Croatia – jumping into the deep end

Hello earthlings!
It has been a week and a half of hitch hiking through Croatia and there has been so many good and bad moments. I was travelling with £300 pounds by the way with an extra £200 reserved as an escape plan if so should i require it. £300 for a month in Europe? ha ha yea right thats what everyone said and i’m starting to agree haha.
Zagreb
Zagreb was where i flew in to and it was a nice city. I choose Zagreb because basically it was the cheapest and it was the capital so i guess that would be a good place to start. From the airport to the capital i had to pay a coach for 30kn which was the only time i’ve paid for transportation since!
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There wasn’t much to do in Zagreb honest to god. I came two days after Croatia entered the EU so i did manage to attend a huge rally against it just before the cannons fired at noon. There were signs with things like “just kicked out the Serbs, now were welcoming the new Serbs?” I thought that was a huge oversimplification though because using that logic both your parents and Adolf Hitler are the same sort of bad people. haha
Zagreb – Plitvice
After two days i hopped onto the public tram (which you technically have to pay but no one in the city does) to the edge of the city and waited for an hour until this nice lady called Anita picked me up. We had a quick chat and she dropped me off about a kilometer from the toll booth to the highway. Walked maybe 5km to a gas station where i hailed for half an hour until a Bosnian truck driver picked me up. Turni was his name i think, and he didn’t speak english all that well so for the most of the journey i was reading my LonelyPlanet. I was really grateful though because he drove me up to about 20km to the lakes.
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fuck you too sign! 
Now the signs are very misleading in Croatia. The sign said the lakes were 5KM which was what turni told me as well but after making my way a few kilometers in it then said 11KM. I figured it must have been some kind of mistake but i trekked on because at least i was going the right direction. Then the next sign said 7km. Okay, yeah, i thought i was walking it circles but i just hailed all the cars that drove by and this young guy from Zadar picked me up and his car smelled of weed hahaha. He then offered a smoke and i thought it was a joint so i had to refuse but then he said it was just a normal cigarette so i figured why not. We then chatted about being young and hitch hiking and stuff and the short distance (not 7km though) we drove was one of the funnest cos he was teaching me how to sing this famous local croation song on the radio while we shared a cigarette.
Plitvice
I got to the lakes at about 6 and it opens from 7am-8pm so i didnt want to pay the 80kn to get in for 2 hours so i decided to just camp somewhere until the next day. I was camping in the woods but then it got dark so i moved to the parking lot but then after a few hours i realised it was where people come to chill late at night so at midnight i moved to the lakes because the gate was open. One of the best decisions i’ve made during my trip!
it was pitch black on top of this high mountain and all i could hear was just the soothing white noise rumbling of the waterfall below me. Earlier that evening i was wondering why the roads had no street lamps around the lakes but that night it hit me why. It was so dark, closing my eyes made no difference. The stars were so clear you felt like you could jut pick them off the sky and put them in your pocket like little flying wishes. Thats when the unexpected happened and suddenly the stars got closer and started to flicker. I thought i was going mad, that i was starting to see things because i was in the sun all day but then the flickers started to appear all around me. I was surrounded by stars above me and all around me and thats when i realised that for the very first time I’m seeing fireflies, and they were beautiful. It felt like the entire forest was covered in fairy lights as the fireflies tried to light up in sync with each others. I managed to catch a few on my hand, fragile little creatures they are. And this, with lights all around me and the waterfall under me, this was how i slept but not before seeing two shooting stars to complete the night. I had a ‘moment’ for lack of a better word and it was one of the best moments i’ve had on this trip yet.
I woke up at 5am and decided to go deeper and start exploring before the park opens and before they find me sleeping there. I decided to take the long way which meant 6-8 hours of hiking and it was dangerous i’ll tell you that, but i got some really nice views. I tried capturing some pictures with my phone but they were all mostly landscape photos so using a phone did no justice to how beautiful this UNESCO world heritage park was.
Plitvice Lakes National Park
i almost jizzed myself when i saw this when i woke up
I got out of the park at maybe 6pm after getting lost some more and going round in having a forest ranger dog accompany me for a short picnic. The park itself is about 18KM in total length and the dog seemed to know how to get around the entire place!
After getting out in the late evening i decided to take a rest at one of the benches and i honestly fell asleep. I woke up at around 2am and it was too late to hitch out so i decided to just continue my sleep up until  around 9am.
Plitvice – Knin
Early in the morning after a couple of hours hailing at cars, a nice german family came and picked me up. They were visiting the croatian husbands relative in Knin and they took me and gave me a very personal history lesson about the serbian war. The husband was a soldier in the war and we took a detour and saw the ruined building where he used to hide with the other soldiers. There were bullet holes everywhere and he told us exactly what happened and who lived where. How people left their homes and families and they had to carry the elderly over the mountain for safety. It was thrilling actually to be able to see first hand how the war affected people. We also saw bears on the way to Knin. Then I fell asleep at the back seat holding my bag so it didn’t lean on their daughter and they woke me up right in Knin.
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thats where the toilet used to be, where the soldiers had crazy diarrhea cos all they had to eat was chocolate
Knin
Again it was like 7pm so i had to find a place to sleep but this was a small town so i just sat in front of a Lidl and rested there haha. I moved to the back and fell asleep but i didn’t account for the fact that there was a club right next to the Lidl so at night as i was sleeping, a couple, both about 20years old came to the secluded place i was, i’m guessing to make out and they were surprised. The dude didn’t speak english but the girlfriend did and she asked where i was going so i told her ‘I’m going to split’. She was like “ahh backpacking? sorry to disturb your sleep!”.
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I thought they were really nice people so i did go back to sleep but a couple of hours later the guy came back when he was drunk and i kid you not, in his broken english, he tried to blackmail me to give him 5kn or else he would call the cops. I laughed cos no way i would give him any money. granted 5Kn is like 50pence but by principal alone i would not give him shit. I just told him off and he took off just like that cos he was so drunk that he was in no state for a possible fight. I hightailed soon after and started walking for the highway because i didn’t want to deal with the cops at this hour.
Knin – Split
Since the highway got built about 5 years ago, no one takes the old roads so there wasn’t a lot of cars around for me to hail but the road itself was amazing. It cuts through the mountains and zig zags through cliffs. You would think Top Gear would have came here to check out the road itself.
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The view on the way to split. mouth gapingly hypnotising. 
I started walking at like 5am and no one stopped until like 9am and guess who it was? the police. They stopped and asked me for my documents and everything so i showed them my passport. I guess it was kind of dodgy but small town police, theres not much else going on around the area is there? They told me as a tourist i needed to check in at the police station and whatnot and i just said sure to everything. I wanted things to go as quickly as possible so i just pestered them if they were going in my direction and asked if i could hitch. They were thinking of 50 ways to say no and in the end they just gave me my passport and left.
An hour after another person picked me up and it was the dodgiest ride i’ve ever had. It was this old worn out Volkswagon van and the back seats were all torn out and replaced with benches and the floor was covered in what i think was blood and dirt. The driver was this old burly man and his teenage son was a quiet person. Both didn’t speak english but i was for a moment scared cos the whole feel of the car and the driver pointing at men him and to the mountain and started doing this shotgun ‘bang bang!” gesture and i was thinking “ohhh, this guy either hunts bears, or he wants to kill me there. right…”
either way i kind of felt this guy had a gun in his car so murderer or bear killer, both equally frightening, i didn’t want to get on his back so i just smiled and nodded. The movie jeepers creepers kept coming into mind haha.
He did send me a far distance about 35KM from Split so i was grateful for that! (and for being alive)
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dodgiest hitch i’ve had yet! 
hours after, after walking through this small village and hailing at the small number of cars that drove past, this 30 year old guy named Joseph picked me up and i will say it now, he is my favourite person i’ve met on this trip yet. He said this was one of the few times he ever had to speak english and he said he always thought he spoke english very well but now he’s not so sure. haha. We talked about where i’m from, my relationships, my studies, job prospects, then i asked about his life and not surprisingly he’s a student counselor at this local school. He then told me he’s going to his wife’s parents home and he invited me! i declined and he offered me to go to a restaurant and i declined again saying i have enough food and drinks. He then insisted that we go to his wife’s home first.
I was a little hesitant because this would be my first time in a croatian home but i was kind of excited as well. The wife is a gypsy and their newborn son Leon was gorgeous! They insisted i stayed for lunch so i agreed and they game me grilled cheese on toasts, cakes,water, coffee, punch pretty much everything they could offer. I felt like a special guest! then the wife’s parents came from church and offered me food to take home! The wife’s father kept trying to get me to try his home brewed croatian wine. It was funny since he didn’t speak english haha.
after a couple of hours, i had to go. They wanted me to stay longer because the son Leon liked having me around. I think he was curious cos i was asian haha. Joseph drove me about 10KM south up to the highway and with a full stomach, a home packed meal he dropped me off but not before giving me his number just incase i got into trouble and needed help. I felt so blessed to have met him and his family and i think, i will start sending him postcards just to keep in touch!
from the highway with my huge sign to split, it didn’t take me long to get picked up by this quiet elderly guy who sent me to the centre harbour of split. Gave him a handshake and i left.
Split
For once i got somewhere early at about 1PM so i found a cafe, took out my laptop and updated everything and booked myself into a hostel. The place i checked into, wine garden was amazing. They had grapevines growing all around the hostel which they use for the wine.
I met Matt white, this australian guy who quit his job sold everything and travelled and he ditched his friends along the journey and we both ended up at a crawl that night. Met a lot of fun people from all over the world and had an amazing time!
The next day i did the touristy things in Split and quite enjoyed myself actually. I could see why Split is a world heritage site as well due to its gorgeous old dalmatian buildings and coast. The had this Dolcetian palace which is completely ancient but they managed to harmonise it with cafes and stores inside which does not at all hinder from the beauty of the city. After 10 months in the UK and for the first time in my life i went sun bathing on the cliffsides of this place called Marjan and i now get it. I get the whole concept of sun bathing. Maybe because its too hot in Brunei or maybe because i’ve been in UK for so long but i really enjoyed sun bathing down in the meditteranean. After swimming, my body felt very sore so i checked into this other cheap dodgy hostel and slept early.
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I woke up after more than 12hours of sleep and the lady telling us we needed to check out in half an hour so i showered, and met a bunch of people i talked to on couchsurfing and we went cliffjumping. we took a video of mine and Bree- the australian girl’s first cliff jump. haha. I didn’t know how to climb up the cliff so mark had to help me out. Totally cool guy. I’ll link you to the video once Marc posts it up!
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amazing coastline of split
Split-Dubrovnik
Later that evening i hitch hiked with this excavator/musician who sent me to the highway and after a couple of days and lots of hiding from the highway safety patrol and hiking through a mountain, a police car came told me i couldnt be on the highway and dropped me off here at a petrol station, still ways away from Dubrovnik.
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proof i was in the back of a croatian cop car. hey mom!
I still need to find a route to Turkey. The obvious direction would be through Serbia-Bulgaria-Turkey but Serbia still requires a visa before entry so i’ve got to go all the way around Montenegro-Albania-Greece-Turkey simply to avoid Serbia. Hopefully i will end up reaching Turkey in a week or so.
regards,
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