Portugal, Italy, Croatia · 9 Days · 36 Moments · May 2017

Mike & Steph's adventure in Italy & Croatia

7 June 2017

One of the many food items Croatia is getting right.....ketchup chips!!

6 June 2017

Our last night in Split after the excursion we ended up just walking around Old Town, then we proceeded to find a mall. We ended up exploring the mall, then watching Wonder Woman. Mike slept through the first half and I the last half ๐Ÿคฃ it was still a great time together.
On our 1 full day in Split, we signed up for a 3 cave, 6 island all day boating excursion! Looking at the weather the night before, it showed rain, but we woke up to sunshine! We went and met with the others who were going and the captain, Peter & Mirka. We were told the caves were closes since rain was in the schedule...so we weren't sure what to expect. We were told we would be going on an alternate route with more island viewing instead. This day ended up being the beat day of the trip so far! The boat was amazingly fast, we even got first row seats! The islands were amazing. The water seriously has never been so blue. It felt amazing to swim and snorkel in it. We are a really nice lunch also (shrimp pasta, bread, and sauce) in a panoramic restaurant overlooking the ocean and islands). One time going to one of the last islands Mike and I got really scared in the front row! Peter was going so fast and the waves were so big. Overall, it was a blast! We even got 3 bottles of wine!

5 June 2017

After meeting Striga we basically just explored Split by night then made our way pretty late back home to get some rest for our excursion the next morning. We did stop at a restaurant to eat dinner that was literally incthe best location in Old Town Split, called Luxvr. I got gnocchi with 4 cheeses and Mike had ribs.. but what stole the show was their bruchetta! It was on garlic bread type of bread with tomatoes and sauce on it. What made it delicious was the cheese, spices and bacon on top! One of my food highlights on this trip!
So before venturing out to Old Town Split, we were leaving the apartment and got on the elevator. We got in and pushed the buttons for 1sr floor. When we got there we tried to open the door to the elevator (it had an electronic sliding door then a manual door you open). The electronic door opened but we couldn't get the manual door to open. Instant fear of death set in lol. I started banging on the door and Mike was trying to get the door open. In Mike trying to open the door, the apartment keys that were in his hands fell and dropped straight down the elevator shaft... So now we had no keys and were trapped in an elevator! Mike eventually got the doors to open, now we had to try to communicate with some repairmen in the hallway that we needed to get down the elevator shaft! Nome of the spoke english! We had to find a random person to translate for us! After about 30 mins we got the building repairman to help us, get down the elevator shaft and get the keys for us!
To start our Split adventure off we met up with one of Mike's buddies from his Afghanistan deployment who actually has family in Split. His name is Kruno Striga, who also brought his wife, 6 year old son, and 4 month old daughter. We met them for drinks and coffee. It was interesting trying to find them in downtown Split because we don't have phone call access, so it was all based on Facebook messenger and sending pictures of what was in front of us ๐Ÿ˜‹ but we finally found them! It was very interesting to meet them and talk to them. It was great for Mike to see one of his buddies again also!
After Krka we made it to Split to check in to our airbnb. Our airbnb wasn't far from old town Split. First coming into split we noticed how huge of a city it was. It seems they get bigger the further down the coast you travel. Our host was very nice, especially waiting over an hour for us to arrive since we were late having stopped at Krka. She welcomed us and gave us the keys to the home to go explore Split. We were also planning on meeting with one of Miles buddies from his deployment from Split, so we were going to go try to find him in Old Town Split until we hit a slight hiccup... ๐Ÿ˜“๐Ÿ˜”
We randomly found a stop on our drive to Split called Krka National Park. It ended up being one of our favorite stops in Croatia! It was a hiking/outdoors National Park where you can hike really closely to a lot of different waterfalls until you come to the final huge set of waterfalls cascading into one another where you can actually swim in the waterfalls! We loved it also for the fact that it was not as busy as Plitvice Lakes! Swimming in the falls was an amazing experience! The Water was so cold and so clear! There were people speaking all kinds of languages and from all different backgrounds there together, but one thing was the same between us all and that was the amazement in our eyes, the smiles on our faces, and the appreciation for such a beautiful place and experience! We only brought our gopro's, so I'll be uploading pics when we get home ;-) We stayed in the park for about 2.5 hours or so. We also had pancakes here!!!
On our drive to Split from Zadar we found out how expensive gas is here! It is double what it is in the states! We willed up the car 1/2 a tank and it was well over $40! Crazy!! We also found a stop to make and it turned out to be one of our favorites stops!...
We checked out of Zadar the next day and decided to explore a bit before heading to Split. We walked along the water and took in Zadar in the sunshine. It was so much different seeing it during the day vs at night. For food before we left, we decided to try to find pancakes. We had searched for pancakes for so long it seemed since coming to Croatia and have yet to find any! Our host recommended a place, so we began our search for it. We got lost a few times but finally found it.. closed! Ugh! So no pancakes for us yet! We left for Split after being disappointed by their hours for the pancake restaurant :-P the drive was to be about 1.5 hours I believe.
On our drive to Split from Zadar we found out how expensive gas is here! It is double what it is in the states! We willed up the car 1/2 a tank and it was well over $40! Crazy!! We also found a stop to make and it turned out to be one of our favorites stops!...

4 June 2017

Exploring Zadar was fun to do in the evening with the sun setting! We did a little souvenir shopping and walked along the water. We found the Sea Organ and the huge floor light display, it was the most unique and creative thing to see! We also found that Zadar's nightlife was RIDICULOUS!!! Everything stayed open SO late! People were sitting at the outdoor restaurant seating areas ordering pizza at midnight-1 am! We ended up finding a place called "Crazy Pizza" and the serving sizes for pizza was just that...crazy! And it was so cheap and good! We also found the best ice cream in Zadar, Slad! It was recommended to us by our host. Their ice cream was literally a work of art! We also learned some history of the town. The town was once surrounded by atone walls to protect from attacks on all sides but one. Some of the ancient walls still stand, as well as the watch tower. Our host was very informative on the history and good places to see/eat
The Chronicals of the Great Pancake Search began in Pula Croatia! We randomly passed by a place that sold them and they looked so good, but we didnt stop because we were dead set on going to Jupiter's for pizza. At Jupiter's we also noticed they had pancakes on their menu as a dessert...very strange we thought! We went back the next morning before going to the beach for pancakes for breakfast, only find out that they ONLY do pancakes as a dessert and the thought of then for breakfast seems so strange! They said they opened for pancakes at noom, so we told them we'd come back. We came back only for them to tell us they were having technical difficulties and couldn't make us pancakes ๐Ÿ™ we were so sad! But decided to try Jupiter's pancakes instead. We ended up ordering some with ice cream in them and fruit tipping on top...but the fruit topping had really strong wine in it! What a weird taste! Mike loved them though!
Once we finished with Plitvice Lakes we headed to Zadar. Driving into Zadar we were overwhelmed with the size of it! It was a lot bigger than Pula. We found our house we were staying in, met our host, unpacked, and went out to explore!
After meeting Mike's friend we drove to Plitvice Lakes, which was about 30 minutes further. The lakes and waterfalls were so blue and so pretty. The sound of the powerful water was so amazing to hear and feel. Mike was feeling a little woozy at the beginning of the trip from the schnapps we were given ๐Ÿคฃ but ended up parking up quickly! There was a lot of walking and it was really busy. It was beautiful but we didnt like it as much as we thought we would have.
Today we checked out of Pula and started our travel at 0500 to a small town called Salopek Luke. With the town name, we are curious as to it's connection to Mikes family, so we had to make the stop on the way to Plitvice Lakes. We met up with a buddy of Mikes from his deployment named Dravko and his wife. They showed us around a small town called Rastoke. It had multiple streams and waterfalls through it! It was beautiful! Then we sat for drinks for a bit, then they lead us to Salopek Luke. We found it, but there wasnt much to find really. Not many houses, but the most welcoming people we have ever encountered. They answered questions about the Salopek name and anyone who may have had the name. They also gave us homemade schnapps, also inviting us to stay for a lamb roast they volunteered to make us. Unfortunately we couldn't stay as we have Pltivice Lakes on our itinerary for today and Zadar, Croatia tonight. We were overcome with gratitude for their welcoming. What a welcoming!

2 June 2017

When we got to our house, we met our host, Maลกa. Her house was BEAUTIFUL! Right next to the arena with views of the arena on one side of the house and views of the ocean on the other side.
Once we got to Pula, finding our Airbnb was an adventure ๐Ÿ˜‹ we got dropped off by the bus at the bus area and then had to figure out how to navigate the city. We ended up trying to use an offline Google map to help us out. We had all our luggage with us, so that was another problem lol. Everything was fine, easy side walk paths until our Google map lead us to some crazy stairs. We made it up the stairs....and Google map lead us to some crazy, tiny, uneven dirt path up a steep hill. With our two huge backpacks and huge suitcase, it was a horrible site to see ๐Ÿ˜‚ lots of curse words, sweat, and frustrations later and we made it up the hill (Mike dragging the suitcase). We knew our house was beside the arena there in Pula, so that's what we were looking for as a landmark. After traveling a few streets, we finally found our house!!
We made it to Pula Croatia FINALLY! Our first bus ride to Trieste, Italy was smooth and quick (probably about 2.5 hours). We were able to sleep most of the way. The bus from Trieste, Italy to Pula, Croatia was a bit different though lol. It was supposed to leave at 0845 and get there around 1215. When we got to the train station we walked around town a bit since we had an hour to kill and we got some food at a store. We then went to train station to wait it out. When the bus finally came it ended up being completely packed! Mile and I ended up falling asleep and I set an alarm to wake up about 15 minutes before we were due in to Pula, but when that time came we discovered we were still a long way away from Pula! Our bus driver ended up being so slow and took so many back roads, no main roads. It ended up being a sort of "city bus" that picked up and dropped off in random little towns. We were getting so mad & impatient. We finally made it around 230 or so, 2 hours later than expected
So we finally figure out our transportation to Plua, Croatia. We got tickets for a bus, but it left at 0505, so that meant an early morning! We actually didn't go to sleep that night at all! We left the house at about 0410 to get there by 0445. We had to take our two big packs, one big suitcase , and one backpack across Venice. We were nervous because there were people out still, some tipsy lol. We did get a few pics on our walk also :-) But we made it safely only to find out that the bus wasn't there. We didn't know if we had the wrong schedule, if we were stranded but the bus ended up coming at about 0500. Mike was running all over looking for the bus stop while I stayed with the bags. We took the bus from Venice to Trieste Italy, then Trieste to Pula.
So our house here in Venice has some coffee in it. Our host told us "it's really freaking strong, so be careful!" Well...Mike and I haven't quite switched over to "European time" and are Sri on Washington DC time...so we have been up since 11 am here and it's about 4 am right now....so still on DC time (it's only about 1p pm DC time). Mike & I are supposed to be traveling to Pula, Croatia today and have to catch a bus that leaves at 5 am, so instead of going to bed after getting back to our house from exploring Venice one last day we decided to stay up until we needed to leave for the bus station. We decided since we haven't went to sleep yet to try this "freaking strong" coffee. Neither of us are coffee drinkers....but we kind of need a kick this morning to keep us going. Needless to say, we might be coffee drinkers now! The first cups required quite a bit of cream and sugar, but the 2nd cups didn't need any creamer! Here's to coffee & handsome men who drink it! โ˜•

31 May 2017

Jewish Ghetto a few blocks from our house
Our adventure started with a little shopping (Mike finally found his murse) & we got some amazing ice cream (gelato)...TWICE! We made it a point to head to San Marco Square, Dolcian Palace, Acadamia, and Salute (church). We did a lot of sight seeing & picture taking. We walked miles in that city! We hit everything we wanted except Salute that first day. We got so many good pictures and made so many memories. We made it back home around 9, then went to the Jewish ghettos also. We finally made it home around 10 pm. Our first nights rest was great, except the lack of A.C..
Walking back to our house after visiting the Jewish Ghettos... photo shooting Stephanie! ๐Ÿ˜‰
Evening photos in Venice our first night
Dinner our first night in Venice!
San Marcos Square!
San Marcos Square!
Site seeing in Venice โ™ก
Site seeing in Venice on our first day โ™ก
We flew from Portugal to Venice which took about 3 hours. When we landed we got our luggage and exchanged some currency, then we took the 10 minute walk to the water taxi. We actually met a couple from Waldorf there, which is crazy! We took a water taxi from mainland Venice to the island of Venice. It was an experience! So cool to see the city that way. The water taxi dropped us off right at the door of our house! We met our host, Valerie and she gave us the ins and outs of the city, which was invaluable! We dropped off our stuff, got a tour of the house and went off to explore the city
Airplane pictures of Portugal ๐Ÿ›ซ
From Boston we flew to Lisbon, Portugal which was about 7 hours of flying. We got there at aound 530 am or so, really early! When we landed there wasnt much to see. Neither of us have been there, so we were excited to take off and see what Portugal looked like once the sun was up. In Portugal we got so confused by the airport signs, or lack of lol. We ended up having to wait in many limes to show our passports, boarding passes, and security. Total we probably stood in line over an hour, which left us maybe 20-25 minutes to navigate the airport and find our gate. We finally found it and Mike even had time to get Portugal Starbucks! Off to Venice from Portugal! Hoping to get more time here, as the airport had some really nice stuff in it!

30 May 2017

Crazy guy we saw in Portugal who is clearly stuck in back a few decades ๐Ÿ˜‚
We both had never been to Boston, but got to on this trip! Thankful for this longer layover with time to recoup a bit, get some grub at Potbellys, & recharge some devices! Can't wait to go back soon to spend more time :-)
Our trip started out with us leaving the house to fight DC traffic and get to the airport with a little over an hour to check our bags and find our gate. For an international flight, I was nervous this wasn't enough time, but Mike never had a doubt :-P when we got to the airport, we get inside to the desk of our airport and I realize my wallet is still in the car, that my mom was driving back home...so I freaked out and had to call her to come back. Even with that hiccup...we still got to our gate with 50 minutes to spare! Lesson of the day....never doubt my husband :-P โ™ก