CityLove: Day Trips from Dubrovnik

Day trips to take from Dubrovnik, Croatia.

Photo via Flickr Creative Commons: Mario Fajt

Dubrovnik, for all of its beauty, is a small city. While there are plenty of things to do in this gorgeous Croatian seaside town, if you’re planning on spending more than a few days, I always suggest taking some day trips. While it is easy to simply spend time lounging at the beach, dining on fresh Croatian dishes and exploring the Old City, there is so much more which awaits outside the city walls. It is near the islands, Bosnia, and Montenegro, making it is superb launching point to go and venture out to other spots nearby.

So, head out from your Durbovnik hotel and get exploring! My favorite day trips from Dubrovnik:


Daily Wanderlust: Split from above

It’s been nearly four years since I started d travels ’round. In that time, I have traveled much of Europe, parts of Africa, SE Asia and have become an expat in Thailand. To say four years flies by is a HUGE understatement.

Today, I want to pay homage to the town that started this life of mine, Split. This gorgeous Croatian town is where I had my Adriatic enlightenment and decided to live my life for me, by my set of rules, rather what society told me was right.

Four years ago, I was in Split at this time. Wandering through Diocletian’s Palace, climbing the many, many stairs of the bell tower, and being treated to views like this. Standing at the top of the tower, gentle sea breeze kissing my face, made me feel so tiny in this world around me. But, it also awakened a passion in me that I always knew I had, but never had the bravery touch upon.

What a difference four years makes.

Want to experience you own enlightenment?

The view from a top the bell tower in Split, Croatia.


Daily Wanderlust: Alleyway graffiti in Zagreb

Before I officially hit my 30-Life-Crisis, I headed to Croatia for a holiday. My first stop in the magical and life-changing country was Zagreb, the capital of the country.

I’m a bit unconventional in terms of what I desire out of visits to foreign places (I’m so churched out!), so I popped in my headphones and took a proper wander through the historic city. Down one little alley near in the Lower City, I came across colorful tags adorning the the old European buildings.

Photo of Zagreb, Croatia


Daily Wanderlust: Island paradise in Croatia

Croatia is one of those countries that holds a very special spot in my heart. It’s the place where I opened my mind to others and was enlightened; was witness to the kindness of strangers; met one of the most remarkable women in the world; and was where I learned about love, life and loss when my grandmother passed away.

It is also home to the Adriatic Sea. This crystal, clear sea and I have spent many, many weeks together. I’ve relaxed on warm rocks along the coast. Bopped along on a little boat through the flat surface. I’ve even gone skinny dipping in the inky black waters at night. The sea, to me, is one of the most gorgeous I’ve ever had the opportunity to dip my toes in, and one I dream of returning to regularly.

When my grandmother died, I took a stone from the sea to bring back to America and place at her grave, that’s how special this country is to me.

This photo is along the shore of Solta, a tiny technicolor island that is largely untouched by tourists.


Escape of the Week: Plitvice Lakes National Park

Plitvice Lakes National Park, located in Croatia, is one of the most beautiful places I have ever had the priviledge to explore.


The park, which is the perfect (and gorgeous) day trip, features 16 stunning bright blue lakes packed with waterfalls rushing down cliffs.

Blue-green lakes, which change color depending on what’s going on in the water, pop against the bright green foliage, creating amazing photo opps.

Even the clear water astounds, mixing above-the-surface life with below.

Sadly, the park is not without sad history. In 1991, it is where the tragic Yugoslavian war began. Here, rebel Serbs took control of the park’s headquarters, killing a Croatian police officer. The hotels in the park were converted into barracks. Four years later, the park once again opened its doors to tourism.

Travel tip: Allow for an entire day at the park. There are plenty of paths to wander. But, be sure to stick to the paths. The eco-system is fragile.

Skip forking over the money for a high-priced hotel room at the park. Instead, book lodging in either Zagreb or Zadar. Wear comfortable shoes, there are miles of hikes to enjoy. And, be sure to bring water and snacks. If you are traveling with luggage, hotels at the park offer storage of your items.

Getting there: Hop a bus from Zagreb or Zadar. Both trips take about 2 1/2 hours.


Daily Wanderlust: Zagreb, Croatia

Zagreb, Croatia was my the first stop in my 30-th Birthday World Tour in September, 2009. It was also the city which reinvigorated my love of travel, re-introduced me to crazy backpacker antics courtesy of some Aussies, let me believe (for a moment) in Hollywood endings, and eventually, began this crazy journey I am on today.

My first day, I simply wandered with my camera, shooting photos of daily life in this mesmerizing city that blends old with new.


Daily Wanderlust: clean clothes in Split

It took me an instant to fall in love with Split. And even less time to realize my traveling days were in front of me, not in the past (thanks to a certain person who provided instantaneous enlightenment).

Nearly one year after I left Split, I found myself back in this seaside town, life entirely different. The first thing I did was track down the person who changed my life — I had to tell him “thank you.”

The second thing I did? Sit back, smile and relish in the beauty of the moment, the beauty of the town (including the laundry hanging from the ancient windows), and the beauty of travel.


Escape of the Week: Brela, Croatia

It’s no secret I love Croatia. It is what sparked my blog, it is what sparked my desire to quit my job and head out to explore more of the world. When I booked my long-term travel, I knew I wanted Croatia to be where I would end my trip. There is something magical about the country — the way the water is that perfect cerulean blue and the way the trees are neon green.

Yes, I love Croatia with all of my heart.

When my friend, Katie, suggested we visit Brela en route to Split, I agreed for one reason: there is no place in Croatia I don’t love. Surely, Brela would be no exception to this.

And, it wasn’t.

With amazing storms rolling in from Biokovo Mountain and hovering over the Adriatic Sea, how can you not love this little beach town? It’s enough to make someone book airline tickets immediately and head to this gorgeous destination.

Brela’s beaches are some of the best in Europe, earning one of its beaches, Dugi rat the distinction of being one of the most beautiful on the continent. Maybe you’ve seen this photo, of trees growing out of the white rock in the middle of the water?

With more than 7km. of pebble beaches, there are plenty of options to kick back and take in the colors, the fresh air and the relaxed atmosphere of this town.

There is only one hostel in Brela, Casa Vecchia. It’s awesome. Owned by an Aussie, it’s got a great beach feel with a huge outdoor patio, covered bar and stunning views of the seaside below. We got there the last night it was open, so for our second night, the owner moved us down to one of the apartments he rents out. On. The. Beach. Yeah, it was amazing.

Getting there: If you’re planning a trip to Croatia, there are a few stops most travelers are sure to hit — Dubrovnik and Split are two of them, in South Dalmatia. Brela is located about an hour south of Split, about three hours north of Dubrovnik, and about two hours from Mostar in Bosnia and Herecgovina.

If you’re taking the bus, be sure to let the driver know to stop at Brela. There isn’t a formal bus station, but a stop at the top of the town where you can hop on and off, paying when you board.

Have you been to Croatia? What’s your favorite beach?


I am thankful for …

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. It’s the time when I get to come home from wherever I am, and spend precious moments with my parents, my brother, my gorgeous little niece, and my friends from childhood and beyond.

It’s the time of year when I bundle up and head East to breathe that icy air into my lungs so deep it hurts. It’s the time of year when Mom and I hit the shopping mall to take advantage of those Black Friday deals, and I always swear through clenched teeth I will never participate in another Black Friday shopping experience again.

But, more than anything else, Thanksgiving is a time of year where I relish those special moments I have with the people I love. Where I give thanks for the years of blessings I have had, and look forward to the next year of blessings.

In honor of my favorite holiday, I am going to take a break from the grind. I am going to actually take some time for myself and not write, not post, not do anything but be in the present for the next few days.

So, enjoy Thanksgiving if you are in America. Hug your family tighter. Spend an extra few minutes at the dinner table sharing stories. Be sure to tell the people you love that you love them and are thankful for them.

And, if you need a breather from family time, or whatever, here are some of my favorite posts that highlight moments in my life I am so thankful to have experienced.

Instantanoues Enlightenment on the Adriatic — what happens when you meet someone who changes your life forever?

Traveling the World to Say ‘Thank You’ — tracking down that someone who changed my life, to tell him he changed my life. Spoiler: it ends with a kiss.

I’ve Always Relied on the Kindness of Strangers — finding the beauty in getting lost in a foreign country.

I Blame My Blog … and Twitter — this new family I have is amazing!

‘Twas the Nigh Before London — sometimes the hardest things in life are the best … and lead you to a better place (like traveling the world)

Love, life and loss … while on the road — words could never do justice for how thankful I am for my grandmother and her endless love and support. My cheerleader. My biggest supporter. My inspiration to write my book.

Escape of the Week: Birds on A Wire — HOME. My family. My friends. Sometimes, that’s all you need to make everything better.

See you next week, when I’m back in the desert.

Happy Thanksgiving! Eat until you have to unbutton that top button!

30 Life Crisis