My favorite travel experience was actually quite recent. It was back in July and it was a three week span, in which most of us travelled from Italy, in which we were joined by my dad in Slovenia, and travelled to Croatia, and Bosnia together. The trip was planned like this, me, my best friend Vanessa, my mom and hers, would travel to Italy and stay there for a week. We stayed for a night in Varenna, which we dubbed as as Vareniya (which means jam in Russian) Since Varenna was such a little town, there wasn’t that much to see, so we took a boat to Bellagio.
Bellagio is a relatively pleasant place, that was lined with blossoming trees of colors pink and white. We walked around there for awhile, and decided to take the local boat back (the only local transport that would get us back to Varenna) as we were very jet lagged and tired, as it was only our first day. We got on the boat and were talking excitedly about the days to come. We saw the view of Varenna from a distance and started snapping pictures of the beautiful view… completely oblivious to the fact that we had to get off the boat, and we missed our stop! It took us another hour and a half to get back to Varenna!
We soon left Varenna to visit Lake Como, and decided to take a cable bus to get up to Brunate, where there was an astounding view to the city below. We ate dinner there, at a family restaurant, on the terrace which overlooked a beautiful view of the sunset.
We then drove off to Bergamo and arrived there at two in the morning. After a delicious Brunch, we went for a walk around the small town, stopping in shops every now and then. Vanessa’s mom, Inessa found herself a pretty red sundress, which she now wears very often. After Bergamo, we drove off to Sirmione, where there were Gelaterias on every corner that gave out huuuuuggggge portions of delicious gelato enough for three people. We then visited the city castle. After that, my mom spotted a lemonade stand and bought me and Vanessa some. My mom remarked how delicious her lemonade was, but mine wasn’t really good. It was so sour, it was almost toxic! My mom’s face was hilarious when she tried it! After Sirmione we drove to Verona. Vanessa kept on mixing it up with Varenna and was like: We’re going back? Why? In Verona we were met by a tour guide that showed us around. I was really surprised when she led us into United Colors of Benetton. Who would’ve thought that there were ancient remains in a clothing store? Later that night, we saw Aida, in Verona’s ancient Colosseum. The show was beautiful, but towards the end of the show, there were lightning streaks across the sky and it started to drizzle! (My mom caught a picture of the lightning) The orchestra didn’t want their instruments to get wet, so the show was quickly discontinued. More than half the audience left the show. But I was determined. It was just a light drizzle. The show will go on! Inessa and Vanessa were already prepared to go back to the hotel. I tried convincing them to stay, but they didn’t want to. They didn’t think the show would be continued. I managed to
convince them to stay for fifteen more minutes, but it was still drizzling. When we were about to leave, the drizzle stopped. “THE SHOW IS CONTINUING!” boomed through the loudspeakers. We quickly rushed back into our seats. At the end of the show we were all so happy. It was worth it to stay. The show was beautiful.
We drove on to Padua, where we met another tour guide who showed us around Padua and would show us around Venice the following day. Padua was where
my mom bought me my favorite pair of sunglasses. We looked at quite a few cathedrals. One of them held the tongue of Saint Anthony. Supposedly, when you die, your tongue is supposed to deteriorate, but Saint Anthony’s didn’t. It’s as good as new, what an unlikely phenomenon! Padua was very pleasant and I really liked it there, but it was time to move on to one of my most favorite cities in Italy, Venice. We bought quite a couple of things, looked at some more cathedrals and even had time to ride on a gondola. My mom even promised, one day we could return to do a mask making workshop! Yay! We went to Doge’s Palace.The palace itself is beautiful. Each of the rooms had their own portraits and it made the palace truly beautiful in its own way. My favorite part of the palace, was the bridge of sighs. It was really interesting to walk along and look at the crowd outside taking millions of pictures. (Vanessa and I photobombed quite a few) it was actually very interesting to see how the prisoner lived. Our tour guide, Nonna (our tour guide) told us how Venice always threatened evil doers with imprisonment in the castle. In the end, when they freed all of the , “prisoners”, there was only one! We also took a boat to Burano, and spent almost the whole day there shopping, eating lunch and walking around.
Vanessa and I on the gondola.
The next day we took a bus to Slovenia. Finding the bus was a very difficult because the tickets weren’t very clear. We didn’t know where to find the bus and what it looked like. We ran almost three circles around the whole airport! It was really hot outside too, and our luggage was really heavy. It turned out the bus was not a bus, but a private van. And we made it to Slovenia. Phew. We stayed in Slovenia for two nights and two days, and we met with our excellent and entertaining tour guide, that would drive us around from place to place, from city to city for the rest of the trip.
In Slovenia we visited the Postojna cave. The Postojna cave is a beautiful cave full of stalactites and stalagmites. The view is astounding. My favorite part of the cave was being transported on the train. To get into the cave, you get on the train and it transports you from place to place in the cave like a rollercoaster!
Vanessa and I in the Postojna Caves.
We then visited Predjama Castle, which came with our tickets. Predjama castle is a very special castle. The reason why? It is the only castle built into a cave in the world. Literally. There is a legend, about the castle.It is about this dude named Erazem Lueger. He had murdered a powerful person after a fight, and that person happened to have very powerful relatives. (powerful person = powerful relatives) One of them was a Roman Emperor who wanted Erazem killed. Erazem ran away and hid in the Predjama Castle. The Predjama Castle was just too strong of a fortress for the Emperor’s men to get through. So they devised a plan. They would starve Erazem. But, that did not work, because there were secret passages leading to and from the castle and he was still getting food. Analyzing the castle, the Emperor's men found that the
bathroom was the most dangerous place in the castle, so they waited for Erazem to go to the bathroom, and they killed him. What an interesting legend!
The second day, we just walked around and checked out the Lubljana castle which we didn’t exactly go to. We just looked at the views from high above the city. We also went up on a gondola (type of cable car) just for fun. The next day, we left Slovenia to go to Croatia. Croatia had recently won second place in the 2018 world cup and were still celebrating when we came to Zagreb. The entire city was celebrating and the main statue was draped with the croatian flag.
Statue of Ban Josip Jelacic draped in Croatian Flag
We didn’t do much in Zagreb, we mainly just walked around, though we did visit the Zagreb cathedral. It was very different than the other ones I had seen in Italy. If anything, it was more modern. Unfortunately, we did not have enough time to enjoy Zagreb. After Zagreb, we moved on to Zadar. But before Zadar… we stopped to look at some waterfalls at Plitvice Lakes. It started pouring. We were soaking wet. The waterfalls were not very well protected. There was a lake on one side and a body of rock on the other. In between is a bridge barely wide enough for people to get through. There was no protection at all. Since it was pouring, the waterfall wasn’t very safe, the net of rocks was not protected. Out of nowhere a rock dropped from the mountain. Our tour guide shrieked and fell backwards into the lake. Yowch. We came to Zadar late at night, but the following day, we
climbed up the tower of St.Anastasia and then checked out the sea organ. The sea organ is this weird contraption that makes noise from the wind and sea. It’s honestly a bit creepy, but cool! When we were eating breakfast, there was a fire in the kitchen right in front of us. We missed breakfast because of it and I was very grumpy. After that we went to Split. Split was very fun, because I finally had a chance to swim! I went to the beach with Vanessa right after our arrival. The receptionist dude that showed us our room was hilarious. He showed us how to turn on music in the shower. This is the first time I ever saw a music playing shower! Hehehe. We visited the main cathedral, and checked out the crypt. The religious people believed starving themselves would prove them to god. In the middle of the crypt was St.Giustina. Apparently she had really pretty eyes, and she clawed them out to prove beauty wasn’t everything. We then climbed up another tower, which had a good view of the cathedral. We spent a while taking pictures. Later we went to a Mediterranean restaurant Zoi. The restaurant had a beautiful view on the sunset. The seats were very comfortable, a plush couch full of pillows I almost fell asleep on. The next day we checked out Diocletian's Palace. It wasn’t that interesting, but it had good acoustics. Vanessa and I then left with my dad to the live museum. The live museum was a museum where you can touch and use everything in it. There were a bunch of helmets and weapons to try on. Vanessa and I put some of the helmets on and we looked almost scary!
Vanessa and I in Medieval gear at the Live Museum
Then also had a model of a catapult that we got to shoot! I hit bull’s eye. After the live museum, my dad, Vanessa and I met up with our moms and walked to another museum, where we looked at ancient currency. Most of the coins there were smaller than a penny. Later, we left Split on a boat to go to Hvar, an island. Hvar was supposed to be some time to relax and unwind. Our vacation was becoming hectic and we needed to relax and unwind for a couple of days. We did it in Hvar. In Hvar we climbed up to the island fortress. It was a long and exhausting climb, but it was soooo worth it. A good workout too! We also toured the city and went shopping. For dinner we went to a local restaurant. I ordered calamari and this
is what I got.
It was a pleasant surprise and tasted exceptionally good. Now I know what real calamari taste like. After much relaxation, swimming at the nearby beach, eating and strolling through the island, we were ready to start exploring again. We booked a excursion to the blue cave. First we went swimming near a beach. A lot of boats were parked there, their passengers swimming. The water was so pleasant, and I showed Vanessa how to cannonball. She loved it and jumped off the boat about 15 times. Then we moved on to the Blue Cave. For the Blue Cave you must buy a separate tour. So, I am twelve years old and I do look a little older, and that's a bit unfortunate. For the cave tickets, children’s tickets were up to twelve years of age, so we bought children's tickets. A moment later, the ticket lady approached us and asked us why we bought a children's ticket. “That thing - not a child. You must buy adult ticket.” The lady demanded identification and my dad pulled up a copy of my passport on his phone. My birth date is October 30th and the lady was arguing with us “SHE IS THIRTEEN!” Finally, after explaining to her that the month was July, and my birthday was in October, and I was NOT thirteen, we finally got her to admit that it was totally OK for me to get a children's ticket. Yikes. The price for adults was twice as much than the children, so I’m glad we could prove my age. We waited an hour and a half for the excursion. We got into the boat, and drove into the Blue Cave there were other boats trailing after us. The cave wasn’t very big, and there were already two boats in the cave. The cave was beautiful, but we were in there for less than five minutes. Apparently, the cave gets its color from the reflection in the sun. The cave sort of lost its charm, because the tour guides in the cave were talking over each other. But, I still loved the cave, I just didn’t think the experience was worth waiting for an hour and a half. After the Blue Cave, we stopped for lunch. Lunch was on a little island with a couple if restaurants. Everyone at the table ordered Sea Bass. After lunch, we stopped by a cave we got to swim in.
The cave we went swimming in.
It was my first time swimming in a cave and I loved it. Vanessa did do a couple more cannonballs off the boat, but did not swim in the cave. The cave had really good acoustics and I sang Happy Birthday. After swimming in the cave, we came to our final stop, swimming at a private beach. I went diving and found a hermit crab. We made it a small fort out of rocks and watched it walk around. The awesome excursion slowly came to an end. This excursion was Vanessa’s favorite part of the vacation.
After Hvar, we took a boat back to Split and met up with our tour guide. We stopped in Bosnia along the way. But before Bosnia, we stopped at Omis. The food there was so good. After we ate, we climbed up into a tower, I was wearing flip flops, so it was harder to climb up into it. The most interesting part was that, to get up into the tower, you had to climb a ladder. The castle almost was like an obstacle course. Then we stopped at Pocitelj, where I and my dad climbed up into another tower while Vanessa and the moms sat at a nearby cafe.
Our second, and last stop in Bosnia was Mostar.
Guy ready to jump off of the bridge in Mostar.
The most interesting part of Mostar for me was the main bridge.The bridge connects two parts of the city together over the river. When we were there, there were young guys jumping off the bridge. I witnessed one of these events and was astounded that these people would actually do such a thing.
Dubrovnik was the final stop of our vacation. I swam around Dubrovnik with Vanessa, and the water was really pleasant. We swam around for about an hour. We also went to lunch at an old mill, where they made their own corn flour. The bread was really good. We spent most of our time in Dubrovnik walking around the city. The city itself was very charming and we still had a lot of souvenir shopping to do. We took a boat tour around the city, and we saw an expensive Villa. Apparently many famous celebrities have stayed there before. We also had time to take a walk around Dubrovnik’s walls. The walk was long and tiring. But the view was beautiful and the exhaustion was worth it. We could see the whole city.
The ancient city of Dubrovnik.
The next day we took a tour to an island called Korcula. We stopped at Ston before Korcula. The city was really small and there wasn’t much you could do besides climbing the city walls and checking out some salt mines. We decided to climb the city walls, and I regret that decision.It was a really humid day outside and the climb was long and torturous. I couldn’t take it anymore, so I just sat down in the shade with Vanessa while we waited for my parents to climb the wall. Afterwards we took a boat to Korcula. The island was pleasant and we spent a while walking around the whole island. We climbed on a tower and stopped by a cathedral. We went shopping and Inessa found herself a beautiful coral necklace. Then, it was finally time for lunch. We ate lunch right next to the beach. We had planned to go swimming, but there wasn’t enough time. We were done eating really quickly and my mom told us that we in fact did have enough time to swim. We quickly changed into our swimsuits and went swimming. The beach was very rocky and it was hard to get into the water. There were a lot of people on the beach, and none of them were swimming. That was weird. I tried to get into the water, and I slipped. Right on a sea urchin. It wasn’t as painful as it sounds, just inconvenient. Luckily it was on the last day of vacation. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is where my vacation ends. It was a great vacation and I’ve seen and experienced a lot.