Gettin’ in touch with my Croatian roots
Before coming abroad one of the countries I was determined to visit was Croatia, and after this weekend I can officially check it off my bucket list.
On Thursday night at 8:30pm my friends and I lugged our weekend bags across the city of Florence to the train station where we would meet the rest of the SmartTrips tour group and board a bus to Split, Croatia. Why I- someone who’s incredibly prone and sensitive to motion sickness- would board an 11 hour bus ride? I have no idea, other than for an experience of a lifetime. Split is a city on Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast and is known for its beaches, its fortress, and more that I didn’t get the chance to explore.
I had purchased a travel pillow a few hours before in preparation of the trip, but it was no surprise that the 3euro inflatable pillow was of no avail.
Finally after a bumpy and long ride we arrived at our hostel in Split on Friday morning around 8am.
“Be ready by 10 for the boat,” our tour guide instructed us.
Two hours was all the time we had between stepping off the bus and getting on a boat where we’d spend six hours drinking champagne at sea. We spent the two hours washing the 11 hour bus ride off our skin, followed by a quick trip to the local Split grocery store. There, I asked the cashier how to say “hello” and “thank you” in Croatian. We could easily figure out how to pronounce hello, which is Bok, but struggled a little with thank you. Balla. Falla. Valla. We were sure it was definitely one of them. After looking it up on Google, I learned it is hvala… still unsure on the pronunciation.
We boarded the boat and set sail for the next six hours. A few hours in we stopped at a mini island in Croatia where we had an amazing lunch of fresh grilled chicken, which may have been my first real source of protein since being in Italy (pasta and pizza: cheap, easy, always delicious).
After lunch we headed to the Blue Lagoon. Unfortunately by the time we arrived the sun was hiding behind clouds and the Blue Lagoon was more of a gray lagoon. This was our time to swim and jump off the boat. Some people climbed right over the railing and jumped right in. I, on the other hand, was a bit nervous and took my good old time getting over the railing. Once I made it over I looked down at the water, closed my eyes, counted to three, and jumped. I’m glad I did because it was beautiful and so refreshing.
That night, after showering the salt water out of our hair and off our bodies, we headed into old city Split for dinner. I was torn on what to eat and decided to follow our waiter, Teo’s suggestion to try the traditional Dalmatian dish: pašticada dalmatinska. I can’t say it was the greatest meal I’ve ever eaten, but I was happy I was adventurous enough to try a traditional dish. Teo also taught me how to pronounce my Croatian last name. Apparently how we say it isn’t right. Tomasic is actually Tomašić (the s and the c are pronounced as sh and ch), but I think we’ll just stick with our Americanized pronunciation.
We had all of Saturday to ourselves and spent the morning at the beautiful, quiet, and serene Kasuni beach, also known as Joe’s beach. After a weekend of traveling, both by bus and boat, a few hours of downtime at a Croatian beach was exactly what we needed. That night we explored Split, parts of its fortress, and later enjoyed a dinner at F De Mar, where the Bravo reality TV show Below Deck was filming (look out for me in the next season).
Sunday morning arrived and unfortunately it was time to board the bus and head home, but not without making a stop at the Krka waterfalls first. We hiked down to the falls and, despite the damp weather, went swimming. The water was clear, fresh, and beautiful, and made for a great ending to a great weekend.
I’m not sure what I expected Croatia to be like, but I was pleasantly surprised.