A few days ago Chris and I headed out on a two-week adventure to Croatia, Bosnia, and Montenegro, a majority of our time being spent in Croatia. Many people we told about our travel plans seemed surprised that we chose Croatia, wondering what is in Croatia that we needed to go 12 hours on an airplane to see. This was a good sign because it meant Croatia is still an untapped destination (at least for many Americans). Croatia is THE vacation spot for Russian aristocrats.
Croatia is shaped like a crescent cookies that dips into the Adriatic Sea, right across from Italy. In fact, from the northern part of Croatia in the Istria region, you can actually see Venice, Italy.
If you are a Game of Thrones fan, you may already know that much of the show is filmed in Croatia, in Dubrovnik. Chris and I are big fans of Game of Thrones, and watching the show in years past, I used to always wonder where it was filmed because the scenery is outrageously beautiful. I assumed it was computer generated – that is how beautiful it is.
Our itinerary took many months to plan because every town in Croatia seems like a place one must visit. In the end, we settled on visiting three countries, six towns and three islands. That is a lot of ground to cover in two weeks. But when Chris and I go on a trip, we try to cover as much ground as possible, assuming we will never go back. This is because the world is big and our time on Earth is short and there is so much to see before I go.
We landed in Zagreb and stayed in a chic Airbnb – an old building in the heart of the city with two flights of stairs leading up. Chris carried both 50-pound suitcases up himself because he said “it balanced him out” and also because I said “there is no way I am carrying that bag up these stairs. The stairs were precarious because each step slanted 45 degrees downward, painted a shiny and slick dark brown. The flat had been completely renovated, the once plastered walls stripped to reveal beautiful original brick. The bathrooms were done is trendy white subway tile with dark grout. Outside the windows below us was the bustling capital city.
Zagreb is the quintessential European city. I kept telling Chris, “it’s just so European here, it is just so European!” This sounds ridiculous because it is European, and of course that is the vibe. But what I really mean is it felt so authentically old-world European, without being overwrought with tourists and Starbucks. In fact, you cannot find a single Starbucks in Zagreb. The Croatians pride themselves on their coffee production. It is an art there. Zagreb in particular is known for its coffee.
When I say Zagreb is so European, I mean that there are cafes everywhere you look with Croatians sipping cappuccinos and drinking wine and chain smoking. They sit with their friends and talk a mile a minute. I wish I knew what they were talking about. It is said that in Croatia all the coffee drinking at all times of day is not really about the coffee, but about the social aspect of life. Being with friends. When do they work? We saw a few people in suits who looked like they may be going to work, but Chris said it may just be a façade. Ha!
One of our two days in Zagreb I headed out in the afternoon to do some shopping. I peered into the most charming courtyard and saw it was a coffeehouse. I walked in just to take a look around because it looked to swanky to resist. There was a table of young Croatian men drinking coffee and smoking. One of them got up to follow me inside and I told him I just wanted to look around. He was not accepting of that and insisted he grind and make me a double espresso. Lets face it, I needed a double espresso served to me by this cute Croatian in a big way after not sleeping the night before. It was the best double espresso I had ever tasted. Cute Croatian boy knew it would be, so that is why he insisted that I don’t just look, I try.
The Croatians take their coffee seriously.
When you travel outside your boundaries, away from the confines of everyday life, everything you see is magical. The ordinary becomes extraordinary. The beautiful becomes dazzling. Days transcend fun to become blissful.
Until next time, the mothership is signing off.