Post PC Trip: Part I 

My post Peace Corps trip had finally arrived. It all became a reality when I crossed the border into Montenegro. The taxi driver shot me a sideways look and immediately told me to put my seat belt on. They actually hand out tickets here, he remarked, followed by a hearty chuckle. I had to shake my head a bit as I stared at the lack of garbage on the ground and the perfectly paved roadway that stretched before me. Good riddance Albania!
My first stop was Kotor, Montenegro. It is a beautiful little city, located on a bay directly off the Adriatic. In the midst of my tapering weeks of marathon training, I arrived at the hostel and set out for one of my last longer runs. Having a set running schedule for traveling can get a little annoying. However, I quickly realized it is the best way to see a new city and get my bearings. Plus, I can think of a lot worse views to run to than this…
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The most scenic thing to do in Kotor, is climb to the top of the nearby hill and stand at the fortress overlooking the whole city. It felt like a thousand steps were involved and unbeknownst to me, it was setting the tone for the rest of my trip. Everywhere I would be visiting, contained “Old Towns” which I now translate to cobblestoned streets with a copious amount of steps. Don’t get me wrong, all of these places are beautiful, but I became quite happy I had spent the last four months marathon training. It came in handy for times other than just race day.
Overlooking the bay of Kotor.

Overlooking the bay of Kotor.

Steps everywhere!!

Steps everywhere!!

Moving on to Croatia the next day, made vacation seem much more realistic. Before leaving America, I had been told the coast of Croatia is one of the most beautiful areas of the world. I am happy to say that it did not disappoint. I spent a total of ten days traveling around to four different cities and four islands.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik, Croatia

The old town of Dubrovnik was quite magical. The cobblestone streets intersected with picturesque alleyways. Most of which were lined with flowerpots, clotheslines and cats sleeping in the sun. It was the perfect city to just walk around and explore.

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The island of Hvar was even more beautiful than I had imagined. It was my first time experiencing the island life and it was a nice break from reality and big city life. Plus, I was there at the ideal time. In July and August, the city is flooded with tourists, putting a crazy vibe on an otherwise relaxing place.

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Kayaking to the Pakleni islands may have been my favorite part of the trip thus far!

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Island hopping tour

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In the midst of my time in Croata, I planned a day trip to the neighboring country of Bosnia & Herzegovina. A bus brought my tour group to Mostar, the capital of Bosnia. A local guide walked us around to see the highlights of the city. In May, it had already reached 90 degrees. Again, I was thankful to not be there in July or August, when temperatures climb to 110 degrees and higher. No thank you!

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The last coastal city I visited was Zadar. They have a beautiful old town, along with numerous parks dotting the town. It is also home to the worlds first pipe organ thats played by the sea.  Thirty five stone steps end in whistles. When the sea pushes air through- depending on the size of the wave- different chords are played. It was beautiful to listen to and also was the perfect place to watch the world renowned sunsets.

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Before leaving Croatia, I made a quick stop at Plitvice Lakes National Park.It is one of the oldest national parks in Southeast Europe and the largest park in Croatia and quite famous for its sixteen lakes arranged in cascades.

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I met some really great fellow Americans on the trip. It made wandering through the park a lot more fun!

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Of course, more steps…

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Waiting at a bus stop in the woods. On to the  capital!

Waiting at a bus stop in the woods. On to the capital!

My last stop in Croatia was the capital city of Zagreb. I have always been partial to the smaller towns and national parks. Which usually means capital cities are not my favorite. However, it was a good resting point before moving on to Slovenia.

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Two and a half weeks into my trip and the biggest thing I noticed was my lousy sense of direction. The amount of time I spend walking around lost in new cities borders on the side of ridiculous. But, I always find my way to where I am going. Plus, some might say that wandering aimlessly is part of the fun!

 

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