16.05.2006 30 °C
Late the next night we arrived in Zagreb, Croatia. Both josh and I had no idea what we were getting ourselves into as we both had no research on the area. The one time I stopped to look a Croatia tourism I saw the most beautiful beaches, so we decided to follow that picture and hope for the best. This is the capital city that is not on the coast but supposed to have much to see. So we found a dingy youth hostel and went to sleep. The next day we got up early, those youth hostels are the worst for early wakings and started our day. From the moment we arrived there was just something I instantly liked about Zagreb and felt connected to. I know it sounds very corny but I never felt like a stranger to the city. All the buildings were old and beautiful and the city was full of plants and trees. Off in the distance you could see the mountains. First thing I do once we get to each city is make a big plan of everything that I want to see and do. Then the next day as you start walking the things to do drop off in number. The first place we made it to was a huge square that is supposed to be great for people watching, whatever that means. Today there was a movie being filmed, I know now I am famous in Hungary but I still did not get asked to be in the movie here in Croatia. So on we walked up curvy streets full of shoes shops, I dont know what it is but in Croatia they just love their shoes. The picture I had of Croatia was very dismal and bleak. In our lonely planet book what is suggests is to stay away from secluded areas because they are still doing heavy mine excavations and they are still in the ground. All I know of Croatia is the fighting that went on and of course that paints a dark picture. As for Eastern Europe I was completly wrong and some how imagined little villages far behind in modernization and I could not be farther from the truth. Both Hungary and Croatia are as far developed as any place I have ever been, everything is extremly modern and the fashion here is comparable to Italy or Japan. We stopped at a art museum to see some Van Goghs and other artists and then moved on to some amazing churches, yes they are all amazing in Europe. One had a tiled roof made into a bright pattern of 6"X6" tiles. Afterwards we wanted to go eat, easier said than done. What we had slowly begun to figure out is that people here do not like to eat much, rather they like to smoke, drink cappicinos and booze. Nothing much wrong with that unless you are starving!! So finding a cafe that serves food let alone a resturant is a hunt for sure. So after finding a cheap rsturant we agreed that Croatia was no Hungary when it came to food. Afterwards we made our way up to some church famous for its lattice work, guess what, is was amazing. That evening we would be leaving for our much anticipated destination Spilt. So we wandered more around Zagreb and went to the bus station to catch our overnight bus. A few words about Europe: 1. you can smoke anywhere. All though most countries have or are putting laws into place people smoke where ever they want. Buses, trains, malls,internet cafes and they especially go for the places that have clearly marked signs for no smoking. 2.the pace of life is never too hectic. Except for Sweden we have never seen a convient store. Trust me when you dont have them you realize how convinient they really are, especially when all grocery stores close at seven pm and do not open on sundays. I think the idea is that you are supposed to plan ahead, but who does that??? No Starbucks or any such thing. Although they love their cappicinos and I mean LOVE, the only way to get one is to sit down at a cafe or resturant. Or out of a machine at the bus station but we found that its not a good idea. Everyone rides bicycles everywhere. Currently Josh and I are in Vienna, Austria and they have seperate lanes and traffic lights for bicycles everywhere in the city. Ok back to the story so we boarded our overnight train and left for Split. Josh and I have Eurail passes so we can hop on any train and find empty seats that are second class. What we try to do is get on the train early find our own cabin and try to look as mean as possible so no one comes in, then we can stretch out and sleep for the nine hours or however longs it takes. So far we have been lucky and this night was no exception. Except we had the car that had no heating. So we spent half the night layering clothes and the other half trying to sleep but it just wasnt going to happen. So at seven the next morning we arrived in Split. The thing about small train stations is that you never have to book a place because half the town comes out to offer you a room in their house. So we accepted on old mans offer, he seemed ok and we began the walk to his place. OK i have talked about all the gorgeous things I have seen, but Split takes the cake for the msot beautiful place ever. It was just as the sun was taking over the anicent city full of palm trees and white stone buildings and I knew that this was my favorite place we had been to yet. The water again extremly beautiful very clear and blueish greenish. So we arrived at our destination which was the usual for accepting offers at the train station. Small and mostly clean but private and right in the centre of town. After our nap we went and explored the town, apparently there was a celeration going to be happening in town this weekend. We seem to have really good timing when it comes to festivals and tourist places. The city itself used to be a fortress and is surronded by the sea. We did a lot of stall shopping that day and then of course a hunt for food. Another relxed day. The next day was my favorite day, laundry!!! After we went exploring in the ruins which were similar to the Roman ruins in style and date. The church here was magnificant. Outside the walls of the citz is a huge man or wizard as he is known as. I saw a bunch of people rubbing his foot so I went and did the same thing, hopefully it is for good luck and the werent just wiping something off their hands. Like I mentioned before do we ever have good timing because the "Flower Show" was here this weekend, oh you should have seen Josh he was so excited!! Anyways this is a big event and people from all over come to compete. Underneath the ruins is a big series of tunnels from the ancient ruins and they use this space very wisely as an exhibtion area. The flower set ups were awsome and so beautiful, flowers are normally beautiful but in crazy arrangements they were spectaular!! Huge fish, tables, walls were made out of colorful flowers, which was set perfectly against the stone grey walls. Afterwards we enjoyed the market stalls, tons of purses and went to watch our tv. Finally a country that doesnt believe in voice over-dubbing! The next day was a much anticipated beach day, we like to include these days as often as possible. So at 6:30am we were up and packing, and then left for our ferry ride to a island and the town of Hvar. After a two hour ferry ride we arrived at the dock and took a bus into the town of Hvar. This island is quite unpopulated and the drive was on the edge of the island cliffs so it made for a very interesting drive especially at top speeds. The view was breath taking, the most perfect waters on a insanley sunny day. The town itself was again very acient and perfectly white/beige which is the perfect setting against the water, the pictures we took look like everything you would see in a post card. The thing about Croatian beaches is that they are the most beautiful in the world, but not made of sand. You will find no sandy beaches in Croatia just big rocks. But somehow that doesnt seem to important. We walked aways and found a hotel that was building a resort area with coloum lined beaches, so we laid on the huge rock slabs for a few hours and crisped ourselves. We found out that still the water is very very cold but we kept trying and eventually we got most of our body in the water. We collected our stuff and waited at the bus stop for the bus to take us to the ferry, but at first we were told by taxi drivers that there would be no bus service today. We half believed them until we remembered that we had taken a bus to get here, never listen to what they say! We arrived back in Split only to wait a couple hours until our train came to take us to Zagreb, the capital city we had been at before and then onto Ljubljana the capital of Slovenia. Nine hours later we arrived back in Zagreb and caught our train to Slovenia. I have to say this was the saddest departure, as Croatia was my favorite country and we had only spent a few days in the country. So the train rides has been absolutly beautiful through Eastern Europe. There is much more room between the cities and it is all fresh green rolling hills and huge forests with little lakes and ponds. All the villages are really picturesque, very small old homes surronded by rock fences and all towns have little medival churches. If I can stay awake long enough train rides are definitly the way to travel Europe, by the way I have also become a UNO master.