I woke up like Uma Thurman getting epinephrine in Pulp Fiction.
It was a deep sleep but my alarm went off and I looked around realizing I was in the Munich airport with a Lufthansa pillow and blanket covering me.
On the flight from Cairo I hardly slept from 2:30 to 6:30. I wandered around the airport brushing my teeth, changing currency from Egyptian Pounds, and picking up a cup of coffee. By the time I got to my gate they were calling my name on the speaker. I was the last one on the tiny plane.
I found my window seat and my aisle partner stood up and said "excuse me". She was American. Sonia (pronounced San-ya) was from Montana and is doing the Year Abroad program that Facebook has advertised to me so many times. They work remotely in a new country for a few months before moving on to the next spot. Many have consulting, design, or finance jobs that can be done via the internet.
To this point I knew very little about the country I was going to and was going to read about it on plane. Instead, we laughed for the entire 90 minute flight switching from coffee to wine at 10:30AM as one does on vacation. We talked about travel, American stubbornness, and the dynamics of Tinder abroad.
When we landed and I stepped off the plane and felt that warm Adriatic sea air I immediately felt better. Trees, vineyards, and the land of 1200 islands. Welcome to Croatia.
We took the bus to the city center of Split and a funny thing happened, 80 different people didn't ask me for money.
The bus played Black Eyed Peas and Pharrel as we rolled in to town. Sonia had already been living here for a month and described it and she described it as "if Italy and Greece had a baby and it was raised by Russians." I could already tell I was going to love it here.
Sonia and I said goodbye at the bus with plans to meet again later in the week.
The bus brings you directly to the ports / city center. I took off my bag and shoes and slid on my sandals. Ah, much better. I knew how much Egypt would take a toll on me, so I purposely scheduled a place like this for my second country. Sonia called it a "saltine" to cleanse my palate.
I started to wander towards an information booth and a funny thing happened, 80 different people didn't ask me for money. I got directions to my hostel via the free map and wandered slowly enjoying the green and the weather and stopping to sit with my luggage at a park and a funny thing happened, 80 different people didn't ask me for money.
My hostel was perfect. A Mediterranean villa with white stone, white sheets, and white towels. I dropped off my bag and went out to get a haircut (i.e. to fix yesterday's haircut).
The lady at the front desk gave me directions to a barber, which happened to be a salon. I walked in gave a wave hello and a woman named Tina came out of the back room to cut my hair.
Tina was striking. Layers of brunette hair framing light red lips and eyes as blue as the Adriatic. Salons aren't really equipped for the weed wacker I need on my head, so Tina did a terrible job. I tipped her well anyway though cause that's the type of dumb shit that men do.
If Tina is what Croatia looks like, then I can get used to it here.
I spent the afternoon in the hostel waiting for Laetitia to arrive.
Remember my first night at the Munich airport when I told you it sucked to drink alone? I sent a message to my friend Letitia in Paris and asked if she wanted to meet me in Croatia. One of the great things about Europe is Easy Jet and Ryan Air. You can fly from London to Greece for about $50. You can be in an entirely different culture on the cheap for a 3 day weekend for minimal cash. Are we sure America is the greatest country in the world? Before you answer that, you can also drink in public here.
When Laetitia arrived we walked the waterfront promenade to a restaurant to celebrate our holiday. Croatia is famous for seafood so we had black cuttlefish risotto, calamari, prosciutto, and way too much white wine.
For dessert, Laetitia introduced me to the app Geocaching which is a type of scavenger hunt around the world. You use your GPS to get you to a certain area. You then have to follow clues to a prize which is usually just a small log of people's names that have also found the prize. We wandered around a plaza looking at cracks in the walls, underneath tables, for something that could be a small as a magnetic canister the size of your pinky. People around us must wonder WTF we were doing so Letitia calls them "Muggles." Behind a drain pipe she found a vitamin bottle with a log and we signed our names and she wrote a comment on the app, "Je l'ai trouvé!"
We walked back to the hostel and a funny thing happened, we fell asleep with the widows open to the welcoming peace of Croatia.