This summer I came across a small group trip to Croatia that would hit multiple cities over the course of 10 days. Thinking about future vacations to more exotic locales less suited to traveling solo, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to try an organized excursion. Earlier this year I’d extensively planned a trip to Iceland so this time round I was happy to leave the details to someone else. Plus, being part of a group–all told we were a dozen–gave me the chance to cover more territory for less money and go on day trips that simply wouldn’t have been possible on my own.
Arriving in Zagreb, the capital, the 12 of us took a walking tour, after which a small group split off and visited the Museum of Broken Relationships. The collection of objects and stories ran the gamut from funny to poignant and was one of my favorite things in the city. Our family style dinner that evening offered the opportunity to try several things on the menu, including frogs, smelt and the classic Croatian dish of black risotto with cuttlefish. I don’t know that I would have ordered any of those by myself, so the idea of a “tasting” was perfect. Upon leaving Zagreb, we stopped at the Plitvice Lakes for a beautiful day of exploring the tiered lakes and taking a ton of pictures of the cascading turquoise water and lush plant life that surrounds the park.
We explored the ancient city of Split, with the Roman emperor Diocletian’s palace at its center. A rainy afternoon was salvaged thanks to a leisurely lunch with my roommate, followed later in the day by a Croatian wine tasting. We took a ferry to the island of Hvar, with its 13th century walls and breathtaking bay. The town served as the perfect jumping-off point to explore the nearby islands on a day trip aboard a high-speed boat. Finally, those of us who, like myself, must visit the highest point of any city we go to, hiked up to the hilltop fortress for sunset.
Our last stop was Dubrovnik. Definitely the best part of my trip was getting up early to walk the walls surrounding the ancient city with one of my travel companions. Another exceptional experience was visiting the War Photography Museum with some of my fellow travelers, as we shared our reactions to the photos throughout the exhibit. Exhausted from the many steps and heat, I spent my last few hours in the city sitting in an Irish bar with some of my group and a bunch of expats and Brit travelers watching a Manchester United match. It was nice to just enjoy the game and conversation and not feel compelled to run myself ragged up until my departure, which is what I typically do when solo.
Traveling on my own may allow for a certain sense of freedom, but I really enjoyed exploring another part of the world with others who are both interesting and well-traveled. Seeing the sights through the lens of a shared experience and tasting the cuisine with the passing of plates made for a unique and wholly remarkable trip.