After Bobby took over duties for the last few blogs, I figured I should get back to my normal blogging routine (although he is a better writer than me)! Last week, we took a ten day trip down the coast of Croatia, through Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and then back to Italy. It ended up being quite a bit of driving, but well worth it. It’s no wonder that Croatia has been on Nat Geo’s list of places to visit the last couple of years. We started out in Zadar (after a short pit-stop in the Italian city of Aquileia), traveled through Split and Trogir, and then ended our Adriatic coast trip in Dubrovnik.
Although not a “heartwarming” subject, it seems as though breaking up was the theme of our second day in Croatia. On our way to the capital city of Zagreb, we came across the city of Karlovac, a crucial town in Croatia’s War of Independence/Homeland War (1991 – 1995). I must admit, I didn’t know much about this region before stopping at a roadside military museum dedicated to the town’s sacrifices during the war. The history is incredibly complicated in this region, but from what I’ve gathered, Karlovac was the stronghold for the Republic of Croatia against Serbs. In 1992, Croatia became an independent republic, breaking its longstanding “relationship” with Yugoslavia, but the Serbs (supported by Serbia) were not happy about this decision in the least. For more than 4 years, this town was shelled by heavily artillery and bombed by enemy fighters (Russian-produced MiGs) and many of the buildings/houses still bear the scars of the bombardment. The museum in Karlovac had a series of tanks used by the Croatians, as well as a MiG that was shot down by the loyalist army. The main building where the Croatian army held their meetings still stands, albeit without a roof or any windows, as a sign of the city’s endurance.
Dobro došli u Hrvatsku! (Welcome to Croatia!) So as you can tell, the Croatian language sounds nothing like/looks nothing like English or Italian. The road signs were thus a little difficult to manage, not to mention the fact that our trusty-go-to-must-have-iPhone-maps were not in our cell phone plan in Croatia. We ended up using the not-so-trusty Garmin GPS which led us to an unpaved logging route in the rain/thick fog for the longest 12 miles of our lives. We were pleased we a) didn’t get stuck in the one of the multiple football field-sized mud ponds/puddles b) didn’t blow a tire bouncing off one of the many submerged rocks and c) didn’t plunge over the non-guardrailed “road” to our deaths. Our Iphone and Garmin love providing us the “opportunity” to off-road in our VW Golf and thus this wasn’t our first rodeo. In our first off-roading adventure on an island near Grosseto (in Italy), we were certain that if we ended up destroying the car or going over one of the many precarious cliffs, there would have been someone to help us (or at least see us go over the edge!) This time, we were in the middle of the rugged Croatian forest, on an abandoned road, with zero cellphone reception or any semblance of civilization. Despite the “scenic detour,” we managed to arrive at our first destination – Plitvice Lakes National Park.