The South of Croatia is speechless with its enamoured beauty. Blue is the colour for this country forever. In my previous blog Azul Croatia I covered tit bits about my weekend in Croatia where I explored the National Park of Plitvice and the picturesque city of Zadar with the stony shores and musical architecture. Now on the go we will get to know about the happening and incredible city of Split, with its untouched stretches of pristine beaches, clear skies, cloudy affairs, dreamy atmosphere and its magical nights. A slight coverage on the beautiful coast of Castela, encircled with vintage coffee shops and trees shaped to perfection, wooden corridors to welcome you, stony minarets and Roman style houses. An impromptu visit to Vienna and Salzburg out of the blue, and an hour´s wait at Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, for breaks and refreshment.
Croatia, is a stunner in all its sense. I planned to go to Ultra Europe, the largest musical festival happening this year in Europe in the ultra cool city of Split. A group of three crazy youngsters Mahesh, Praveen and me got going a month before to plan about this holiday.Mahesh was the convincer, initially I was apprehensive, why to go again to the same country was the thought process, but the name and the wavelength of Ultra Europe gave me a different high, it was a bucket list thing to be ticked off. So in the end the convincing triumphed big time, and I agreed to be the only girl like most of the times on this wholly planned guys trip. Never to regret the adventures and the excitement that came along. Tickets were booked, passports were ready, visas were checked, packing started in full swing to take necessary items in emergency, being the organizing freak and emergency conundrum that ticks in my heart, had to make it a point, to keep supplies at bay. So Mahesh landed in Stuttgart on the 14th of July to make a ” Shri Ganesha” to our holiday. Tickets were printed, checked and we set off.
So much confusion was already prevailing but nothing else mattered, we knew where we were heading, we knew that the time of our lives was calling for another refreshing experience. Travel, like I say sets you free into the world, to explore and breath. On our way we halted at Ljubljana, Slovenia, second time for me, we would exit the Schengen region of Europe after this country so a break was necessary. After a whole 8 hours of sleeping and yawning inside the bus, had some Slovenian snacks and croissants with McDonalds Pommes and Burgers to satisfy our tummies. Ljubljana is a quaint town nestled within the mountains, lush green pines and tall trees that surround the valley, terrace garden farms and as you enter the metropolis, the cloudy yet romantic weather does not let you get bored, it is sleepy with such a relaxing tint of calmness because of the greenery, red flowers that bloom all over the garden and pale yellow coloured architecture for most of the buildings, you get that Eastern European feel when you come here, it is very unlike the capitalized Western Europe.
Next we found ourselves encircled within the Croatian mountains, white and rich limestone, fresh as a jasmine would bloom, it looked like snow from afar, the giant cloudy shadows on the mountain rocks made me realize what a beautiful gift of Nature Mother Earth has bestowed upon us, so naive, so giving and so selflessly. The sun´s rays shown in the lakes which were intertwined with mountains and gave the waters a bluish-orange hue that spread its reflection in all horizons making the landscape shine and sparkle with the natural light of the sun, the clouds were still playing hide and seek with the mighty skies. The most hilarious part of the journey in the bus was when Praveen pointed out that these mountains could be the Alps, Mahesh and me burst out laughing at the kid´s innocence or should I call it geographical ignorance born out of the pride of “Bishop Cotton”, funny boy we called him. Well, so the joke ended and our troubles started, we had enough food and water to last us for the rest of our journey, but as fate would have it, what is an experience without turmoil and thunder, so the winds started blowing and howling, the wash room stopped working so frequent breaks for nature´s call started, the driver lost his mind and took some unwanted route through the ghats, an unwanted accident greeted us on our way, some other vehicle had collapsed, so the jam got bigger and bigger..endlessly the route cleared after much adieu, with claps from the passengers and hurrah from the youngsters, well this kind of false hope was generated almost thrice, finally we reached Split at night. Due to erratic rains in Split, the first day show anyway got cancelled thanks to the lady luck with the young lads! ( just saying you know ). Therefore even though we came late, there was not a dearth of thing to lose on the trip, just a little bit here and there.
Our apartment owner was so kind-hearted and generous. He drove all the way from Castela to pick us up at Split. In spite of the internet not working on the phones, we coordinated through SMS and got clues with directions and pick up stops. Please note this guy spoke the least of English in the world, no German or Spanish, one time I felt, shit only if I knew Croatian! So we reached our apartment and what a house it was, like a luxury suite, tables laid down cleanly, kitchen grills sparkled with delight, cups and saucers in their right position, tangs and forks on one side, knives and spoons laid down in one corner, utensils lined up like marching soldiers, a privy closet to keep stuff, soft linen pillows and warm blankets, it was really cosy. The beach of Castela was hardly two minutes away, we already had dinner on our way, so no hunger disturbed us and off we tucked into our bed after a tiresome, long and weird journey through the ghats and tunnels, only to come home to this unexpected comfort. The next morning was refreshing, breakfast was done, we got ready and walked towards the beach. The alleys and corridors we trailed, reminded me of those medieval times, when alleys were so classic, the trip was turning out now simply to be of a vintage kind. There was no extravagance of any sort, just elegance and simplicity even on the stony shore we reached. Tiny little ships and boats floating on the Adriatic, tied to the shore with strong anchors and robust ropes. People were literally chilling out and enjoying the view.
So we trailed and walked for about half an hour, gazing at some star fish and collecting some, sipped our aromatic coffee and got going to Split. We handed over our apartment keys and the owner was so kind enough to come and show us the public transport bus stop in spite of being in a hurry to tidy and prepare the apartment for another guest. This was Apartment Mare at Castela, really friendly and kind people, if you go there, please stay here, hardly 50 Euro per night, with good and clean facilities. In Split the ships were a grandeur, intricately designed and woven by good craftsmen. The sea was blue, the city was sparkling, the hustle-bustle in the city at its epitome, little shopping streets in the main centre, food stalls that spread the aroma of deliciousness and beaches with a panoramic view of the mountains and valleys in Split, each beach in Split has a spectacular view, one of a kind, which etches in your memory forever, swimming in the sea was the best of the whole part, I felt like a free dolphin going ahead those waves against me, floating in the water was also easy, we did not go very deep, so that we could swim back easily to the shore.I got a serious tan and sun bathing was in full bloom on the beach nearby. So after this awesome day at Split we changed and headed to Ultra Europe concert.
The main reason why I came to Split, Ultra Europe. Big bands and DJs from all over the world played ultrasonic music on the stage. It was a worthy replacement to Tomorrowland. It gives you a high even without drinking. I let my soul free to dancing and cheering. The full moon shining in the navy blue sky, vast mountains behind the stage, the waters of the Adriatic splashing at the rocks and the clouds greeting us with each new song. We went into trance mood for a while, only music and us. I closed my eyes and breathed in the fresh musical air. Each beat and tune was absorbed with full attention. I wanted to cry, laugh and run free in the wild, our feelings within are so pure, rare are the times when we generate the energy from within to let them flow, electronic music is loud, but it is trance. It makes you forget and relaxes your senses for a while. The night was young, the people were fun and my friends were mad. This is how I spent my time at the concert, hydrating, eating, dancing, singing and bringing out my bad ass side. At dawn we got going from the concert as it turned cold and returned to Split main area where we urgently needed Wifi. What a fabulous night we had. I had the best latte and some cake for breakfast and we were done with Croatia. We got back our luggage from the lockers and bid goodbye to Split. The adventure was not over. The next trouble started on our way back at night. We had to change our bus in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, (this we came to know later, as it was not mentioned on the bus ticket ). The bus driver seemed to have forgotten we existed and at night took us to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. Tensions erupted, we did not know the language nor any booking centre was seen in the vicinity. I got wild at the driver and ferociously asked him to take us back to the right location. He said he forgot, I mean how can you forget that three passengers are heading to Germany and not Slovakia, after much drama and convincing, he agreed to leave us till Vienna, the capital of Austria, and that is how Austria got a part in my blog.
Though the travel company has now agreed to return our to and fro journey costs from Stuttgart to Split, I truly wish and warn each one, to be careful with Eastern European drivers, they are tricky and lazy. I breathed a sigh of relief because two guys were accompanying me, one hell of a racist experience in Europe. So we reached Vienna in two hours and explored the western part of the city, it was very urbane and quiet, no show off, just simplicity and routine life.Till Salzburg we took the privileged Westbahn of Austria from Vienna and then a bus to Stuttgart. Travelling by air is actually a better option for long distances but how will you get the pleasure of passing so many countries en route and getting to know and experience their real standard of living and the behaviour of the people. I found Salzburg to be a rich and status oriented city. Everybody was helpful. Mostly the mountain view tempted me. Villas lined up in straight lines and lots of greenery at each path, comparatively Vienna had more buildings and was also very hot at the same time. The medieval architecture in Vienna is worth a one time watch. Even from afar, the cathedral looked so charming in this city. The cycle paths were painted green and blue and like always (in Europe mostly) everyone followed traffic rules.
As we reached the last stage of our journey to go back to Stuttgart, mixed emotions lined up, I did not want the adventure to end, I was learning a lot, even without books, about the world and meeting so many new people. But it had to have a happy ending, the rest of the journey was a generic, normal affair, nothing exciting happened. As I reached home that day I felt thankful again and enriched with the four days I spent in the eastern region of Europe. This journey showed me the racist side and bad ass side of Europe, also how to cope up with problems during emergency. I thoroughly enjoyed all the splendid sights and views that I got to watch.
Until next time with Switzerland and Mont Blanc, waiting for this one!
Rucha Sudhir Khot