Croatia

Split, Croatia

Split, Croatia

Split is certainly one of the most beautiful cities I have ever visited. It is the second largest city in Croatia, after Zagreb and is located on the eastern shore of the beautiful Adriatic Sea, where is spread out over a peninsula that was once the palace of the Roman Emperor Diocletian.

Split is considered to be just over 1,700 years old if you count Diocletian’s palace construction in 305 CE, but the Greeks apparently settled the area much earlier. Split has seen its fair share of wars, from the influence of Greece, Rome, then Venice, and eventually became a free city in the middle and high ages into modern-day, where it was largely affected by Italy, then Germany in World War II. In 1991, the country of Croatia seceded from Yugoslavia in the Croatia War of Independence.

The city hosts a humid subtropical and Mediterranean climate with a range of 40F to 85F, making it ideal for summers and months outside of the colder winters, where the city is certainly still pleasant. Visiting at the end of May was impeccably timed, as the weather was incredible and the day-long booze cruise that we attended was accompanied by a cloudless sky and water that was a perfect balance between refreshing and chilly, while the air was a bit windy to ensure that the warmth wasn’t too noticeable. It was a gorgeous few days.

I found Split to be the friendliest city in Croatia, perhaps due to the regularity of tourism in the city. The climate and oceanic breeze were unbeatable, even for a native Californian and the cities windy and labyrinth like streets were as welcoming as the ocean; though it was quite easy to get lost. If I had stayed for longer, I would have gotten lost several times on purpose to ensure that I could find the little nooks and crannies that seem to be so magical in places like Split.

The food was not too expensive, though excellent. Lots of seafood and plenty of bars by the ocean; though I would absolutely recommend eating in the city center, then making your way out to the coastal areas for after-dinner drinks, or to watch the sun set over the horizon.

Today we arrived in Modena, Italy and will be enjoying a couple of days in Italy before moving on to Zurich, then I will be returning to Paris for four days. Looking forward, stay tuned.

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photo by Caitlin Telford

Plitvice National Parks

I feel like I’ve visited heaven. Millions of waterfalls, lakes everywhere, water so clear you could drink it, fish the size of your leg and so many trees, bushes so thick that you can barely see the water flowing down and out of them, and a wooden stair path floating above it all like you are in the Wookie jungle of Endor IV from the final episode of Star Wars.

The national park was epic in proportions that I am still just beginning to understand. 1.1 million tourists visit the park each year, but it is pristine; there are people walking around after tour groups to pick up litter, very few amenities in the park, and it is specifically designed to move tourists through the park.

The park was founded in 1949 in the heart of Croatia, near large mountains, endless nature, and is near the border of Bosnia and Herzegovina. All of the lakes are arranged in cascading waterfalls that flow down from the highest mountains into the lower basins and the park surrounds an 80m waterfall which is the biggest I have ever seen. The entire park is completely breathtaking; upon entering you feel that you have been taken into a different alien world, one which is natural and completely untouched, even by you and the hundreds if not thousands of tourists that accompany you.

There were probably close to 10 or 20 thousand waterfalls in the park; they littered the entire area and created somewhat of a fantasy world where after an hour they were completely commonplace. Each tier brought with it new wonder and beauty; as we got lower and lower, the waterfalls became more plentiful, bigger, and more powerful until our final arrival at the monstrous 80m waterfall at the bottom of the national park.

We didn’t see any animals at the park, most likely because of the massive tourist groups moving throughout the area in what must have been a daily occurrence. There were no shortage of tourists at the park, but insects and fish were everywhere; the water seemed clear enough to drink from, though it was all strictly regulated and controlled.

The Park reminded me a lot of Yosemite, though the water was far more prominent in the park. There was a massive underground cave system with some unique biological species and plenty of caves and pathways that I could have gotten lost in for a couple of weeks if I had the time. It was labyrinth of beauty and undefinable beauty; I can only imagine how awe-inspiring the park must be during the winter months. It beckons a return journey, as does the rest of the beautiful country of Croatia.

Tomorrow I will be spending another day in Split, after a very enjoyable two days in Zadar; though there seems to be quite a lot of hostility towards tourists in the town of Zadar, I haven’t experienced any discrimination in Split despite the increase in tourism here. We will be visiting a couple of islands on a booze cruise and I am immensely looking forward to spending the time with my family.

Stay tuned for more of the adventure in Croatia, until we move on to Italy, Switzerland, and I finally return to the gorgeous city of Paris as my final destination on the 5 month+ trip around the world.

 

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