Monday Travel Memory: The Sea

Hey all! It’s a sunny Monday and we are officially within the two week mark until we move into our house. After a great weekend, I can’t be anything but excited as we enter this final stretch getting into our home. We’ve been literally displaced for four and a half months now and emotionally displaced for eight and a half. I am so ready to feel settled. Beyond ready. Let’s be real.

For this Monday travel memory, I have a confession to make: I am totally awe-struck by the ocean. Anybody else? My entire life, I have felt this compelling urge drawing me to it. For awhile, I was even considering being a marine biologist and I’m pretty sure it’s because I thought I could play in the water everyday with dolphins or something.

Maybe it’s due to my upbringing in the Midwest; I was far, far away from any coastline and it always felt like this magical, imaginary place that I was lucky enough to see once a year when we would take family trips down to Florida. It was special.

Lake Michigan, while great (get it?), was not the same. It was not enough. And now, I live 90 minutes away from the Pacific Coast here in Oregon. We have gone out to it twice (here and here). Still, when I see signs on the highway pointing to “Ocean Beaches” I can’t help but do a double-take. Oh yeah, it’s right down the road.

As a kid, I loved playing in the sand, collecting shells, chasing crabs. As a teenager, I loved laying out under the sun, listening to TLC and N’Sync refined musical selections on my discman; my skin getting so fried to a crisp tanned that I was unrecognizable. As an adult, I do those things (now with strong SPF), but also just stare out and watch the waves. Feeling small. I know I can only speak for myself, but I tend to have a big personality (probably to make up for my petite size). Sitting and staring out at the ocean, is humbling in a way. You can’t help but feel small.

Pula, Croatia

This photo was taken one early morning on the rocky shores when we road-tripped through Croatia. I think as I age, I become more and more captivated by the sea. I can sit there in total stillness for hours. Mesmerized. So how fitting is this shot? A quiet moment of calm at the insanely gorgeous Croatian coastline near Pula. Wish I could be back there.

xxx

Road trip: Northern Croatia

We are now entering the fast forward section of our two week, ten country road trip (i.e. when we started to cram way too much into the last 5 days). It was Saturday afternoon and we sped to Croatia. Once we were out of Italy, we went old school. As in, we used fold out maps. Our GPS did not have information for the rest of the countries on our trip. And we weren’t about to rack up roaming fees on our iPhones and iPads. Let me tell you something, in an age of dependence on all kinds of electronic devices, it feels really good to manage without. So paper maps. Bring. It. On.

Didn’t get to Pula until nightfall, but again our campsite was gracious enough to let us crash and pay in the morning. (This was a theme throughout our trip.) Since it was dark when we arrived, we couldn’t see much, but camped right on the shore and fell asleep to the sound of crashing waves on the rocks below. Nice! The next day we wandered around Pt Kamenjak, which translates to rocky point and it’s application is quite literal. The area was a huge rocky beach with kayaking, windsurfing, beer shacks outdoor bars and an overall bohemian/hipster vibe that we were really digging. Except that we were a month too late. Everything was closed up for the season. Still, it was a nice place to walk around, if not a little disappointing. We just missed the party.

That afternoon we drove around the (very scenic) coastline, through tiny, pretty villages, stopping in harborfront Crikvenica for a burek lunch, to a small coastal town called Senj. Quickly became obsessed with burek (Croatian pastries filled with cheese, spinach or meat). Camped just outside of town at a site that was right on the water and filled with VW van-driving hippies families. Loved it. The town itself was really quaint, with a waterfront boardwalk and crooked streets. We ended up finding a random pub for dinner where we feasted on local dishes like Ćevapčići (spicy sausages, ražnjići (grilled pork skewers) and frothy Croatian beer. So, so good. Couldn’t even finish it; there was so much food. Don’t worry, a little feline friend (this is the theme of my life) came by and once I dropped a small piece of meat, she ran off, must have brought it to her family and came back for more. I She eventually cleared my plate and I was happy to not let that meat go to waste.

The next day, we headed to Plitvice National Park, a gorgeous area with ever-changing pools, waterfalls and the clearest lake water I have ever seen. So pretty. We spent most of the day there, riding the ferries to different areas and hiking around. Felt good to walk for most of the day after all the driving!

No time to head further south to the most popular destinations like Split or Dubrovnik. Couldn’t even get to the islands. Maybe next time. There will be a next time.

Ahead: Slovenia’s Lake Bled & a hot minute in Austria’s Salzburg…

xxx