Surprisingly, Croatia quickly climbed the rankings to become my favorite spot of the trip. Not only were the people extremely friendly and laid back, but Dubrovnik is beautiful. When driving through the mountains towards the city, Dubrovnik appears as a white pearl perched on the rocks, a stunning contrast to the deep blue of the Adriatic sea. The city center is surrounded by white medieval stone walls, both beautiful and a reminder of the city's difficult past. Tourists can pay to climb the walls, and walk along the top around the city for amazing views of the city and sea.
We booked an all day excursion on our third day for deep sea fishing with a local man named Mislav. A driver came to pick us up from our hostel and drove us to a marina in Cavtat, a nearby town. I don't know what I expected, but when Mislav ran up to greet us loudly with a big smile on his face, I knew it was going to be a good day. Mislav is an animated older man with long gray hair that he sweeps back in a careless ponytail. He shook our hands enthusiastically, and ushered us down the road toward his small yacht.
|Dustin and Mislav|
"The only fishing music is James Brown!" Mislav shouted as we looked for a good fishing spot.The boat slowed, and Stiepo, who was much more serious about our fishing than Mislav, hooked our lines and explained how deep to drop the lines. We fished like this for about half an hour, then Mislav became antsy and jumped in for a swim. Dustin and Ryan followed suit while Kari and I watched and manned the reels with Stiepo.
After an hour of no luck on the reels, it was pronounced lunch time. Mislav set out a huge platter of warm bread, thick white cheese and salami. It was simple and delicious. Together with Mislav and Stiepo's mixed white wine and club soda drinks, our group agreed it was one of our best meals of the trip.
Despite my enthusiasm with each fish, Stiepo was not impressed, and Mislav humphed at each fish pulled in. "Only good for soup" Mislov explained.
|Kari is proud of her pink fish|
|Me with my teeny fish|
|Unfortunately, we hooked a stingray! We let it go|
|Dustin and his Fish|
|Ryan pulling up a whopper...or not.|
We finished pulling in our lines and jumped in for another swim as the sun began to set. The view was breathtaking. It is moments like this when you can hardly believe where you are and what you are doing. As I swam out into the sea, I looked around in awe and couldn't believe I was swimming in the Adriatic Sea at sunset, while my friends and family back home were probably just beginning their days at work. It's times like these when you realize how lucky you are to be able to travel and see what the world has to offer.
Salty, hungry and smelling of fish, we soon turned back to have dinner with Mislav and Stiepo at the Taverna Galija. Though we probably wouldn't eat our catch that day, Mislav promised we were in for a treat. We pulled into the dock, and one of the servers from the restaurant promptly greeted us with a tray of wine glasses for a drink before our meal. We sat on the boat, recalling the days events and our scrawny catch. As we talked, a stray cat wandered over and sat near the boat, smelling our fish. Stiepo had a soft spot for the cat, and threw one of our little fish to the cat. Soon, 4 other stray cats came crying, and thanks to Stiepo, each one left happy with a silver fish in his mouth.
The wine finished, we hopped back on dry land and sat at a large table on the Taverna's patio. While talked and laughed watching as Mislov's dog, Mini, chased the stray cats from the Patio. We feasted on fresh bread, the most amazing mussels I have ever eaten and fresh caught Adriatic fish. Our meal ended with homemade desserts and wine. Bellies full and eyelids drooping, we sadly said goodbye to our new friends, but thanked them for an amazing day. Mislav asked us to come back the next day to fish with him and Stiepo again, free of charge, but unfortunately we were flying to Rome the next day and couldn't take him up on his generous offer. We promised to one day come back to fish again. I hope we do!
|The gang plus Mini, Mislov's dog and patio gaurd|