happy & healthy abroad: croatia

Here I am, sitting in Dublin Airport, listening to traveling folk ballads (queue John Denver's Country Roads) realizing my journey is coming to a close. It's a very surreal feeling knowing that after more than two months I will be back home in the states. It's strange- I am so excited to go home, but I'm also afraid. I'm coming back a different person than I was when I left, things won't be the same, but in what way? With home on my mind, it's weird to think back to the beginning of my travels with my friend Hyunjae. It was a little over two weeks ago, but for some reason it feels like months and my language program feels like years. Seeing that I have failed to keep up with my weekly blog posts let's rewind a little back to Croatia...

Meeting up with Hyunjae in Venice did not go as smooth as I would have hoped- it involved a phone that stopped working, a missed train from Germany, and a lot of stress. However, the good thing and the most important thing is, we connected and all ended well. The day after arriving in Venice, we explored the city a little before our ferry departed at 5:15 pm. We arrived in Rovinj, Croatia around 9:00 pm very tired (and hungry, but that's a given). Our airbnb hosts gave us a warm welcome and gave us a lot of great info about things to do and see in Rovinj.

The next morning I was able to enjoy a yoga routine while Hyunjae went for a run. Afterwards we walked to the farmers market in the center of town that our hosts told us about. It was basically like fulfilling a dream of mine to be able to cook meals with fresh produce from local Croatian farmers- talk about a cultural experience. After breakfast we walked around the historic part of town for a few hours and then we went on a bike ride along the coast. A bike ride was a perfect way to see the country that we were staying in and while being active at the same time. On the way back towards town, we stopped to go for a swim to cool off and to just enjoy the beautiful scenery that surrounded us.

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That evening we went to a restaurant called Kantinon that our hosts recommended. The restaurant featured a seasonal menu that changed everyday. I ordered type of grilled fish (which had been caught that day) with swiss chard and potatoes. Much to my surprise, they did not just bring me a fillet, they brought out an entire fish and our server dressed it right there in front of me. It was most definitely the freshest and tastiest fish I have ever had. After dinner we checked out a gelato place we had noticed while walking around town. I was a little skeptical, having lived in Italy for 2 months I thought for sure there couldn't be anything that could compete. Crazy thing was, it was the best gelato I have ever had, ever.

The next morning we went to market again and probably bought way too much produce. We learned that it's hard to communicate quantity in a foreign language when shopping at a farmer's market. We spent the day on the seaside, relaxing, swimming and reading. Later in the evening, after it had cooled off a bit, we explored the town a little more and bought some handmade jewelry in what we determined to be the cutest shop in Rovinj. That night I cooked dinner with all the food we had left from the market and then for desert we went back to the gelato place because it was just too delicious to resist.

Our stay in Croatia was short,  we had to leave very very early the next morning because the ferry departed at 7 am. However, I left happy and satisfied with our experience, and hope to return someday soon. Croatia is such a unique place- even though it is very close to Italy, it's culture is completely different. In Croatia they speak Croatian, Italian, and then either German or English. So between Hyunjae and I, we spoke Italian, German, and English to communicate with the locals, and we had a lot of fun doing so. Rovinj was very small, but it had so much charm and we were able to do quite a variety of things- swimming, biking, exploring, relaxing, eating locally, etc.  It was a perfect way to start our 2 and a half week European adventure! From Croatia we returned to Venice for one night before flying to Prague, which will be featured in my next post! Even though I am back in the States, I am excited to continue to share with you the rest of my travels and perhaps in a more retrospective approach. Until next time!

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