Well, people. Sorry for the long delay for the last installation in our European adventure blog post. I am writing this from our new apartment in Santa Monica, which I will tell you about eventually – but not today! Today you get to hear about our last few days of Europe.
After our busy day scuba diving and eating the entire contents of the ocean, we planned to relax for the next day. First on our agenda was a trip up the mountain via cable car for what was promised to be “the best view in Dubrovnik” (by the end of the trip, we had basically seen the old town from essentially every angle humanly possible – there were a lot of “best views of Dubrovnik.”) This mountain top was actually under siege during the 1990 war, when the Serbian army bombed down on Dubrovnik from up on the top before being forced down. Our guide book assured us that the mountain had been declared “land mine free,” so we decided to risk the journey up AND ALSO to NOT stay on the marked paths. We are such rebels.
As promised, the view was amazing. We bought a couple of beers at the top of the mountain, and hung out up there for a while watching little tiny kayakers (tiny because we were up so high, not literally tiny) paddle their way around Lokrum, the closest island in the distance.
With no real plans on our agenda and no desire to go back to our hotel room (which might win an award for tiniest hotel room of all time), we decided that WE wanted to be one of the tiny kayakers and quickly found a “sunset” kayak tour to take.
We left at 4:30 on the smooth side of the island (between the island and Dubrovnik) and were amused by a Scottish girl and Chilean guy fought non-stop, each paddling in different directions while barking instructions at one another in accented English. These people had just met at the hostel they were both staying out, and I think my favorite type of fights to watch are those between two strangers. The kayak tour began with a stop at a cave, where they gave us sub sandwiches (which surprisingly weren’t mushy. Score!) and allowed us to swim and snorkel.
After an hour or so, we continued our route towards the other side of the island. At this point, our two guides announced, “If there is anyone who feels like they won’t be able to make it around the island, one of us is heading back now. You can meet the rest of the group for the “wine sunset” at the shore.” After staring bullets at the Scottish girl and Chilean guy who apparently didn’t not understand the concept of “paddling in the same direction” as well as a family of three in which only the dad seemed to be capable of paddling at all, the guide finally said (in an awesomely Croatian way), “Ok. You two kayaks. You can’t go. You are bad. Make it dangerous for everyone and slow us down.” So we left them. I felt a little bad, but mostly for myself. I liked the two that continually argued. It reminded me of a reality show. Paddling on the other side was hard. The waves were big. My arms are little. But we made it! So, I am counting it a success.
After our wine sunset celebration (let’s be honest – it was a glass of wine in a plastic cup. There was very little celebrating we were exhausted, so we went back to the world’s tiniest hotel room and slept for approximately one billion years. We had planned to wake up early the next day to walk the town walls before both the sun became unbearably shiny and the hoards of cruise ship tourist descended on the town. But, that is not what happened. Instead, we slept until 11:00, and started on the walk at approximately the hottest time humanly possible to be in a completely exposed, completely sunny wall.
Luckily, there were no crowds of people. No one but us would risk dying of heat exhaustion.
After surveying the city from every possible angle and somehow making it around its entirety, we decided that we very much deserved at least 20 beers, so we headed back to our favorite bar stuck to the rocks of the ocean, Buza Bar, where several people were making the life threatening decision to jump off really high cliffs into the ocean below. After a few beers, I decided to join them. Although not from the tallest cliff, I am not THAT crazy.
Blake joined me after a little bit, and we discovered the awesomeness of swimming in the Adriatic. I don’t know if it is a saltier ocean or what, but we figured out that you only had to kick your legs one time when you were breathing out to stay afloat. It was awesome! The laziest swimming ever!
We hung out in the water, turning into little prunes before heading back into town for EuroCup watching and preparing for our the next day’s trip to Mostar, Bosnia. It had always been on our agenda to go to Mostar while in Dubrovnik, but we had hoped to be able to share a private driver or a small tour rather than be one of my arch nemesi, giant tour group people. It didn’t look that was going to be possible until the very last minute, when we booked a tour with a smaller agency who travels in 8 passenger vans rather than humongous busses. When we met the van the next morning (early, so very early), I did about 15 happy dances to discover that there were only FOUR of us on the day’s tour. Hooray! Blake, myself, an Israeli guy named Edward, and our little bundle of Argentinian personality, Ana. Ana was approximately 60 and had more energy in her little toe than I had in my entire body. ME! I have a lot energy! She had about 8999990 times more! It was AMAZING.
Ana also spoke no English and only Spanish and Italian, which was helpful on a Bosnian tour through a Croatian company. I have no idea what possessed her to sign of for a tour knowing she wouldn’t be able to understand any of it, but I don’t think many people understand Ana’s decisions. She is a bundle of impulses. The 3 hour bus ride to Mostar was interrupted by three small stops. The first one was to some Roman ruins in a town near Dubrovnik, which was mostly boring with the exception of Ana’s antics. She ran around demanding, “FOTO! FOTO!” and snapping pictures of Blake and I (it’s amusing to think of Blake and I featured in a stranger’s photo album), climbing on the ruins, and swinging on a conveniently placed swing set. The next stop was to a town featuring ruins of an old mosque, which Ana, Edward, and I climbed to the top (Blake stayed at the bottom. Like a chump). I posed for more pictures, and we headed off to our third stop – a village that exists as a tourist destination thanks to some wily children who “saw” an “apparation” of the “Virgin Mary” (quotation marks on purpose). The town is seriously one giant souvenir shop featuring anything humanly possible with a giant screen print of the Virgin Mary front and center. As cheesy and fake as it seemed to me, old Edward asked to be left in the town and picked up on our way back through (completely missing Mostar) so he could make the super hot (it was SO HOT) hike up to “Apparation Hill” and pray. So, I’m probably going to hell. It was only Blake, myself, and old Crazy Ana left for Mostar.
The town had a large, diverse population, which had historically lived pretty peacefully before the wars in the 90’s. The town consisted of Bosnians (Muslims), Serbians (Orthodox Catholics), and Croatians (Catholics), divided into two main areas by a river. When the break-up of Yugoslavia happened, the Bosnians and Croatians fought the Serbians together – until one day when they decided to just start fighting one another (this is all paraphrasing). The fighting was pretty horrific, so the town still has a lot of war-torn buildings and general atmosphere.
Our guide took us through the “rougher” area and into the toursity center of town, featuring The Old Bridge (which had been destroyed during the war and rebuilt using the same technology (or rather lack of technology) as it had been built originally), an amazing market, and a mosque before leaving us for “free time!”
Blake and I quickly found a place to eat some delicious little chavaps (like little sausages, roughly the size of your finger and stuffed with deliciousness) and then wandered through the rest of town, buying some souvenirs and tiny nectarines.
Our journey back to Dubrovnik was mostly uneventful due to the fact that I slept the entire way. I guess Blake will have to opine on any excitement that occurred. We ate dinner at an AMAZING restaurant (I finally got some mussels! It was a mission of mine after seeing one million mussel farms on the drive to Mostar) and packed up our stuff for our flight to London the next day. Our next morning, we found a place to eat an early lunch and sat right next to a hilarious British group consisting of two couples and their small children. One of the children, a boy about 4 years old named Thomas, was hilariously precocious and weird – uttering the titular phrase “But Mummy! I like MUSHY peas!” in an awesomely British accent upon being offered chick-peas. I wanted to let him know that mushy peas are mostly disgusting, but I didn’t want to break his little mushy-pea-loving heart, so I stayed silent (although laughing hysterically. It was funny.) Our flight to London was pretty boring, and we checked into our hotel (Ramada! Yeah!), ate dinner while watching more EuroCup, before going to sleep early. The next day (our last day overseas), we cried a few tears, got on a surprisingly tiny plane, and flew to Boston. Our trip over. It was sad.
But we were also excited to get out to LA (spoiler – it’s awesome) and start real life. I guess this was our last long trip (although I said that last time, and look at us!) I would highly recommend it to anyone. Go. For a long time. Not for a short time. It’s amazing. Especially if you have someone amazing to go with. I know. Gag. But it’s true! And on that note – THE END.