Alright, listen. I have been chastised on multiple occasions in the recent past for having been traveling and not keeping up with the blog, and to those people I say: shut up, I’m tired. For those of you who don’t know, after my baby sister flew back to the States at the end of July and - sprinkled between a few more vacations to Bavaria and Greece which will be written about later leave me alone – over the course of three weeks total, I researched, wrote and submitted my masters thesis. This means that assuming my supervisors don’t see through my bullshit and let me pass, YA GIRL HAS A MASTERS DEGREE. Insanity, no? Essentially, this marks the transition from me being a shitty masters student, to just being shitty. HOW NEAT IS THAT?! I don’t know when I got so old, but shout out to my waiter last night at the tapas bar out with my girls who assumed we were older than his 25 year old daughter and when we said that wasn’t the case he remarked “this is not good lighting for you ladies.” Considering all of us just finished this masters together, it was great to see that not only has this program taken a mental and emotional toll, but it appears to have physically aged us as well. Fab.
Anyway, the point of this particular post is to immortalize the joys Jess and I experienced in the last two weeks of her trip after our sweet little middle sister left us to go be productive and like work and go to college??? Can’t relate. So Jess and I spent the first two days after smol left pretty much chillin’ while I tried to get my life together a little bit. Jess and I cooked and crafted everything from creamy spinach pasta to spring rolls and charcuterie boards, all of which of course paired with several bottles of wine. Three days later we were supposed to head to Croatia at 5.45am but due to my recent trauma (missing my flight to England a few weeks before) I was absolutely incapable of sleep and seriously contemplated leaving the night before and sleeping at the airport bc if our morning train was delayed we would miss our flight until I told Stijn about that potential plan and he told me to take a moment and be a person again (which was valid considering I was acting like a crazy person – thankfully Jess was more than willing to head out whenever I felt was necessary and eventually convinced me it would all work out. Of course she was the first one up in the morning and made sure we had everything bc Jess has her shit together on a level that I will truly never even remotely reach, but whatever. Anyway of course my concerns were for naught bc we made it to the airport with zero delays and ended up wiping the floor with Jess at Go Fish before our connection in Vienna made us absolutely BOOK IT through ANOTHER ROUND OF SECURITY AND PASSPORT CONTROL even though we had like SEVEN AND A HALF SECONDS TO GET TO OUR NEXT FLIGHT and we had to pee so bad we were pretty sure Jess was going to die and her bladder was going to explode but it didn’t so the adventure continued.
We flew into Zadar, an airport who makes the one in Waco, Texas where my grandma lives look massive (which it isn’t) and I sent Jess to figure out our bus situation to get into the city center bc A. I am lazy and B. I think traveling to a country where you know nothing about the language and have zero idea how to get where you need to go is a humbling experience, and I wanted her to have that. Mind you, I never let her out of my sight bc despite the complete lack of maternal instinct in me, my protective sister instinct works like you wouldn’t believe. Jess did wonderfully bc of course she did – and I’m pretty sure she made the poor small-town Croation bus coordinator guy fall in love with her in 5 seconds flat – and we headed into town to find our hostel. We grabbed money at the ATM where Jess was absolutely mind blown about the currency exchange from Euros to Kuna (one euro is several hundred kuna so when you pull out a few hundred euros in kuna you feel like your net worth is extensively higher than it actually is) and took the walk to our hostel in the 100* heat from the bus stop. This was Jesse’s first real hostel bc we’d been staying at my place or with my friends over the course of the trip (yes life is hard) so it was neat to watch her learn how to hostel what with the mixed dorms and bunk beds and fight for outlets and inconsiderate drunk people coming in and turning the lights on in the middle of the night and inconsiderate sober people turning the lights on and packing way too early in the morning etc. and she took no time making herself comfortable. It took us all of 10 minutes to check in, get changed, and head to the beach which was about a 10 minute walk away. The water was about as beautiful as we expected but the beach itself was very forest-like (pine trees and all) and lined with big boulders from which people were jumping. That’s all cool unless you’re me and your shoulder doesn’t work so essentially while I had no trouble getting in, getting out is quite a process. We eventually made our way back to the hostel very loudly as Jess was suffering from an apparently life threatening splinter, and changed to get ready to make the 30 minute walk into the city center (which Jess was able to handle despite the apparently immobilizing pain she was experiencing bc nature attacked her). We walked around gorgeous old town for awhile looking for something a little less touristy and thought we’d done it until we were served the most bland meal of all time and charged out the nose for it, at which point Jess and I agreed to eat exclusively grocery store and street food (my usual method anyway) or potentially never eat again due to the exorbitant amount we’d spent on this terrible dinner.
Btw and as a side note: there are Germans EVERYWHERE in Croatia. If I closed my eyes and just listened, I wasn’t sure if I’d ever even left Germany. Ridiculous. They are everywhere.
The next morning we rolled out early to catch our long bus to Plitvice Lakes (where we got those gorgeous food-coloring-looking blue water photos) and hiked through some of the most beautiful terrain we’ve ever seen way too quickly (the hike was supposed to take us 6h and took us like 4h) so we headed down to the national park entry area to enjoy a beer and shoot the breeze because we were way too early for our bus back to Zadar and they wouldn’t let us on an earlier one bc they obviously hate us.
As it had been a particularly strenuous day in terms of several hours of bussing and hiking and bussing again, we’d planned for a chill night involving a bottle of wine and a hostel cooked meal and maybe a walk to the beach, but as a chill night was what we were aiming for, exactly the opposite happened. We were verbally attacked by hostel-workers on arrival encouraging us to join for trivia night, to which we nonchalantly agreed thinking we could just not go if we didn’t feel like it, which we were super wrong about bc they subsequently wrote our names on the team lists and waited for us to finish cooking dinner before starting the damn game. I would like it to be stated for the record that my team kicked every other team’s ass (including Jesse’s team) at the actual TRIVIA part of trivia night. We had the knowledge. We finessed the hell out of it. But *apparently* that’s simply not enough as stupid Jesse and her stupid team wiped the floor with us when it came to the paper airplane throw and the coin toss and the heads or tails game WHICH SHOULD BE IRRELEVANT BC IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ACTUAL TRIVIA AND YET WAS WEIGHTED AS MORE VALUABLE THAN THE FREAKING QUESTIONS and so her stupid team beat my awesome team about which I am obviously not bitter and keeps in line with me being the consistent family disappointment so whatever. We made friends with an Aussie named Brock at some point we ended up switching bars to our hostel’s sister hostel whose bar was open later than ours bc when everyone wanted to go (and I wanted to go to bed) Jess and Brock looked at me like “We’re going too, right?” and I have never felt more like an old lady than I did in that moment, but how could I say no to those faces? So to the next bar we went. Mind you, we were in like beach cover ups and flip flops and had no ID’s and had brought only enough money for one beer bc we were just going to have ONE BEER at the other hostel bar before coming back, so when we and our hostelmates somehow ended up walking the 30 minutes into the city center to get to a CLUB in the middle of the night after playing a few rounds of some terrible math-based drinking game called 21, you can imagine my confusion. I had planned to be in bed by like 10, and instead here I was with my baby sister and this group of hostel people on the way to the biggest outdoor club in Zadar with no ID in the middle of the night. Bc this is what happens when you plan a chill night, people. I needn’t have worried about getting into the club as they literally didn’t ask us for ID’s or anything of that nature – though I’m pretty sure they questioned our outfit choices pretty hard core as we were a stark juxtaposition with the girls in heels and the guys in button downs, but whatever, they let us in.
A few donated beers from those who’d brought money and a wholeeeee bunch of dancing later, we decided 4am was as good a time as any to head home for the night, but once again the universe had other plans for us. As we began our eternally-long walk back to the hostel from town, we came upon a painfully drunk British man (that’s their natural state) who was quite a prick (also their natural state – save for my best friend’s British boyfriend who is actually great) but also apparently in quite a pickle as he could hardly walk and without help would have ended up on the news for drowning in the Adriatic the next day. Jess and I knew we couldn’t leave the poor bastard on his own so we asked where he was headed, googled it (he was going in the totally wrong direction btw) and turned him around to start walking him the 40 minutes it would take to get him home (which would mean a 70 minute walk back to our hostel from there but srsly this guy was not a human anymore he was so drunk) so the walking began. He spent the entirety of his time using colorful language to describe Americans in general, which was super fun (though we did agree with some of it to be fair) so it was quite a relief when we happened to run into his group of friends who was remotely less drunk and upon seeing us with him immediately apologized for anything he may or may not have said – clearly they knew him well – before thanking us profusely for not letting him casually die in Croatia. Our mission accomplished, we finally made our long way home, which would have taken twice as long but Jess was essentially tug boating me all the way back bc I was apparently incapable of walking at a normal pace and she was aggressively motivated to get us home. The next morning Jess woke up hangoverless and I woke up suffering (how I miss my youth) and we headed to the beach for the morning to soak up the sun and – for some of us – sweat out the hangover. The rest of the day consisted of hammock naps and beach bars and ice cream on the dock and brilliant comments from Jess such as “Look at all those lights…. And by lights, I mean stars.” The brilliance of my baby sister knows no bounds, people.
Our chill day was followed by an early morning involving a historic tour of Zadar, a city Jess and I totally recommend as it’s nowhere near as touristy as Dubrovnik but still totally gorgeous. However, might we recommend it a little bit later in the summer than July as it was literally scorching and we were fairly certain death was coming for us in the form of heat stroke. We enjoyed the most delicious pastry that was absolutely impossible to eat sitting on the boardwalk and took a moment to appreciate the fact that we got to experience a new country together before making the long and winding trek back to the hostel to enjoy one last beachy afternoon before getting our lives together (including transferring our extra kuna back to euros bc we overestimated our expenses AND WOULD HAVE SAVED EVEN MORE IF NOT FOR THAT DISGUSTING AND EXPENSIVE DINNER THE FIRST NIGHT but like it’s fine I don’t even care.
Euros back in our wallets and delicious hostel smoothies in our bellies, we made our way to the bus station to catch our bus to the airport (for which we were not excited bc leaving Croatia is not an easy thing to do). We’d asked about 37x about the bus schedule and the hostel workers had given us a schedule for it just to be sure, so despite the paranoia, we felt reasonably confident that we were leaving (way) early enough to catch our flight without any issues. Naturally, the bus schedule we were given was wrong. The airport bus had already left and wouldn’t be back until we should already have been at the airport bc of course it had. So we took a moment to freak out, gathered our thoughts, and agreed that it was worth it to get a taxi (pretty cheap bc Croatia and a fairly short distance) just to be sure we didn’t miss our flight. Here’s where it gets fun. Our taxi driver, after having been informed of our need for speed, decided now was as good a time as any to fill up his tank with gas, even though it wasn’t empty. And while we’re at it, why not get our windows washed? Fantastic. And then we make it to the airport to find out that we could have just waited for the stupid bus bc it would have gotten us there only 15 minutes later and OUR FREAKING FLIGHT WAS DELAYED. To treat ourselves in the face of all this unnecessary stress, we decided to grab some coffees at the tiny airport with no signs that dictate where to go or from which (of like 5) gates your flight is leaving or if it’s leaving at all. Apparently the coffees weren’t our best idea, however. So here’s how it went down: we’d budgeted very carefully with what kuna we’d had left to get a cappuccino and a small black coffee to share thinking that the cappuccino would be yummier but not having enough money for two of them and the donut Jess was considering getting. These coffees come out, and we just start laughing, as the “small coffee” looks absolutely miniscule and might constitute two full sips before being empty. Laughable and ridiculous, so we finish it and grab another cappuccino (Jess sacrificed her donut money) so as to have an actually sustainable amount of caffeine in our systems. The irony here is that apparently the coffee that looked like an espresso size-wise and tasted like black coffee was ACTUALLY a cappuccino, and the other decent-sized and decent-tasting coffee had been our “small black coffee” meaning that WHEN THEY BROUGHT OUT OUR CAPPUCCINO IT WAS ANOTHER ONE OF THOSE STUPID LITTLE HALF COFFEE THINGS. We were not amused. I know it doesn’t souuuund particularly strenuous, but with all the flight stress and tiredness going on, it was all we could do just to laugh and accept that this was a battle we decidedly not won.
Luckily, we did eventually catch our flight and the night went smoothly from there getting back to my apartment in Bonn. Just kidding, the train we were supposed to take was cancelled and we literally took all day to get home from a place that should have taken a few hours. Public transport is fab. Yay.
The next few days were spent enjoying rainy day picnics, home cooked meals (mostly by Jess as my shoulder and I were still not on good terms) and two very happy sisters. Jess left for home a few days later to go unpack from her trip and repack for COLLEGE bc she’s officially a college FRESHMAN now and I don’t know where the time goes but I couldn’t be prouder of my big mini me.
For now, I believe this is where I’ll leave you, as I’m headed to Spain today and I still have to write about my trip to Greece and ugh life is just so hard sometimes, you know?
Until next time, beautiful readers.
PS. Grocery shopping in countries where the language is incomprehensible and unrelated to ANY of the languages you speak means (once again) staring at a product that looks like it *might* be what you’re looking for and then ends up absolutely not being that and you have to figure out how to cook with it anyway bc you bought it already and you don’t want to waste it.
PPS. High knees moments are what we call it when something happens where you have a momentary (often physical and involuntary) reaction to something that surprises you, which is what Jess had when a bike almost ran her and literally hopped up like a frog in a way that totally wouldn’t have saved her had she been in any real danger but looked incredibly entertaining anyway. This is where I got the post title… clearly.
About the Author
Mouth like a sailor, great lacker of empathy, paper cut survivor, avid arguer, harsh critic of people who put clothes on their pets, easily distracte
USA, Mexico, Iceland, Austria, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Morocco, Malta, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Ireland, Denmark, Czech Republic, Hungary, England, Poland, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Scotland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Croatia, Greece
The Baltic countries,
if Covid allows for it (Latvia, Estonia, maybe a stop in Finland)
(in August in the US)