If there is one thing I am really bad at, it’s planning. I like to “wing it”, and trust that everything will work out in the end. I tend to run RIGHT on time (never late though, I’m not an animal), rely on the expertise of others, and shoot from the hip. I drive approximately 95% of people crazy. And while I have been told that this is something I need to work on, it was an incredibly useful quality to possess while I was traveling through Croatia.
Croatia is a beautiful country found directly across the Adriatic Sea from Italy. There is stunning coastline, exquisite national parks, and sprawling farms inhabited by some of the fluffiest sheep I’ve ever seen. It is no wonder it has become a tourist hot spot in the recent decade, largely in part due to the cruise ship industry. Port cities such as Dubrovnik, Split, and Hvar have become wildly famous in recent years, and have become overrun with tourists following tour guides holding a neon flag in the air. Despite this surge in tourism, Croatia still has that old world feel that has been ironed out of other European destinations such as Rome, Paris, and Amsterdam. Croatia just hasn’t been doing the tourism thing for as long as other European countries, more than likely because of its grisly past. I do not want this article to in any way discourage you from visiting Croatia…GO! Hop the next plane and get there ASAP! It is an incredible country with incredible people. I do, however, want to tell you to that while traveling through Croatia, you should always have a backup plan.
One of the main activities I wanted to do in Croatia was go cliff jumping while in Dubrovnik. If you make it there, you can take a water taxi to a teeny tiny island off the coast of Dubrovnik called Lokrum, which is said to be home to some of the best cliff jumping in the area (as described by a local). You are able to run and jump off the edge of a cliff into the chilly waters of the Adriatic Sea, an exhilarating experience I had been dreaming about for over a year. Unfortunately, I managed to get to Dubrovnik during an unusually windy time. Waves were huge, and boats were unable to safely dock at Lokrum. Cue in my disappointment when I realized I wouldn’t be able to live my dream, and I would have no cool pictures of myself soaring through the air. I could have either sat around and been depressed about this, or explore other things to do in Dubrovnik, and you know I chose the latter. Instead I hiked Mount Srd (which I lovingly nicknamed Mount Ab-Srd for the insane views you get from the top), and was able to look down on the entirety of Dubrovnik. Not only is Mount Srd a great hike, it holds great cultural significance in Dubrovnik history. So, while the hike wasn’t my first choice, it ended up being an incredible plan B.
Fast forward to when it was time for me to pick up and leave Dubrovnik. I opted to take the scenic route to the next destination, Hvar (a large island off the coast of the Croatian mainland) by way of Split, via the Krilo ferry (one often sails to Split, and then hops another boat to the island of Hvar). This is a highly-recommended route, sailing along the Dalmatian coast, dropping people off at multiple stops along the way. I figured this would be a great way to get from point A to point B quickly, and see the beautiful coastline along the way. I hopped on the bus out of town, headed to the docking harbor, and saw the ferry sitting in the harbor. A storm drummed up and dumped buckets on me from the sky as I sat under a flimsy umbrella and sipped Coca Cola waiting to board the ferry to Split.
I waited, and waited, and waited, until 3 hours passed. I calmly walked to the ferry boat terminal, asked when we would be allowed to board, and found out that the ferry had been cancelled due to unsafe storm conditions. However, I was told there was a bus station nearby, and a bus would be leaving for Split in 10 minutes. After getting very general directions to the bus station, I ran harder and faster than I ever have in my life (which I’m sure is not very fast), and hopped on the bus with a mere 30 seconds to spare. I sat on the bus for a 6-hour ride to Split, dozing off, watching the countryside, and watching the clock. I knew that by sheer luck, I would make the last ferry out of Split, but it would be a VERY close call.
As we got closer, every red light seemed to drag on, and I grew more and more restless. As we pulled into the bus terminal in Split I had put on my game face. I was the first off the bus, and the first to the bag compartment. I grabbed my bags, slung them over my shoulder, and sprinted to the Split ferry terminal. I ran in the general direction of boats, knowing this would put me in the right area to snag the last ferry of the day to Hvar before it took off. And let me tell you, it was a close call. I walked onto the ferry as they were throwing off the ropes and buoys, not a minute to spare, and I am still considering using this quick thinking as my audition story for the Amazing Race. And while my backup plan to get to Split was not only a close call, but also a lesson in patience, it got me to where I needed to be, and I was able to see a part of the countryside I may not have seen by boat.
The rest of my trip was picture perfect. Sunny beaches, warm water, and secluded lunch spots on far removed islands. I love Croatia and hope to go back to get lost from the world yet again. Had I not had a laissez-faire attitude, my trip could have definitely counted as a disaster. Most people would consider the trip reason enough not to venture off the beaten path, but being able to adapt in tough situations and look at each road bump as a new adventure, I was still able to enjoy my trip. Travel will never be easy. There will always be things that go wrong, buses that don’t run on time, and streets you get lost on. Having a backup plan is a great way to travel, and will leave you feeling not so paralyzed when disaster strikes. But if a backup plan isn’t really your thing, you could always play your luck and go with the flow. It just may take you to the top of Mount Ab-Srd.