Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina

My time in Mostar 🙂

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The famous bridge in Mostar

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Walking around Mostar

City: Mostar

How Long: 3 nights

Accommodation:

I stayed at Hostel Miran and it was incredible!! The host, Miran, was an incredibly nice man who was extremely knowledgeable about the history of the region, as he had grown up there and actually lived through and fought in the Bosnian War. I learned so much from him. The hostel had small lockers in each room to store valuables but not big enough to store your whole bag, but I found everyone at the hostel to be very friendly and nice so I wasn’t worried about anyone stealing stuff from my bag. There was free breakfast and often at night Miran would BBQ so there was a free dinner sometimes. They also offered a great tour of the region. Highly recommend this place!!

Where to eat:

This place had free breakfast and sometimes free dinner so I mostly utilized that, BUT the hostel did recommend Hindin Han and I ended up going twice! Once just with Sam, and then once with Sam and three Germans we met on Miran’s tour (more on that in the next section!). Hindin Han was in the middle of the city center overlooking a small stream and was very cheap! Awesome food and alcohol selection.

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Accidentally ordered Rakia, which is a rum made in the Balkans. Ranges from 40% alcohol to 90% alcohol. It was quite strong!

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SO MUCH FOOD

What to do:

Number one thing you should do is go on Miran’s tour! (even if you don’t stay at his hostel I’m pretty sure you can still go on it!) Miran lived through and fought during the Bosnian War and had some incredible stories for us. The tour took us to an abandoned aircraft hanger utilized during communist occupation in Bosnia, two quaint cities (Blagaj & Pochitelj) and lastly, Kravice waterfalls. Each was uniquely beautiful, but the waterfalls were my favorite because we got to swim!! As we made our way back to Mostar, we were told many stories about the realities of living in Mostar during the Bosnian War. The damage from the war is still very visible in Mostar today.

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Entering the abandoned airport hangar

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From the inside

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Blagaj

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Blagaj

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Drinking the fresh water

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Where two rivers meet

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View from the fort of Pochitelj

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Up in the old fort

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Pochitelj

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Kravica Waterfalls

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Our new German friend smoked his pipe and read while the rest of us swam in the water 🙂

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The aftermath of the Bosnian War

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Buildings still in disarray

 

 

The other thing that is fun to see while in Mostar is someone jump off the famous Stari Most bridge which is 24 meters (~78 feet) tall! The professional divers will jump once they have collected enough money from tourists 🙂 If you are a tourist, you pay around 20 euros for an hour-long lesson from the professionals and then you can jump! Only around 2,300 people have done it and Miran said they were mostly Aussie or Kiwi.

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Someone about to jump!

Overall thoughts:

Mostar was such a pleasant surprise. I honestly had such little knowledge about this region and was thrilled to learn all that I did. Highly recommend visiting this richly historic, beautiful city.

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Nighttime views of the bridge

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Montenegro

After Dubrovnik, I crossed into Montenegro! This was my first time to this tiny country of  only about 700,000 people.

CITY: Kotor

HOW LONG: 4 NIGHTS

ACCOMMODATION:

I stayed at Montenegro Hostel 4U and had very mixed feelings about this place. On the one hand, the facilities were great- Big rooms, big lockers, nice bathrooms, and good kitchen/common area. There were kayaks and bikes available to rent and it was right on the water. HOWEVER, this hostel had the most aggressive organized drinking I had ever seen. I mean it’s one thing for the staff to encourage people to socialize and drink, but it’s another to pressure a kid into drinking so much that he had to go to the hospital. I found the staff to be very sexist and too involved with getting people to drink. When I would say that I was fine drinking water, they seemed to be upset and continually asked me to drink alcohol instead. Despite the aggressive staff, I did meet some awesome people here!

WHERE TO EAT:

The hostel had organized BBQ’s most nights so I tended to join in to meet people, but my favorite restaurant I went to was called Konoba Akustik. They had delicious Cevapi and other yummy food.

WHAT TO DO:

The most important thing to do while in Kotor is hike the old fortress. It’s not the easiest hike (about 1,300 steps straight up the mountain) but the views make it worth it. It was only 3 euros (as opposed to the 20 euros it costs to do the city walls in Dubrovnik).

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Walking across the bridge into Old Town

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Heading up with Jacob, a guy I met at the hostel

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View over old town

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Up we go!

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The old fort at the top over looking the bay

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Old Town

Next up was renting some kayaks with some new British friends (Yay Louisa + Matt!). We spent many hours joking about our mutual appreciation for good butter (butterbaes for life) and Louisa does an amazing valley girl accent so we also had many made up conversations about our alter egos Becca and Ashley! We literally couldn’t even….

Lastly, I decided to do a day tour of Montenegro because apparently with one day tour you can see about 60% of the country. Crazy right?! While I did see some cool things and we went for a boat ride on a river, the tour wasn’t anything special. I probably would’ve preferred to just hang around Kotor.

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View over Bay of Kotor

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the Mausoleum (the second highest peak of mount Lovcen) where is buried the great Montenegrin ruler and poet Petar II Petrovic Njegos

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Cetinje Monastery

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River Crnojevica

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Budva

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Budva

 

 

OVERALL THOUGHTS:

Despite my hostel being less than ideal, I met some fun people and enjoyed exploring Kotor/ other parts of Montenegro. Kotor and Montenegro in general are so untouched compared to many other parts of Europe. But, slowly it is being discovered. In Kotor, more and more cruise ships are stopping for a visit and surely, it will become a hotspot in the next 5 years.

 

CITY: Ulcinj

HOW LONG: 3 NIGHTS

ACCOMMODATION:

I stayed at Hostel Pirate and it couldn’t have been more opposite to my hostel in Kotor. It was so relaxing and because Ulcinj is not very big, there wasn’t much to do at night so all the guests would drink beer and just hang at the hostel. I had a great time meeting new people and playing cards. The rooms were nice and the lockers were big enough for valuables. A large guest kitchen and common room were available for use. Also the staff were super awesome, helpful, & generous. ALSO as a bonus there was a Belgian Shepard and the house cat had just had kittens!!!!

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WHERE TO EAT:

I mostly cooked my own food while I was here so don’t have any recommendations unfortunately.

WHAT TO DO:

Despite being fairly small, Ulcinj has plenty to do! First up for me was a walk through the old town, which was literally empty (again polar opposite to Dubrovnik). Fun views of the little cove and town below the old town.

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Walking through the Old Town

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View of Ulcinj

Next was a day trip to ALBANIA!! I went to ShkodĂ«r which is near Skadarsko Jezero, a huge lake that is half in Montenegro and half in Albania. I spent a couple of hours exploring the town and went to some castle ruins. Rozafa Castle was built around the 14th century. Definitely cool to walk around the ruins, and it wasn’t really regulated in terms of where you could go, so you can essentially walk everywhere and can climb up all the old walls.

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Rozafa Castle ruins

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Albanian flag

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Ebu Beker Mosque

The best day was my first proper beach day in a while. I ventured out with an American couple I had met on the bus from ShkodĂ«r that also happened to be staying at my hostel. First, I went with Tess to a women’s only nudist beach, which is interesting as this is a Muslim dominated area, but we had a very relaxing time. After an hour in the sun we walked 40 minutes along the coast to another beach (14km long!!!) We met up with her boyfriend, Aaron, here. Our hike ended with a treacherous bridge, but we survived! I honestly thought this might be how my life ended (or at least how I ended my trip with a broken leg). After the adrenaline wore off, the three of us enjoyed the breeze and sun rays for a couple of hours.

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Views along the hike to the beach

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The beach all to ourselves

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THE CRAZY BRIDGE

I ran out of time so was not able to do all I wanted to do in Ulcinj, so if you have time definitely explore all the forests and hikes in the area!!

OVERALL THOUGHTS:

Ulcinj was awesome!! I barely heard any english being spoken as I walked around and all the locals were so friendly!! There was so much to do and I enjoyed everything I did while here. I would love to come back some day!

 

 

Dubrovnik

City: Dubrovnik

How Long: 4 nights

Accommodation:

I stayed at Hostel Villa Angelina Old Town while in Dubrovnik. I had very mixed feelings about this hostel. The beds were comfy and had individual plugs and lights, which is always appreciated. Small lockers for valuables in the room. Guest kitchen and common room were available for use. BUT the staff were sorta of rude and the staff wake you up every morning. The shower always flooded the entire bathroom, which is gross. The kitchen was quite small so only one person could really be cooking at one time. I would not stay here again.

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I did have a nice view from my dorm room thought 🙂

Where to eat:

2 highlights for eating: Preša and Dolce Vita. Preša is a cheap restaurant in a sea of overpriced, touristy restaurants in the old town. It’s yummy food and it has tons of options ranging from burgers, traditional Croatian meat platters, salads, & crepes. Came here a few times during my stay in Dubrovnik. Secondly, Dolce Vita was the go to ice cream place. Need I say more?

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The alleyway where Dolce Vita lives

What to do:

Dubrovnik has so much to offer in terms of things to do!! The first thing I did was go on a kayaking tour that took us to Lokrum, an island right next to Dubrovnik. I went with a Scottish guy I met at the hostel, George. We kayaked around the island and even visited a cave. After rounding the island we headed to a beach that you can only reach by boat. They provided snorkeling gear so George and I quickly jumped into the cold water to explore!

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Grabbing our kayaks

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and we’re off!

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Exploring caves

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Beach only accessible by water

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Snorkeling

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George!

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Heading back to Dubrovnik

After getting back, George and I decided to walk the ancient city walls of Dubrovnik. It was annoyingly expensive, but I thought it was worth it. It provided incredible views, and we went at sunset, making it even more special.

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Starting the hike around the walls

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Main street from above

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Old fort

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George and me

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City walls

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Outside the walled in part of town

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Old port

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The old roofs

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What a unique city 🙂

Next up was a trip up the gondola to an even more incredible viewpoint before hiking down the hill with an American girl I had met at the hostel. You can also just hike up and not take the gondola.

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After the gondola ride

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On our way down

Other than the more organized activities, you must just wander through the town.

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The amazing alleyways

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Main square

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One of the entrances

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Another entrance

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George!

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Sunset

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Outside the walls

Overall thoughts:

Despite being the most touristy place I had been, and by far the most expensive, I really enjoyed my time in Dubrovnik. As I walked around I felt like I had been transported to another time period. Loved being here, but I was SO happy to be here in May and not in peak season. I can’t even imagine what it is like in August, but it would be a nightmare.

Now I’m making my way to Montenegro!

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Northern Croatia

After spending a few days hiking in Bled, Slovenia, I headed to the capital of Croatia: Zagreb.

City: Zagreb

How Long: 3 nights

Accommodation:

I stayed at the Swanky Mint in Zagreb. It was a larger hostel with two separate bars that were filled with both locals and guests staying at the hostel. It also had a common room attached to the guest kitchen, which was just for guests. I did find it a little hard to meet people but that is to be expected at a larger hostel with a bar in the building. The beds were comfy and the lockers were big enough to hold my backpack. I will say that the staff were spectacular! I was sick and asked for extra blankets and they were happy to help me. They also made sure the heater was working. I just felt they consistently went above and beyond!

Where to eat:

One of my favorite meals from this trip was at La Struk in Zagreb. WOW it was so good. They serve a traditional Croatian meal called strukli. It’s basically dough and cheese + whatever variation of flavor you choose and then they throw it in the oven and it comes out piping hot. SO GOOD. I had the truffle strukli and the blueberry strukli because yes I came back twice. HIGHLY recommend a stop here if you are in Zagreb. Other than this I used leftover groceries from Lake Bled to save money.

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My blueberry Strukli

What to do:

I arrived in Zagreb feeling fairly sick so unfortunately I did not do much while I was there but I did go on the free walking tour, which as always was a great way to orient myself and get a flavor for the history and culture. ALSO, after my walking tour I ran into Tom, a Brit I had met at my hostel in Bled. He had come to Zagreb with another girl I had met at Bled so we decided to grab drinks later that night. Always so much fun to randomly run into people you’ve met at previous stops along your trip. I’m so glad we ran into each other because Tom and Sam, the Kiwi he was traveling with, decided to come with me to my next stop!! The three of us took off the next day for Plitvice Lakes National Park.

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Viewpoint of Zagreb

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St. Mark’s Church, and no it is not made of legos 🙂

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Walking through town

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Zagreb Cathedral (Tallest building in Croatia)

Overall thoughts:

Because I was sick, I didn’t really get a full chance to explore Zagreb as it deserves. Although, from what I saw I don’t know if I need to go back. It was a capital city that felt not all too different from any other metropolitan capital city. I keep finding that I like smaller towns and this felt a little too industrial for me.

City: Plitvice Lakes National Park

How Long: 2 nights

Accommodation:

I stayed at the awesome Falling Lakes Hostel while exploring the Plitvice Lakes National Park. This hostel was GREAT. I was in a 10 person room and there were large locker under the bed (my favorite type because it’s so easy to just grab what you need!) Nice guest kitchen and plenty of bathrooms/showers. There was a common room with plenty of seating. My favorite part of this hostel was all the board games they had!! Tom, Sam and I played Settlers of Catan on our table while others at the hostel played other games, and others still were playing guitar and singing. Such a fun scene.

Where to eat:

The three of us went to the store for both dinners and made pasta one night, and pizza the other. It was a fun struggle because Tom is vegetarian, but I don’t like tomato sauce so both nights the three of us had a slightly deconstructed version of the meal. Sam and I would have meat on ours, while Tom and Sam had tomato sauce other theirs. Nevertheless, it was delicious! On our hike at the national park, we just bought lunch at the restaurant in the park.

What to do:

The main/only reason to come here is to go to the Plitvice Lakes National Park. IT IS INCREDIBLE!! Basically it’s a magical place filled with waterfalls around every corner. The photos below do not do it justice!! Highly recommend a visit here. This was definitely one of the highlights of my trip.

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Beginning our hike though the most magical place 🙂

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Look at this water!!!

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The waterfalls begin

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Up we go

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WOW

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SO MANY WATERFALLS

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Tom, Me, & Sam

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Friends 🙂

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Unbelievable

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Look at that water flow

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The tallest waterfall in the park

Overall thoughts:

Please visit this incredible spot! I can’t say enough good things 🙂

 

After this awesome spot, Tom and Sam decided to follow me again, but this time to Split!! We decided to try out hand at hitchhiking, to the dismay of my mother (my dad was fully supportive, which is why I told him beforehand and not Mom 🙂 ) Unfortunately it was raining, which means it is much less likely that someone will pick you up. BUT someone did stop while we were waving our “SPLIT” sign around. However, he was going to Zadar not Split. We made a group decision to take him up on his offer, figuring we would at least be that much closer to Split. He was a super nice guy who was on his way to work in Zadar. We arrived in Zadar and walked around until we found “Crazy Pizza” which was an indeed pretty crazy as the pizza’s were HUGE. After lunch we found the sea organ that is famous in Zadar, which is essentially an organ that makes noise as the water hits it (?) It was pretty cool even if I don’t totally understand how it works. The rain started coming down so we decided to give up on hitchhiking and took a bus the rest of the way to Split.

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Anyone wanna take us to Split???

City: Split

How Long: 3 nights

Accommodation:

I stayed at the Backpackers Fairytale hostel in Split. While the facilities were for the most part adequate as there was a guest kitchen, nice sized lockers, and a common room, my experience here was ruined by the staff. They were unavailable, rude, and seemed annoyed to help me whenever I had questions. Also there were not enough showers/bathrooms. The beds were also super squeaky so whenever someone turned over the whole room could hear it. Also, security was sorely lacking, as a girl turned up around midnight, somehow got into the hostel and crashed in the bed above me, without having a reservation. There was no staff around to stop this so I think she just left in the morning and the staff were none the wiser… Would not stay here again.

Where to eat:

Our favorite spot ended up being a restaurant in one of the main squares called Bepa! We ate there for breakfast twice and wish we had time to eat there again. The first time I had a delicious chia pudding with a hot chocolate. The hot chocolate was one of the best I’ve ever had… seriously. It was so thick and rich. It almost felt like a chocolate pudding. I wish I could have another one right now as I am writing this. We also went to Fife for Tom’s last dinner before he left to go back to England. It was a great spot with cheap, yummy food.

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Chia pudding at Bepa

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Tom feat. his fruit infused water at Bepa

What to do:

We walked around the old walled in city in Split, which is super cool. No matter how many “old towns” or “walled in cities” I see, I still think they are awesome!! Maybe it’s because we don’t have any in the States, but I just love an “old town.” We also walked along the beach and found a spot to lay down and read for a bit. On Tom’s last night we went to grab a drink at a bar that turned into a nightclub as the night went on. We had fun singing and dancing to the music until it turned into very clubby music and we decided to leave. Tom caught a flight early the next morning, leaving Sam and I to our own devices for out last day in Split. We decided to catch a ferry to a city called Supertar, which is on BraÄŤ, the third largest island in the Adriatic Sea. Supertar has 3,300 habitants, but apparently it is a growing population as we saw construction of a lot of new houses. We enjoyed wandering the old streets and then plopped ourselves on the beach to read for a couple of hours. We ate a yummy lunch before heading back to the port to grab our ferry to Split.

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Split

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Tom pondering his life as sailboats sail on by

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So pretty

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Can’t get over this water!

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Tom testing the water

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On the clock tower

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Split from the clock tower

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Relaxing in Supertar

Overall thoughts:

I really enjoyed my time in this city. It was definitely touristy and busy, so I can’t imagine what it’s like in August!! But I still have a blast walking around and finding my favorite ice cream places and bakeries. I also bought a punch of lavender so now my bag smells amazing! Definitely would go back to Split!

 

Now off to Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina 🙂

Slovenia

Slovenia: the only country with the word LOVE in its name!

After Austria, I took a bus to the capital of Slovenia, which is called Ljubljana.

***Apologies in advance for the amount of photos, but this place was just so darn beautiful!!

City: Ljubljana

How Long: 5 nights

Accommodation:

I stayed at Hostel Vrba in Ljubljana. At first, when I arrived I feared it would not be that social, but I found some awesome people at this hostel! Mainly a British couple who have quit their jobs and a riding their motorcycles all the way to CHINA! Crazy cool! (Check them out here) Lottie and Ryan were super fun and sweet to me, even getting me a bottle of champagne for my birthday 🙂 Anyway back to the hostel itself, there was a good kitchen/ common room and plenty of bathrooms and showers. It was about a 15 minute walk to the center of town, but it’s a lovely walk along the river. The lockers were good-sized and the beds had personal sockets for charging devices.

 

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Drinking Birthday champagne in the common room of the hostel!

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The walk along the river

Where to eat:

Because I was here so long, I went to the grocery store and loaded up one eggs, chicken, and cereal. Saved a bunch of money and hung out with people in the common room while cooking/eating. BUT the highlight of Ljubljana food was an ice cream store called Vigo. Ryan seemed to go every day and I managed to tag along a fair bit of the time. It was just so good (+ cheap)!

What to do:

Wow Slovenia has so many things you can do! The first day I was there I went on the free walking tour and saw most of the major sites in main part of the city, as it is not very big. I ran into an Australian guy I had met at my hostel in Vienna so we did the tour together and after walked up to the castle!

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On my way up to the castle

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Still on my way up

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The final stretch!!!

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Finally the view!

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and….. on my way down

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View of the castle from the town!

The next day I decided to do a day trip to small town about 30 minutes outside of Ljubljana called Škofja Loka. Lottie and Ryan joined me as we headed out to explore a bit of the countryside. The town was tiny, tiny, tiny, but super cute. Of course there was a castle and a church (as every town in Slovenia seems to have) and an old town so we walked around all these areas. We also grabbed a bite to eat and a beer (cider for me, though).

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The main part of town along the river

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View from the church

Then it was my birthday! I decided to book a day trip around Slovenia so I was doing something fun for my bday. I visited Predjama Castle, then the Lipizzan horses in Lipica, Piran, and the Škocjan caves.

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Predjama castle

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Predjama castle feat. me

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Piran, Slovenia

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Above the caves/river that runs through it

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Where we exited the caves

Overall thoughts:

I really enjoyed my time in the capital of Slovenia. After traveling for so long, I’ve determined that I tend to like cities on the smaller side with a few obvious exceptions (London, Paris, and of course BARCELONA!) Ljubljana is a good base for seeing other parts of the country as well! It’s a quaint town that only needs about 2 days for the city itself, but if you want to explore the region, add a couple more days to that.

City: Lake Bled

How Long: 3 nights

Accommodation:

I stayed at a great hostel called Castle Hostel 1004. I would highly recommend staying here if you ever get to Lake Bled. It was 5 minutes from the lake and 1 minute to the bus station. The hostel itself has a great communal kitchen and common room. There are big lockers in the room, but you needed your own padlock because sometimes they run out. The only annoying thing was that sometimes all the bathrooms were full (right before bed + in the morning) but overall wasn’t that big of a deal.

Where to eat:

I mostly ate food I bought from the grocery store to save money and then I would eat in the common room with everyone else while they were eating food they had bought, but the hostel had a deal with some of the restaurants in town so I went to Pizzeria Rustica. We got a 10% discount and the food was great!! I had a yummy white pizza with truffle oil and bacon.

What to do:

WOW, there is a lot to do in the Lake Bled region if you want to spend the time and money. You can go canyoning, sky diving, kayaking, rafting, hiking, swimming, and paragliding. It’s amazing all the outdoor activities that are within reach. As I am on a budget and I was here in April, where it wasn’t quite warm enough for some activities in my mind, I mostly stuck to the hiking. BUT the hiking is spectacular, so I definitely did not feel like I was settling. The first day I hiked around Lake Bled with a stop at an incredible view-point. It was about a 5 miles hike in total.

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Starting of the walk along the lake and already it is so beautiful

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Ducks!

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So peaceful

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Hike up to the viewpoint

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Unreal!!

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At the viewpoint I ended up sitting on the bench next to a girl from South Africa. We got to talking and decided to hike up to the Vintgar Gorge together. It was stunning. Definitely recommend going here. It’s a 5 euro entrance fee (cash only) and about 2 miles roundtrip.

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Headed through the gorge on these cool pathways

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So pretty!

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THIS WATER

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My second day consisted of hiking around a different lake called Bohinj Lake. This lake is bigger and less developed when compared to Lake Bled. It’s about 40 minutes away by bus. I went with an Australia guy I met at the hostel the night before. He had just hiked to Base Camp of Everest so needless to say I was much less fit than he was. I managed to keep up with him (for the most part) up to the waterfall, but once we started on hiking around the lake, I was left in the dust. I meandered along at my own (slow) pace and enjoyed the marvel that was this valley, which had been created by a glacier many, many years ago.

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The start of the climb to the waterfalls!

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The valley as we climbed to the waterfalls

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THE WATERFALLS

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Lake Bohinj

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The day started off cloudy

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but the sun turned up for us towards the end of our hike!

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Can’t get enough of this place!

Overall thoughts:

I stayed 3 nights in Lake Bled, but really only got 2 full days out of it. At first I thought 3 nights would be too much, but I wish I had booked more time here. After spending so much time in large cities, it was so relaxing being here. I loved being in the nature! Overall, I would highly recommend a stop here in Lake Bled.

 

Off to Croatia now 🙂

Warsaw + Krakow

 

After wrapping up my time in Spain (sadly), I flew to Poland to start the final chapter of my trip! I will be traveling from Poland all the way down to Greece, mostly by bus.  I will be traveling to 10 countries in about 7 weeks. First up: Poland + Austria.

City: Warsaw

How Long: 3 nights

Accommodation:

This was a bit of a different type of travel for me as I was here for a tech conference! My former boss invited me to help him at a conference he was speaking at so I got to stay at the same hotel he was staying at. It was quite the treat after staying in hostels with 5 to 11 other people for most of my trip.

Where to Eat:

Most of our meals were centered around the conference, so nothing too exciting, but we did eat dinner our first night in Warsaw at a great restaurant called Karmnik. We had delicious cocktails and traditional Polish dumplings. Definitely worth a visit!

What to do:

As I have said, most of my time was spent at the conference so sadly I did not do anything noteworthy. However, one thing I learned was that during WWII, Warsaw was pretty much leveled so all the “old” buildings we saw had are actually reconstructions and are not the original buildings.

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Warsaw

Overall Thoughts:

I did not really get a full sense of Warsaw, but I am not sure I would go back as there are so many other places in the world I want to go to. In general, I would not say Warsaw is a must see.

City: Krakow

How Long: 3 nights

Accommodation:

I stayed at an amazing hostel called Mosquito Hostel. Great sized lockers. Guest kitchen. Free breakfast and free dinner. Free laundry. Great location. Every night there were organized social activities and it was super easy to meet people. I HIGHLY recommend this hostel 🙂

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Playing Monopoly with some people I met 🙂

Where to Eat:

Because there was free breakfast and free dinner, I ended up mostly eating at the hostel. However, some friends and I found a delicious cupcake place in the old town called Cupcake Corner. Great cupcakes, but even more fun, we got bagels. For some reason I often crave bagels while I am in Europe, which is odd because when I am home I rarely eat them. Anyway, I got a cheese bagel with thyme cream cheese. SO GOOD.

What to do:

I booked a tour to Auschwitz through my hostel and it worked out really well. They picked us up from the hostel and dropped us back after. We had an incredible tour guide, who had worked directly with Holocaust survivors for many years. Overall, my time spent at Auschwitz was sobering, tough, enlightening, and so very powerful. I think it is incredibly important for us to understand the past and ensure we learn from it as we move forward. Auschwitz is a must while you are in Krakow.

In addition to Auschwitz, I went to Oskar’s Schindler’s Factory museum. Overall it was in interesting museum on the history of Krakow and a little bit on the Schindler’s role in WWII, but it was very heavy on the reading. I found that I didn’t get much out of it because there was an overwhelming amount of words on the walls. If you are interested in visiting this museum, you might consider going with a guide.

I also went to the Easter markets, which were in the main square in the old town. Very similar to Christmas markets, but with less Christmas ornaments and more decorated eggs.

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Main Square

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Tatum with her favorite new store

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Streets of Krakow

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Some friends!!

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Almost died in Krakow

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Wawel Castle

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Inside Wawel Castle

Lastly I went on a free walking tour that ended in the castle, which was super cool. Krakow has a very tough, interesting history.

Overall Thoughts:

Overall, I absolutely loved Krakow. I wish I could have stayed longer! I met amazing people and ate some delicious cheap food! I am already looking forward to returning to this city in the future. Krakow has easily entered into my top 5 favorite cities in Europe 🙂

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Prague + Budapest

I had never been to Eastern Europe before but after Prague and Budapest, I can’t wait to explore more of it. I started off in Prague where I was supposed to meet Sabrina, one of my best friends from home. BUT… she took the wrong bus in Rome and ended up at the wrong airport. Which meant she missed her flight. Which meant spending 24 hours in the airport waiting for the next flight to Prague. Luckily she met a couple of Aussies who were also stuck waiting for a flight so she had people to hang with. Meanwhile after arriving at my hostel, I spent my free day catching up on sleep (as I always seem to do) and going for a run. Finally Sabrina arrived in the afternoon. We went for a quick drink at the bar in the hostel and then walked to a fun restaurant for dinner. I had a yummy salmon dish, while Sabrina had a spicy, chicken dish. Because of the ordeal Sabrina had just gone through, we decided to make it an early night.

The next morning we went on a walking tour of Prague. Tons a cool architecture and fun shops. We also saw Europe’s oldest active synagogue. We also managed to make friends with four different Aussies during the tour, and we all decided to get lunch after the tour. After lunch, we walked around and got a tredlynik, a pastry filled with Nutella and vanilla ice cream. We meandered our way to the John Lennon wall, which was pretty cool. Our last stop was the Prague Castle. It offered awesome views over the city.

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Walking around Prague

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Oldest active synagogue in Europe

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Trying to avoid getting lost with our Aussie friends

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A close up of the tredlynik

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John Lennon Wall

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Views from Prague Castle

After getting back to the hostel, we took a quick power nap before heading down to the hostel bar to get some drinks. Sabrina hadn’t had cider before, and it became one of her new favorite drinks! We met some cool British girls and soon there were about 8 of us going out to find a club nearby… unfortunately we didn’t end up being able to find it so Sabrina and I bailed to head back to the hostel, while the rest of the group took cabs to another club. We found a falafel place and had a late night snack before passing out in our beds.

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The crew before we left the hostel bar

After sleeping in, we took a tram to the downtown area where we walked around the Jewish quarter and old town. We went across the Charles Bridge and also caught the astronomical clock show, which while the show isn’t anything special, the actual clock itself is a technological feat. The clock was first installed in 1410, making it the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world and the oldest one still operating.

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Charles Bridge

After the show, we hung around Old Town Square and read for a bit on a bench.

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Reading in Old Town Square

With our stomachs grumbling, we grabbed some gelato and headed back to the hostel. We quickly changed for the night and went back to the restaurant we went the first night. After all it was so good and cheap. Dinner was about 7$ each. After dinner we decided once again to call it an early night because we were leaving for Budapest the next day.

Overall I think Sabrina and I really enjoyed Prague, but we wished we had been able to see more of the night life. Also I wished we had stayed in a hostel a bit closer to the downtown. Although our downtown was easily accessible by tram, I always like being able to get by with just walking.

 

As soon we arrived in Budapest I knew I would like it. The city seemed walkable (!) and the weather was nice. There were restaurants and shops everywhere and everyone was super friendly. Also, to top it off, our hostel was amazing!! If you ever go to Budapest, please stay there. The hostel had 4 sister hostels around the city and there were activities at them every night. One night was beer olympics, one night was Karaoke, one night was a pub crawl. There was always something to do! Also our hostel was small– about 22 people– but it made it super homey and you really got to know everyone staying there.

The first night I went out with some guys from the hostel to one of the sister hostel’s bar, while Sabrina took a nap. She eventually walked around the city with some girls who were in our room.

The next morning Sabrina and I walked around for a bit before meeting up with two girls in our room to go a thermal bath house, which are common in Budapest. We went to Gellert Baths, which is not the biggest, but it is one of the prettier bath houses. 70 million liters of 21-78 Celsius warm thermal water spring forth daily from its 118 natural thermal springs. Gellert Baths opened in 1918. We had a lovely, relaxing time moving from bath to bath.

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Sabrina = Buddha

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Elodie, Me, Claire, & Sabrina

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Having fun with the gopro

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Inside the baths

We spent about 2 hours at the baths before heading back to the hostel. Sabrina and I decided to buy food at the grocery store for the week to save money and also be able to eat a bit healthier, which meant as soon as we got back from the baths we got to work on dinner. After dinner, Elodie and Claire, the two Aussies we went to the baths with, and Louise (another Aussie in our room) went to Szimpla Kurt, which is an awesome, funky ruin bar. Highly recommend!

The next day Louise, Sabrina, and I went to get Thai massages because they are so goddamn cheap! It was about 17$ for 30 minutes. My only regret is not doing an hour. Funnily enough, after getting super relaxed, the three of us headed out to do something not so relaxing: Caving! With a guide, we were taken 150 feet below ground in 40 million year old caves!!! There were even sea shells stuck in the caves from 40 million years ago. It was definitely a highlight for I think both me and Sabrina.

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Before caving

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Getting safety instructions

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In the caves

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Sea shell preserved inside the caves

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Sabrina

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Happy faces post-caving

Despite an exhausting day, we had signed up to go on a boat party that evening with 400 other young travelers. Apparently it is the 3rd largest part boat in Europe. Essentially we paid 30$ and then there is unlimited free drinking for the first 2 hours of the boat trip. It was a really fun experience, but I am not sure I need to do it again (haha).

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Views from the river

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Parliament from the boat

The next day we decided to go to the biggest baths in Budapest because everyone recommended it. It’s called Szechenyi Baths and Pool. After bouncing around between all the pools, Sabrina and I, along with the 3 Scottish girls we came with, all sat out in the sun and read our books. Quite a relaxing afternoon.

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Entrance to the baths

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Sabrina and me with our Scottish friends

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Szechenyi Baths and Pool

On the way back to the hostel, we tried Langos, which is a Hungarian food speciality consisting of fried bread and cheese with a few options for additional toppings. I decided to try it with everything on it, so it had cheese, ham, garlic, and sour cream. It was delicious, but quite heavy. I definitely didn’t need dinner after eating it!

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Sabrina with her Langos

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Katrin, Alice, and Carly with their langos

That night we didn’t go out because the previous night had taken it’s toll on us. We did however watch the season finale of the Bachelorette! 🙂

Our flight was around 9pm so we had most of the day to still explore Budapest. Sabrina and I took off walking around and she bought a new bag. After we headed to a famous panini restaurant started by two michelin star chefs! It’s called Bors GasztroBar. We had huge paninins for about 3$. It was unreal.

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Lastly we hiked to what used to be a citadel on Gellért Hill. It had awesome views of Budapest and the river.

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Views of Budapest

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At the top of Gellért Hill

After getting back to the hostel we quickly showered and left for the airport. We are now on our way to Stuttgart, Germany!