The Trip to Croatia
Leaving Prague around noon, we got halfway to Brno before we hit traffic.
Everyone was stopped for almost a half hour. We took turns getting out of the car and remarking on how cool it was that we had just gotten out of the car. Fun and excitement with road construction in the Czech Republic.
We drove from Prague to Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. After nine hours in the car, we had a well deserved rest in a Zagreb hostel.
Not a whole lot by way of photography for Zagreb though.
Our next stop was Plitvice Lakes National Park which was quite possibly the most beautiful place on Earth.
Okay, so it was foggy.
In fact, the entire northern half of Croatia had pea-soup fog. While a danger on the road, it made Plitvice magical.
Apparently I am a huge gamer-nerd for thinking this, but as I walked through the wooden pathways that carved the way through the fog, water and strange plants on either side and the unknown ahead, all I could think was that it felt like I was walking through Myst.
No words could adequately describe our visit to Plitvice. I’ve seen some photos from non-foggy days and I have to say that I am very glad that we went when we did. We got to explore, instead of just view. We were discovering new territory, even if it is a national park.
The Road to Dubrovnik
After spending the night near the park, we began our drive to our final destination: Dubrovnik.
Along the way, two incredible things happened.
First, driving south from Plitvice, where it was terribly foggy, we passed through the longest tunnel any of us had ever encountered. Apparently going through an entire range of mountains, we went from cold and foggy to blue skies and temperatures in the 70s. It was amazing.
Second, the change in weather apparently affected Cristina to the point of jubilation. Her sheer pleasure in the warm weather took her attention away from the speedometer of our little Skoda car. Her joy also made her miss the police car stopped a good distance ahead of us.
Luckily, we got off with a simple fine and don’t have to worry about coming down to Croatia in three months to go to traffic court or anything. No points either.
Speeding in Croatia is much nicer than speeding in New York.
Driving along the Adriatic Coast while fully observing the speed limit, we eventually reached Dubrovnik.
At various points in history, Dubrovnik was in the running to be it’s own nation. Rivaling Venice as a strategic port, the people of Dubrovnik have established powerful ties with nearly every ruling government of the region over the past several centuries. Nobody would attack Dubrovnik because with Dubrovnik out of commission, the region would be crippled economically. Pretty sweet deal for the Dubrovnikans.
With Yugoslavia’s breakup, Dubrovnik was still considered part of Croatia for some unknown reason (to me).
It’s especially interesting (to me) because Croatia is split north of Dubrovnik by a stretch of Bosnia that extends to the coast. So it would be simple for Dubrovnik to be established as a separate entity, as far as geography is concerned.
Did I mention that I’ve now been to Bosnia? I still can’t quite get over it…
Dubrovnik’s Old Town is surrounded by thick, fortress-esque walls.
Inside, all vehicles are prohibited, leaving the white stones that make up the interior wonderfully white and polished.
While the history of the city is interesting, I didn’t really find a whole lot interesting about any particular part of the city. My biggest impression of the Dubrovnik experience was the warmth.
Prague is cold. It has been for a while now. It is November, after all. But it was crazy warm in southern Croatia.
Warm enough to swim even. Though Jeff was the only one adventurous (or even mildly prepared) to go in. In the picture above, Cristina and Tom are checking to make sure that Jeff is still alive, since the water was quite cold (Remember: November).
We stayed in Dubrovnik for two nights, which I am thankful for. We had an entire day in one place and got to enjoy it fully.
After sitting out in the sun for a while, we made our way to an establishment called “Cold Drinks” which hangs off off the city walls over the sea. With official cold drinks in hand, we sat and watched the sunset over the Adriatic. A wonderful way to finish the trip.
The Road Home
Unfortunately we still had to get home, and that involved 15 and a half hours driving straight from Dubrovnik to Prague. Waking up at 4 in the morning never seemed like a good idea before, but I am glad that we did. I managed to see a sunset and a sunrise in Croatia, and I’m glad that I did. Even if it meant being wedged in the back of a Skoda through five countries.
I never thought that I would ever go to Croatia. I’m slowly getting used to the idea that I have now been in both Croatia and Bosnia. Two places that always just seemed like places in the news, and not in my life.
We drove through the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia, Bosnia and Croatia. We decided that if we either picked up or left something in a country, we could consider ourselves having visited there. So in one week, I was in five countries. Aside from pictures and memories, what do I have to show for it? A pebble I picked up in Bosnia, and one stamp in my passport:
From the Czech Republic, as we came back home.