Emily Glazer & Karl Kosok
In late May/early June we spent a lovely vacation in Croatia and Copenhagen. The journey started out with Karl’s chartering a 46-foot boat with 5 buddies who sailed along the coast for 6 days. Then Emily met Karl and we traveled for nine days in Croatia and four days in Copenhagen, Denmark.
We interesting sights, people were invariably friendly, the food was delicious, and the weather was perfect. We started our land trip in Split, the 2nd largest city in Croatia and the largest city on the coast (on the eastern shore of
the Adriatic Sea), with a population of 178,000. We stayed with a young Couch surfing host who is an administrator at a marina. Highlights of our time in Split included visiting a gallery and outdoor sculpture garden dedicated to the work of Croatian sculptor, Ivan Mestrovic, an interesting maritime museum; and strolling along the harbor (see photo).
Then we rented a car and drove to Zadar, further along the Dalmatian coast, known for its Roman and Venetian ruins. Its population of 75,000 makes it the second largest city in Dalmatia and the fifth largest in the country. We rented a large modern apartment overlooking the city; and enjoyed the Archaeological Museum and a huge Museum of Ancient Glass. We also gathered at sunset with a crowd of people to listen to the Sea Organ, a 230-foot-long architectural sound art object and experimental musical instrument (designed by architect Nikola Basic in 2005) which plays music created by sea waves on 35 organ pipes located underneath a set of large marble steps. Then we enjoyed a sunset tour on a small boat.
Our next stop was Plitvice Lakes National Park, where we stayed in a lovely nearby inn. Plitvice is the oldest and largest national park in Croatia, known for a chain of 16 terraced lakes, joined by beautiful waterfalls, that extend into a
limestone canyon. Walkways and hiking trails wind around and across the water, and an electric boat and bus transport visitors throughout the park. After leaving the Park, we toured the Barac Caves (with breathtaking stalactites, and stone monuments) and visited a brand-new museum, Speleon, highlighting the underground heritage of the area including geology, archaeology, and paleontology.
Our final stop was Zagreb -- the capital and largest city in Croatia, with a population of 790,000. We rented a small apartment conveniently located in the heart of the city, and spent some time with a
Servas host whose apartment was badly damaged in an earthquake 3 years ago. She took us to a Sunday flea market of eclectic items popular with the locals. We rode the short funicular joining the lower and upper towns; and loved both
the Museum of Naïve Art (primitive art by untrained individuals) and the unique Museum of Broken Relationships (personal artifacts from former relationships, accompanied by brief descriptions).
After leaving Croatia, we spent 4 days in Copenhagen, Denmark, where we stayed with two Servas families and Karl got to use his fluent Danish. One couple (in their 70’s) was a retired music teacher and a retired nurse. The other couple (in their 40’s, with twelve- and fourteen-year-old children) are an environmental engineer working on water issues and an electronics engineer working on hearing aids. We borrowed bikes to tour the neighborhood; heard one host’s choir perform (in Danish and English); took a canal boat tour; and saw a fabulous exhibit on urban planning at the Danish Architecture Center.
Now we are home, catching up on mail, messages, laundry, and jet lag – with fond memories of a wonderful trip. We would be happy to tell you more about the trip and share photos if you’re interested.
It is impossible to fully capture one’s impressions of foreign lands, but here’s a brief summary of a few of them: People: The hosts we stayed with, and strangers we met, were all very friendly and helpful.
Euros: Croatia recently converted to the euro currency. When we were there, the euro was worth $1.06, which made it easy to figure out the exchange rate, and things were relatively inexpensive for us. Denmark still uses the Danish Krone, and everything was expensive.
The Croatian language: Although we didn’t know any Croatian, when we spoke English slowly and clearly, using simple words, many people understood us; and a surprising number of Croatians spoke English quite well. In Denmark, Karl got to use his fluent Danish (and a lot of Danes speak English).
Transportation: We rented a car for about half the time in Croatia. The roads were excellent, and the drivers were careful and courteous. When we were there, gas cost about 1.42 euros/liter or $5.4/gallon. We saw some bike riders in Croatia and lots of cyclists in Denmark, but very few wore helmets.
Smoking: Despite a ban on indoor smoking, Croatia remains among the countries with the highest smoking rates in the world, with 24.9 to 36.9 % of adults smoke (compared to 11.5% in the US). Cigarette smokers and cigarette smoke are ubiquitous in outside spaces.
Food: We had lots of delicious meals, mostly seafood. Popular foods included black risotto, truffles, and fish stew. There were coffee shops, bakeries, and ice cream shops everywhere!
Tourists: Besides some Croatian travelers, there were many tourists from various European countries, including Germany, Italy, and France. We ran into some American travelers, but not many.
Clothing: Many men and women were wearing shorts; and many women wore tops showing their midriff even when it was chilly.
Cleanliness: Public places were very clean, and we never saw trash anywhere.
Cats (and dogs): We saw lots of stray cats, but not as many as when we were in Turkey and Greece. We often saw dogs (on leashes) in restaurants.
Crime: We did NOT experience any crime, and generally felt very safe.
Tattoos: Many Croatians and tourists had extensive tattoos.
Graffiti: We saw a lot of graffiti in both Croatia and Denmark, but could not find out who created it.
COVID: We did NOT see information about COVID or see any specific efforts to prevent it. It was particularly striking that on the many international flights we took, almost no one wore masks. Fortunately, we did NOT get sick.