Foreign, Phoneless and Functioning

Croatia has been a shocking surprise. Most people talk about the beauty of Italy, Spain and France and make Western Europe a must-see destination, but recently, Croatia has been gaining popularity amongst travelers. It hasn’t ever been on my list of places to go, but from Mallorca, I was deciding between Mykonos, Greece/ Seville, Spain/ Lisbon, Portugal or Croatia. Since I have a few friends who said Croatia was great, I decided to just go for it. Because… why not?

Two days before my flight left on July 13, I booked a ticket to Split, Croatia, and I am beyond happy with the decision. Arriving here, I had no clue what to expect, but the romantic and charming landscape mixed with the festive atmosphere has made Split a place to remember forever. I’ve been here a few days, and immediately upon arriving at the airport and on the bus into the city, I’ve made friends. I’ve also learned so much about the history. A few fun facts:

  1. Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia all speak similar dialects. The most common feature that is different among the regions is religion: Croatia – Catholic, Serbia – Eastern Orthodox, Bosnia – Muslim
  2. Diocletian’s Palace – a Roman emperor who barely went to Rome during his reign has his palace here. It’s the only structure from the Roman era that actually has people living in it today.

When I arrived, I went out that night for dinner with two hostel mates and then met up with my friends who coincidentally were in Split to go out to some parties. The next day, I booked an early start to take a tour of Plitvice National Park up north (also met great people on the trip). The sights were unbelievable, truly. Words can’t describe the views and neither can pictures, so if you make it to this part of the world, definitely go take a live look at the park.

The only bad news is that my phone slipped out of my jacket pocket into the toilet and died during the visit. So, for a few days, I’ve been in a foreign country with no cell phone for GPS, photos or communication. The funny thing is, before it happened, I was telling people my realization that I really don’t need much other than the basics to live, plus a phone. Perhaps this is a lesson that I don’t even need that. It’s almost refreshing to be cut off of social media and my phone because I’m really living in the moment for me, not to share and broadcast every second or look at what others are up to. Instead, I’m focusing on what’s directly in front of me and making more lasting connections and memories in real time. Also, for the times I have been alone, I haven’t been able to rely on my phone for “comfort,” which I think is a good behavior to adopt.

Anyways, I spent the next day at a local and distant beach with my Swedish hostel mate who has become a good friend. We spent all night out, and since Ultra Music Festival is also happening at this time, the city is always alive and busy. While we didn’t make it to the actual festival, we went to an after party and stayed out all night until morning.

My next step is to take a ferry to Hvar for a few days before I make my way out of Croatia to Amsterdam and London. #SoloAdventures

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#SoloAdventures Begin

It’s been a while since I last posted and began traveling. Days were so busy that I haven’t actually sat down to write for a while, but I’ve really been meaning to. Now that I’m here on an island by myself, it’s definitely the right time.

After being in Italy and exploring Florence and various cities in Tuscany, Venice, Rapallo, and Cinque Terre with mom, we flew to Israel for my sister’s wedding (at Sandrine in Nahariyya) and festivities before and after the big night on June 29. She made the most beautiful bride! It was such an incredible night and vacation with all of our friends and family in the country. We visited Tzfat, Nahariyya, Jerusalem, Haifa and Tel Aviv. I never wanted to leave Tel Aviv. The sun sets differently there, I swear it.

Then, my mom and I went to Barcelona for 6 days. It was my second time there and her first. We hit all the main tourist attractions like Casa Batllo, La Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell. The last day was spent at the beach in sprinkles of rain – something new for the both of us, but definitely memorable and fun because then the sun came out.

And now, #SoloAdventures officially started yesterday when I flew to Mallorca by myself. Mallorca is an island off the coast of Spain. The flight was super quick, so fast that I thought the plane had a malfunction when it was actually just landing. Once I arrived, I grabbed my backpack (from basically the furthest baggage belt possible) and headed outside to catch the bus into town. The island weather, humidity and heat were palpable from the moment I stepped outside, but I was very excited to see the land.

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The transportation system from the airport here is amazing – a 5 euro “public” bus that is actually like a coach charter took me practically outside my hostel (Hostal Atlanta). At the front desk, I was greeted by a funny Englishman who told me all about where to go and what to see.

So, naturally, I ventured to the cliffside and spent about an hour watching the ocean tide crash along the rocks and splash my toes. Everything is beautiful here – from the houses to the trees to the clear blue sea. Once I showered, I headed back down the street to catch the sunset at about 9 PM. It’s really nice because the sun sets behind the mountains along the side of the ocean, and that’s the flight path from the airport, so you see planes gliding into the sun as it’s going down.

I’ve never traveled to a country alone without the intention of meeting someone. While I’ve flown into Paris, Barcelona, Israel, Canada, Australia and Rome alone, I always went with the plan to meet up with a friend. Here, I know absolutely no one and it’s both refreshing and somewhat nerve-wracking. I’m embracing the quiet time more than anything because it really allows for reflection and opportunity to be open to everything. Today, I’ll probably catch a bus into the main part of the town – Palma de Mallorca, which should take about 30 minutes and then, I’ll go from there. Follow the ride @ #SoloAdventures.

Day 1-1.5: LAX to Germany to Italy

The journey begins like most do in Los Angeles, sitting in traffic on the 405. Rushing to LAX during typical Sunday afternoon traffic, we met our incredibly interesting Uber driver named Sandro (originally from Brazil). He, my mom and I spent the ride discussing his personal story, various adventures, and how travel offers the beautiful lens to see and appreciate the world differently.

We arrived just in time to the Tom Bradley International terminal to board our flight with Florence, Italy as our first stop on a three country journey for her (Italy, Israel, Spain) and an open jaws trip for me (Western Europe and Israel).

My mom has been dreaming of seeing Italy since she can remember, and since my sister is getting married in Israel in about two weeks, so we decided now is the time to make it happen. Then, my mom and I will visit Spain before I go on #SoloAdventures to various stops in Western Europe before heading back to Los Angeles (and then hopefully hitting the road shortly thereafter).

My first accomplishment, of which the Air Berlin check-in agent agreed, was packing a roughly 25 pound (12 kg) backpack for a two-month or so adventure. I’d say I knocked traveling light out of the park. For all you travelers out there, only pack what you absolutely need, roll it, rubber band it, and stuff in a travel backpack… not a suitcase! My mom, on the other hand, can’t say she accomplished the same, and already wishes she had done so.

After meeting about 5 other travelers along the way and randomly running into an old friend from elementary school, we boarded the completely sold out and crammed Air Berlin flight to Düsseldorf, Germany. To say we were like sardines is an accurate and clichéd description of the situation. Landing to a delayed by one hour layover (for a total of 3 hours), we were met with a lot of German and my mom’s deliriousness before boarding our propellor plane on to Florence. As she napped on me, I watched the clouds float above the mountainous and lush landscape of Europe, excited to return to the beautiful city of Firenze.

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We landed in Florence to warm sunshine and were met by our wonderful Airbnb host, Michele, who gave us insight into what to see around the city.

Obvious mission one: pizza, wine and the Duomo. After just a few sips of wine, mom was drunk. That and her admitting this is like being in a different world all made for a successful day 1-1.5? (time changes are crazy). Mission complete!

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