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If they jumped off a cliff would you?

Sorry mom, but that question started backfiring a long time ago when I cliff jumped for the first time in 2009 and haven’t stopped since!

I have an irrational fear of jumping from small heights so cliff jumping challenges me which I love! BUT since I took a fall down a marble staircase the day before fracturing my toe and receiving a gnarly bruise I opted to just take photos.

One of my favorite bruises of ALL time!

Most of the coastline on the Island of Korcula is not not sandy, it is very rugged and rocky so the thought of climbing back up the rocks barefoot with a bad foot didn’t sound remotely fun to me… such a baby right! (I kinda regret not just sacking up and doing it!)

Where have you been cliff jumping? Do you stand in terror or jump straight off without a second thought?

Highlights of Zadar, Croatia

To see previous City Spotlights here

It is hard not to draw similarities between Zadar and Dubrovnik, with its ubiquitous red roofs and tall stone gate.  Unique to Zadar, though, is the striking juxtaposition of medieval churches, roman ruins, and utilitarian buildings erected in the Communist Era.

One of our major reasons for stopping by Zadar was to experience the famous Sea Organ.  We enjoyed a panoramic view of the water as we walked the long sea-side path toward the instrument, not sure what to expect.  As we neared the place, we began to hear the music.  It was unlike anything I’d heard before… sort of ethereal… it reminded me of whale calls in a way.  As the tide lapped and danced over the underwater pipes, a calming and constant music filled the air and made you want to pause to listen.  Lucky for us, the stars aligned that day; with no particular planning on our part, our visit to the organ coincided with a gorgeous sunset over the water.  So we sat for some time on the wide steps along with other onlookers to enjoy both at the same time.  A truly fantastic experience.

After the sun set, we shifted our attention to the Sun Salutation, another must-see spot a short distance from the organ.  Still listening to the backdrop of that organic music, we were greeted by a very different variety of light show.  Walking over the display feels a bit like being part of a giant circuit board and a bit like a techno dance club.  It’s actually a giant solar panel and in addition to powering its own funky display, it provides electricity for all the nighttime lighting along the seafront.

Both the Sea Organ and Sun Salutation were designed by Nikola Bašić and are worth a trip to Zadar!  But that’s not all the town has to offer.  Next up was the Museum of Ancient Glass.  The vast array of glass specimines from ancient times is really worth a visit.  They have everything from the tiniest delicate vial, used for storing a few drops of precious perfume for special occasions to large glass vessels used for burying the remains of loved ones.  The varied hues of ancient glass are also explained in detail: which readily available substances as well as more rare minerals could be added to change its final color.

The top floor of the museum was a surprise for us: it’s home to a very current glass blowing shop.  From behind a large glass window, you can peer in and watch artisans twirling globs of glowing fiery-orange molten glass at the end of long hollow tubes.  It’s fascinating to watch the processes for making different shapes from the molten blob.  Some are blown breath by breath into great rounded orbs and then fashioned carefully into vases with a graceful tapering neck.  The neck is scored with a sharp metal instrument and then broken to free it from the stick and filed smooth.  Others are twisted into snake-like candle sticks and still others are lowered into a boxy mold and mouth-blown just enough to press the sides up against the box from the inside for square-shaped vessels.  Some pieces were plunged, steaming into water baths to cool quickly and others were partially reheated in the furnace to make them malleable for further design work.  This was actually my favorite part of the museum: it satisfied a curiosity I’ve always had for how ancient peoples without modern machinery went about this art form.

St. Donatus Church is interesting in that it’s actually built on the remains of an old Roman building and you can see the ancient columns poking out around the foundations of the new structure.  I’m not sure if it’s a permanent display inside the church, but when we were there, it was basically a cacophonous noise box.  Myriad noise-making devices in the guise of modern art were sounding simultaneously for a sure-fire headache.  If you hear the tell-tale gonging, I’d recommend visiting the outside of the building only and saving yourself the ticket price!

Have you been? What were your favorite things to do in Zadar, Croatia?

What to do with 3 Months in Europe

My first piece of advice is not to blink! The moment you do.. POOF it’s over and you’re loading back onto a plane to take you far away. I left for my European adventure on July 15th and 99 days later I am boarding a plane for South Korea where I will spend the next year teaching English.

I had grand ideas of how much I was going to write and imagined that I could stay current on my blog during my travels (I’m such a foolish girl!) and unless you are very new to the journey then you know that I have in fact not been up to date. Between the laughter and late night rounds between new friends I slowly got further and further behind, I think that is how I knew I was doing something right! Before I leave one grand adventure for another entirely different adventure I will recap where the hell I have been these past 3 months.

My three month route backpacking through Europe by train

For stories about any of the specific destinations below just click on the photo, and be sure to check back often as I continue to dig through the mountains of photos and try to recall all my crazy adventures!

 

This page will be updated as I get further into writing about my 3 months backpacking through Europe, in the mean time if you have any questions about how to plan for your own trip to Europe please don’t hesitate to contact me

How to Travel for Free

I had 4 years to prepare for the day I would leave home to travel & accumulated a long list of tips and advice to make the most out of my experience one of the best websites I discovered was Workaway.com.

What is workaway?

Simply put, you exchange 5 hours of work for room and board. Easy peasy!

Boarding the Ferry from Split, Croatia to the Island of Korcula

I’d only been traveling for 3 weeks at this point and I’d just given away my wallet, camera and phone, plus a 100 Euro fine for violating Austrian law the week before so I needed to be extra careful with my money while finding a location that appealed to me.

I signed up at a hostel on the Island of Korcula on Workaway.com where I would help with guests, clean and do A LOT of laundry, more laundry than I have ever done in my life but it was worth it for a free stay on a gorgeous island.

Each Workaway experience is different but on my typical day I woke up around 8, ate breakfast with the other workawayers and then we dove into stripping the beds, collecting garbage, sweeping & mopping, cleaning the bathrooms and re-making the beds. In total there were 6 private rooms and 20 dorm beds with at least half the people leaving each day.

The dorm room beds

On an island with so much sunshine you don’t need a dryer, the sun rays dry the sheets in no time although we were constantly collecting, washing, hanging, folding to keep the beds ready for arriving guests. This experience gave me a lot of insight into the business of running a hostel, I learned what doesn’t work, like owning a hostel but hating tourists and what does work, getting free labor in exchange for a place to sleep.

Drying in the sun while the ocean beckons

It may seem like cruel punishment to be in paradise and have to work but we had plenty of time to play on the island. We went cliff jumping, one night we nearly got arrested and we enjoyed a lot of laughter around the dinner table forging lifelong friendships.

Korcula has a great night life!

 Is Workaway Right for You?

There are personalities that do well with Workaway and there are some that just don’t.

Is Workaway right for you? Answer some of these questions to find out!

 

~Do you have an easy going personality that can adapt with your surroundings and circumstances?

~Can you stand up for yourself and know if someone is trying to take advantage of you?

~ When a challenge comes your way do you welcome it as a learning experience and not as a sign of doubt and regret?

~ Can you the good out of any situation even if it’s not what you were expecting?

~ Do you like to learn new skills and experience different ways people live?

 

If you answered yes to these questions (or at least most of them) then I think you could have a lot to gain from Workingaway. If you answered no to most of these questions then it isn’t something I would personally recommend.

Have you already tried Workaway? Tell us about it in the comments!

Lets Get Arrested in Croatia Shall We?

It started as an innocent adventure to cook dinner on the beach in Korcula

Walking to the Beach for our flame cooked dinner

We packed up chicken, veggie skewers and beer, slipped on our flip flops and wandered towards the beach, hardly the sort to find themselves surrounded by policemen and getting handcuffed right?

Luckily I took a photo as the last hint of daylight fell behind the mountains knowing that I wanted to tell all of you about my first dinner cooked on a beach. I’m from Utah, a landlocked state so pretty much anything including a beach is a novelty for me. Little did I know that in about 3 minutes a police boat would come to shore demanding passports.

 

One officer stayed in the boat while another questioned our motives.

“We just want to cook our dinner on the beach.”

“Passports!”

“We don’t have them, they’re at our hostel.”

“Documentation? Passports?”

“We don’t have them, we left them at our hostel!”

This went back and forth until the officer reluctantly agreed to let us stay after we promised to be careful and keep the fire low, he climbed back into the patrol boat and we continued to prepare our food and getting ready to put the coals on.

Suddenly we were surrounded! Not just by policemen, oh no, they came with a few firemen in tow! They came out of the bushes behind us with vengeance yelling furiously making jesters implying that we were stupid. None of us could understand why they were so angry or why we seemed so stupid but I think I heard the word gasoline thrown around a few times so maybe there was some threat of us starting a huge fire?

We thought the first policeman was persistent about passports but compared to the second round of interrogations he was just a big ole’ teddy bear!

 

“Passports. Documentation.”

“We don’t have them, they’re at our hostel”

 

 “Passports! Documentation!”

“We don’t have them! They’re at our hostel!” 

 

“PASSPORTS! DOCUMENTATION!”

“WE DON”T HAVE THEM! THEY’RE AT OUR HOSTEL!”

 

He was doing his job (not professionally by any means) but no matter how many times he asked or how badly he wanted our passports and documentation we simply did not have them.

This is where the handcuffs came in. He yanked one of our friends off his seat and whipped out his handcuffs and this is when the rest of us jump up and yank our friend back. There is no way this simple misunderstanding was going to land any or all of us in jail for the night and this cop was delirious if he thought we were going down without a fight!

I’m pretty sure he thought the threat of being handcuffed would magically produce our passports but alas it didn’t.

After a few minutes of arguing between the cops, firefighters and our group they let us pack up our things and escorted us of the beach and out onto the main road while they watched us disappear into the night.

We were a little shaken up and with our blood pumping through we vented our frustrations on the walk back and just loaded the chicken and skewers on the barbecue at our hostel and didn’t let it ruin our night!

Our delicious dinner, no one was going to get us down!