Location: Mljet Island, Croatia
Ahhhh I found my paradise on Mljet Island and had a blissful 3 days where the only sound were cicadas. The island is off from the south of Croatia and is over 70% national park with 2 saltwater lakes enclosed. There is only 600 people that live on the island although many of the multi-millionare/billionares dock there boats at the island. Most of them are Italian, and I have seen boats that would put those used in mission impossible movies to shame.
I stayed in a house owned my a man called Evo (pronounced Ebo) and his sweet mother-in-law Nonna. They totally took so much good care of me and Nonna was feeding me up with bread and bunches of grapes picked from her vines over hanging the porch. It was very interesting and I am learning a lot fast through talking to people. I have met so many people, it has been fantastic...each has taught me a little something and is what I hoped to find travelling. Many many great stories that takes to long to write (and prob intersting to me only!!).
At the end Evo was saying in a month or so that I can come back and stay on the island for free----I asked how much for 5 weeks (thinking of thesis writing in the most idyllic location) and he said we will work something out....further pressing he said I can stay for nothing because it is quiet...I will call him in a few weeks and see if this is still true......one can only dream
Location: Split and Korčula Island, Croatia
Having a blast, just keep coming across more music festivals....stayed 1 more night in Zadar to watch a 10 piece afro-cuban band go off, in front of a cathedral built around 1400. I met a French girl, Veronic, and hung out with her for a few days and shared accomodation. In Split (about 3-4 winding trip south along the coast) we also met up with an Aussie dectetive called Rob, and the 3 of us hung out like old mates having wine and cheese on the wall by the sea. Late at night we visited a very old open aired palace which was magic. As we walked through the ruins (which now has cafes and bars integerated into it) we came across a fanatstic band playing in the middle of a square in the palace. It was a gypsy style music with many drums including djembe and bongo, violin keyboard plus more percussion. Sat there in comfy lounges drinking cherry brandy and watched the fire dancers perform in front of the band. The sister of the djebe player was next to us and took me and Veron to another party in the bush a few km's away. There was an old school Croatian rock band playing, dressed in sheer tight unitards (apparently many years ago they used to perform nude so this was at least something!!!). It was heaps of fun and away from the tourists which are absolutely everwhere!!! Definately one of my favourite nights so far.
Korčula Island whilst very beautiful, was overcrowded with pretentious people, and my stay was very brief (overnight only).
Location: Zadar, Croatia
From Zagreb (which was a great city, unpretentious and very quiet because everone has headed to the coast) I visted Plitvice Lakes National Park which is UNESCO natural world heritage site . This place is covered in 16 turquoise lakes and thousands of waterfalls and cascades that all run into each other. It is apparently formed by a unique scientific phenomena which involves the formation of a new type of porous rock (called Tufa via specific alage that grows there and the types of minierals in the region. The water runs through limestone and chalk and new falls and lakes are constantly being formed. Check out the pics!! it was so beautiful....and quiet until the throngs of tourists arrived about lunchtime....everyone was trying to squeeze past each other on the tiny wooden slat bridges that cover the lakes and I saw many people just stop themselves before being knocked over into the lakes. How no-one has been knocked into a waterfall yet I can't work out.
I am now in Zadar, about halfway down the coast. Most cafes run along the water and the main part of town is through the big city walls of many years ago, since this area has always been caught in the crossfires of war, from ancient times until recent. It is very pertty though, and last night there was the Dalmation Song Festival on, with music and older people singing together everywhere. The was many food stalls, one unfortunately I tested....I had a stew looking thing that looked great until the first few mouthfuls when I realised the meat was gra, tubular and NOT CHICKEN!!!!! tasted like licking a sheeps back (so I gathered it was sheep intestines, eww). I went back to try another dish which I thought had chickpeas and sausage.....closer inspection after the purchase it was not sausage so I convinced myself while eating it was squid, although I think it may have been tripe.....oh well back to rice cakes for me!
Location: Zagreb, Croatia
Well I am on my first solo travel adventure and will be in Croatia for 2 weeks. Last night I flew into Zagreb, the capital and am staying with a cool girl called Maya who plays the digeridoo and busked her way around Croatia with her friends recently. I am staying on her couch for free and she has been a really great host and gives great chats and insights into the city and its people. she feels like a good friend already!!!
Most museums etc were closed today so I spent the day wandering around soaking it up. Had some great food, a beer in Tolkien's House (a pub done up in the style of JRR Tolkeins books...just like being in the shire again ; ) he he).
I also went a little out of town and saw a beautiful old cemetary. They have (unfortunately large) section for those that died in war. It was pretty upsetting to see all the graves of the young guys who died, especially through the end on 1991 (so many were from 20.11.91 - a day where the 3-month siege ended with Yugoslavian tanks and soldiers took final hold). Most of the graves had photos of the guys on them which makes the reality hit home even more. In the last 6 months of 1991, 10 000 people died from the fighting in Croatia.