There is one place in all my travels that really sticks out. That place that when people ask where the best place I’ve been is, immediately jumps to mind.
I don’t even know why, really. It just does. It was the place that I answered that annoying question with when I returned from my first overseas trip to Europe – what was your favourite part? Whenever people asked me, Croatia was my answer. And it always surprised people.
Croatia is not the most well known destination in Europe – at least not 6 years ago (wow, time flies!), though I think it may be increasing in popularity. So people were always curious as to why I thought this was the best place in all of Europe, why it lingered, and still lingers, in the forefront of my memory, over and above places like Paris, London, Venice, Rome, and Amsterdam.
To be honest I don’t know why this small country is the one that strikes a cord with me. To those who ask I cite reasons such as its beauty and history and the relatively low cost compared to the rest of Europe. And those are all true… but there’s something more… something undefinable.
There was just something magical about it. This was the place where fairy-tales happened. Where anything was possible.
Maybe it was because we had just come up the coast from Greece, travelling for a couple days straight. Greece had been much drier looking than I’d expected and driving north through Albania and Montenegro things were getting much more lush and green as we went. We saw little more of Albania and Montenegro than what we did in transit. So Croatia was our first real taste of this part of eastern Europe. And we started in Dubrovnik.
Croatia, and especially Dubrovnik, has been called the Jewel of the Adriatic. The moment I stepped foot in Dubrovnik I could tell why. The green of the trees and plants, the red roofs of the Old City, the deep blue of the sea, the multi-hued flowers – emeralds, rubies, sapphires and more. This was what dreams were made of. This was what you hope to find when embarking on your first adventure.
We had two nights in Dubrovnik in a cute little hostel. We lugged our suitcases up a hill in a small cobble-stoned alleyway that the bus couldn’t fit down in the new part of the city.
The Old City is what was the most magical though. No cars, cobblestone streets, stone houses and red roofs, glowing lights and street musicians. We danced until the sun came up and walked home with the birds chirping. We walked the walls and sailed to some of the outlying islands. We jumped off the boat into the clear blue waters of the Adriatic. We lounged in the sun and it was the most magical couple of days.
Most of our time was spent in Dubrovnik but we also passed through Split and stayed a night in Zadar. Both were extremely beautiful cities, though I admit, I don’t overly remember the particulars. Just the overall feeling – it was a feeling that makes me want to go back. And someday I will. I can’t wait to explore this amazingly beautiful country in more depth.