By Emily Merrifield
When I was a student studying abroad, I had no desire to go to Croatia. I had never heard of anyone who had gone there, and to me it sounded like a random country in Eastern Europe. How could it possibly compare to the gorgeous cities along the Mediterranean and the famous cities of the North?
Since returning to Europe for a second time around, Croatia has not only become a destination that I hear about all the time, but it’s also jumped up to the top of my favorite places in Europe. After spending the past weekend there, I can officially say that I’m in love. In love with the friendly people, the amazing seafood, and waterfalls that look like they came straight out of National Geographic.
I love being able to walk out of my hostel, and wander around the large open market filled with vendors selling fresh strawberries, figs, meats, and pastries that you know were made just that morning. It’s clear that Split has a deep rooted history of fishing when you stroll around the open fish market, and see all the fresh fish, squid, and shellfish put on display.
One of my favorite memories from my most recent trip there was spending the day cruising around the coast, and landing at Brac Island. Our boat dropped anchor a little ways from the shore, and we were surrounded by the most amazing 360 degree view. Behind us was a huge mountain range that rose up from behind the sea. On the other was the island, with a small beach with only one house in sight, and forests all around. We all took our chances, and dove off the boat into the crystal clear water, not wanting to know how freezing it would be. It was pretty frigid, but after getting over the initial shock, all I could think about was how lucky I was to be spending the afternoon swimming around the Adriatic Sea, in one of the most beautiful places I had every been.
Now that Croatia will soon be part of the EU, it’s inevitable that over the next few years the tourism industry will explode, with more visitors coming to Croatia to experience the natural beauty and warm culture the country has to offer. I feel very lucky to have visited Croatia in a time before it makes this transition.