A Croatia Chronicle

Very few things in the world can open up your mind to different ideas, cultures, cuisines, and history like traveling can. I constantly find myself yearning for my next adventure and reflecting on how my travels and experiences have shaped me into who I am as a person today. One of these adventures that I find myself replaying in my head whenever I need to picture an ideal getaway regarding improving myself as a person is my trip to Croatia. I became interested in traveling to Croatia after watching a TV show hosted by the late Anthony Bourdain whom I have admired as a chef, writer, and television host since I was a young teenager. His books and narrations inspired me to take risks when it comes to traveling and not fearing the unexpected when abroad.

 

“Travel is about the gorgeous feeling of teetering in the unknown.” — Anthony Bourdain

 

I caught myself constantly referring to this quote prior to my trip to Croatia, because in all honesty, I wasn’t as familiar with the country in comparison to previous trips to Italy, France, and Spain. Plus I knew that this trip was going to take me out of my comfort zone when it came to traveling long distances in short amounts of time, all while coordinating train and plane schedules.  Little did I know that within the next week Croatia would end up being my most favorite country I have ever had the pleasure to experience.

 

Monday 9:30 PM

I arrive at the Vaclav Havel Airport in Northeast Prague with two of my friends eager to experience a new culture during the upcoming week. We agreed on the extremely bold and interesting decision to not book most of our transportation around various cities in Croatia, but had settled on agreeing on three cities in which we would visit. These cities were Zagreb, which is the capital of Croatia located in the northern region of the country. Then we would go to the historical city of Split located in the region of Dalmatia on the coast, and finally we would arrive in the picturesque castle town of Dubrovnik just in time to witness Croatia’s most important sporting event in the country’s history: the World Cup semifinal against England. There were definitely a lot of things I looked forward to, but the best parts are what I didn’t expect. One thing I didn’t expect was to be delayed for four hours to our flight to Zagreb. This ended up being a great time to hang out with my friends and enthusiastic English fans that were crowded around the airport watching the World Cup quarterfinal. We arrived in Zagreb around 2:30 AM exhausted yet eager to what the next day had in store.

 

 

Tuesday 9:00 AM

My friends and I wake up tired but excited to be heading down to our first major stop in Croatia. The place we were headed to was Plitvice Lakes National Park, one of the most pristine and beautiful national parks in the world, filled with waterfalls that fall down from lakes settled on craters along with lakes on the sides of  various mountains, all the way down into many caves and reservoirs that went on for miles. When we arrived I couldn’t believe I was seeing nature in such a raw form. The most impressing thing about the park was when the colors of the lakes changed from different hues of light blue to soft greens as the sun hit the water from different angles within the park. In total, I walked over 10 miles within the park and every step was worth it.

 

Wednesday 10:00 AM

We arrived the next morning in the sunny city of Split by an overnight train ready to hit the beach and explore the city. I really enjoyed Split because of its connection to the TV show, Game of Thrones. As a fan of the show, I enjoyed visiting some of the stunning sets and landscapes that were used in the series. However, as much as I like the visiting these sets, the main highlight of Split was the food I had the pleasure of enjoying. My friends and I treated ourselves to a delicious fish dinner full of various types of fish caught fresh that day. One thing I had never experienced before at a seafood restaurant was the waiter actually bringing a plate of the fresh catch to the table and allowing us to pick and choose which fish we’d like to feast on that night. I loved seeing how much pride the waiter and cooks took in serving us a great meal. We felt like kings, and we definitely ate like kings.

 

Thursday 1:00 PM

We arrive in the castle town of Dubrovnik located at the bottom corner of Croatia bordering Bosnia and Herzegovina. Dubrovnik introduced me to a new concept that I had yet to experience, the Uber Taxi. Never would I ever think I would be calling for a water taxi from my phone. I thought it was a great experience to get the chance to island hop and see various island towns located near Dubrovnik. Furthermore, seeing the different ways other cultures are implementing technology into their daily lives was very impressive to see. When the time came to watch the World Cup match every single family in the city was out at various restaurants and bars, spilling into the streets to watch the match on large projector screens. To witness the passion and intensity of how seriously Croatia took this match showed me how sports could unify an entire nation.

 

Friday 2:00 PM

As the clock winds down on my wonderful trip to Croatia, I caught myself reflecting on how I should never be afraid to travel to a new culture and explore the various cuisines and experiences. If the opportunity ever presents itself that allows me to go to a country I have never been to before, I know now that these opportunities should always be experienced. After Croatia I have tried to take life at a slower pace, not trying to rush through things and to especially not rush through my time at college, because I know I will never get to experience college again in a short year or two. I learned to savor the great times I have with friends and to not miss experiences when presented those opportunities.

 

Michael Devine 

AU Business Internships in Prague, Czech Republic Summer – 2018

 

 

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