Everything happens for a reason and our last minute itinerary change was no exception. Croatia completely took me by surprise! I did not anticipate to enjoy Croatia nearly as much as I did.
My first day was spent on a field lab for my Travel Writing class. We took a cable car to the top of a mountain in Dubrovnik where we enjoyed some awesome views of the city and walked through the war museum located in the fort. I was shocked at how recent and rampant this civil war was, in fact the war didn’t end until just before I was born. It’s unbelievable to me what this city and these people went through and yet how proud and patriotic they remained throughout. They have made incredible progress in repairing the city of Dubrovnik however rubbish and evidence of the war are still on every street.
I also had the chance to walk the wall surrounding the city of old town Dubrovnik. Typically it costs about 12 euro to walk the wall, however a friend and I sort of scaled the wall and got in for free. We followed some local kids up a few sets of rusty ladders and managed to climb up into the wall, both saving money and adding to the experience(: While on top of the wall we witnessed a local man trying to impress some non-local cliff jumpers by jumping into the sea from standing on the edge of the wall, about a 50 meter drop. It was terrifying. I honestly thought he had died but he swam off as if it was no big deal, succeeding in impressing the non-locals.
Later in the week I went on a trip up into the mountains and shared a traditional dinner with a local Croatian family! This was quite the experience. The mountains were so serene and the silence shocked me. The only noises that could be heard were ones that we were making. I admire the simplicity and solitude of their lifestyle. They gave us homemade grappa, the strongest and worst alcohol I’ve ever met, as well as homemade wine served with a dinner of smoked ham, potatoes, dried figs, and cake. It was delicious! I’m so grateful that Semester at Sea gives us opportunities to truly immerse into a culture rather than simply taking it all in on a tourist’s level. It was a fantastic evening!
In my final days I kayaked along the coast, snorkeled in some caves, and visited the island of Lokrum. What a quirky little island! Lokrum is rather small and infested with peacocks who wander around, stroll down the sidewalks, and steal unknowing tourists’ food. It was so fun to see these beautiful, exotic creatures in a relaxed, uncaged setting. I tried to catch one but only managed to get some of it’s tail feathers, not the greatest idea I’ve ever had. They are speedier than you’d think!
This entire trip in Croatia was much more my pace. I had time to slow down, soak it all in, and simply enjoy the present.
Two days at sea then porting in Greece!!!