I am now a week into my twenty day Italy, Croatia, and Switzerland trip. It has gone by fast, probably aided by the fact that over thirty of those hours have been spent on fifteen hour coach rides between Rome and Croatia. The ride realy wasn't so bad; the scenery was gorgeous and since I hopped off the bus at the Croatia-Slovenia border on the way back, I can say I've been to both places now, right? I slept on the bus more than I thought I would, meaning I actually fell asleep. Granted, it was probably less than four hours total. The day we arrived I managed to nearly break my thumb in the hostel door. I blame sleep deprivation as well as my need to do something stupid in each country.
So I left Rome and guess what I end up seeing lots of? Roman ruins! It's actually amazing how Roman ruins are everywhere in Europe, even as far north as England.
I always appreciate meeting the area's cats. On my first night in Croatia, I met up with Lily who was also travelling around Switzerland, Italy, and Croatia. I was randomly meandering through Roman ruins (as I often do these days) and suddenly I turned a corner and there was Lily at the ATM! We went to dinner where we made some cat friends (or more accurately, they wanted Lily's chicken!) We hiked up Marjan Hill right as the sun was setting, which was gorgeous. Suddenly three more cat friends appeared and followed us down the hill!
The next day, I took a ferry from Split, Croatia to the island of Brac. The island had lots of shoreline. I love places where you can see the mountains from the beach! I was also really impressed with the level of English spoken by the island's residents, even the kids. The small Croatian children on the island watched us and when our boat pulled away they ran after yelling "good bye!" and "see you later!" It was adorable.
The next day, I went to Krka National Park. Before this trip, I had no idea that Croatia was known for waterfalls. Well, they are and they're amazing!
Croatia was also the most inexpensive country I've visited on this trip, which was certainly nice! It was 8 kuna to a Euro, so the conversion rate was a bit weird. However, most meals ended up around $4 and I got a pair of shorts for around $8. I heard that Croatia is the up and coming destination for European holidays and I believe it!
You might recall that I took a spontaneous trip to Italy in February and went on a Bus2Alps trip between Rome and Venice. When I was standing in the queue to board the plane back from Rome, Bus2Alps was hosting a first come, first served 50% discount. I was on such an adrenaline high from the trip and loved Italy so much that I spontaneously bought a couple of discount trips for April. Now April is here and I'm reporting from Rome! (Well, not for much longer because I'm about to get on a fifteen-hour night bus to Croatia). (No, I didn't know it was a fifteen hour trip when I signed up!)
I arrived in Rome about the same time as my first trip and am even staying in the same hostel. When I walked into the hostel the front desk worker immediately said, "I know you from somewhere. Where do I know you from?" From staying the in hostel almost exactly two months ago! I did some meandering today and accidentally wandered to some of the piazzas and roman ruins that I visited last time. It has all felt a bit surreal!
I was only in Rome for about a day and a half the first trip, but it feels like I was there longer. I feel like I can remember every single detail of that trip! I left the hostel today and was instantly surprised at how many more tourists there are this time of year. There are a lot more large tour groups and large clusters of tourists from all over. It also seems like there is an increase in the number of Italians here as well. The number of silly touristy souvenir stands has also increased, as has the amount of annoying hagglers trying to sell selfie sticks and roses. Interestingly, I seem to blend in more whenever there are large groups of obvious tourists in the city. The weather is lovely and warm right now and it is nice to see the city so active, but there was definitely a very different sort of vibe with its own charm when I visited in the off-season.
In November, I visited Edinburgh and the Scottish highlands with ISA, my study abroad group. I just went on a return trip to Edinburgh with two of my flat mates. Scotland was one of my favourite trips from last semester so I wondered if I would like it as much the second time. We stayed in an entirely different part of the city which gave it a new view. I love all of the cobblestone in the city!
This time, we got to travel First Class for free (thanks Emily and Emily's mom!) I think train travel is my favourite mode of transit and First Class (and the lounge at the station) was definitely fun!
I wanted to see a new side of the city so I took a half hour bus ride from the city to Portobello Beach. It was windy and rainy, but still pretty. The Beach House café had a lovely location and was a nice place to go for tea.
A highlight from the beach visit was meeting a proper Scottish cat named Otis and his pet human. His pet human said that all the dogs are afraid of him and that he just hangs out in the community garden.
In November, I heard about a pub that was a bit hidden with a bookshelf for the entrance. After some research (I kept referring to it as "the Narnia pub," but Google didn't understand what I meant), we discovered that it was a proper speakeasy, disguised as Panda and Sons Barbershop. I walked right past a couple of times without even noticing.
My flat mates had heard of another speakeasy-esque place called Bramble, which was underneath a dry cleaners and by a bunch of flats. It was downstairs and had only a small plaque to say its name. It was fun to discover a secret side to Edinburgh!
We also spent some time at the Edinburgh Zoo, which was full of adorable animals like penguins and a bear cat (which looked exactly how it sounds!)
As exciting as it is to travel to new cities, re-visiting a place with different people (or without people) at a different time a year makes for some good adventures as well! I'll check in next from Croatia!
Hi, I’m Crystal! Just like you, I love to travel. You’ll get all the best tips and insights from my experiences as a former ice-skating coach in Iceland and former study abroad student. Of the 24 countries I have visited, a type 1 diabetes diagnosis has been the strangest land yet. Type 1 has not slowed down my travels and you'll learn how to take type 1 with you on the road! You can connect with me further on Instagram @CrystalChilcott, or send me ideas of where I should travel next via email: firstname.lastname@example.orgHappy Travels, Crystal
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