Earlier this week I made a last minute decision to go to Croatia for the weekend. Everyone who I talked to said it was amazing so it wasn’t too hard to convince me to go. (Another country checked off of my list!) Two of my roommates Meredith and Juliana were going, as well as one of our friends in the program Megan. We left Thursday night around 9 pm and set out on our 12 hour bus ride to Split, Croatia. Many people were dreading this bus ride, but I figured all of my extensive bus rides with Young Life and taking my middle school friends to camp had prepared me and this would be a breeze. Sleeping on the bus wasn’t too bad and before I knew it, it was 4 am and we were getting our passports stamped at the Croatian border. I easily fell back asleep and woke up just in time to enjoy the view as we drove on a winding road down the mountains into the city of Split. The mountains here were not what I expected at all, some of them are green while others are just rocky spotted with plants. It reminded me a lot of the landscape out in the desert in Borreggo, California. The city was full of white buildings with red tiled roofs and dotted with palm trees.
Around 10 a.m. we checked into our hostel and had about an hour and a half before we left to go white water rafting. We got settled into our rooms, took some power naps and then headed out, back on another to bus to the rafting starting point. The drive to the river was amazing, we drove east from the main city of Split, up and over the mountains to get to the middle of nowhere Omiš.
The rafting was on the Cetina river and in total we paddled about 3 and a half hours and 11 kilometers. Jules, Meredith and I were all together in our raft with three other girls and our guide Dario. The whole trip was awesome, Dario was a great guide and I loved asking him questions about what life in Croatia is like. He told us that he has lived in the area for his whole life and is currently studying Maritime Faculties at university. The water was so clear we could see straight to the bottom, no matter how deep it got. The water was amazing, just like the water in Interlaken, it was so blue it looked liked there was dye in it. The rapids were so much fun, and it was a great workout.
We got to get in the water a couple times and paddle under some waterfalls which was really nice. We also got to jump off a little cliff about 30 feet high which was really cool, it reminded me a lot of Asheville which was neat.
The scenery was fantastic, the river was surrounded by mountains, trees everywhere and we could see all types of fish in the river. We even paddled right by a snake lying on a tree branch in the sun! The rafting was so much fun and I’m glad we decided to do it even though we were super tired!
The next morning we got up and walked around town for a bit; our hostel was in an awesome location, right next to the water and the Palace of Diocletian. One of the coolest things about Split is the center of town is literally in the Old Palace. Apparently after one of the ruling families fell out of power, the palace was abandoned and people started to live in it. Now part of it has been remodeled into a hotel and there are shops and restaurants in it. We grabbed breakfast at a little bakery and headed back to the hostel to meet for our boat tour.
Being on the Adriatic Sea was amazing! (Another body of water checked off of my list!) Our first stop was this tiny little town called Sutivan. We grabbed some snacks and sat on the wall in front of the sea, enjoying the amazing view. Even though Split looked pretty close it had taken about 45 minutes to get there.
After our short stop, we headed to the main part of Brač which was absolutely amazing! There were hardly any people and the beach was pristine. We grabbed some chairs and relaxed in the sun. The beaches here are super rocky like the one in Cinque Terre but here the water was even clearer and as soon as we got in the bottom was sandy. It was the perfect afternoon and none of us wanted to leave. Definitely one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever been to! I still can’t believe how quiet it was there, the beach was mostly filled with locals.
After we got back to the mainland we showered and set out to grab dinner. We went to this cute place outside, because the weather here is perfect. After dinner we walked by some street artists doing some amazing drawings with chalk.
There was still a little light left so we walked up a hill behind the city with a tiny church and amazing views of the city and the marina. We headed back to down to wrap up our night with, (surprise, surprise) gelato! Not as good as in Italy, but still pretty delicious.
We went to sleep early because we headed out at 7:30 a.m. Sunday morning on our journey home. We stopped at KrKa National Park which was fantastic. We took a little hike in and then all of a sudden the majestic waterfall was right in front of us! After grabbing a bite to eat we ventured into the water. The bottom was super rocky (my Chacos were the real MVP of the day) but the water was unreal and totally worth the struggle of getting in.
Swimming around this huge waterfall in the middle of Croatia was the coolest experience! Despite the crazy 15 hour bus ride on the way home, I am so happy I decided to go for the weekend. I had the best time and still can’t get over how beautiful the water was and how quiet it was in the towns. Definitely a place I would love to return to one day.
Also, one of my favorite parts of the weekend was really getting to know my apartment mates Juliana and Meredith. They both go to UNC and are a year younger than me. It was so much fun to spend the weekend with them, from rafting to surviving the bus ride together (with the help of an excessive amount of Pringles and sour candy) it was a blast. My experience in Croatia would have been drastically different without them!