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Superlatives of 2015

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Every year has its ups and its downs, the highlights and the negatives from which we grow and learn or we can’t wait to do again. When traveling, these positives and negatives can make or break a vacation. With each trip you book,  you learn something new for the next holiday. No matter how we look at it though, they are memories we will look back on and cherish and we will either say “I can’t wait to do that again!” or “I wish I had known better!”

Here are the best and the worst memories and everything in between from our travels in 2015. Continue reading

9 Tips for How to Avoid the Crowds When Traveling - California Globetrotter


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How to Avoid the Crowds When Traveling

9 Tips for How to Avoid the Crowds When Traveling - California Globetrotter

Traveling is the best way to experience the world. You will never truly understand and appreciate the beauty the world has to offer from sitting on your couch watching the TravelChannel. As transportation and technology gets better and faster, although not always cheaper, more and more people are applying for their passports and flying abroad. But the downer is that everyone always wants to travel at the same time – during the summer or holiday breaks from school. While not missing school is important, traveling during peak season can be a total bummer when your time is limited. Thankfully, there are ways to avoid traveling at the same times as the rest of the crowd!

Here are some tips for avoiding the crowds of pushing and shoving tourists! Continue reading

The Hispter Capital of Croatia: Zagreb - California Globetrotter


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The Hipster Capital of Croatia: Zagreb!

IMG_4575On our road trip journey through Croatia, we decided that the perfect location to spend a night on our long drive back to Germany from Dubrovnik would be the capital of Croatia: Zagreb.

Surprisingly, during my research about the city, I discovered that Zagreb has been the capital of Croatia only since 1991, however, it had already been the capital of the Independent State of Croatia since 1945. A huge portion of Croatia’s population is here which was extremely surprising after having just driven through almost all of Croatia and see nothing but deserted countryside with a few small towns in between.

Zagreb is actually a combination of two old medieval towns which were built on two different adjacent hilltops. The old town (Gornji Grad), also known as the Upper Town, sits perched up on the hills overlooking the modern area (Donji Grad), or the Lower Town. Continue reading

Dubrovnik, Croatia - California Globetrotter


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The Pearl of the Adriatic: Dubrovnik, Croatia

IMG_4489Situated at the very southernmost tip of Croatia, sits the ancient city town of Dubrovnik which is still fortified by massive grey stone city walls. The stunning blue green waters of the Adriatic Sea hug its walls adding to the beauty of a place which seems more like a dream than a reality. It’s no wonder then that this beautiful part of Croatia is considered to be the “Pearl of the Adriatic!”

After the last two years of the city of Dubrovnik as my wall paper on my computer and a country I have been obsessing about visiting for at least the last decade, I couldn’t believe I was finally here. This was the ultimate highlight of our trip was finally making it to Dubrovnik! I had waited so long. Continue reading

Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina - California Globetrotter


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To Go or Not to Go?: Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina - California Globetrotter

Prior to our road trip through Croatia, I was trying to convince Hans to drive into Bosnia-Herzegovina for an afternoon on our way from Split to Dubrovnik. It would only add about an hour and half to our drive down south, so I thought, “What’s the harm!?” We had made no official plans to go until we were sitting in our hotel room in Split seriously contemplating whether or not we would make the extra effort.

We had done the research. The war between Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina had been over and finished for two decades. Croatia has successfully joined the Eurozone, while Bosnia-Herzegovina still has some ways to go, but it is their desire to join the EU. The future is upon us and bitter tensions are still simmering between the two countries. We were going to have to pass through the Bosnian passport control through a 5 mile coastline of Bosnia just to reach Dubrovnik anyways. We might as well go into Mostar! I just couldn’t resist passing up this opportunity!

After all, Lonely Planet has Mostar’s Stari Most bridge ranked as the 113th best travel destination on the planet, so therefore it MUST be worth visiting, right? Continue reading

Diocletian's Palace - Split, Croatia - California Globetrotter


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Diocletian’s Palace: Split, Croatia

Diocletian's Palace - Split, Croatia - California Globetrotter

Set on a peninsula jutting into the Adriatic Sea, Split is the home to one of the largest and best preserved Roman palaces in the world. In 295 AD the Roman Emperor Diocletian ordered an enormous palace to be built here, where one day he intended to retire. Diocletian was an unlikely Emperor as he was born into a family with a low status. He worked his way up through the military ranks and eventually became a cavalry commander under Emperor Carus. After the death of Emperor Carus and his son, there was no one to be proclaimed Emperor, so Diocletian took it upon himself to install himself as the new Emperor. He would go on to stabilize the region and eventually be the first emperor to ever retire, comfortably in his palace in Split, which is a heavily fortified compound.

Among the top ranked must-visit destinations in Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travel: Our List of the 500 Best Places to See… Ranked, Diocletian’s Palace in Split is a must-visit destination and should immediately be added to your Croatia itinerary!

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Krka National Park, Croatia - California Globetrotter


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The Glory of Krka National Park, Croatia

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Upon deciding which National park to visit, Plitvice Lakes or Krka, I could not possibly decide which one I wanted to visit the most. So we visited both. And for good reason: they are both stunningly beautiful.

Located almost in the center of Croatia close to the coastline, stopping at Krka made the perfect afternoon destination along our road trip through Croatia from Zadar to Split. Krka National Park is reachable in about an hours drive from both cities, therefore, is also a great excursion from either city.

The park was proclaimed a National Park in 1985 due to its exceptional beauty of its natural phenomenal waterfalls. The waterfalls are made of Travertine, which is limestone that has been formed and carved out by Mother Nature. The most popular and sought after park of the park is the Skradinski buk waterfall which can be viewed year round thanks to an intricate network of wooden pathways, similar to Plitvice Lakes, although in much better condition. Continue reading

Zadar, Croatia - California Globetrotter


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A Brief Encounter with Zadar, Croatia!

IMG_4222Zadar is one of Croatia’s many small town peninsulas that date back to the Roman era which hugs the coast of Dalmatia along the Adriatic Sea. Surprisingly, this little peninsula (and the surrounding modern town) is Croatia’s 5th largest town with a rich history and many historic buildings.

The small peninsula town of Zadar has had a turbulent history making it an interesting stop for the night. While its present layout dates back to the time of the Romans, it flourished into a major port for trading in timber and wines. Over time the Venetians and the King of Hungary would fight over Zadar in the 12th and 13th centuries ultimately leading Zadar and other Dalmatian islands and cities to be sold to Venice. The name changed from Zadar to Zara and grew very prosperous.

During the First World War, Zara would be invaded by the Italians who were to originally granted to inherit this region because of the Treaty of London. By the Second World War, Zadar would play an important role and almost all of Dalmatia was handed over to Nazi Germany. Zadar would experience heavy bombing from November 1943 to October of the next year. Zadar would loose 2/3 of its population during the war.

An unsteady time of peace would follow after the war only to result in more fighting and conflict during the Croatian War of Independence from 1991-1995. Since then, Croatia has worked hard for peace and tranquility as they finally entered the Eurozone in 2007. Tourism has steadily picked up again and Croatia has now become the new-must-see destination on the Mediterranean Sea! Continue reading

The Heart of Croatia: Plitvice National Park - California Globetrotter


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The Heart of Croatia: Plitvice Lakes National Park

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There is a legend that has been passed down from generation to generation which states that there was once a Croatian Queen named Barbara who was so beautiful that her beauty consumed everything around her, therefore earning her the nickname the Black Queen. There was a devastating drought and the local people, animals and plants were in dire need of water, so they called upon the queen to use her magical powers to help them survive. The Queen took pity on them and used her magic to create huge gusts of wind that brought storm clouds and endless torrential rainfall. There was so much rain that the lakes formed and one after the other creating Plitvice Lakes.

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Ljubljana, Slovenia - California Globetrotter


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The Land of Dragons: Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljana, Slovenia - California GlobetrotterWhile on our road trip to Croatia, we made sure to stop at the capital of Slovenia for a day, Ljubljana! The name itself sounds intimidating, but once you learn how its pronounces, its as easy and friendly as the country itself! (Pronounced: Lub-lee-yana).

Ljubljana is one of the most hip, up and coming new destinations to visit that is mostly overlooked by the hordes of tourists. It is often said that this city ranks among the perfect mid-sized European cities and has all of the comforts of being a big city while still maintaining it’s small town charm and friendliness. Slovenia became the first former Communist country to join the Eurozone in 2007 and has since seen a slight increase in tourism. Continue reading