Waiting, waiting, waiting. En-route to Dubrovnik, Croatia. Mother and I boarded our flight. Goodbye, New York. First stop, Istanbul…airport.
We could see Istanbul coming to life as dawn approached. It took us a while to get through custom and then began our battle with time. 4 hours felt like four decades. Alas, we board the jet one more time. En route to Zagreb, Croatia. Goodbye, Istanbul. For now.
Zagreb, Croatia. Layover time: 8 hours. WHY I did that to my poor jet-lagged mother, I will never know…okay I lied. Zagreb Airport is one of the smallest airports I’ve ever come across. It was hell. However, knowing of this ridiculous layover, I had planned a quick trip to City Centre for a few hours. We arrived at Zagreb bus terminal an hour later. From there, we purchased a round-trip train ticket to take us to City Centre. It was perfect. We saw many attractions without needing to get off. Once off the train, mother and I explored around. Zagreb is a beautiful city. We even found an Indian Restaurant. Unfortunately, it was closed. After a while, it was getting too cold, and the mother couldn’t bear to be outside. We took the train > bus back to the Airport. Once again, we began our battle with time. Few more hours till we board one last jet to Dubrovnik…
ALAS, we arrived at our destination in the middle of the night. Upon planning this trip, my brother (who is studying abroad in Dubrovnik) recommended that we book a place within or near the old city. I found a fantastic two bedroom apartment near the old city gate, Dubrovnik Sunset Apartments. There was a grocery store downstairs, a bakery next door and most adorable laundromat with free WiFi across the street. It was the perfect place for us. My mom was able to make chai for next two mornings and afternoons. She loved it. Our two-night cost was $160. And the view from my bedroom window was worth every single penny. Let me show you…
After a quick cup of chai, mother and I took off to wander around the old town without any agenda. It was a short walk from our apartment to the port area. I enjoyed every second of this as we had most of the places by ourselves. Oh, and a cat or two. I remember wishing the weather was a tad bit warmer to dip my feet into the ocean.
It truly is a remarkable city. On our 2nd evening, my brother wanted to show me this abandoned hotel and the beach nearby. Our mother decided to tag along. We chose not to tell her that it was abandoned and that we would have to hike around once we reached the beach. It was a beautiful sight. Some of you might recognize this site below from Game of Thrones. Hotel Belvedere was a causality of the Croatian War of Independence. It was bombed by the Serbian army back in the 1990s. To our surprise, mother enjoyed it.
The beach was beautiful and quiet. Just a few locals were enjoying the warm evening. One of them struck up a conversation. He told us tales of his journey in India. Three months of walking from South to North India, barefoot…
Next morning, we picked up our rental car at the airport. We headed north for Zadar. Once across the Bosnian border, we were faced with two options. Highway or Coastal Route. Of course, we chose the coastal route and decided we would take highway on our way back. It was one of the gorgeous drives I had ever done. Our original plan was to stop in Split to check out a few attractions, but we made a few random in smaller towns and were unable to explore split.
We arrived in Zadar by late evening. I had booked an apartment again, Central Palace Apartment. The area looked a bit sketchy at night, but inside it was modern, chic and cozy. The location once again was fantastic. We were close to old city walls and by the bay. We walked around for a while before hitching a cab to find someplace to eat. We found this charming Thai place, Pearl of Siam, on the other side of the city. The place was quirky, quiet and well priced. The staff was super friendly, and we loved every dish we ordered. On our way back to the apartment, the taxi driver told us to check out Sea Organ, which was a five-minute walk from our apartment. It was incredibly cold, but we decided to see it because it is the only one. And I am glad we did so. It was incredible! Below is a video we took.
We awoke early next morning to get on the road. Next stop was Plitvic National Park. (SQUEEEEE) I was beyond excited. The drive was incredible, but the temperature went down as we made our way into the mountains. We drove through various small abandoned towns; it was creepy, to say the least. We arrived just in time for the park opening hours. The park is usually open year around, but it just so happened that main part of the park was closed due to ice water overflowing on a wooden pathway. My heart broke. The main reason behind our road trip was to see this park. We took a boat ride to the other side of the park. From there, you can hike about an hour to the tallest fall. It was too cold, too windy, and we couldn’t put our mother through that, so we took the boat back.
Even with the major disappointment, our road trip was very well worth it. I mean, it’s not every day you pull over and catch a view that leaves you breathless.
En route to Dubrovnik. Remember the creepy towns we drove through? I decided to stop and photograph one town that consisted of a church and two houses. That’s right. Both broken and abandoned. And here is the church…
Our upgrade! Thank you, Royal Princess!
It was time to rise and shine – another country awaited. Day trip to Montenegro, here we go!