Week 34 – 35: The Last of Croatia (Dubrovnik, Hvar, Split)

The last couple of weeks in Split were pretty chill. Work was keeping me busy with prepping for an upcoming team-building session in NYC, Split was getting to be fully shut down by this point, and a slight winter chill could be felt in the evenings. I spent time working by the seaside cafes in Split, trying to soak up sun, having casual coffees and dinners with Remotes, and hanging at home.

Dubrovnik (a.k.a. King’s Landing)

Over the weekend, my Remote friend Melissa and I decided to make an impromptu trip to Dubrovnik and Hvar.

We took a bus down the coast to the medieval town most recently famous for being the inspiration (and film location) behind Game of Thrones’ King’s Landing. It was a beautiful coastline ride that took us through Bosnia again (you can’t travel between Split & Dubrovnik by car without going through Bosnia for ~20 minutes in the only place where the otherwise landlocked country meets the Adriatic Sea).

We arrived to town, walked over a moat and a thousand tourists, passed through what seemed to be castle doors, and made our way down cobblestone lanes to our Airbnb with windows facing the Dubrovnik port. I quickly bonded with our hostess, who turns out was recommended in Rick Steves’ Croatia guidebook (and I don’t need to mention again how much I love Rick Steves), and we went in search of lunch.

We ate delicious Croatian-Malaysian fusion (I know, odd, especially since Malaysia is our next stop) at Azur, and went back to our Airbnb to continue working for the afternoon. Nothing beats working to the sounds of the port coming through the open window the last rays of light setting over a UNESCO World Heritage site.

That evening, we met up with some other Remotes – we kept running into them all weekend – for dinner. We had some wine, people-watched in the main plaza of Old Town, and turned in for an early night.

The next day, we set out on a Rick Steves self-guided tour of Old Town. One of the coolest things about Dubrovnik is you can walk atop the city walls that encircle the fortress, seeing most of the city from above and enjoying amazing views of the Adriatic. Dubrovnik is unique in that it has been independent for centuries and was very-well protected from invaders. It even rivaled the Venetian Empire for maritime control in the Mediterranean. (One of the less-cool things is that it’s quite touristy, even during shoulder season.)

Dubrovnik’s walls have held the city for centuries, and it wasn’t until the Siege of Dubrovnik during the Yugoslav wars of the ‘90s that the city saw major damage – but still withstood. We’re lucky it did; Dubrovnik is a sight to behold.

Hvar

We took the ferry to the island of Hvar, one of the largest islands near Split. Known for vineyards and lavender fields, Hvar is also a favorite destination of celebrities on vacation… in the summer.

Our experience in Hvar was rainy, chilly, and pretty desolate. There was some excitement over a regatta that was happening (sailboat racing, as I learned), but other than that, Hvar Town was shut down. We stayed in a lovely Airbnb high up on a hill, with great views of the island (but lots of huffing and puffing up steps), ate a delicious group dinner at Macondo , strolled around the town/port the next day, and hung out at a chill rooftop bar waiting for our ferry, reading, and drinking rosé.

I’d love to come back one day and see Hvar in its prime – open shops and cafés, vineyard tours, people enjoying island life…

Last Week in Split (And Europe!)

Ok, so it wasn’t Remote Year’s last week in Split, but it was mine. I was heading to NY for a week before starting the last leg of our trip in Asia.

Amidst feelings of “I can’t believe I only have 4 months left,” “I can’t believe I’m going home,” and “I’m so excited to see everyone!,” I managed to have some memorable last experiences.

  • We got a puppy! Remote Year fostered a puppy for a couple of weeks. His name is Winston and he is the sweetest dog. He loves to be played with all the time, and starts barking if left alone too long. We actually had a fundraiser for him at a local bar in town, and he ended up getting adopted before we left Split!
  • We had our second re:work meeting, during which Melissa took us through some ideas for tracking goals via Trello, which was a cool way to use technology. Again, I was happy that people showed up and continued to find value in our meetings/community within a community.
  • Remote Year hosted a “trampoline lunch,” which was at a trampoline park by the water that I’m pretty sure is meant for kids. But, whatevs, we had a great time bouncing around and doing toe-touches.
  • Saying goodbye to the Adriatic with a few more coffees and (second-hand) cigarettes by the sea. Those Croatia sunsets beat out almost any I’ve ever seen.

Final Thoughts on Split

I loved Croatia, and I loved the Balkans. I genuinely believe that I’ll be back to this region, and look forward to it. But, I didn’t love Split as a Remote Year destination. It’s a great place to vacation for a few days, and use as a jumping point for trips to Plitvice National Park, Krka Waterfalls, the islands… But as for living there, not so much. The city is so seasonal and touristy in nature, there isn’t a big professional presence, and it’s just a tad too small for an entire month there. I’m not quite sure why Remote Year chose Split to set up its first workspace and feel for the groups that are in Split now, in the winter-time, without access to the best part of the city: the beach!

I’m glad I got to see it, and I was ready to move along… But first, a totally out-of-the-way quick pit stop home – NY, I’m coming!

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