Our time in Croatia is easily separated into two distinct trips: partying and introspection. We ended up spending 3 nights in Split mainly because we befriended some locals who turned out to be absolutely fantastic hosts. In addition to taking time to show us their city, they integrated us into the local Split nightlife. Both Friday and Saturday nights were spent hopping from bar to club, meeting new people and dancing/singing to Croatian folks songs. Thankfully, it didn’t matter if we knew words to the songs or not…just as long as we were singing, dancing and laughing. Good times for sure. (btw, the Croatian people are incredibly friendly and easy-going….fun people!)
With the help of Ivana (one of our Croatian hosts), we rented a car and drove down to Dubrovnik. If you ever take this drive, make sure you make the same mistake we did and take the route that follows the coastline. We didn’t realize we missed the highway exit until 2 hours into the drive but that didn’t matter. Such a beautiful drive and reminds me a ton of the PCH in Cali. About a 4 hour drive that put us into Dubrovnik around 6pm. Once again, we failed to secure accommodations prior to leaving Split. Not too sure what what we were thinking but the ‘not planning’ route had been working, so why change now? We found a cafe, found the free wi-fi and started the Google search. 45 minutes later, our new host Martko was introducing us to our new 1 room, 3 bed studio apartment. We didn’t have the time or energy so search for anything bigger or nicer, so decided to suck it up and deal. After dinner that evening, we retired to the apartment (absolutely nothing going on in Dubrovnik on a Sunday night),drank a half bottle of whiskey compliments of our host and played Gin until 1am. And we thought the hosteling experience was behind us.
Dubrovnik is a pretty cool city. It’s crazy old, with an interesting history, and completely walled all the way around. Totally reminds you of being in the middle ages and the setting is amazing, especially with the Croatian coast in the background. What I found most fascinating, however, was the fact that 70% of the city’s buildings were bombed/attacked/destroyed during the Bosnia-Crotian-Serbian war that lasted from 1991-1995. You can walk anywhere in the city and see where shrapnel lodged itself into a building or where parts of a structure have been reconstructed. It’s kind of wild thinking what it would be like to live in Dubrovnik and be under siege for 9 months straight with no running water, electricity or easy access to food. I really began to admire the courage, resolve and tenacity of thecitizens in the town during our short visit.
We didn’t bring the war up a ton during our visit to Croatia, but you can’t just ignore that it has certainly had a profound impact on the people…naturally. When you think about it, any guy b/w 25-30 has either been shot at or shot at somebody at some point in time in their life. And our tour guide Darko (we hired him to take us around the city yesterda) was even injured by shrapnel while
running to his family’s shelter in Mostar. It’s just crazy to think about what everybody in this region went through just 13 years ago. Being in an area that is still recovering from civil war really brings a sense of reality to military conflict…no way in hell I can even possibly imagine going through what all of our new friends in Croatia (and the surrounding regions) went through. Especially given that I was trolling the Deep Ellum, Lower Greenville and McKinney Avenue bar scene in Dallas during that timeframe.
After two nights in Dubrovnik, we felt the need to move on. We arranged for a taxi to drive us to Sarajevo this morning and arrived a few hours ago. The drive was beautiful, but again, you can’t ignore the recent war. Every single town that we drove through was completely ransacked…some restored and many just deserted. More on Sarajevo and Bosnia in the next post.
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