Sunday, September 9, 2012

Dubrovnik, Croatia – The Walls of the Sea

For the first time on our trip so far, we finally purchased beds for the train.

One of the major things to we wanted to do in Europe was take the overnight train in Eastern Europe, so we purchased what we thought were beds for $16 with our Eurail pass.
We hopped on the train at about 5pm only to find we were in a regular compartment, and there were no beds. Bryan and I were also in different compartments since we purchased them last minute. We were hoping to find a solo traveller to switch with but instead one compartment had a group of six Hungarian ladies and the other one included a German couple as well as three Brits traveling together. Bryan and I sat together with with the German couple and the three Brits, making sure they knew we would be separating when it was time to sleep. Instead, one of the very young and quite annoying Brits started complaining that there was one extra person sitting, so we left and ordered a very cheap bottle of wine in the dining cart. This was fine with me because one of the Brits took his shoes off, wearing no socks, and his feet stunk very badly. He then proceeded to put is feet up on the bench right next to where I was sitting. It was already pretty stuffy and hot in the compartment, so you can imagine how bad it was.
However, before we left the compartment we learned that two people sleep on the bottom, one on each side, then two at the top right and left where the luggage is usually stored, and then there are mid beds that fold down when it’s time to sleep. We did have beds after all.
After using the restroom and coming back to the dining cart, Bryan informed me that the Hungarian ladies had made my bed for me.
Bryan and I said goodnight and separated for the night. I went into my compartment and sure enough my bed was nicely made. The only lady who spoke English said for me to wake one of them up if I need to use the restroom in order to watch the luggage. The compartment can be locked and they didn’t want anyone to steal anything. However, at about 3am I really had to go to the bathroom, but I never did because I didn’t want to have to wake them up.
In the mean time, Bryan went back to the stinky feet compartment and found all of the British guys luggage on his bed. Jerks!
Sleeping on a Eastern European night train was such a cool experience. First of all, the dining cart was cheap (so different from Western Europe) and you can put all the windows down on the train if you wish. The night breeze, sound of the train, and knowing I was sleeping with six nice Hungarian ladies who didn’t speak a lick of English, made it an unforgettable experience. By the way, I slept very well that night.
The next morning I woke up to hungarian laughters and the smell of the fresh air from the window I was sleeping right next to. I then put my bed back in place (I was sleeping in the middle right) and went to wake Bryan, so we could eat breakfast in the dining cart. Breakfast included bacon and eggs and it was delicious and cheap…such a wonderful combination. The breakfast also included a wondeful view of the sea.
We arrived in Split, Croatia at about 9:30am. For those who were counting, the train was a total of 16 hours.
Split looked absolutely beautiful, and we really wished we could have stayed a couple days, but the world is just too big to see everything, so on the bus we went to Dubrovnik.
We arrived at about 2pm. The directions to our hostel told us to get off when we saw Bakery Klas, but it did not say there was more than one Bakery Klas. We got lost for a bit and then found a internet cafe and pre-cached the map on our new Samsung Galaxy Tab. We hopped back on the bus and finally made it to the most beautiful hostel we’ve stayed in yet.
Villa Divine was clean, modern, and we had the most wonderful waterfront view. We could see cruise ships come in from the balcony. I should also mention the wonderful staff. The hostel is owned by a really nice Croatian family who recently moved back to Croatia from Germany.
Bryan and I had a private room and we had our own private door to the balcony. We were in what was called the “purple room.”
We were pretty tired, so we stayed at the hostel the rest of the day, enjoying the views, travellers lunch, and good company.
We met Estar from Barcelona, Spain and Sandra from Brazil. We had good conversation on the balcony before deciding we should take advantage of the barbeque. We went to bed knowing we would all meet up the following evening for some good grub.
Breakfast the next morning was the best “breakfast included” we’ve had so far. I had everything I wanted….fresh fruit, yogurt, musli, refillable drip coffee, and eggs. Thank you, Villa Divine!
Bryan and I then ventured to Old Town for the day. Old Town was absolutely gorgeous, and my favorite old town so far. It was surrounded by a stone wall with the Mediterranean Sea on the other side.
We walked around, ate gelato, and found a cliff bar with a view of the nothing but the sea. You could also cliff jump, but unfortunately, we didn’t bring bathing suits. This place was heaven.
Later we decided to pay the 10 euro and walk the walls of Old Town. We almost decided not to, but I’m so glad we did as it was a definite highlight of the trip so far.
To start we walked directly up four flights of stairs, and then I instantaneously understood why this is on the top 20 things to do in Europe according to Lonely Planet. The walls shot directly out of the sea, and we were up high enough to appreciate the architecture of old town, the stone rocks surrounding it, and the beautiful coral sea on the other side. It took about 2 hours to walk around, and I took about a million pictures along the way. It was really hard to choose pictures for this blog as there were just so many good ones.
At about 6pm, we met Estar and Sandra at the entrance to Old Town and made our way to the market to purchase BBQ foods.
The barbeque was the coolest one I’ve seen. It was massive stone structure which required wood and coal. One of the staff cooked all the food for us, pulling fresh rosemary off the plant next to the BBQ. We didn’t expect him to cook for us, but he insisted. We didn’t complain.
The whole hostel joined in on the fun and we all had a great time eating some of the best food we’ve had, including Bryan’s favorite, chevapi, and grilled eggplant. Estar made a Barcelonian special which included bread and whole tomatoes. The hostel staff ended up buying a couple bottles of wine for everyone. Such a great night.
The next morning was spent relaxing in the hostel and then we walked to a beach nearby. There was a giant floating jungle gym called the wibit or something like that. Bryan and I played on it, we both fell on our butts, and then went back to sunbathe and read for a bit. We walked all around Lapad, went to another beach, and then made our way back to the hostel to take showers.
We went to an Italian restaraunt for dinner with Estar and two people from Australia. We then went to another bar to watch Chelsea vs. Atletico Madrid on a big outdoor screen before heading back to the hostel to enjoy the balcony.
The next morning was sad as we had to leave the hostel. We packed our bags, ate a nice full breakfast, and then walked along the water a bit before making our way to the bus station.
We almost decided not to go to Dubrovnik, but I’m so glad we did as it is now on my list as one of the best places in the world.
When deciding where to go next in Budapest, I googled Mostar and looked at the images. I remember telling Bryan, “I want to go there.”
Next stop, Mostar, Bosnia.

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