A Traveler’s Terrene

You only live once. What are you going to remember the most?

Star Jumping and Toyota Kicking the world! November 14, 2008

Yesterday marked my 9 month anniversary of leaving Seattle to travel around the world!  It was an experience of a lifetime, an epic adventure. I freed the explorer inside me that has been restless since my childhood days when I explored the world in my backyard. I finally had the courage to say to that little voice…go on…PLAY! IMAGINE! CREATE! The world is your playground I told myself, it is a Traveler’s Terrene.

So here I am nine months later with some 50 gigs of photos, unforgettable memories, and a global network of new friends.  I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. From the people I travelled with on different legs of the trip: my older brother “Mohawk Mark” (2 months in New Zealand), college friend and dance extraordinaire Brian (3 weeks in Thailand), my childhood next door neighbor and “Sister Zesma” Suzanne (5 months throughout Southeast Asia, Turkey, Croatia and Italy), my adorable Italian former roommate Ilaria (2 weeks in Milan and a long weekend in England) and the countless backpackers I met along the way where we travelled together for a few days before parting ways (you know who you are…I HEART you…and there are too many too name!)  

At some point I’ll upload a wide selection of photos to Picasa and send a link, but for now, here is a snapshot of my trip as I Star Jumped and Toyota Kicked across the world!

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Croatia: Highlights and Memories October 30, 2008

1. Taking the train from Zagreb to Split, and although the countryside was stunning with scattered colors of golden yellow, sun kissed orange and fire red trees, I was frankly more entertained watching the girl sitting kiddy corner from me sucking her thumb as she dozed off in her seat. Now you are probably, imagining a 3 year old. Maybe even a 5 year old at most. Now, scratch that image out of your head….and imagine a 20-something-year-old sucking her thumb. Yes! 20-something. I could not believe my eyes. So, I did like any normal person would do…and stared until she woke up and caught me looking at her.

2. Unexpectedly witnessing a wedding celebration. Right outside the tourism office, and in front of a grand old church walked the groom and wedding party into the middle of the square where music began to play, an accordion danced in circles, and Croatian flags waved inthe air as the groom was lifted to the groomsmen’s shoulders,  while everyone chanted a song in unison (it sounded almost like a fight song, perhaps the national anthem or maybe their favorite soccer team won and they just found out the score?) In any case, it was a beautiful surprise to see a square full of people happy and living life with gusto.

3. Getting a haircut and for the first time in 7 months and having my hair blow dryed and straightened. You have no idea how much I’d missed my dryer and curling iron, I felt like a whole new person. I actually felt cute for a change!

4. Suzanne and I renting a car and driving down the Dalmatian Coast!  I drove and Suz was the navigator and photographer (as we forgot to put her name on the contract).  It was one of the top highlights of the entire trip. Driving a manual on windy roads along the coast, stopping to take pictures whenever we found a scenic spot, and exploring the little towns nestled around each bend as we made our way to Dubrovnik. There is only one thing that would have made the day more perfect: a convertible.

5. Enjoying the view from a seaside restaurant, with a glass of white wine and Black Risotto, a Croatian delicacy made with risotto and octopus ink. The flavor was amazing, but it does momentarily turn your teeth black!

6. Suz and I dressing up as twins for our epic road trip!  We wore similar hats we bought in Thailand, identical shirts, jeans, bracelets, shoes and rocked our lovely jewelry we were given in Istanbul.

7. Staying at an adorable Croatian woman’s home in Dubrovnik,where she rented out rooms to travellers. She was so kind and sweet, giving us a welcome vodka shot (or some kind of clear liquor) on arrival and pomegranates from her garden for breakfast.

8. Going out to a wine bar with Tony, who was from Australia, and another guest at the woman’s house. He had been staying there for a few weeks and gave us the lowdown on all the not-so-touristy places to check out.

9. Soaking up the last of the summer rays down by the Adriatic Sea.

10.  Meeting Dan and Steven, two other Ozzies, on our walk back into town. Randomly enough, Tony knew Steven from Australia, talk about a small world!

11.  Exploring the Old Fort, taking shadow pictures on the wall, and being given a Croatian Welcome Pack by the gentleman at the door.  It came filled with brochures, dvds, lavender sachets, a key chain and a Croatian handicraft heart. (Poor guys, they weren’t given much love and only Suz and I received these gifts!)

12. Going to dinner, drinks and dancing with our new friends.

13. Walking the city wall at sunset, a wall that wraps entirely around the Old City that was used to protect the city from invaders but now a days, provides the most stunning views of the sea and town.

14. Going to dinner with the Ozzies, while listening to the Orchestra play music in the background.

15. Waving goodbye to beautiful Dubrovnik and boarding a ferry headed towards Bari, Italy!