At the beginning of 2017 I vowed to be the “Hotline Bling” girl that Drake raps about:
“Wearing less and going out more. Running out of pages in your passport.”
If I wear any less I’ll probably have to walk around naked, I didn’t particularly go out any more or less than usual, but I did use my passport this summer and it was glorious. And with four months left in the year… I’m trying to use it at least one more time (Cuba, Toronto or Ibiza are speaking to me… I’ll let you know when I respond to one of them).
Over the past few months I’ve been dropping tidbits here and there about my most recent Euro trip. I taught you how to pack for vacation, helped you book a trip to Italy on a budget, and prepare for yacht week in Croatia. With all the writing I did you would think I was an expert, but after my actual experiences I’m no more an expert than Google. I got back to the Americas about two weeks ago and after preparing for the upcoming school year (pauses for impending sadness to follow) I’ve finally finally finally gotten around to sharing my experiences in Italy and Croatia (though you easily could’ve kept up with me on Insta Stories and Snapchat)
Let’s start with Italy (because that’s where I went first so yeah… chronological order folks)
My Trip To Italy And Croatia Recap
Italy is beautiful! Hands down… Period! No argument necessary. If you are looking for a real true European experience I highly recommend visiting Italy. When I visited London last year it felt very New York which I loved (and no it is not just because of the language). Even when I visited Paris I still felt like I was experiencing a foreign version of America. But when I got to Italy I immediately felt like I was in Europe.
From the beautiful architecture every where you go (I mean seriously… even their court house is beautiful), to the tiny streets, overly friendly sales people, and poor customer service in restaurants. I know that my last statement may rub people the wrong way, but it’s true. Europe as a whole is notorious for having poor customer service in restaurants in comparison to the United States. In the US we are fighting for that tip, in Europe they don’t really care. They serve you your food, the don’t really check up on you often, and substitutions are considered a bother so don’t ask for them.
So what did I do in Italy? I’m not a really good planner when it comes to what I do when on vacation. Most of the time it’s because I’m trying to relax. When I visited London and LA I tried to see everything under the sun and it made me too tired. So in Italy I took it much easier. I of course hit up the main staples of Rome: the Vatican, the Love fountain, and the Colosseum. I also hit up the fancy street with all of the high end stores, and the Spanish steps. That is when I made a purchase I probably shouldn’t have… but hey… treat yo’ self right?
I spent 3 days in Rome and 2 days in Florence. Both towns are very different and special in their own way. I definitely preferred Rome for a few reasons. The hotel I stayed at in Rome was centrally located to just about every major sight seeing location, We were right by the train station, and 10-20 minute walks from everything else. That helped save on Uber costs and gave an authentic feel for the town, culture, and people.
What I did expect: Amazing food! And that is just what I got. My favorite foods are ice cream and pizza, and my favorite style of food is Italian. So I was beyond excited to eat authentic Italian food, gelato, and pizza, and I was not disappointed. If you are going to Italy prepare to eat amazing food, drink delicious wine, and gain weight. Thankfully the insane amount of walking I did and my minimal exercise in Croatia helped me return home with most of my abs intact, and my weight was stable. (I thank the Lord for that).
What I didn’t expect: Italy has a TON of solicitors at just about every corner. While visiting the Colosseum I was bombarded left and right by people trying to sell me souvenirs, umbrellas and phone chargers. Walking down the city streets was pretty similar. There is someone trying to sell you something at just about every moment. Granted I did visit many tourist areas and I’m sure non tourist areas are not the same. Besides that when I went to Florence I didn’t expect to be so reliable on the public transportation system. Did I mind? Not 100% because luckily our hotel was a five minute walk from the train heading into the city square. However the area in Florence we stayed had no Ubers in the area, and no taxi service.
Overall I loved my experience in Italy and it is a country I would return to at some point in the distant future (I’ve got a whole lot of world to see before doubling up).
I went to Croatia for one week as a part of The Yacht Week. (More about my experience with the Yacht Week in a separate post to come soon). I flew from Italy to Split (about 45 minute plane ride) and was immediately blown away by just how beautiful Croatia is. Growing up Croatia was never a place I’d thought I’d ever visit, but as of late the country is picking up tons of popularity and tourist traffic due to The Yacht Week and of course Game Of Thrones.
These two aspects are Croatia’s biggest claim to fame (more so Game of Thrones) and with good reason. However Croatia is so much more than that. While I loved my experience on The Yacht Week, it was the opportunity to dock every day at a different island and experience the beauty of the culture that was the most captivating. I also must add… that even though Croatia is considered Eastern Europe, it is very similar in culture to Italy. They also have pizza and gelato shops on just about every corner and it is just as delicious as the pizza and gelato I had in Italy.
I had so many good pizzas on this vacation I can’t even remember which was my favorite. They all tasted just that good! Which makes it hard for me to come back and have American pizza by the slice (although… New York does have some pretty delicious pizza as well). I will definitely be taking a break from both pizza and ice cream for quite some time, because I ate so much of it I don’t want to over saturate my love for both.
What did I do: Besides attend the Yacht Week festivities, I went to a wine tasting (Croatian wine is tasty ya’ll), did yoga on a mountain, climbed up to a castle, but most of all relaxed. I met a ton of people from all over the world, and saw some of the most beautiful sunsets ever. The parties were interesting.. the first few weren’t my thing but as the music got better, and the crowds got drunker it was definitely a much better time. I also ate a popular traditional Croatian dinner including their major traditional meal: Peka. I even got to see how it cooked first hand in the kitchen.
One of my fave things to do while in Croatia was actually to go food shopping. I went to three different supermarkets in Croatia and it was interesting. The prices were pretty on par with what we expect to pay for similar items in the US. The difficult part was reading/translating certain things that weren’t clear by simply looking at the picture. Another down side… having to pay for plastic bags. This is something I need to get used to since NYC will be doing the same soon, and DC & Cali are already riding that wave.
What I didn’t expect: In both Italy and Croatia I didn’t have much of language barrier at all. Most people spoke pretty good English, which made me realize just how lazy we are as Americans when it comes to learning other languages. This coming from me… who speaks three languages. I still felt like I wanted to make more of an effort to use more phrases in Croatian or Italian. If you know me… you know I’m a teacher. If you don’t know me… you now know I’m a teacher. So running into students is a very real possibility in my line of work. Running into them in Croatia… what are the odds? Well.. that is what happened. I ran into a former student at the White Party, and ended up docking next to his boat at a later day during the Yacht Week.
I also didn’t expect to get my period on the trip. Overshare right? No… Croatia doesn’t have tampons with applicators. If you’re a female reading this… you know how traumatic that has to be. I didn’t expect to travel half way across the world to run into tampons with no applicator.
Overall I loved my time in Croatia and I definitely want to go back. Especially because I need to go to Kings Landing (super Game of Thrones nerd here) and that is in a different town. Until next time!