Alright, since we are reformatting the blog and are woefully out-dated, some articles will be posted out-of-order. The latest blog/photoessay is from Socotra, Yemen. This island is called "Galapagos of the East" because of its high endemic biodiversity, including the bizarre dragonblood and desert rose trees. Also check out tips for backpackers in this handy guide! -RO
The port town of Kusadasi, Turkey sees a lot of cruise-ship tourists who get off the boat to see Ephesus, the largest Roman ruins in the world. Consequently, some businesses here see tourists as easy money. We discovered predatory pricing in two restaurants in this coastal town: Holiday Inn and Carpediem. We got tricked by the first but avoided the second.
Daedalus tried his wings first, but before taking off from the island, warned his son not to fly too close to the sun, nor too close to the sea, but to follow his path of flight. Overcome by the giddiness that flying lent him, Icarus soared through the sky curiously, but in the process he came too close to the sun, which melted the wax. Icarus kept flapping his wings but soon realized that he had no feathers left and that he was only flapping his bare arms, and so Icarus fell into the sea in the area which today bears his name, the Icarian Sea near Icaria. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icarus_(mythology)
For me Athens is a big city without much character. Yes, there are the many beautiful ruins, but it is still a touristy city with restaurants, cafes, souvenir shops and lots of people. That said I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. We had some magnificent food, accommodation, and sight seeing, but after a few days we were ready to move on.
After a slightly uncomfortable taxi ride we arrived in Thessaloniki, Greece late at night. The train station was closed. Shops were closed. There weren’t people on the streets. The French couple had a tent with them so they offered to camp with us in a park. That way we could put our bags in the tent with them and not have to worry about someone trying to steal them. We started to trudge up the street to look for some sort of green space to set up camp. Luckily, we didn’t have to go too far. The tent was set up. Remy and I unrolled our sleeping bags, tossed our packs into the tent, and climbed in for what we didn’t think would be a very restful sleep.
Opting to take the overland route from Zagreb to Belgrade to Thessaloniki, we arrived in Belgrade (Beograd) late on a Saturday night (Click here for other options on how to get to Greece from Croatia). Because we wanted to go to Greece as quickly as possible, we hadn’t researched Serbia at all. The city immediately impressed us with its blend of old and new architecture. The hostel we found (Hostel40) was clean, modern, cheap, and courteously staffed. A beer festival with cheap beer was in full swing that weekend. The city also has a giant castle with nightclubs and an open-air theater. People were out and about everywhere, socializing in trendy bars next to colossal buildings. We are still kicking ourselves for leaving the next day. We really short-changed Serbia.
After Plitvice Lakes National Park we planned to head to the coast and island hop. Even better, Remy found a post on Couchsurfing about a group that had a boat and was sailing around the Croatian islands. The woman organizing the trip is Polish and although her English was good, we still didn’t have a firm grasp on the arrangement, schedule, or many of the other logistics involved in spending a week on a boat. But we decided to go for it, which meant we didn’t need to figure out transportation and accommodation logistics. We finally got the thumbs up that there was space for us on the boat and the departure point, Zadar.
Croatia is a ruggedly beautiful country no matter where you look. We were fortunate enough to visit two national parks that showcase this country’s natural wonders: Plitvice and Krka. This is a comparison of the two so that you, dear traveler, can choose wisely if your budget is limited.
When Remy and I started planning this trip we made a long list of countries we wanted to visit. We slowly whittled the list down, but Croatia stayed on there. We have both heard good things about the country, but the real pull was a picture we saw. It was these gorgeous waterfalls and lakes at Plitvice Lakes National Park.