As I mentioned in my previous blog, Croatia was the last stop on my spring break travel itinerary. What started as an average morning soon turned into a reminder about personal realms of control and the importance of perseverance.
The day started at 4am. My friends and I were staying in Rotterdam and had a 7am flight to catch in Amsterdam, about a 45 minute car ride away. After taking a hastily called taxi to the airport, we were relieved to hear our flight had been delayed an hour. However, our relief was soon completely extinguished when we learned while in line to board that the flight was being canceled due to high winds in Dubrovnik, where we were set to fly in.
Thus began a six hour wait in the Amsterdam airport, a connecting flight to Zagreb, another six hour wait in the Zagreb airport, an intensely turbulent and motion-sickness-inducing plane ride , an attempted and unsuccessful landing in Dubrovnik, a diverted landing in Split, and finally a three hour bus ride to Dubrovnik. By the time my head hit the pillow of our Airbnb, it was 5:30 in the morning and we had seen the sun rise, set, and rise again.
If our unanticipated day of travel was purgatory, then Croatia was heaven. I knew that I wanted to make the most of the country, so after a short slumber I joined some friends to go horseback riding at their Airbnb host’s daughter’s ranch. The family was extremely welcoming and kind. They made us turkish coffee while they got the horses ready and we took in the mountainous landscape. Even after our trail ride, the host’s daughter let a friend and I who have had previous experience riding go freely in the pasture on the horses. The atmosphere of comfort, freedom, and relief in that beautiful place after a day of such heavy travel is one I will never forget.
Afterwards, our host took us around a nearby town. She recounted to us the history of the war in the 90’s, how most of the houses in that village had been burned and restored in her generation and the generation before. Their story of resilience was incredibly impressive to hear, and the pride that so many of the people there had in their country, having literally rebuilt it from the ground up, was tangible and inspiring.
We ended the evening at a restaurant owned by a friend of our host. There we learned about the making of Croatian olive oil, sampled wines and candied oranges, and were treated to a big Croatian meal and live traditional music.
For anyone looking to travel in the future, I highly suggest adding Croatia to your list. The blue waters, stone cliffs and buildings, and incredibly inspiring people and their history are sure to leave an impression.