A Life Engaged

Our First Few Days in Croatia

We left beautiful Budapest and caught a ride with a Croatian heading home to Zagreb. Accompanied by two Brazilians, we strategically packed ourselves and our backpacks into Szombor’s compact car for the 3.5-hour ride. Zagreb isn’t a mind-blowing city like a Paris or a Rome, but that’s why we liked it. It was small, quaint, and void of tourists with selfie sticks. This laid back city can really be seen in an afternoon so we decided to take our time, spending our first day at a wine cellar tasting learning about Croatian wine after roaming around the city center.

zagreb cathedral

Zagreb Cathedral, the tallest building in Croatia

When it was time to leave, we caught a tram to the bus station only after realizing that Jess left our tickets at the apartment. After much stress and accusations, we paid for some WiFi, saved the ticket on our phone and crossed our fingers they would let us on the bus with a picture of our ticket.

We were lucky this time, but karma caught up with us when we arrived in Split and had to make the 6km sweaty hike in the scorching heat to our accommodations. Don’t forget we each had a solid 30-40 pounds of crap strapped to our backs. We were apparently not very thorough in our accommodation search because it when we finally arrived at the apartment, hoping for some air-conditioned relief, we found ourselves even hotter than we were outside. There were people sleeping in a front room without a door, there was literally  a tent pitched on the back patio, and filth covered every inch of this horrifying apartment. Seriously, we wish we would have taken pictures. We had to beg for a fan and knew it couldn’t be soon enough for us to get out of there.

We dropped our bags and left immediately for the beach. It had been a few months since we were wading in the Andaman Sea and this time the Adriatic was calling. After a few hours of relaxing, we headed into Old Town for dinner.

split beach

We walked through Diocletian’s Palace and it’s tiny stone streets. The scenery immediately reminding Jessie of her days in Florence and excitement took over. With Italy on the mind, we found a romantic little pizzeria tucked away with a small terrace and a grape leaf roof. We enjoyed a fantastic salami pizza, salad and two lemony Croatian beers.

diocletians palace

Beautiful Diocletian’s Palace, photo by atbaker / CC BY

After dinner, we enjoyed our first Couchsurfing meetup. We met a super laid-back doctor from NYC and exchanged travel stories over Croatian wine. After a night of acquaintances, we finally walked what felt like miles back to our dingy apartment and ended the evening with a much needed ice cold shower.