Thursday, July 26, 2012

Last Stop



Arrived in Dubrovnik, the final stop in Croatia, on a sunny afternoon after enjoying the islands of Hvar and Korcula. Unfortunately, earlier that morning 2 cruise ships had also arrived for the day with their passengers flooding the streets of the Old Town like ants.  Sounds silly but it was a bit of  a shock to the system.  By early evening the cruisers and day-trippers finally cleared out and it was a perfect time to walk the walls of the city.  Many of you know I grew up an avid reader, so for me, the completely enclosed Old  Town is really best described as something out of an old fairy tale.  Unfortunately, the town inside those walls is now basically a picturesque shopping mall, but walking along the top you get a feel for the city that once was and you understand why it is a UNESCO site. It is truly beautiful.
















It’s been a total of 2 weeks here and it was a really great sampling of many different sides of Croatia - the capital, a national park, a few of the islands, the historic Old Town in Dubrovnik. I have to admit, the view of terracotta rooftops against the green of the mountains and the blue of water has almost become “normal”. (I know you’re thinking “spoiled brat”. Fair enough, that comment warrants that reaction.)  In any case, I’m excited to move on to the next country. Tomorrow morning I will be in Montenegro, in the Bay of Kotor, for the final part of the Adriatic Coast.  

During the downtime here, plans for Turkey, Cyprus and Israel have been coming together and that is truly exciting. Croatia and Montenegro have been the “vacation” portion of this trip, and I am looking forward to what is yet to come…

~ N

p.s. The boats (pardon me, yachts) we have seen here have been ridiculous.  Yesterday, the most expensive sail boat in the world was off the coast of Dubrovnik.  It’s been featured on Wealth On The Water and is valued at $120,000,000.  Ridiculous.




Thursday, July 19, 2012

And so it begins...


...the final 2 months of my year off.  I landed in Budapest, Hungary last Tuesday afternoon and spent a few days there adjusting to the time difference, learning a little of the history and taking in the stunning architecture. From the castle, to the opera house, to the parliament building, each piece was more impressive than the last.

After a 7 hour train ride, the next country on the list was Croatia and the first stop was Zagreb, the capital. Another city filled with beautiful architecture, which I have been told has striking similarities to that of Vienna.  One of the first things I noticed about Croatia, which has continued to hold true in each city, is how immensely friendly the people are.  Everyone is so kind and eager to help, with or without strong English.  Like the stocky, older, matter-of-fact waiter at a local restaurant who basically said - "You want Croatian food, yes? Meat, yes? Wine, yes? Ok. I bring you good food" and proceeded to do just that. Traditional dishes (and not the expensive items on the menu, as a jaded traveler may expect) that were exactly what you would have wanted to try but wouldn't have known to order. Taxi drivers offering sites that you shouldn't miss, strangers stopping to ask if you are lost when they see you wandering through a (beautiful) maze of cobblestone buildings trying to find a street, people pointing out that you've left your sunglasses on the table as you walk away.  What a different travel experience this country is.

From Zagreb, another 7 or 8 hour train ride and the coast of Croatia appears in the window...um, wow. Absolutely stunning.  Green mountains, terracotta colored rooftops, and the bluest water.  The train ends in Split, a slightly touristy town, but all is forgotten when I'm sitting along the gorgeous Adriatic coast thinking that the next week will be spent visiting those beautiful islands in the distance.  A quick visit to a national park, a day at the beach, and a 2 hour ferry ride later, I am on the island of Hvar in the picturesque little city of Stari Grad.

This is such a quaint, peaceful place with cobblestone streets, sailboats docked along the coastline, forests of pine trees that in some spots go right down to the rocks along the water, crystal clear sea, and the most perfect weather imaginable. It seriously feels like this place was manufactured by Disney. I need to expand on the weather part because it's almost surreal.  It is 85ish every day, 70ish every night, perfectly clear sky (haven't seen the hint of a cloud in 3 days), constant breeze, and little to no humidity. I realize that everyone back in NY/NJ is cursing me right now because of the massive heat wave, and I apologize, but I've never been in such a perfect climate so I had to make mention.

I am going to try to get pictures up after I publish this post, but it depends on the bandwidth here so if you see links up on the left side, I succeeded. If not, I'll get them up the first chance I get.

~ N



Monday, July 9, 2012

Stateside

After a relaxing stop in Costa Rica, I headed back to this beautiful rooftop view, which will always hold a special place in my heart.

I've spent a little over a month back in the States enjoying time with family and friends, working a little (what?!), taking care of taxes, etc. and...getting ready to move to Argentina.

Yes, move.  Three days before I left Salta, I landed a job... with a company that is going to wait for me to return from my last trip... and process my work residency for me... and offer me health benefits...etc. etc.  Um, okay!  It's a great opportunity to live abroad for a while in a city that I love.

It's exciting, scary, overwhelming, awesome, and oh, "in the meantime" I am about to head out for the final part of my trip through Hungary, Croatia, Turkey, Cyprus, and Israel.  Never in my life could I imagine that I would one day say "I am moving to another country, but first I have to do this quick little 2 month tour through 6 other countries".

This year has been more than I could ever have envisioned when I first sat on the plane heading back from Cambodia 2 years ago trying to figure out how I could make it a reality. I'll save the overly sentimental and reflective stuff for the final post of my blog, for now.... I'm off to Budapest!

~ N