I realized about 3 seconds ago, as I was typing the title of this post, that the name, ‘Croatia’ is made up of 60 percent vowels. This may mean nothing to you, but it peeves me a bit to realize this when I just spent the past week trying to order mystery meals and pronounce street names in a language that posesses maybe, and I mean maybe, two vowels. Everytime I stopped to ask for directions to this or that street, I suddenly became the human form of a broken oscillating sprinkler, twitching my head while spraying words on the faces of innocent bystanders, making unintelligible clicking sounds and popping noises.
For example, the street name “Hrvatska Kostjnic”.
You try to pronounce this without irrigating everyone around you. Yeah… nice try Daffy.
You can’t have your country name made primarily of vowels, and then boycott the magic letters in your native language. It seems like naming your dog Garfield and then claiming to hate cats.
Another unexplainable mystery of these new worlds I’ve been exploring, I suppose…
But aside from being able to play a ridiculously challenging game of scrabble in the small Adriatic country, travelers of all breeds and ages can enjoy the white cities, as boredom is not easily found in the mixed islands of Croatia.
And the beaches are stunning.
The islands are referred to as “Poor Man’s Greece” because the coast of Croatia only became a semi-popular tourist destination around four years ago. The cities are still developing and hotels are just now realizing they can charge more than a loaf of bread and a sack of sardines for a bed in their perfect marble mansions.
I arrived in Split with a swanky hair-do resembling the wirey locks of a scarecrow, and an equally wild new travel pal, named Lauren.
We were set up to meet in Europe through the suggestion of a mutual friend from home, and we’ve been hell on train wheels ever since.
After two days of sunbathing on pebble beaches, we decided to spend some Kune and explore the neighboring islands. But after eight weeks of sleepless wandering, my ability to calculate foreign currency exchange rates was about as accurate as a gorilla doing long division. I would order a beer, receive my bill reading 35 Kune, stand up in protest, demanding “What the cuss is this?!”, slap my server across the face and then realize I was only paying three USD for a cold pint. After this crucial “oohhhhh” moment, I decided I could, in fact, afford to rent a kayak for 175 Kune.
So we did.
The water looked as if it had just come from God’s Brita pitcher. It was beyond words.
We kayaked to small beaches, stopping along the journey to picnic and take mouthbreathing naps.
The water was shockingly salty. I was nearly as pickled as the cucumbers we had for lunch, and a nice fresh brine bath does not nurture the eyeballs.
But we could float like human buoys, so it was worth it.
The paddle back to our starting point was a bit less pleasant… I guess after a day of bliss in our dream-like paradise, we deserved a brief dose of reality in the form of a small hurricane. There was no rain, thunder or lightning involved, but Lauren and I deserve ribbons of excellence after facing the hell winds Poseidon sent down our path. Waves crashed over the nose of the kayak, fire rained from the sky, the winds blew my eyelids open and further dried my already pickled eyeballs. I took on the face of a Bassett Hound in an F150 and my flapping bottom lip coated Lauren in a string of drool behind me. I may have even started crying out George Clooney’s dialogue from the final scenes of The Perfect Storm.
In reality… It got windy. And we had to paddle really hard. It’s a lot of work kayaking in heaven ya’ll.
We enjoyed an evening of rest after our battle at sea, then set out for an excursion to Krka Falls, a few islands away.
This was the first view…
Then finally, the 8th paradise I’ve encountered in my past nine weeks.
And it gets better… There is a swimming hole at the base of the falls, perfectly cool and salt free.
And we somehow managed to wade into the water with my phone to snag a photo.
Yet again, my photos scarcely justify the beauty of this place. You absolutely must go to Croatia to experience the salt crusted beaches and feel the mists of the falls yourself.
And do it now, while you can still buy a pint for the cost of a stick of gum in Paris, and eat fish from fresh markets for the price of canned oysters in Rome.
After five perfect days of sun, seafood and laughs, we bid farewell to Split and hopped a night train to Budapest.
I doubt the world could ever callus my romantic heart after seeing this beautiful world.