Saturday, July 18, 2009

Croatia - Dubrovnik and Montenegro

First I just want to mention something I forgot about Capri.  When we got to the top of the chairlift in Anacapri we were so high up we were pretty much in the clouds.  In the picture that’s my new facebook profile picture, it is not foggy.  It was actually a really nice beautiful day outside.  Mostly clear with just a few white puffy clouds.  We were so high up we were pretty much level with the clouds – it was really cool.  It was kind of like looking out an airplane, but without walls.

So anyways, I have finally made it to talking about Croatia (it’s about time since we just left Greece yesterday.  Sorry about the delay but I have no spare time.  Any moment free is spent answering emails or doing school work which means it is not actually free time.  Every time I think I have a few minutes to write on my blog, I end up getting distracted or finding other people.

Here are the official descriptions of the trips I took in Croatia:

DUB03 CITY ORIENTATION #2 – CITY WALLS (1300-1700 Tuesday, 07 July) You will enter the Old Town through the Pile Gate and immediately climb up to the magnificent walls surrounding the town. The walls are 1,940 meters long, and it takes about 1½ hours to walk around them. This walk offers a great opportunity to view the town from above. It is the best way to see the famous red-tiled roofs of Dubrovnik and even take a look inside someone’s house or garden. Although primarily a walking tour, your orientation will include a drive to the panoramic viewing area above Old Town, which will provide a spectacular view of the surrounding area.

DUB11 SERVICE VISIT: ORPHANAGE & CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL – GROUP A [FDP: McCARRELL] (0815-1300 Wednesday, 08 July) Visit the children’s ward of a local hospital and an orphanage in Dubrovnik. Currently there are 67 children in the orphanage, ranging from the ages of newborn to 18 years. At both places, tour the facilities and then spend time visiting and interacting with the children. After learning about the countries’ child welfare policies in the classroom, this practicum is designed to give participants the opportunity to observe a child welfare institution and compare it with the handling of child welfare in the United States. You will be provided with interactive materials to aid your interaction with the children. These materials will be donated to the orphanage and to the hospital upon your departure. (The price of this practicum includes a small donation.)

DUB14_MONTENEGRO (0800-1830 Thursday, 09 July) Montenegro is one of the world’s last undiscovered secrets. First mentioned by its original name, Crna Gora, in 1276, Montenegro is believed to have earned its name due to the dark forests that covered Mount Lovcen, such that the mountain appeared black. Such exotic landscapes are not always distant and unapproachable. Only a one-hour drive from Dubrovnik, Montenegro offers an unforgettable experience: exceptional natural beauty combined with rich history and culture. In a land where the mountains descend almost directly into the sea, enjoy the surreal atmosphere of Kotor Bay, situated on southern Europe’s largest fjord. The walled medieval city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the bay area was a common stop for sailors and traders of old. Then proceed toward the mountains to Cetinje, a previous capital of Montenegro which lies at the base of Mount Lovcen. Return to the coast to visit Budva with its enticing combination of coveted beaches, bay islands and cultural heritage. The Old Town lies on a peninsula criss-crossed with narrow streets containing several churches, shops, cafes, and galleries. Please note: This day trip requires a manifest and each participant to carry his/her passport; therefore, participants cannot sell or exchange tickets.

In Croatia we went on the city walls tour.  They are these huge walls surrounding the old town in Dubrovnik, Croatia.  I think the best way to describe it is that it is like the Great Wall of China but way way smaller.  When we entered the old town there was this guy playing all these instruments.  It was really cool (I got a video of it).  After when we went in, poor Mel had a bird poop on her.  She started to freak out and yell and scream and everyone was looking at her.  These two couples who I’m pretty sure weren’t even on SAS started laughing.  Alex and Lauryn and I took out our cameras to take pictures and we were laughing (more because of her reaction).  I gave her my water bottle and she poured water all over her shirt so she was all wet for a while.  It was really hot out, especially up on the walls, so it dried pretty quickly.  The walls were really cool.  You just kept going higher and higher up, but the stairs were kind of counterproductive.  You would go up a bunch of steps, and then go down.  Then you would climb up more, and then go down again.  They surrounded the whole old town so we walked all the way around and came down where we went up.  We got a really nice view of both the town and the water.  The buildings all kind of looked the same from up there.  They were white with orange or yellow and orange pipe things on the roof making it look kind of like corn from the top.  We also passed this one area where people were cliff diving so we watched them jump into the water for a little bit.  When we were leaving Croatia, we saw some professional cliff diver jump from this way way way way high place and do all of these flips on the way down.  Apparently, there was some huge competition the day after we left. 

That night we walked around the old town and got some really good pizza.  We split 2 pizzas so our whole meal each (with drink and tip) was 40 kuna which is $8 so that was nice.

The next day we went to an orphanage and hospital.  We got to play with the kids at the orphanage.  I played with this four year old girl the most.  She was very shy at the beginning but quickly warmed up.  We played with play dough, chalk, and the biggest hit was the bubbles.  The hospital was nice, but the timing wasn’t that great.  We had to split into 2 groups and I was in the second group.  We waiting in the lobby for what was supposed to be 30 minutes, but they went long so we got less time and didn’t get to interact with the kids at all.  Plus people from the other group were playing with the kids in the hall when we were talking with the doctor so it was distracting.  It was really nice to learn about how that part of that hospital works so I could compare it with the one I am working to raise money for back in Massachusetts. 

That night we went out and found this place that we had passed on the city walls tour.  It was this restaurant that is out by the city walls so it overlooks Dubrovnik.  It was really pretty.  A lot of it was lit up in these pink, purple, blue, green colors.  There were tables by the edge and then little couch seats in the middle, and then this private couch and table area further in.  The guy said normally it is really expensive to book but since nobody had reserved it and we were girls he would let us sit there for free.  We didn’t close the curtains so we could still have a nice view out and we sat and relaxed there for a while.

The next day I went on a trip to Montenegro.  It is so beautiful there but we spent so much time on the bus.  It was supposed to be an 11 hour trip, but it ended up being 12 hours and we spent about 9 of those hours on the bus.  When we drove through the boarder, one girl had to get off the bus and go back to the ship because she only had a single entry visa so once she left Croatia she wouldn’t be able to come back in.  This means she could leave to go to Montenegro, but then she wouldn’t be able to get back into Croatia to get back on the ship.  So we drove for a while and would stop every once and a while to get out and take pictures.  It is a very mountainous area so it was really pretty.  We drove up the mountains on these zigzagged roads like the ones in Capri and Anacapri.  The roads to get up the mountain would go up and then turn around and go up more and then turn around again like a bunch of zigzags.  So it took a while to get up to the top.  We would look out the window and think that this is a great picture and take a bunch and then get farther up and think that this is an even better view, etc.  By this point everyone is exhausted and putting us on a bus for that long put most people to sleep for at least part of the trip.  Then we ate lunch and got a little time (I think about an hour) to walk around and do some shopping before we got back on the bus.  On the way home I sat across the isle on the bus from 2 of the kids on the ship (3 yr old and 10 yr old boys) so that was fun.  The 3 yr old was obviously getting antsy by that point but I gave him so paper and Sarah gave him a pen.  He couldn’t reach the table thing that folds down so he tried to draw on his leg and got blue all over and on his face before I gave him my notebook to draw on.  He had the Stone Soup book so I got excited about that.  There were also 3 other kids in the back of the bus so we had some families (family with 4 kids and with 1) on our trip. 

The next day in Croatia we just walked around the old town, did some shopping, and went to this bar that was right on the beach.  It wasn’t exactly a beach because there was no sand.  The whole place was on these rocks by the water.  The tables and umbrellas we on rocks and then some of the rocks were like steps so you could get into the ocean.  Getting down was okay, but it was kind of slippery.  The ocean was beautiful.  When you were in it and looked out it seemed almost fake.  After treading water for a while (very salty water) Lauryn and I got tired and decided to give Alexis and Molly a turn to go swimming so we went to get out.  We had drifted a little bit out by then and we had to swim back against the current so it was really tiring even though we were still pretty close.  We had gone down the “safer” side steps but at this point we were closer to the middle ones and we were too tired to get all the way to the other ones.  Alexis had warned us that because of the waves you need to just climb up or they will keep pushing you against the rocks.  However, when we got to the rocks we tried to hold down and wait for a second with no waves to stand up and climb out because it was really slippery.  Well not only did the waves push us against the rocks, but it also pulled up back into the ocean.  I managed to hold on because there was a little part to put my foot, but as we were climbing up, this lady swam up and yelled at us that we shouldn’t climb up that way if we didn’t know how because we had to come up the other side.  She said something about there being dead people there but I think she just meant that you can get hurt if you aren’t careful.  So we got up and walked back to the table.  I didn’t realize it until they said something but we both got a few scrapes – me more than Lauryn.  Both my knees were all scraped up and I later found out one of my elbows was, too.  Oh well, it’s almost healed now.  Then we just walked around for a little while, got some ice cream, and went back to the ship.  I was walking up to check my email on the ship and I heard a bunch of people cheering so I walked outside and there were a bunch of people on the deck cheering on the people who were running to the dock late.  They were telling them to leave their stuff and swipe their card first and cheering them on.  Then these 2 girls came from the other direction wearing life vests and ran inside.  The staff out there asked them if those were their life vests but they were inside so we don’t know what they said.  As far as we know the only way to the pier by land was from the right and they came from the left so we think they came from the water.  The current theory was via jet skis but that’s just a guess from people.  Later we saw 2 LLCs and the captain drive off with the life vests.

So that was my time in Croatia.  It was very pretty and the water was really nice.  This was the first taste of not really knowing any of the language.  At least in Italy I know a few words and could pick up more pretty quickly, but I didn’t really know any in Croatia besides what was on my green sheet and those were hard to remember.  Today we arrived in Istanbul Turkey, so I’m going to eat lunch and then go to the Grand Bazaar for some shopping before the Sufi Dervish Ceremony.  Next comes Greece updates before I can talk about Turkey though.

From the ship docked at Istanbul, Turkey, Sharon

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