Surprise. You’re in Croatia.

Took the bus to Split with 6 other friends and slept at a very nice AirBnb. Had a great night’s sleep because the next day we went to Krka national park! We had to take a boat to get to the entrance and I felt transported to another world.
This might be one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to… the weather was perfectly sunny and the waterfalls were magnificent. We got to swim in the cool waters and hike all around the hills.
After that, we came all the way back to Dubrovnik.

We arrived in the beautiful port town of Dubrovnik, Croatia on September 29th. Though I was still a bit sad over losing Istanbul, the second I saw the gleaming white marble and blazing red roofs, I knew I was going to have a great time discovering a place I knew so little about.

Dubrovnik is a walled city in the southern bart of Croatia (which is split in two parts by a tiny stretch of Bosnia and Herzegovina). In ancient times it was a prosperous trading center that rivaled Venice, and even today that wealth is apparent. The inner parts of “Old Town” are mainly all white stone. Walking down the shiny main street you feel as if inside a giant church. Of course nowadays the town is a hub for tourists, especially since “Game of Thrones” films there and there are a multitude of tours that take you to the locations.

Next day I went to Medrugorje, which is a very famous pilgrimage site for Catholics and Christians from all over the world. In the 1980’s, 6 teenage kids were climbing a hill and saw apparitions of the Virgin Mary. Since then, millions of people all over the world make the journey every year to Apparition Hill.
The rocks were very steep and difficult to scale. The top of the hill was very peaceful, and it was wonderful to see people praying in many different languages together.
I signed on to do a wine tasting tour with my amazing Geography professor, John Boyer. We went to Milos Winery, where the Milos family has been making wine for 500 years. Yes, that’s half a millennium. They run a small and highly specialized operation, because they only grow one type of grape: the Plavac Mali. The rocky soil and hot climate of this region is perfect for this species, and in the underground cellar I got to see huge 60 year old barrels that held this juice maintain the grape’s excellent natural flavors.
At the tasting they gave us a terrific Rosé that would put most red wines to shame. Then we had their red wine from 2006, and 2003. I was amazed that they were giving us some of their best vintage! 2003 was a particularly hot year, and the grapes got really intense flavors which is awesome but 12 years later. Basically my biggest takeaway is that the wine is a game of patience.
I thankfully had time to go to the war photography museum back in Dubrovnik, which had amazing shots of some of Croatia’s darkest times. It was strange to see photographs of civilians with machine guns walking down the enchanting streets of the Old Town that I recognized. It’s also odd for me to see pictures of a European war that looks so recent. The disintegration of Yugoslavia happened right before I was born and it’s not something that’s covered in school curriculums yet, so I was surprised at how I’d never heard of this conflict and the resulting genocide. That’s the amazing part about SAS… In the days leading up to Croatia our professors realized how little we knew and helped us learn.
On my last day I went to the Isle of Lokrum with some friends, and we had a terrific swim in the sea and saw some lovely peacocks! It was very peaceful, and all too soon we had to come back to the ship.
All in all, Croatia was a fantastic place to visit and I know I will be back soon.