Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Day #187 - The one with eastern Europe - Part 1

When we prepared to disembark from our plane in Dubrovnik we really weren't sure what to expect! We had visions of crystal clear water, Pina Coladas, and fresh fish (probably the same ones we were planning to snorkel with during the day). However, in my mind I also heard brass drums jamming out calypso-style tunes and all Jake could say was, "I can't wait for good 'guac' and a Margarita!" Somehow our visions of Croatia seemed to cross over with Jamaica and Cabo. In all of my planning - we are talking maps, tours, boat rides, museums, and island excursions - I somehow never bothered to look up the language they speak in Croatia, the food they eat, or even what their culture is like. It was halfway through a conversation about the distance between Dubrovnik and Moscow that we had to throw up our hands and admit...we are SO American!

 As Americans we have a basis of knowledge about the UK (Will & Kate, fish & chips, warm beer, bad teeth), Italy (pasta, limoncello, the Vatican), Germany (PROST!, hefeweizen, giant steins, coo-coo clocks), and even Austria (the Von Trapp family, Fraulein Maria, and in Austrain a doe is a female deer!). Yes, yes, we as Americans base a significant amount of European cultural knowledge off of stereotypes, but at least we know something! Give us a country east of Switzerland and our first thought is, "Woah - that's like 3rd world! They have wars there and it snows like 13 months a year!" We figured that there was no time like the present to cross our fingers, get on the plane, and experience the mayhem that was sure to come with traveling to eastern Europe.

The minute we stepped off the plane, our ignorant American assumptions were set aside and, although we didn't see any Jamaican vendors selling ceramic wind chimes, we quickly realized that our relaxing and BEAUTIFUL beach vacation was a mere cab ride away.

Dubrovnik turned out to be absolutely gorgeous! We stayed at the Hotel Lapad on the peninsula away from Old Town and it was a fantastic decision. Bus #6 picked us up right outside and took us to and from the amazing fortified city; however, at night we lavished in the quiet and serene boardwalk/bay area loved by the locals. We had two full days in the city and spent one wandering around inside the massive walls of Old Town. We walked the entire loop on the top of the wall and marveled at the red-roof buildings of the town below. We, of course, got off the wall to experience two beach bars recommended to us by Lou and Erin. These tiny little treasures were accessed through a hole cut out of the wall itself. They were literally built out of the wall and hung over the crystal blue water. You could jump off of the rock-faced cliff, have a swim, and climb back out just as your Ojuzsko arrived. The tiny streets inside Old Town were a labyrinth of restaurants, bars, gelato stands, cathedrals, fountains, and little shops just waiting to be explored.
Day 1 discovery - Croatia has, quite possibly, the best tomatoes in the entire universe. After biting into one, we made it our mission to eat them with dinner every night we were there!
This was looking out the hotel window on our first night....this was going to be a GREAT trip!
Dad & Connie - This one's for you!
Our hotel pool  :)
Tomato montage #1
The labyrinth of Old Town - incredible! 
Standing on the top of the wall looking down on the city below.
View toward the ocean from the top of the wall.
Someone's laundry!  Looks like Croatia and London have some similarities :)
Another beautiful view from the top of the wall!
We found a fun little window in one of the spires on the wall.

The classic cannon photo - priceless!  Paul Ketchum, I blame you!
A warning as we entered the bar on the outside of the wall.  Basically, "Keep your clothes on!"
Jake heading into the wall bar.
Don't worry!  This was NOT us!  Our free healthcare only works in the UK.
He couldn't find guacamole, but Mariachi's in Croatia - REALLY!
When we see this picture, it's hard to believe we were actually there!
Tomato montage #2 
We stumbled upon a local carnival on Saturday night.
The second day in Dubrovnik, we took a boat over to the island of Lokrum. With the exception of a monastery, a fortress, a beach bar, and wild peacock, the entire island was completely isolated and untouched. We completely took advantage of the opportunity to Robbin Crusoe our asses up and down hills, in and out of abandoned fortresses, through caves in the dead sea pond, and in and out of the jagged faced rocks for some extreme snorkeling (yes, we totally purchased equipment before we left the UK). Our friends from the Turks & Caicos snorkel boat would have been proud! We used spit to keep our lenses clear, looked out instead of down, and dove deep down to swim through incredible rock formations and check out the sea life hiding below the bottom lip of the rock walls. 
Exploring Lokrum Island!
Notice the UofA colors!!! Planned? ABSOLUTELY!
The fortress on the very top of the Lokrum mountain.
This is the view form Lokrum looking back to Dubrovnik.
What a great day!
We made it!!!
The amazing rock formations under the water.
After a day of exploring the uncharted territory, we re-joined modern civilization and had some beers at the bar...the coconut milk and rain water was getting a little old. While we were chilling on the love seats in the middle of the lush terrain, a mama peacock strolled by with her little babies trailing after her! Now clearly, peacocks MUST start out as babies; however, have you even seen one? We sure hadn't! In fact, we had never even thought about what they would look like. Perhaps we assumed that when baby ducks grew up, some of them just sprouted long feathers and joined their local peacock herd. Man, this eastern European thing was really starting to open our eyes!

Look closely - Can you see the babies?
Wild peacocks!  Only in Eastern Europe!!!
Lessons Learned: 1. Croatian tomatoes will change your life, 2. Champagne Mojitos are worth going to Croatia for, 3. Most topless sunbathers are people you really don't want to see topless, 4. If Jake and I disappear, you will probably be able to find us living in a tree house on Lokrum island.

To view all of our photos from the trip, you can click on our Picasa link:


  1. Pretty sure that Champagne Mojitos will need to be on the November set list:)

  2. Yes, after experiencing Croatia via your blog...would easily agree..could definately live the life..water, tomatoes, great people, champagne mojitos..!!
    next mojito.....san diego...!!!!