EURO BLOG: Cruising Croatia

    July 10-13: Zadar, Croatia

    Everyone was feeling nostalgic as we boarded the ferry to leave Italy. We couldn't imagine our trip getting any better after having so many perfect days exploring the country. We boarded the ferry late at night and arrived in Zadar, Croatia, the following morning. Similar to every other time we had moved locations, getting our over-packed suitcases where they needed to be was less than pleasant. We are all sure to be a little more grateful for elevators when we return to America. However, the complaints subsided once we were shown to our apartments. The perfectly decorated rooms made us feel as if we had jumped inside an Ikea catalog.

    The rest of town was small and easy to navigate. Beautiful buildings and views of the sea were found around every street corner. The sea met the edge of town with a boardwalk running alongside it for what seemed to be miles. As we walked along the sea, we were greeted with the sound of live street music and then distracted by the many stands selling hand-made jewelry. As we made our way further down, we heard a different kind of music. A sea organ ran beneath our feet that played in response to the waves hitting the stairs. We were listening to the sounds of the sea in a way none of us ever had. The rhythmic tone was a calm, charming melody that soothed all who listened. But the serenity of that night on the boardwalk didn't last for long.

    The following day we rented private boats and excitedly explored the nearby islands off the coast of Zadar. I was lucky enough to find a spot on a boat much resembling a pirate ship. Not only did it come with a giant sail and flags, but a rugged captain as well. He navigated us through the waters while we blared tacky American music and danced around. The other half of the team was on another boat that sailed next to us the whole way. At some points it seemed as if we were having an undeclared competition for who could hang the farthest off their boat without falling off. Unsafe? Probably. Fun? Definitely. Our boats stopped around different islands on the Croatian coast occasionally to let us jump in and cool off. If you have never walked the plank of a pirate ship and flipped off the end into the Adriatic Sea, I would strongly recommend it.

    After a few hours of sailing and swimming, we stopped for lunch on a remote island that consisted of only a couple shacks. Jovan had ordered for us, and each girl was given a plate full of homemade coleslaw and three little fish, eyeballs and all. I cannot describe to you how comical it is to watch 20 girls from Southern California get served this kind of meal. Getting past the shock was almost as difficult as deboning the fish, but it turned out to be a great lunch.

    After eating we sailed to another island and found a sandy beach that was well equipped to accommodate our need for chicken fights. Coach Pinta brought both his young sons and nephews. Having kids there to play with brought out the child in all of us. We jumped, splashed, and launched each other off our shoulders. Not one of us had a worry in the world.

    On our final day in Zadar, we scrimmaged a local team. By this point, we understood that we shouldn't go into games with the expectation of playing against girls our age. So far, we have played against a co-ed teenage team from Lake Como as well as a team full of men in Lugano. And by men I mean fully bearded, 6'5" monsters that could have easily been 40 years old. However, when we reached the pool in Zadar we couldn't help but be a little surprised to see a 14-under boys team warming up. The 14-year-olds in Croatia were suiting up to take on NCAA Champions and we were the nervous ones. As the game went on we began to understand that our coaches didn't care about the boys' self-esteem and wanted us to crush them with no mercy. We realized that we weren't going to break them and stopped playing so tentatively.

    After the scrimmage, we explored Zadar's nightlife. The people were incredibly friendly and the town was accommodating to all kinds of people from across the globe. The next day we said goodbye to Croatia and made our way to Montenegro.

    Fight On!
    - Dagmar Gudmundsson

    Read them all!
    EURO BLOG 1: Como, Italy (by Nicola Gonzales)
    EURO BLOG 2: Bogliasco, Italy (by Stephania Haralabidis)
    EURO BLOG 3: Zadar, Croatia (by Dagmar Gudmundsson)
    EURO BLOG 4: Herceg Novi, Montenegro (by Brianna Daboub)