Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Croatia - Split

They say first impressions are lasting but I've found that with places, pretty much the opposite is true. I can clearly remember Jacob and I moving up to Portland on a cold, gray (in other words, typical) day and having a sad feeling of dread and remorse at how industrial it felt. I have also found that the initial days in a new place are hard on me as I'm a little threadbare from traveling and I don't quite relax until everything is settled and I know all our details and logistics of where we are. And so, with these two things in mind, it is fair to say I felt mildly crestfallen for my first 24 hours in Croatia, the place I'd been most looking forward to visiting. Despite being in a really great little apartment in the "good" area of Split with just a five minute walk to the beach, I couldn't get past all the trash everywhere. The beach by our house is covered in piles of cigarettes, pizza boxes, plastic bottles and disgustingly, a good handful of used condoms. Outside the historic old town where things are fancied up for tourists, the rest of the city is pretty gritty. The school where Jacob and Vaughn play basketball is an aging tan block covered in graffiti (including a large "NATO Go Home" message) that has to rival anything we could come up with in the US.

But now we've been here a couple days and I'm perking up. We're enjoying some down time from sightseeing and indulging in a lot of laying around, playing games, cooking and reading. We found a great health food store, juice bar, and a restaurant that made the best and cheapest vegan meal we've had in a while (Note: Even though the Dollar is worth about 5.6 Kuna, this does not necessarily equal cheap as evidenced by the $10 bottle of tamari that Vaughn accidentally dropped on the way home that was replaced by an $8 bottle of soy sauce). Today we bought a whole backpack's worth of fruits and vegetables on at the open air "green" market where squat little old ladies with kerchiefs and braids tied around their heads peddle whatever they've been growing. We bought an intricate handmade little doily thingie for Jacob's mom from a woman who was cranking them out right there on the street - a gorgeous example of old world craftsmanship (I actually felt bad because she kept trying to sell me the other one by holding up it's mate to show me they were done so accurately that they lined up perfectly like twin snowflakes).

And now I'm drinking wine and blogging from our little deck that overlooks the sea so it's fair if my complaining makes you want to stop reading this blog forever (and possibly defriend me on Facebook for good measure) but traveling does get a little draining from time to time. Jacob and I went into a little tailspin of worrying about jobs and places to live when we return last week and were only mollified when we accepted that with three months still to go, nothing can be done at this point.

We're in Split until Thursday when we catch a ferry over to the island of Hvar and then head up to Plitvice Lakes (a national park) before making our way over to Istra (#2 in Lonely Planet's Top Ten Best Regions for 2011) and finally the capital of Zagreb.

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