I hopped on a 6P.M. bus and braced myself for the four hour journey. Most of the drive was along the coast which was lined with hilly islands and small villages. I watched the sun set over the islands for the first hour of the trip and was completely awe-struck. I made the decision then and there that I WOULD return to Croatia at some point during my life and spend a few weeks exploring the islands and small villages and driving the coast.
A quarter of the way into the trip, once I had settled into my seat and was enjoying some good old road trip music, I noticed an intensifying smell of burning wood combined with incense wafting into the bus. At first I didn't mind, it jut smelled like a wood burning stove on a crisp winter evening-kind of festive.
Eventually, the smell grew stronger and stronger, so I opened my air conditioning vents to full blast to combat the scent. Finally, I decided to turn around and do a little investigating and I noticed the whole back of the bus was covered in a white haze. Everyone had become very irritated and was restlessly adjusting their air vents and looking around for the culprit.
Let's be honest for a moment. I know I'm not an expert on Croatian culture or anything, but who would feel the need to bring incense or burning wood, whatever it was on a public long distance bus? Really? By this point the only person enjoying the bus ride was the one smoking.
Finally, the bus attendant addressed the situation and mystery person extinguished mystery burning object. Success! Well, at least for an hour or so until someone lit a cigarette...ON THE BUS. Sometimes you just can't win!
I arrived in Split and got settled in my hostel just in time for bed. The next morning, I set out to do a little exploring on my own. There is a huge hill in town and I decided to climb to the top to take in the view of the city. It was about a million degrees, but I put my mountain climbing skills to use and took a long water break at the top!
I was wandering around the hill when I stumbled upon a brother and sister from Taiwan. Vincent has been living in New York for the past couple of years and Nicole is studying in Germany, and they met up to take a Europe road trip for a few weeks. We really hit it off and decided to grab lunch together.
We stopped at a local spot that was recommended to me, and just as we sat down, a Croatian man they had met the night before showed up. We all enjoyed a nice lunch of grilled fish (whole fish, skin, tail, head and all) and luckily Peter, the Croatian, was there to show us how to properly cut the fish in order to remove all the bones at once.
The whole day turned out to be a big coincidence, but that's the thing I love about traveling! At home, I would never go up to random people and start talking to them then have lunch together. When you're on the road, there are no barriers and travelers are like a big community always excited to meet one another!