Croatia in three parts: 1

The Croatia weekend trip was the first trip I had taken by myself. No one really knew that much about Croatia, so they weren’t as interested in going as if I’d been going to say, Provence. But I had recently read that it was an unknown, safe destination, so I was like, let’s do this. During our Siena and San Gimignano day trip I had asked our guide about Croatia and she said October 4 was the last trip of the season. So I signed up with two spots to spare.

Our tour met at Stazione SMN at 9pm, and were all herded onto a double-decker bus. There were so many of us, it was completely full. I got a window seat on the top next to some guy, and we drove on the autostrada for maybe and hour and a half before we stopped at an Autogrill for dinner.

Autogrill is like…I don’t know. The only thing equivalent to a food court I ever saw in Italy, except it also has a little shopping area with books and snacks and stuff. There’s a place that sells pizza, and another place that has burgers, and then maybe salad or something.  It’s pretty uncharacteristic compared to the rest of Italy.

Anywho, we all got Pringles and Pockys at Autogrill, which was basically closing because it was 11 at night.  I think I ate a whole box of Pocky, you know, those pretzel sticks that are covered in chocolate that are only sold in the Chinese section of the grocery store.  And then I fell in the dead sleep of one who has to sleep upright for ten hours.  We pulled into Split around 8 am, and dropped our stuff off at the hostel, which is hidden in the Diocletian Palace.  The palace was built for Emperor Diocletian back in the 4th century AD as a retirement home.  We had breakfast at the restaurant beneath our hostel (more on how cool that place was later).  The hostel stored all our luggage in a closet behind the desk (I had only packed a backpack).

So then we all got ready for white-water rafting.  We followed our guides down the Riva promenade to the taxi station, where our bus was waiting.  It was about an hour and half drive to the launching point on the Cetina river, where we put wetsuits on over our swimsuits.  Rafting was so much fun.  There were parts that we really had to pay attention to, but mostly we could relax and talk to our guide and watch fallen trees pass beneath the water’s surface.  I was with the five other girls I was sharing the room at the hostel with: Grace, Klaire, Mel, Jenna and Shannon.  They had all travelled together, and they were so fantastic and let me tag along with them.  We all made each other laugh over the silliest things, like when we saw a horse grazing by the river and Jenna yelled, “Look, it’s a unicorn!!!”

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At one point our guide told us that we were going to have to sit really fast in the bottom of the raft when we went over a small waterfall.  We practiced a couple times, then actually went over the falls, which is really just really fast water being squeezed between two rocks.  All I remember is getting a face-full of freezing cold water.

We all got to stop so we could swim and jump off a big rock.  I don’t usually jump off of big rocks into rivers, but I figured, what the hell, I’m in Croatia, and anyways, this would be an appropriate use of YOLO.  I stood on the edge for about a minute, trying to figure out if there was a way for me to turn back, but then I lunged forward and screamed and hit the water, which all went up my nose.

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It was great.

After rafting we all had a lunch at a beautiful restaurant in a stone building by the river.  Everyone got fish, and I got the usual vegetarian meal, spaghetti.  It was really good though, and there were bread rolls and for dessert we had beignets (my favorite!).

When we went back to the hostel, everyone got ready for the pub crawl, which I didn’t have any interest in.  I walked around the Diocletian palace for a while, and found a touristy shirt that said I Love Croatia, which I still wish I had gotten.  I suuuuper tired, so I went back to the hostel.

I want to tell you about the Goli+Bosi hostel.  It’s not your regular crappy backpacker place.  Even though there were six of us to a room, it was still one of the best places I stayed.  All the room numbers referred to a significant year in Croatian history.  Each bed was in a nook with a curtain you could pull over the entrance, and each nook had its own electric plugs and lights so you didn’t disturb anyone else.  The walls in the rooms were white, but the floors, and well as the entire hallway and common area was an incredible bright yellow that kind of made you feel like you were walking through apple juice.  Also our bathroom and shower were bright yellow.  The whole place was very surreal.

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I fell asleep while I was writing in my journal, and was woken up at midnight or so by Jenna, Klaire, Shannon, and Mel coming back in the room between pub visits.  Someone was crying, and I figured out in my sleepy haze that Mel was trying to call her fiance back in the US, and Klaire and Shannon were trying to comfort her.  Jenna was yelling, “You guys, SHHHH, Rachel and Grace are SLEEPING!!!”  It was so ridiculous that I started laughing.

Thus ended my first day in Croatia.

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