Balkan Sunshine
in Split, Croatia on 30th April, 2013

We had a 26-hour door-to-door trip ahead of us. We awoke at 3:50am in Nassau and got ready for our 4:30am taxi to the airport. It didn't help that the night before we stayed up till 2am on the Internet. Whenever I have an early morning flight I always wake up every 20 minutes feeling that I'm about to sleep in and miss whatever plane it is that I'm taking.

We arrived at the airport and queued for American Immigration. We ended up chatting with an Italian guy named Leonardo who'd been held up by the Americans the day before and missed his flight. He'd spent the night sleeping at their airport and another $700 to catch our flight.

When the guard was going through my passport she asked where the missing Cuban passport stamps were and I said "They can't afford them". She then went into a little lecture on the economic situation in Cuba and ruined my joke.

We arrived in Miami at 8am, checked our bags in for the 2pm flight and then sat down for some breakfast. America felt so foreign and yet so comfortable. 2pm came and we flew out to Philadelphia where we'd catch our 8pm flight to Rome. The flight to Rome was full of middle-aged Italian-Americans. Some had a hard time fitting into their seats and they were chatting loudly to one another from one side of the airplane to the other. The waitresses all looked very old, very tired and very angry at life. It's funny how an eight-hour flight feels like nothing now.

We had two hours in Rome before we caught a small plane over to Split. The Croatian border guard stamped my passport quickly and wished me good luck. We were picked up by the family that we were staying with and drove to their place in Stobreč.

Stobreč is about 6KM away from Split city centre but has a nice bay, good restaurants and a supermarket. Everyone was friendly and spoke good English. When we were trying to buy sour cream in the supermarket people were kind enough to translate the names of the items in the diary section for us and make sure we bought the right thing. The house we stayed in had a bedroom with a balcony, a TV room which quickly became a man-cave, a kitchen and wifi. The owner was kind enough to drive us around for the price of a bus ticket whenever we needed it.

The flat was also the cheapest we've had our entire trip at only €20 a night. It was so nice I would honestly consider living there permanently when Croatia joins the EU on July 1st and we gain the right to abode in the country.

It felt so good to be back in Europe. The weather was great, everything was affordable again, the Internet worked, everything generally worked the way I'd expect and there was a lot to photograph. On so many occasions during our first few days back I thought to myself "Jesus, I'm so glad to be back here, I don't want to leave this continent for anywhere other than Canada".

We did a lot of bus and boat trips to Split and the surrounding areas during our six-day stay. It's a pretty easy area to travel in and even the bus drivers speak English. The only complaints I could really think of is that people smoke everywhere, including in buses and inside restaurants and the food quality isn't what it was when I was in Northern Croatia back in 2007. They seem to overcook the meats everywhere.

The family we were staying with were quiet friendly. They offered us Prošek, a dessert wine they'd produced back in 1986 every evening. They also found my blog one night and complimented me on the blogging and photography I'm doing. They made us a little gift when we left to which was heart-warming. I'd recommend staying with families over hotels in this part of the world any day.

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