I started writing this with an intention of fitting all of Croatia’s awesomeness into one long-ish post, after all, I had just spent 4 days there (out of which I spent one on a bus). But as I wrote and wrote, and wrote… And wrote… I realised I had to choose between one looooooooooong post or two looong posts. I decided to go with option no 2 (lock kiya jaye 😉 ).
I was taking some walking tour in Berlin when someone told me Croatia had just joined the EU. Seriously? Seriously. I whooped with joy. It was such a wonderful surprise. I had been Googling and staring at pictures of Croatia for months and half-heartedly calculating how much of a bother it would actually be to organise a visa. So when I got this piece of news, my mind went into overdrive reorganising my tentative plans, trying to see where I could fit Croatia into my entirely flexible schedule.
Over the next few days (or was it minutes?) I decided that I would go there from Slovenia (instead of coming back into Italy), spend a few days, and take the ferry to Bari from Dubrovnik (that plan failed, because, thank you, Bosnia and Herzegovina for throwing in a miniscule 9ish km stretch that I was not eligible to drive through because of my nationality. Again, let’s say it together, Yay, Indian passport!).
(I recently learned of this website though. Check it out. It shows you which countries we can go to without any problem, and what countries are added on if we have a US, UK or Schengen Visa.)
My heart was in my mouth when I was crossing the border into Croatia from Slovenia. They checked my passport and… SUCCESS!
Sorry about the finger, I was really excited,
I carpooled into Zagreb, the Croatian capital, the day of a Robbie Williams concert, but I had no idea, of course. As usual, I reached the city centre, took out my phone, found free wifi and started looking for hostels. The first one I went to told me there’s no space. Great. They recommended another one, I went there… No space again. Awesome. I went to a third, and the lady there said that Yes, an entire dorm with several beds was lying empty! Super relieved, I told her I’ll drop my bag in the luggage room and get my passport so she could check me in. The actual check-in time was 2 hours away, but I wanted to be able to leave and come back whanever I wanted, and not be bound by incomplete check-in formalities. So… I leave my bag inside and get my passport to the reception AND SHE TELLS ME THAT IN THOSE FEW MINUTES AN ONLINE BOOKING HAD TAKEN UP THE ENTIRE ROOM!!! Can you believe the terrible luck??? By this time, I was beginning to freak out because I had been walking for over 3 hours with a big 20kg backpack and a little 5kg one on my front. (The time doesn’t add up? I’m a genius, so I walked 2+ hours into the city from where the carpool guy dropped me instead of taking the bus)
I sat in this hostel and used their Internet to find another hostel and made this lady call them up and reserve a bed for me. I didn’t dare risk the three or so minutes it would take to walk there, what if some dumbass reservation screwed me over again??
I finally ended up at the Chillout Hostel and literally forced the staff to check me in right then AND give me their word that no one else is going to take my place. They found it funny, but please, I had learned the hard way.
Anyway, I went to a hostel recommended place, Nokturno, for lunch. It was crazy crowded, but service was quick (though they took FOREVER to come to my table to take my order), and they got my order partly wrong (I wanted roasted potatoes instead of fries), but I didn’t feel like arguing.
Actually I’m not sure if I went to Nokturno or Leonardo– They were right next to each other, so close you couldn’t tell where one ended and the other began, the menu and prices were almost identical. I went into the one that gave me a seat quicker.
And then I went to Amelie for dessert and coffee, WHICH, by the way, has the best chocolate macaron I’ve ever tasted! I just randomly took a picture, and I’m so glad I did… Because everyone should revel in its deliciousness! And I’m not the only one who thinks that way.
I started heading back to the hostel. For the first time I didn’t even try to ‘sight-see’. My legs were on the verge of giving out.
I reached, took my bags from the luggage room and went upstairs (not expecting much because the staff wasn’t able to open the door to the luggage room and I was like Where the hell am I), but was extremely pleasantly surprised to find myself in a gorgeously cozy 4 bed dorm (the smallest I had ever been in) that was air conditioned. AIR CONDITIONED! I had completely forgotten what that feels like.
It took me forever to make myself get out of bed. It was so cool and comfortable. And after 4 weeks of being on my feet non-stop, I was dead tired. My legs hurt every morning and I couldn’t remember the last time they wren’t in scream-worthy pain. (I’m not complaining here, I’m bragging 😛 )
When I finally did manage to drag myself out of bed and go outside, it had just stopped raining. The city was quite dead by then, though it wasn’t late… 8pm maybe?
A lot of people had highly recommended the Museum of Broken Relationships. Really. That is an actual museum. I went. At first I walked in suppressing giggles, eventually I got quite engrossed in all the displays. Some were quite heart wrenching. I didn’t take any pictures, but I found a list of some of the stuff on show.
And then dinner was at Didov San. That’s Polenta and some gravy dish with eels and frog legs (the moment I see something ‘odd’ on the menu… I order it without thinking twice. I’ve got more foodie stuff here).
I got a table outside. It was supposedly chilly, though I didn’t really think so. I was minding my own business, concentrating on my own food, and a group of men took the next table… And they sang the ENTIRE meal. Maybe they were an acappella band or something? They were great (and it was good entertainment for my solitary meal), but I found it quite amusing that I ended up with musicians so many times on my trip (I took a caving tour in Budapest with the Rainbow Girls. Story coming up soon!). They were nice looking chaps (which reminds me, I need to write my take on HIMYM’s Dobler-Dahmer theory) and they asked me a zillion questions about India (I ALSO need to write about all this India-love I saw among the Europeans). So my solitary meal ended up being not so solitary.
The next morning I left for Split. On my way to the bus station, I went and got coffee from Eli’s Caffe (Tripadvisor led me there), and believe me when I saw it was among the BEST I’ve had. I’m a huuuge fan of coffee (with milk and sugar, please, thank you) and usually make it a point to try atleast one new coffee shop a day, and this one ranks wayyy up on the list. I didn’t have time to sit and drink in peace, though I would have liked to- it was so clean and white and peaceful.
On my way to the bus station, I realised I need to take atleast ONE touristy picture 😛 So… Tadaaaa…
I don’t know anything about this place, because I didn’t take any tours for once. So if anyone is interested in knowing more, I’m just linking to the Wikipedia post instead.
On the bus and ready to go!! I did a rather stupid thing. I chose the fastest bus I could find, one that didn’t stop at all on the way. Stupid because it took an utterly boring route, while if I had taken a slower bus with many stops, I’d’ve driven along the entire Dalmatian coast. What a missed opportunity!!
Hello bear! (like ‘Hello there!’ Gawsh, I’m hilarious!)
What’s this, you ask? I have no idea… Maybe someone could shed some light on why this was displayed so unabashedly in Split. Your guess is as good as mine!
Regrets? Not taking the scenic bus to Split. And not taking the day trip to Plitvice Lakes. Damn. I try to console myself by saying there was not enough time to visit the park AND go to Split, but I know it could have been done.
I’m on my way to the UK right now to visit my sister!! We’ll be in London over the weekend. If anyone has any tips on what to do… Nice places to eat etc, DO let me know in the comments. I’d love to experience some tried and tested stuff!