Italy, Croatia, Turkey, Greece, and the Albanian Coast!

Croatia Travel Blog

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Late last summer, after turning 29, the prospect of soon hitting the milestone age of 30 made me think about all the things I wanted to do but hadn't done. Travel-wise, 2 leaped to mind: 1) see the Grand Canyon and 2) go back to Europe. I saw the Grand Canyon in November. Around Christmas, I booked my Europe trip.

I decided to hit the areas I missed last time in Europe (a semester abroad in London plus a month on the train): Croatia, Greece, and Turkey. I flew into Venice (which I'd seen the last time I was in Europe). Flying is my nemesis. Hell for me would be being stuck on a plane for all eternity. Call me a weirdo, but I just don't like being crammed like sardines onto a giant fuel-filled aluminum tube hurtling 30,000 ft. above the Earth at several hundred miles an hour. By the end of the 8-9 hr transatlantic flight from Philly to Venice, I was ready to ask for a parachute and say, "I'll just get out here, thanks."

Dubrovnik is gorgeous. Aside from being on the water and having houses staggered in rows on a steep hillside, the architecture is beautiful. It reminds me of Prague in a way - the old town had a similar feel and you could see a lot of Americans around...word's definitely getting out that it's a great place to visit, just as Prague became a hot destination in the 90's.

The other place Dubrovnik reminded me of was New Orleans. My guide said how much the residents love visitors because their major industries are tourism and maritime and that they really want people to visit because they're still trying to rebuild from the effects of the 1991-95 civil war. To sum up - port city, dependent on tourism, predominantly Catholic, suffered an unimaginable tragedy...sounds a lot like New Orleans, huh?

My biggest thrill in Turkey was getting to say that I've finally been to Asia (mind you, there's still more of Asia I'd like to see, but the first step is always momentous). The Roman ruins at Ephesus were interesting if you like history/archealogy (which I do). Also, it was my first visit to a predominantly Muslim country. It's definitely weird to hear the call to prayer in person - to be out and about and suddenly a booming voice on the loudspeakers starts singing the Muslim prayers.

Santorini is one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. Like all such places, words fail to do it justice. But it's a place everybody should see before they die. And if you happen to love donkeys, then it's really the place for you. The villages in Santorini are perched atop a cliff around 1000 ft. from the sea. To get there, you can either go by car, bus, cable car, or up/down a giant cobblestone staircase. One can tackle the staircase by foot, or ride a donkey.

I rode a bus up there and my tour provided a ticket for the cable car on the way down, but the line was incredibly long, not moving, and I'm impatient, so I decided to hoof it down the 500+ stairs. What was it like? Sort of like the running of the bulls in Pamplona, except I was dodging flatulent donkeys on a staircase descending from a 1000 ft. cliff.

But, I digress - Santorini is a lovely, lovely place - at worst, it's in the top 5 in prettiest places I've ever seen. Corfu was nice, but following Santorini is a bit like being in a solid, respectable band that has to follow the Beatles on stage.

Where to next in my traveling adventures (excluding out of town visits to family and friends)? Don't know. I would love to see London again. If I did that, maybe I'd spend a few days in London and then ride the train to Edinburgh for a few days.

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