If I haven’t stressed this enough through my myriad of posts thus far, permit me to reiterate once more: the only way to travel is without a schedule. I’ve taken trips in the past where I planned every activity down to the hour, but the single greatest aspect of traveling for a year is learning how to genuinely wander - I have absolutely no schedule and no place to be other than where I am right now. I've yet to experience a greater joy on this trip than to spontaneously change my mind at the last minute. Hvar is such an incredible city; simply lounging around town on the beaches, park benches, and in the various cafes is an unbelievable experience and I couldn’t bare to part ways with it. I really didn’t want to leave…
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As much as I love Hvar, what made the experience for me were the wonderful people I met in town and the stellar hostels I stayed at. The first hostel, called Helvetia Hostel, I would highly recommend in a heartbeat to any backpacker making their way through Hvar. The building is located right in the middle of the old town, family owned and operated, and has one of the greatest patios I've ever seen in my life! If I ever won the lottery, I would happily spend the entirety of my winnings on an old house like this here in Hvar without hesitation.
Since arriving in Croatia, I've actively pushed myself to not hold expectations for any upcoming cities. So far it hasn't been an issue, but I never want to arrive in a beautiful place and be disappointed that it isn't as gorgeous as the city I just came from. When I boarded my ferry from Bol to Hvar, I went through the motions of trying to remove my expectations and prepared myself mentally for Hvar. I figured by now I was well overdue for a disappointment since every single city I've visited so far is nothing short of extraordinary. Surely every city I visit in Croatia can’t be incredible, there must be a "dud" somewhere. Fortunately, this is not the case for Hvar. It is an absolutely beautiful gem of a city that completely blew me away - Croatia is still bowling a perfect game in my book.
I'm happy to report last night was my first completely issue-free camping experience - no rain, no wind, and no lightening! Unlike my last night outdoors, it was a perfectly quiet evening. The only thing I didn't account for was the lower temperatures thanks to the higher elevation, but I just layered up and everything was fine. I woke up naturally at 6:00 am the following morning and took the long way around to Bol by hiking up the nearby Mount St. Vid. Standing at 778 meters (~2,500 feet), the peak, Vidova Gora, is not only the highest peak on Brač, but also highest island point in the entire Adriatic. The trek was exhausting especially considering I spent over five hours hiking uphill the day before, but it was completely worth it.
Ladies and gentlemen, I must announce today that I have a new all-time favorite country and city in the world. For months Marseille held the crown as my favorite city of this trip so far, but Split now takes the #1 spot while Germany now ranks behind Croatia as my favorite country. I absolutely love everything about Split and I could easily spend weeks of my life in this great city without even a second thought. Unfortunately, since there are only so many days left of “summer” (even though it’s technically October) I have to leave this wonderful city so I can visit the much-hyped Croatian islands before winter sets in. I've seen only a fraction of this great country, but I can already tell you I will be back in my lifetime. It might not be next year, or the one after, but as long as I'm still alive, I'm coming back to Croatia
My god how I've missed the southern coast of Europe and the fantastic Mediterranean weather! While I'm technically on the coast of the Adriatic Sea, I feel I've returned home to the beautiful havens of Lagos, Ibiza and Marseille from the first part of my trip. Over the last few months I've traveled through many northern European countries and I'd forgotten how much I longed for this kind of weather until I arrived in Zadar. This city is a remarkable breath of sensational, salty-sweet fresh air and if my first few hours in Zadar are any indication, my time in Croatia is going to be absolutely spectacular!
Within hours of arriving into Zagreb, I noticed a significant difference in my mood as compared to when I was in Lviv. Although I had less than four hours of sleep back in Budapest and the weather in Zagreb was just a bright and sunny as I remember in Lviv, I was remarkably cheerful. It was a strange feeling that I couldn't quite put my finger on, but I couldn't stop smiling. I strolled through through Zrinjevac Park in the middle of downtown Zagreb for a half-hour before it finally dawned on me why I was in such a positive disposition - the people here are smiling! They seem so much happier than in Lviv! Even after three weeks of traveling through Ukraine, I still can’t get over how ingrained the simple act of smiling is in my life and how significantly it effects my mood.
Since this blog’s inception, I've made it a point to write every entry from my perspective at the time when the events/adventures occurred. Even though these entries are now many, many months behind their respective dates, I always try to stay true to the moment even it means stating things I know do not occur in the future. Initially, this long turnaround rate was a severe thorn in my side, but I’ve come to appreciate the delay in publishing my stories to the public domain as it gives me the chance to personally relive the tales as well edit for content or length. Now that I’ve finally reached my trip to Dublin though, I find myself in a bit of a quandary and feel it necessary to break from tradition.
After spending the previous day enjoying the serene landscape of Bern , I woke up with the insatiable urge to go hiking. Growing up, I was never particularly fond of “the great outdoors," but after a few years of living in Manhattan, I craved the occasional escape from the concrete jungle. Once I experienced the joys of hiking and camping, I couldn't ever seem to get enough. Since no trip to Switzerland would be complete without at least one hiking trip into the Alps, the decision was obvious.
This day and age people tend to put a great deal of emphasis on their 25th birthday. On this momentous occasion, us so-called ‘millennials’ take a moment to reflect on our lives and - based on the countless Facebook postings I’ve seen - go through a complete mental breakdown. They realize they are in a terrible job, working all the time, have no relationships on the horizon, can’t seem to get their life together, and the pressure is compounded by the looming “tick-tock” of youth slowly slipping through their fingers.