You know how my travels are never, ever, smooth, and travelling to Croatia was no different. I started my morning by waking up at 6am in Ljubljana, walking almost an hour to the bus station with too much luggage on my back, only to almost miss the bus to Zagreb, because I couldn’t find the platform and for those ten minutes no one seemed to speak English. I cried. Five minutes later I was on my way to Croatia and all was good. At least for the next two hours.
By 11am I was in Zagreb. Everyone applauded the driver like he had just landed a plane, he helped me get my giant backpack on, and after this adorable scene that sort of warmed my heart, because people from Slovenia are just that nice, it was all downhill from there.
Last year I had been to Zagreb for three nights and for some reason people weren’t nice to me there and I just left the city disappointed. I thought it was just bad luck, that I just wasn’t in the mood to explore a new city by the time I got to Zagreb, but I was back this year and well…there really is something there.
Once again people at the bus station were rude, didn’t take even a second to tell me the bus options I had to Split and honestly I felt like in their minds I was just another annoying tourist bothering them during work hours. I ignored all the rudeness with a giant slice of pizza as I waited for the bus. I gave my backpack to the, once again, not friendly driver, who actually ignored me for a long time and attended everyone before me, and once my backpack was inside the bus he hands me a piece of paper and points for a price to take the backpack with me. Yes, I was being charged extra to take my bag with me on the bus, which no one told me when I bought the ticket. But, since the lady at the ticket office didn’t really give a crap about my travels, she just shrugged her shoulders and went on. Seriously people, a smile is not going to hurt you. And wasting two minutes of your precious time to help me, which by the way is also your job, won’t kill you either.
After five very long hours trying to sleep in weird acrobatic positions, in the hope somehow I’d feel comfortable, I arrived in Split. I wanted to feel excited about it, but my backpacks were heavy as hell that day, and all I wanted was to get to my hostel and sleep until the next day. So, obviously, I didn’t really have an idea on where my hostel was, so I wandered around, lost, until I asked some help to a local lady. Before she even gave me an answer, a young guy with beer breath came to my rescue. Lucky me! He talked so much I couldn’t really follow his directions (first on the right, then first on the left, right, big building, square, on the right side there is our theater house, then about 6 minutes from there…), and maybe I did a weird face because he decided to start walking with me, showing me the way as he also tried to help me with my backpack. Halfway I started to feel strange about the situation. Is he just being nice, or will he ask me for money in the end? After I told him ten times that I appreciated the help and I was good from there, he eventually wished me safe travels and went his way. He was actually just trying to be helpful.
When I reached the hostel I told myself I would be terribly mad if they didn’t allow me to pay with card, as I didn’t want to withdraw money and get ripped-off by the ATM machine again. No surprise at all when I was sent to the ATM! The problem is in Split they only let you withdraw in bills of 100hrk. I had to pay 174hrk and was forced to withdraw 200. And of course I was ripped off by paying 3€ extra on the conversation. Croatia, seriously, its 2016 and cards are an actual thing, so I would suggest you stop making us withdraw money we don’t need, but we will eventually have to spend, so you can make some extra disloyal money that goes straight into your pockets!
The next morning I woke up and the Canadian guy, J, in my room invited me for breakfast with an English guy, S, that was also in our hostel. Saying yes was the best decision I made over the past two weeks. We went to this cute little cafe and ordered some American breakfast that tasted like Heaven! These two guys really gave a sudden turn to my trip and I ended up spending the entire day with them. I was feeling sad, kept getting ripped off, was worrying about money and problems I left at home as I decided to travel, and honestly my trip had been a total chaos everywhere I went and things were going badly no matter where I turned. These two didn’t rest until they saw a smile on my face, and they got it! It was amazing to spend the day with two seriously funny guys and not just wander around the city by myself as I always do.
Went back to the bus station to buy my ticket and once again they wouldn’t accept card (at the international ticket office!! Doesn’t make any sense to me), so went to withdraw some money for the third time in less than 24h, having to pay 129hrk and having to withdraw 200hrk, again. Do you see the rip-off or is it just me? God, Croatia was killing me and I was pissed!
Unexpectedly, the shine was shinning and the skies were blue, so we went to this beach spot away from the tourist area and it felt amazing, just sitting outside watching the waves going crazy and almost hitting us (one did hit us by the way, ah!), and I just sat there enjoying the sun as the guys drank their beers. At some point the guys ask me what I think about what they are talking about, as I’m oddly quiet. I was embarrassed to tell them that I stopped listening mid conversation and that I had gone to my own little world. Sorry guys!
After some 10hrk pizza that tasted amazing simply for being super cheap and huge, the boys got some beers, I got myself a coke, and we headed off to a viewpoint that was totally amazing! When I’m traveling alone I also go for the highest point trying to get the best views over the city, so I was excited they had the idea. Some complaining on my part as we went up because I’m a lazy ass, but reaching the top was the perfect gift. We then stood what was like a like forest just enjoying the afternoon and the sun as long it would shine. We kept expecting rain but the rain refused to come and that allowed us to have this carefree and really nice day.
By night I was feeling hungry and J told me there was a cheap place where we could get some Goulash and my day turned perfect. I first ate Goulash in Vienna and I loved the dish so damn much I ate it again in Slovakia, Czech Republic and Poland. Goulash is just the best thing in the world and makes me a happy kid. It’s pure magic! So as soon as I heard we were going to eat it, I kept yelling Goulash to J around the hostel showing pure excitement! We went down to ‘Fife‘, THE place to eat the best Goulash in town, and it only cost 47hrk. We sat outside, me with a little red blanket, and our waitress was hilarious and we just thought “finally a Croatian person with great sense of humor”! It was the perfect dinner, and when the food arrived at the table I was just happy about my day and being in Split. Then, that so expected smile finally showed!
I’m not a drinker at all, and I don’t ever go out honestly, but I agreed to a beer at a backpackers pub close to our hostel, Charlies. One 0,5L beer turned into three! I had a blast and was just so happy to say yes to a night out that started pretty early and ended up at midnight. It was the perfect way to end my time in Split, and I just have these two guys to thank for. They were amazing all day long just taking me with them and trying to improve my crappy time in Croatia.
I left Croatia pretty angry, as when I bought the bus ticket I wasn’t told I would have to pay extra for my luggage, so I had spent ALL my kunas before the bus and I was forced to withdraw 100hrk to pay for 8hrk or my bag would stay in Croatia as I went to Bosnia. Rip-off! Still, thanks to these guys, my memories of Croatia won’t be all crappy and about how much money can those people take from me in just two days. Thanks to them I have a perfect day to remember, even if I don’t plan to go back to Croatia anytime soon because of their dishonest money system.
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