The ancient cities nestled in the hills near the Adriatic Sea and the people with a history that was more colorful than any prize winning novel, this is what I was looking for and I found it in Croatia. Two years ago I met Igor Stefanic who allowed me and several other students at my school the opportunity to fulfill our adventurous desires. He and his wife had emigrated from Croatia to the States several years ago to teach at my school. They started a new Spring Break Mission Trip at my school to their homeland in order to familiarize students with the rich culture of Croatia, service local people, and learn about the environment in a country whose landscape was more diverse than I had ever seen.
After our 12 hour flight we arrived. We retrieved our luggage from the baggage claim in Zagreb Int. We then converted our American dollars into the Croatian Kuna and met our coach bus outside. Our first destination was VaraÅ¾din, a city located just north east of our arrival city. We stayed at the Hotel Turist, which can be booked from tripadvisor.com. Near Varadin is the Trakošan castle , which is a romantic’s dream.
In Varadin we admired numerous local baroque style palaces around the city. After a lecture on environmental issues we ate lunch at the Restaurant Boban. Croatia is the next door neighbor of Italy, thus it is understandable how phenomenal and authentic the spaghetti was at Boban, but if you’re in the mood for a sweet treat then head to Croatia’s coast.
If you like seaside towns then Porec will win your heart. Shopping here isn’t as abundant because the tourism seems to have not tainted the town. Boats crowd the bay and seagulls relax on the benches. An absolute must in Porec would be the gelato. There are so many flavors and nothing can compare to having this delicious treat when the warm salty breeze rolls of the sea. Another great seaside town to visit is Opatija. The buildings’ ancient bricks and balconies look as if they are on the verge of crumbling on top of our heads and the people seem to have remained their unique culture since those buildings were constructed.
The natural landscape is amazing in Croatia! While the coastline of the country is a tropical paradise the deep mainland has snow capped mountains. Our school group visited the Plitvice Lakes National Park. There were 6 lakes all on a different level and the blue green waters poured into one another like a tier cake.
Ending our trip was one of the most beautiful cities I had ever been to, Zagreb. Surprisingly, the capital city was serene with only peaceful people bustling about the many shops and parks. We stayed at the Hotel Central, which like their name suggests was quite conveniently located. Just about 8 blocks away was the Park Zrinjevac. Following the street with the park on your right you enter the city’s most bustling area. The quaint shop fronts invite you to chat with the welcoming shop owners and the smell of fresh flowers waft from the markets in the alley ways. Shopping and eating are abundant in the streets of Zagreb, and the smells of this ancient city will linger with you even after you leave as a reminder to come back to this ancient city.
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