips and jumps into the water, engage in sufficient banter, eat lunch (pasta, salad, sandwiches), drink excessively, swim and sunbathe some more, rinse and repeat.
– Sail to marina where we were to stay the night, explore the island, drink some more.
– Sleep in tight, but cozy spaces.

First night was spent in Sesula, a bay on the island of Šolta.

The boys did some cliff

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while the rest of us swam around and dodged other yachts trying to dock in the bay.

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Dinner was on the island, in an awesome restaurant, Konoba Šešula, with outdoor seating. We all shared the lamb peka, a local stew of amazingness, and at Ben (our skipper)’s suggestion, ordered a bottle of wine with blank labels, the 2011 Stina Plavac Mali Majstor, a delicious Croatian red. We somehow had a pencil and a paper clip to use as artistic utensils and with lead and wine, illustrated three masterpieces. Three, because we ended up ordering another 2 bottles.

Now tipsy, we went back to the yacht to catch the England vs. Wales rugby game on Rich’s laptop. Luckily, I had purchased a 7-day T-Mobile unlimited 4G data SIM card for only 11 euro (but paid in kuna, and sold at most stands and convenience stores) and enabled a personal hotspot for Rich. Reception was a bit shoddy inside, though.

Someone: “Why don’t we try putting the phone in a dry bag and hoisting it up the mast?”

We all laughed at the idea but decided to try it anyway. And, it worked.

“WAIT, WHAT?! IT’S REALLY WORKING?!”
“NOOO WAY!”
“HAHAHA OMG IT’S WORKING!”

At some point, I passed out on the couch (which became the nightly trend), only to wake up with 20 seconds left of the game to the sound of “NOOOOOOOO!”

My phone battery had died.

Vis

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The journey to this island was of the rocky kind, and I sat quietly at the bow and stared aggressively at the horizon. I thought I was the only one feeling queasy and wanted to be left alone, only to find out later that Rich had yacked off the side and Erika had rushed off to the toilet. But, hey, we saw dolphins swimming alongside our yacht and that made it all worth it.

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On the island, we piled into jeeps and headed to a mountainside tunnel used in the era of Josip Tito to store arms and fighters. Now abandoned, the walls are filled with various graffiti, including one that said “Tito zločinac” or, translated, “Tito criminal.”

We got stuck in the jeep with an English blonde, who proudly stated that this was her 3rd or 4th consecutive year spending a holiday in Croatia, going around the same or similar islands in a similar manner (sailing). Most of the things she talked about were very pretentious and she complained that her last trip with Sail Croatia was way better with more spacious accommodations. Just to give you a bit of a back story, Sail Croatia is the trip you take if you want to remember 5% of your time due to blackout drinking, make poor hygienic choices and possibly leave with an STD. For whatever reason, this particular English blonde started complimenting the male driver’s long locks and beautiful appearance of the Croatian race in general. This is fine, except that the manner in which she said these things made her sound like a full on creep. And, somehow, this led to the topic of churches.

Driver: “Yes, I go to church to pray to God because…

…I’m an idiot.”

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Next stop – an underground tunnel used to hide submarines and a popular spot for people to jump off of into the water far below. The tour guide scared a lot of us when telling us of people who’ve become paralyzed by jumping into the water with the incorrect posture. Whether it was a deliberate scare tactic or not, no one thought about jumping in. The photo also doesn’t do it justice. It’s way higher than it looks.

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The view from Fort George, an ex-military fort-turned-nightclub/restaurant/wedding venue/etc.

We spent quite some time trying to get the perfect group jumping photo only to end up realizing that everyone else was waiting for us to leave. Oops?

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Some wine tasting at Vinoteka Roki’s…of some mediocre local wines. But, wine, I shall drink nonetheless.

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Sunset.

1.01 Dalmatians

Split, Croatia

Without the correct punctuation in between the city and country, I could be suggesting a revolution. Let’s take grammar seriously and just avoid such a conflict, thanks.

Soooo, you know how my original 7 week travel plan got extended to 15 weeks? Well, my 31st birthday was coming up. Naturally, I had to go somewhere for my birthday, right? Well, that extended it another 3 weeks to a whopping total of 18 weeks, with stops in 3 new countries and a fun layover in London. Forget stocks, bonds and real estate. I invest my money in memories. Uh-huh, that’s right. Not cheesy.

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I had a day to myself in Split before going on a sailing trip around the islands and ending in Dubrovnik. After a meander around the markets, I did a nice climb up the Bell Tower of St. Domnius to see…

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…this amazing view of the city. As I was climbing back down those stairs, I imagined myself slipping and falling out of the tower. There were no real barriers in place and so the logical thing to do was to imagine a self-tragedy instead of reassure myself that I have the capability of going down safely.

Back down on the ground, I saw a sign and it opened up my eyes, I saw the sign. No but, really, I saw a sign offering a combo ticket to see the cathedral, treasury, crypt and the bell tower. I had already paid for the bell tower separately. The frugal side of me was going to skip seeing the rest of the premises for this reason, then I realized that the price in general to see everything else was still so darn cheap. So, I took the plunge. Yes, I spent the extra few bucks. WHOA. Anyway, the cathedral really wasn’t worth seeing.

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So, you can make all the references to Game of Thrones you’d like, being that a lot of it was filmed here and in Dubrovnik. But, this girl never saw it because she had the most basic cable package in her apartment(s) and was HBO-deprived her entire life. “How did you watch Sex and the City then?” you may ask. I lived it, girlfriend. Well, not really. It was more like Tex Mex and the Shitty, because I ate a lot of burritos and it made me, well, you know. Okay, still joking. I was just a partially socially inept Forever 21-clad girl whose metabolism didn’t make it past the very first semester of college.

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The basement halls of Diocletian’s Palace. When I saw this on the “things to see” list, I began looking around the Old Town for something that looked like a palace. After some circling around, I finally just Google mapped it and realized I was already standing in it. “Palace” should really be replaced with “Fortress,” just FYI.

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Fortress walls and tourist trap dining.

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It began to rain and I sought shelter at…a wine bar. 4pm drink, 5pm drank, 6pm drunk.

Stay tuned for when I’M ON A BOAT (technically a yacht).