Over the last three weeks in Istanbul I've become quite familiar with the city and it's slowly beginning to feel like "home." After weeks of exploring, I know where to get a good meal in town, where the best bars are in the area, how to bargain a bit (even though I'm still comically inept at it), and even how to navigate the Grand Bazaar without getting lost. I've wandered across the city numerous times, walking over 10 miles on most days, yet there are still parts of this great city I've yet to explore. There’s just too much to do and not nearly enough time to do it, but thankfully I had some help courtesy of a local friend.
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By now it should come as no surprise when I say that I absolutely love Croatia. It is actually quite remarkable just how much it leaves all other countries I've visited so far in the dust. I’ve honestly never been this surprised by a country before in my life. From Split, I left the mainland for my first island, Brač, located approximately 17 km (~10 miles) off the coast. Since my plans to visit Greece fell through, I’m no longer in any rush to get through Croatia so I figured why not try and spend the last few days of summer exploring the islands. Given my incredible experiences in Zadar and Split, I can’t imagine a better way to spend my time!
Contrary to what you hear in the news, the one word I’d use to describe my time in Lviv is “tranquil.” Even though the city is full of activity, it never once felt stressful like the bustling streets of Manhattan that I'm accustomed to. Moreover, my hostel was full of quiet local Ukrainian travelers instead of boisterous, inebriated vacationers I found through much Europe. People here kept to themselves and few, if any, spoke more than a few words of broken English. Day and night the noise level at the hostel was kept at a minimum and for the first time on my trip it felt like I was in a person’s home rather than a hostel. At first it was refreshing not talk to anyone, but within a few days I was eager to chat, and that’s when it hit me…