Monday, May 5, 2014

The last few weeks

I am so sorry for not writing in a very long time. I started a post a while ago and never finished and then I was traveling. It was all very good and in case you are wondering, I am doing really well. I cannot believe that I only have six more weeks left in Osijek! A year ago I graduated college, six months ago I moved to Croatia, and soon I will begin the next phase of my journey of finally beginning my official BVS project. But until then, I still have many more adventures here in and around Osijek.

But let me catch you up. A few weeks ago I was so excited to have my dear friend from college, Lisle Bertsche, come visit me! Lisle made the flight over to Europe for ten days to see her sister, who is studying in Vienna, and me. Since we did not have too much time, we met in Zagreb, halfway between Vienna and Osijek, and spent three and half perfect days together. Truly perfect. For me, it was so nice to have one of my closest friends come just to spend time and see a bit of the place in which I will call home. We got to explore Zagreb, as well as make a day trip to Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. We talked, we walked, we ate good food, we drank a lot of coffee, and just immensely enjoyed each other’s company. I loved every bit of it.
Not only was it great to spend time together, we also met some pretty cool people. We stayed at Hostel Mali Mrak Zagreb, which was a fifteen minute tram ride from the center of town. The hostel was awesome! The owner, Igor, was so friendly and unlike other hostels where I have stayed, we got to know him as he is often out in the garden hanging out with guests in the mornings and evenings. We also made friends with other travelers: fellow Americans currently studying abroad in Italy, to a great European man riding his bike from his home in Cologne, Germany all the way to Greece! I loved the wide range of conversations from college RAs to the Kurdish situation in Turkey. We also met some great Croatian girls whom I hope I will become good friends with once I move to Zagreb (well near Zagreb, technically it is Sesvete) in June.
Only a week and a half after Lisle left, I went again to Zagreb, but this time to meet up with my parents! I traveled by train on Easter and spent the night in a hostel (once again meeting some cool people and having some fascinating conversations) before meeting them at the airport the next morning. After lunch and settling into our apartment, we ventured up to the main square and went around in the rain. The next day we went to a castle about an hour away and then the cute Croatian city of VaraΕΎdin. We had dinner at a nice, traditional restaurant near Zagreb’s main square. The next day we went to the town of Rovinj in Istria, Croatian’s northern coast. Rovinj was absolutely adorable with tiny cobblestone streets and Italian written everywhere along with the Croatian (it used to be a part of the Venetian empire). The next day we also made a trip to Pula, to visit on old Roman amphitheater.
After Rovinj, we drove eight hours down the coast to get to Croatia’s most touristic town, “the pearl of the Adriatic,” Dubrovnik. Dubrovnik is an amazing old city with complete city walls. It sees 800 cruise ships a year and for any Game of Thrones fans, it is the location of King’s Landing in seasons 2 and 3. It rained most of the day when we climbed the city walls and we got soaked to the bone. But it was well worth it! Truly a must-see place in the world! We then drove back up, stopping for a few hours in Split, then to Croatia’s biggest and best National Park: Plitvice. Plitvitce has hundreds of waterfalls and is truly amazing. I have never seen anything like it in my life! (I had been there with Cara in December, but half the park was closed then, so it was good to see it again). Finally we made it back Osijek. It was so fun showing my parents my town and introducing them to some of my friends. 

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