Leaving Vienna was hard because our friend Caro was such a great host, but Kalina and I were excited to start a new adventure in Croatia, a country I knew nothing about. We woke up early and flew from Vienna to Zagreb and Zagreb to to Dubrovnik where we caught an airport bus into Old Town, Dubrovnik where we were staying. As the bus drove in along the green coasts, I looked out the window and saw the sun setting into the bright blue water. It was overwhelmingly beautiful I couldn’t help but smile to myself as Kalina studied the map by my side.
While in Croatia, there were two main things we wanted to do. First, we wanted to hike up a path below a cable car leading to a great high point to look over the city and the coast. When we asked the lady in the information booth about the hike, she warned us that it was not easy and would take us over two hours to complete. In fact, I think she was shocked we wanted to hike it instead of just taking the cable car up. She also warned us to stay on the path because there may still be un-exploded bomb mines in the fields and mountains from the war in 1991. Kalina and I decided to take on the challenging hike and woke up at 7am to begin. However, the hike only took us an hour to get to the top even with a short pit-stop to eat breakfast. It was ironic, because the hardest part of the climb was walking up over one hundred narrow steps to get out of the city and to the trail head.
We climbed these steps and then stopped for yogurt and chocolate muesli on a landing where a bunch of motor bikes were situated. The sun was rising over the calm blue water and we could see all of the red roofs of Dubrovnik– it was almost a better view at this little landing than at the top of the hike. After we ate, we walked up to the main road which was how the lady in the information booth told us to get to the hike’s beginning and we walked along the edge for a little while before finding the trail and heading up. It was a zig-zag or “serpentine” up the mountain with stones lining the edge and large stone carvings of the different phases of Jesus’ crucifixion on the turns.
The trail ended in a very strange place. Instead of leading to the front of the cable car, it stopped at the side of a broken down building and we had to walk behind it to find the cable car and museum. The views at the top were gorgeous, but what I found most interesting was when you looked the other direction. Looking forward, you see a beautiful coastline with red roofs. Looking behind you, you see dry and deserted rolling hills. The two views could not be more different. It was strange to see all of the buildings settled against the water in Old City and then nothing on the other side of the first mountain. The people definitely settled on the water.
The second thing we wanted to do during our stay was walk the stone wall surrounding the Old City. This is where they filmed Kings Landing for the Game of Thrones TV series. On the walls, Kalina and I were high above the city you could see everything within the walls and everything without. We stopped for a while on one of the edges looking across at a huge fort, a cove with splashing blue water and some of the town too. It was a dream: the red roofs, the ancient stone and the glassy water. While we were standing there and staring out, I kept thinking about what it would have been like to live when the walls actually protected the city against war. Can you imagine standing at the look out and seeing an enemy boat approaching?
Of course, we looked for chocolate to keep us energized on these adventures. We ended up finding some bars to try in the local supermarket. One of them was a delicious milk chocolate speckled with crunchy wafers. The other was an airy dark chocolate. It might have been my favorite chocolate of the journey so far– It was like a chocolate mousse all wrapped up in a chocolate bar.
Thank you for the views, Croatia! And that’s an un-wrap.