Country #84 - Croatia Day 2

The Diocletian Palace

It was a rainy night so I got a really great night of sleep. My day in Split, Croatia started off about as good as it could get - as the other guests were checking out very early in the morning I was brought breakfast to my room! I had a very tasty omelette and fruit plate that I was able to eat in my incredible room at Hotel Vestibul Palace. After getting ready I made my way out to explore the city, which I was quite literally (as in my room shared a wall with Diocletian's Palace) right in the middle of.

My first stop was the area of right outside of the hotel. The heart of Diocletian's Palace, it had attractions including the Cattedrale di San Domino, the bell tower, and the mausoleum. The bell tower was my favorite part as it offered some great views of the city and the coastline. From there I made my way to the basement area of Diocletian's Palace that runs basically right under my hotel. There was a small admission fee and then I was able to walk around all of the underground tunnels. It was very cool to see something so old still in such great shape. While it was just the basement it was interesting to imagine the palace above, as the layout of the basement directly mimicked that of the now mostly lost main floor.

After walking around for a bit I then walked up Dioklecijanova ulica street and rubbed the toe of the famous Grgur Ninski statue. It was getting cold out so I decided to make my next stop the Split Gallery of Fine Arts. It was such a great museum! It was not huge but had art ranging from all periods that was distinctly Croatian. I spent a good bit of time enjoying the exhibitions before heading to visit Froggyland, a bizarre tourist trip with great reviews. However, I ran into my only seasonal closure of the day as Froggyland was closed for the winter! Next time, I guess!

After the failed Froggyland adventure I made a few quick stops, including Konoba Pjaca (the city clock) in Narodni trg (square). I then walked along the water, in an area called Riva, and also stopped by a really unique square called Terasa Prokurative. I then walked a little farther along the water to eat a tasty pizza at a really cool restaurant called Pizzeria Bokamorra. The interior was amazing and made the great pizza experience even better!

After finishing up dinner I headed back to Hotel Vestibul Palace to get a good night’s sleep before an early morning bus ride. I had a really perfect day in Split. The city is amazingly historic and just so unique, and I had it almost entirely to myself thanks to it being January. I definitely recommend a visit to this super unique spot. Tomorrow I’ll be heading to Bosnia and starting my adventure through the Baltic countries!

84 countries down, 113 to go.

For more information on Croatia click here to read my guide.

To learn more about Hotel Vestibul Palace click here.

Country #84 - Croatia Day 1

The Planning Day

I woke up early this morning and decided to take the early morning train to Zagreb instead of the afternoon time. I wish there had been a time in the middle but oh well! I checked out of the lovely Antiq Palace Hotel and bid farewell to the great front desk staff. I rushed to make my train and made it to the station with a few minutes to spare. The train ride was just beautiful. Almost the entire ride was along a rushing, freezing river and much of it was also through stunning mountains. There was a passport check on the train (where you get stamps and everything) at the stop closest to the Croatia border, but it did not take very long at all.

I arrived in Zagreb mid-morning and took an Uber to my hotel, DoubleTree by Hilton Zagreb. It did not take long to get there from the train station at all, and the hotel was amazing! I was greeted at check-in (where I was given a warm DoubleTree welcome cookie) and then headed up to my room. It was so nice, modern, and had the best view! The floor to ceiling windows and the nice sitting area made for the perfect day to work on planning my trip. Thank you so much to DoubleTree by Hilton Zagreb for sponsoring this night of my trip.

It was a very rainy day as well, and since I will have all day in Zagreb tomorrow taking the day off was definitely the right decision. I worked all day and ordered a yummy dinner from room service before going to sleep incredibly early, around 7pm. I’m still very jet lagged so hopefully getting a great night of sleep tonight will help!

The Broken Relationships

After another good night’s sleep I woke up really early again and worked for a bit before getting ready for my day in Zagreb. Snow had fallen overnight and it looked really pretty from my great view. I had a great buffet breakfast at DoubleTree by Hilton Zagreb before heading out for the day. At checkout I was gifted a very sweet keepsake heart from Zagreb and even offered a goodbye cookie (which I amazingly declined due to being so full from breakfast). Public transit was not hard to figure out in Zagreb but I decided to stick to Uber due to the rain and low prices in Croatia.

I headed to the Upper Town area of town, which, as the name implies, is higher up than the rest of the city. My first stop was St. Mark’s Church which wasn’t open but had a really unique roof. From there I easily covered the rest of the ground in the Upper Town area as it was not very large. My stops included the Stone Gate (a gate with religious importance), Lotrščak Tower, and a walking area called Strossmayerovo šetalište before visiting two museums in this area. The first was the Croatian Museum of Naïve Art. It was very small but definitely worth the miniscule cost of admission to get a great overview of Croatian art! My other museum visit was quite unlike anything I have ever visited before. The Museum of Broken Relationships was one of the most interesting, and definitely most unique, museums that I’ve seen!

Basically, the museum is made up of artifacts and mementos from past failed relationships, along with a short note on the relationship from the person who donated the item. It was quite a rollercoaster of emotions to read them all: some were quite funny and others were obviously very sad. It was overall such an interesting concept and is the original iteration of this museum - it has since been exhibited all over the world! Another plus was the sweet puppy that the museum was looking after for the day named Lola. She was adorable!

After a great and engaging visit, I then headed to the Lower Town area of town, just a quick walk from Upper Town through the Stone Gate. I walked through the Dolac Square to Ban Josip Jelačić Square. My last stop was to visit Cathedral of Zagreb, which was really stunning. I ate at a great little burger place called Otto & Frank before walking up Ulica Ivana Tkalčića street to take an Uber back to the hotel. At the hotel, I had a few hours until the late night flight that I used to work a bit more. I then headed to the airport for my very short flight to Split, Croatia!

Split has been near the top of my list of places to visit for a few years, and I’m so glad to finally be going. Upon my arrival, I took the bus from the airport to the bus terminal near the Old Town. I met Tomislas from Hotel Vestibul Palace. who walked me to the hotel as certain parts of the city are closed off at night so it would have been a bit difficult to find so late at night on my own. It was a very short walk before I was shown to my room which was incredible!

Basically, Split is centered around Diocletian's Palace, and the wall of my hotel room actually shared a wall with part of the palace (the vestibule area, to be exact)! It was amazing and definitely one of the most unique rooms that I have stayed in throughout my trip. Everything about my room was so nice as well, and the location couldn’t be beat. Thank you so much to Hotel Vestibul Palace for sponsoring these night of my trip! I didn’t have time to really eat dinner tonight, so the lovely fruit basket in my room was also much appreciated. After facetiming with my parents to show them how cool it was I was ready for a great night’s sleep before learning more about Diocletian's Palace and Split tomorrow!

84 countries down, 113 to go.

For more information on Croatia click here to read my guide.

To learn more about DoubleTree by Hilton Zagreb click here.

To learn more about Hotel Vestibul Palace click here.

Country #83 - Slovenia

The Pink Church

I had a great night of sleep thank goodness! I slept from about 7pm to 8am and it was amazing and so needed. I then had a nice breakfast at Hotel B&B Graz (you scan your keycard to enter the breakfast area which was pretty cool) before heading to catch my train to Ljubljana, Slovenia. I had a compartment all to myself for the four-hour train ride.

I arrived in Ljubljana around 3pm to find that the service on my phone was no longer working so I had to take a cab to my hotel as I couldn’t pull up directions. Note to self: never take a cab in Slovenia! It is basically a monopoly and I was charged 12 euros for a five-minute ride. Uber is not allowed in Slovenia and it’s really no wonder why: the taxis would be out of business in a second! It was insane but I didn’t really have another option. When I got to my hotel, Antiq Palace Hotel & Spa, I was able to use the wifi to find that T-Mobile was having a global roaming service outage, so it definitely was not just me. The good news was that Ljubljana was so small that I would be able to walk everywhere and wouldn’t need directions.

Speaking of Antiq Palace Hotel, it was absolutely amazing! Thank you so much to Antiq Palace for sponsoring this night of my trip. I was greeted with such enthusiasm at the centrally located stunning hotel. The building itself was so cool and had a definite antique feel while being very luxurious at the same time. My room was just incredible: I had a huge living room, kitchenette, and giant bedroom with a king-sized bed. I couldn’t believe it when I walked in! I was also greeted with a plate of fruit which was quite refreshing.

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After figuring out my plans for the day (since I couldn’t on the train due to the lack of service) I headed out to see the town! Luckily Antiq Palace Hotel was right in the center of the Old Town, and no more than a five-minute walk from anything that I wanted to see. I started my visit by walking along the water to perhaps the most well-known spot in town, Preseren Square. Preseren Square sits between the Triple Bridge and the Franciscan Church of the Annunciation. The Triple Bridge was really unique because, as the name implies, there are three walkways on it. The Franciscan Church was beautiful but the best part was its one of a kind pink facade.

My next stop was to walk along the water past two more bridges - Butcher’s Bridge (known for its many locks) and Dragon Bridge (known for its giant dragon statues). From there I took the funicular up to Ljubljana Castle. The castle sits overlooking the city and has sat there for over 500 years. It is beautiful from below and I was thoroughly enjoyed walking around the castle grounds. There is a small museum on Slovenian history and you are also able to climb to the top of the tower to look out on Ljubljana. If it hadn’t been dark you can apparently see up to a third of Slovenia on a clear day!

After walking around the castle I took the funicular back down and then made my way to eat dinner at ROBBA. It’s a really cool spot that serves traditional Slovenian food but also had a very modern feel. I had the chicken fillet Ljubljana style (filled with cheese and ham) served with mashed potatoes. It was fantastic and also tasted quite similar to chicken cordon bleu. After dinner, I walked past a square known as Town Square and along Stari trg road and then crossed the water to head back to Antiq Palace Hotel. The jet lag and lack of sleep for two days was still getting to me so I went to sleep really early again! It was a great day in Slovenia and I really enjoyed walking around the small but beautiful Ljubljana. I’m looking forward to three days in Croatia starting tomorrow!

83 countries down, 114 to go.

For more information on Slovenia click here to read my guide.

To learn more about Antiq Palace Hotel & Spa click here.

Country #82 - Austria

The Hauptplatz

I arrived in Austria around 4pm and headed straight from the train station to my first hotel of the trip, Hotel B&B Graz. I’m so excited to sleep in a real bed tonight you don’t even know! Hotel B&B Graz was only a five-minute walk from the train station which I really appreciated. When I arrived I was greeted so warmly! I had my picture taken checking in and in front of the Hotel B&B Graz sign. Everyone was so welcoming and I really appreciated the warm welcome! Thank you so much to Hotel B&B Graz for sponsoring this night of my trip. After receiving my key card I was so tempted to literally just collapse into my bed, but after realizing how late it already was and that there was a chance of rain later I toughed it out and headed back out to see Graz!

It was about a ten-minute walk from Hotel B&B Graz to the city center. My first stop was Kunsthaus. Kunsthaus was such a cool building! Its design was incredible and it also lit up at night in different patterns which was so cool. The inside was neat as well, but unfortunately, the exhibit hall was already closed for the night so I just visited the museum store instead. From here I walked over to see Murinsel, which is basically a man-made island in the middle of the Mur River that, once again, had such a cool design!

My next stop was to walk past the Clock Tower that sits on top of the hill (I was way too tired to climb up it) and then I headed into the heart of the Old Town. I walked past The Hauptplatz which was the main square in the center of the town, and from there I headed inside of Kastner + Ohler, the big designer department store in Graz, to warm up! It was really pretty inside and made for a great pit stop on my walk through the Old Town. From there I walked up Sporgasse, the main Old Town street, which very picturesque. My last stop was to walk by the Glockenspiel. I was not about to wait outside for over thirty minutes in below freezing weather to see the Glockenspiel actually run, but it was a beautiful building!

I walked back to The Hauptplatz where I grabbed a burger to go from a food stall and then headed back toHotel B&B Graz. I was very glad to finally be headed to get a good night’s sleep! I ate the burger very quickly and literally just fell into the bed at 7pm. I haven’t been that tired in a while, but at least I was able to get a ton of sleep tonight!

82 countries down, 115 to go.

For more information on Austria click here to read my guide.

To learn more about Hotel B&B Graz click here.

Country #81 - Slovakia

The F*** is Bratislava?

It’s safe to say that by this point I was thoroughly exhausted. I slept a few hours on the plane, a few hours on the train, and now I had a whole day and two countries ahead of me. I’ve been to Bratislava, Slovakia before so I had some idea of what to expect and was looking forward to a relaxing day in the small capital city. I arrived around 6am, though, so nothing was open and I sat in the train station for two hours before heading to go eat breakfast.

I ate at a quaint cafe called Mondeiu. I had some really unique but tasty french toast that was topped with bacon and a fried egg. I also had liquid chocolate (like you get in Spain) that was fantastic and filled with berries. After breakfast, I walked by St. Martin’s Cathedral and then walked up to Michael’s Gate. I was basically hitting a few of the high points in one fell swoop!

From there I walked over to Old Town Hall. I didn’t go inside this time as I have been in before, but I highly recommend it as I learned a lot and it’s very well done! My next stop was across the street, the tourist information center. I got my Slovakia signatures here, and the two women working inside were so nice! They even offered me a free spot on the city tour but unfortunately, I would already be on the train out of town before then.

I had a little time to spare at this point so I headed into a cool spot called Urban House where I sat in a comfy chair and drank some tasty apple juice for an hour. My last stop of the day was a store called Kompot, which is known for their unique t-shirt designs. My (and my parents) favorite is the “Where the F*** is Bratislava” design. We literally have a magnet on our refrigerator at home with that on it from my last trip, and I have a button as well! You can’t help at laugh at their self-imposed humor of no one really knowing where their city is. I love it and made sure to stop back by the cool little store that thought of it!

After finishing my whirlwind tour of the city I took an Uber back to the train station where I then took my next train to Vienna (also known as Wien if you are ever travelling about in Europe). I would only be changing trains in Vienna, but I’m excited to be heading to Graz, Austria!

81 countries down, 116 to go.

For more information on Slovakia click here to read my guide.