A country I never imagined going to, and certainly never imagined falling in love with, is Croatia. Specifically, the city of Split. (The title makes more sense now, doesn’t it?) If it weren’t for Shannon, I don’t think any of us would’ve booked this trip, so shout out to Shan for one of my favorite weekends in Europe.
As fun as Croatia was, the 13+ hour bus ride each way was not enjoyable (although Rhett (our guide) did have some pretty solid movies for us to watch). The price, however, was a great deal. So if you’ve paid attention to my other blog posts, you’ll notice that for the first time I mentioned us having a guide. The reason is because this time, for the first and last time, we booked our trip through Bus2Alps. They’re an awesome company, we just won’t use them again because there’s only 22 days to go on this Prague adventure and the remaining weekends are all filled up, but I highly recommend them if you ever find yourself taking a semester in Europe. So without further ado, let’s talk some Split.
Thursday – Bus Day
We all arrived at the train station on Thursday evening, ready to get on the bus for the longest amount of time I’ve ever been trapped on a moving vehicle (outside of the cruise I went on a couple years ago). Luckily there were plenty of stops to get off and stretch our legs. The trip to Croatia was an adventure all on its own; there was a blizzard, The Proposal, Oceans Eleven, a heat wave that almost killed us, and we had to get off at the Croatia border (twice) to get our passports checked. But all in all, not too bad of a trip (in my opinion). I even got comfortable enough to sleep for a while.
Friday – Another City Tour
We got to Croatia about mid-morning on Friday, and after the walk to our hostel all 11 of the HPU kids went out on the city tour. The tour was short and sweet and our guide was funny, but it wasn’t super informative. It did get us oriented to the city, though, which was really nice to have right off the bat. We got lunch, then split up because some people wanted to go find the go kart place. I ended up hanging out with people while they got drinks, then I got gelato on the way back to the hostel and lived my best life. After that it Shannon, Maggie, and Kellie bought captains hats (for the ‘Gram of course), and I found a really cute snapback. We picked up some snacks for the next day and then back to the hostel to get ready for the night. 9 of the HPU kids decided to go out on a bar crawl, but Kyla and I opted to stay in. Pre-bar crawl fun included learning how to play Magic: The Gathering (it’s way more complicated than it should be), hanging out with our guide, and trying to decide where to go for dinner. Kyla and I ended up at a place that served Croatian food – mainly just seafood – and it was actually really cheap. The drawings on the wall, which were not family friendly, were definitely the highlight of the evening. To avoid airing any dirty laundry I’ll end my Friday recap here, but let’s just say that the bar crawl had an interesting end.
Saturday – Boats, Beaches, and Cheesecake Gelato
Part of what Bus2Alps offers is an option to book additional excursions on top of your trip. One of those excursions, the only one I bought, was the Island Cruise. Basically, we got on a boat, they fed us, and we sailed over to the island of Brac. We spent three or so hours in the town of Supetar on some pretty rocky beaches with the best view I think I’ve ever had. The water is so blue it’s almost unreal. Whenever I finally post the pictures from there, you’ll see how easy it is to fall in love with that place. It was a pretty perfect day. We cruised around on the water, sunbathed, took a whole lot of pictures, and actually relaxed. It wasn’t too hot of a day, and I escaped without a sun burn. Back in Split, a few of us found a decently priced pizza place and walked around, taking pictures on the pier with the cotton candy sky in the background. And on the way back I got some of the best gelato I’ve had in Europe.
Sunday – Some Beach, Somewhere
All of the HPU kids booked the day trip to Bosnia excursion on Sunday, all of them except me. And at first I was a little bitter and a little upset, but all of my frustration faded away when I sat down on an almost empty beach on the shores of the Adriatic Sea and thought about ten of my friends all sitting on a bus. I smiled, put my sunglasses on, took some pictures, and laid back to enjoy the warmth of the sun on my skin. I got to become at least acquaintances with Rhett, Annika, Harrison, Gabby, and Brandon (I’m guessing on the spelling here), plus I got a break from the same people I see day in and day out (love y’all, but it’s been 4 months nonstop) while I sat on a beach and got a tan – and a little bit of a burn. Even the best days aren’t all good.
To save my skin from further torture, I left and went back to the hostel, stopping for souvenirs on my way back. 2 magnets and 2 bags of lavender (my apartment smells AWESOME right now) later, I dropped things off and set out to find some lunch. I ended up getting ribs at the same restaurant we went to on our first day. They were pretty good, nothing like home but not too shabby for Europe. After lunch I paid 20 Kuna (either 2 or 3 Euro) to climb up the bell tower in Diocletian’s Palace. The view from up there was stunning. Again, be sure to check out the pictures when I post them because it’s hard to describe. It was a breath of fresh air, literally and figuratively. Naturally after my climb, which was not even a little bit challenging, I rewarded myself with some soft serve before going back to the hostel to hang out and wait for everyone to get back from Bosnia. The day ended with a little bit of drama I’ll leave out, having dinner on the water, and one last sleep in Croatia.
Monday – Waterfall-ing in Love with Croatia…again
Monday was the earliest day so far; we had to get up, pack, and leave the beautiful Split to head back to Prague. But first…. National Park time! We went to Krka, which is famous for it’s waterfalls and really just the fact that it’s gorgeous in general. After a trek through nature that reminded me of Hawaii/a rainforest I’ve never been too, we arrived at the base of the waterfalls. Because we’re all absolutely insane we all got in the water, I only put my feet in but some people were swimming, took pictures, and nearly got hypothermia. I bought some postcards, got an entire plate of french fries, and took in my last few moments of Croatia sun. And then it was off to the bus, where we watched Hot Rod and Austin Powers (of which I have fond memories (*cough* Bob *cough*)) and tried to fall asleep. We got back to Prague sometime around 2 or 3 in the morning, tired but happy, and I slept until 10:30 the next day and skipped class. (My mom already knows and I’m not even sorry.)
And with that I’ve fallen in love with another European country and I feel like the luckiest girl in the world yet again. Croatia, it was real, and it was fun, and even the not-so-good experiences make great stories, so thank you for the ocean and the sun and some new friendships that I hope will last. Even if they don’t, I’ll always have the memories, and I have yet to ever regret a beach – no matter the company.