Croatia (part 1)

The train from Budapest to Croatia snaked along the shallow valleys and rich countryside. At some point the train stopped and a group of uniforms entered checking everyone’s papers. Four sets of differing uniforms looked at, stamped and examined our passports before the train continued on into Croatia.

I know next to nothing about Croatia or any of the Balkans. When I was in school, most of these places were part of a artificial state called Yugoslavia with a guy named Tito as the celebrity of state.

We found the Croatian people to be emotionally controlled people, maybe a bit stern and when dealing with them they didn’t seem to respond when I smiled. (Americans are have wide reputation of being overly smiley and friendly) Eventually, I found that if I winked or made a silly face, their shells would crack and they would be much more friendly and even helpful.

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We picked up our rental car and it turned out to be a Fiat 500. It had enough room for our bags, both of us and a bottle of water. The 6 gears helped me control the massive 72 horsepower! The road signs were unreadable but the overly aggressive drivers gave us little time to ponder what they said. With the GPS we brought, it was quite easy to get around.

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Croatia is a small country but 10% of it is national parks. One such park is Plitsvice and we have looked forward to visiting it for quite a while. The park is centered around a valley filled with waterfalls and pools flowing over white marble limestone. It has to be one of the prettiest places on earth.

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We must have hiked for hours and hours along a wonderful trail that at times lead along the edges of waterfalls. If something like this was in the USA, it would be a major tourist attraction to rival Yosemite of Yellowstone. We really enjoyed our time hiking and exploring the park.

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Zadar, Croatia was our first stop along the coast. Pushed right up on the Mediterranean, the road followed the shoreline until an ancient church or fort blocked the way. We saw many signs of the war that they had in the 1990’s, including homes damaged by machine gun fire, burned out or shot-up with mortars. More than once, in-between the road signs for cows, deer or wild boar, we saw bright red warning signs that told you (in 4 languages) not to leave the roadway because of the danger of land mines.

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Being on the sea, the culture here has grown up on sea food and with so much to offer, we found a few dishes that left us wishing for Mexican food!

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The city of Spilt was our next port of call and like most of towns in this area, has an old Roman ruin at its core. The difference with Split is that many of the towns inhabitants still live and work inside the ruins! In fact, one of the Pharmacies here has been in operation since 1320, one of the oldest in the world.

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Usually, we try to self-cater (buy our own food from markets and stores) but this trip we tried to eat out a bit more and explore the culinary offerings. Below is a funny photo of me learning that olives in the Mediterranean…. come with pits!

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Tamara enjoyed the truffle pasta dishes but mostly the gelato!

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  1. #1 by Jeannie on October 23, 2010 - 5:10 pm

    Food looks delicious, especially the salad. Must say Zadar, Croatia is beautiful.

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