All Topics, Backpacking, Lessons, Story, Travel

Trip to Croatia- Chapter 1

Now you’re going to read about my trip to Croatia, the biggest life-changing four weeks I’ll ever have in my life.

Last we left off, I had just broken up with my fiance of 2 years and lifetime friend. If you’re coming in late to the story and wanna check out the backstory, or just want some inspiration on ending a relationship that’s not right for you, check out this post.

Into Dubrovnik

I was told to go to Croatia by my aunt’s best friend because she said, and I quote, “It’s the best country in Europe. Girl, you’re gonna wanna pick up and move there!” Pfffft. Yeah right, I thought. And then I flew into Dubrovnik.

And I saw the sea.

I saw the fortress walls.

And I was mystified.

But, it gets better (well first, a little worse, then better).



I’d heard about this website called and found a guy before I left Seattle who lived in Dubrovnik. Now, as American, we’re definitely untrusting of people but I wanted to give it a try, so I ended up reaching out to two of the girls who had posted reviews of him and asked if he was cool/safe.

Both said good things but one warned me that he was “slightly lonely and developed feelings for her”, which she then told him she had a significant other and he backed off.


Whatevs, seemed fine enough to me.


I actually can’t remember his name, but for all intents and purposes we’ll call him Stanko(stahn-ko).



Stanko picked me up from the main bus station in the center of Dubrovnik. It was hot, the dead of September, and I had ears full of fluid from allergies that had hit just before I flew. So, I wasn’t feeling my best. I looked around and saw him, or at least what I thought was him, based off the pictures: a man about 40, tall and skinny, and standing on the sidewalk in a button-up tee and khaki shorts. I walked up to him, and said “Stanko?” which he confirmed, and we proceed the uphill climb to his apartment just outside of the city.

Source: “Dubrovnik” by Jorge Franganillo 

Stanko was flamenco-guitarist who played music inside the city walls in Old Town Dubrovnik. He made his living off tourists and passerbys, playing his guitar beautifully during the hours of 11pm and 4am. He ate strange food- I couldn’t tell you what exactly- and believed in what appeared to be Eastern medicine, as my ears were starting to hurt and when I asked him about a doctor to see, he simply replied “eat healthy”.


As I started to make conversation with him on the way to his place, that I realized something: he didn’t speak much English. And hey, okay, that’s fine. But I also realized, he didn’t understand much English either. Lo and behold, a little bit of a problem if I didn’t say so myself.


I went back back to the apartment and slept. He only had a small kitchen, dining room (basically the kitchen), and room with one bed. I was aware of this, and organized it with him in advance that he would sleep on the floor- hey, he offered ok? I woke up in the evening and he took me down to a beach. The moon was out and the sky was clear. The moon over the sea at night is one of the most beautiful things I’d ever seen. We sat on the beach and then Stanko did something kind of weird- he grabbed my hand. He was trying to hold it, and I pulled back and said “Stanko, no, I’m sorry..”


Don’t worry

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Super dangerous. And trust me, I was onguard completely. But really, he was kind of like a giant child. All he said was, “You don’t like me..” and that was the end of it. He didn’t do anything weird before or after that, the only thing I didn’t like was that he expected us to hang out whenever I wasn’t sleeping– something I didn’t realize would be part of couchsurfing- my mistake!– and I didn’t like that.


The next evening, I went down to into the old town, let Stanko play me a flamenco love song on the street, then searched for some wifi to connect to let my family and friends know I was alive and well (well, sort of).


My ears began to take on a whole new pain and I decided the next day I would go down to a pharmacy and ask where I could see a doctor.


I was in luck- the pharmacist told me there was a travel doctor close by and when I went in, the nurse looked in both ears and informed me: “Your ears are very bad and there is blood in one.” Whaaaaaaatt? So much for “eating healthy”, Stanko! I had a double-ear infection!


But, something good came from it. The nurse asked me where I was from and what I was doing. I told her just traveling Balkans, I’m gonna go to Albania, Romania, and then Greece, blah blah blah… She then invited me to sit down and began showing me on her computer places all over Croatia that I had to see.

I was there for an hour.

And I realized there was A LOT to see in Croatia.

Not to mention, I already loved the people, albeit Stanko (sorry dude)- the nurse was so sweet, warm, and informative.

So, “maybe I’ll extend my stay in Croatia a bit longer”, I thought.


That night, I concluded that my time in Dubrovnik was over. I didn’t like the pressure from Stanko to be buddies, and didn’t necessarily *love* spending time with him; his English was so limited and communication was difficult, not to mention his unorthodox mentality(not saying anything bad here, just wasn’t for me).

I snatched up some wifi at an ice cream shop and bought my ticket for the catamaran (ferry) for the next morning at 7 to the place that would change everything for me, little did I know at the time: the island of Korcula.


Continue the adventure→


*My choice to couchsurf might be debated as unwise, however I had my what I call ‘feelers’ up and was hyperaware. If you ever have any red flags about a situation you are in, listen to your gut, DO NOT be polite, and get yourself out as fast as you can.


What are some travel experiences you’ve had- good or not-so-great, but still worked out okay? Traveling isn’t always 100% perfect, but also can be so wonderful! Let’s hear them!


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