Croatia...who knew??

Published: February 9th 2022
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We're a little behind with this post, and Maggie has yet to send us the photos to accompany it, but we wanted to get the Croatia port experience recorded as the MV World Odyssey arrived in Malta today already. (Bonus: Thanks to Maggie's Uncle Brian, you can track the ship's travels on the website www.cruisin.meif you'd like to follow their route!)

Maggie spent a few days last week in Croatia, putting into port in Dubrovnik. After her experience in Cyprus, she was bound and determined to make the most of her time by getting out into the country. Soooooo....she decided to take a road trip! She arranged to rent a car in Dubrovnik to drive 5 hours to the Plitvice Lakes National Park in central Croatia. It would be a long driving day (10 hours round trip), and she would have to cross through a sliver of Bosnia that divides Croatia along the coast. Luckily, her friend Salma's cabin mate, Lesley, was game for the adventure, so the two of them set out together.

As you might expect, things did not go as planned. They left the ship at 6:00am to get to the car rental company by 7:00am, the time they had reserved their car. They arrived on time, but there was no one to be found. At any of the car rental counters. After about 30 minutes, she called the 3rd party booking agency she had used to reserve the car. Long story short, 90 minutes after they were supposed to pick-up their car, a man finally arrived to process the rental. He was very apologetic, even after explaining that his company had no record of her reservation because the 3rd party service had dropped the ball. He felt so bad for their delay, that he waived the young driver and border crossing fees, gave her his cell phone number, and told her to call if there were any problems. That would come in handy later.

They left almost 2 hours after their scheduled departure and headed for the national park. After a few navigational errors while adjusting to driving in a foreign country for the first time, they finally made it to the park at about 2:20pm. Unfortunately, de ja vu set in as there was hardly a soul in sight. They finally managed to find a kind woman who explained that the entrance to the park closed each day at 1:00pm! So, they were out of luck and would not be able to purchase tickets and get in to see the beautiful (and partially frozen) lakes and waterfalls.

At this point, Maggie was feeling quite guilty about essentially wasting Lesley's day. As most of you know, Maggie LOVES driving, so spending the entire day just driving around the country was right up her alley. But she felt badly that Lesley had agreed to go and nothing was panning out. Undeterred, however, Maggie proposed a wild contingency plan to Lesley. She suggested they find a hostel, spend the night, rent the car for an additional day, see the lakes the next day and then head back to the ship. Amazingly, Lesley was enthusiastically receptive to the idea saying she wished she had proposed it!

So, Maggie called the rental car guy and told him she wanted to keep the car an extra day, which he said was no problem. Then they found a hostel in Split, drove back 2 1/2 hours the next morning to the national park, toured the lakes, and then returned via a longer, even more scenic route the next night. Maggie said Croatia is the most beautiful place she's ever seen and she definitely plans to go back. And that is saying a lot!

The next morning, she, Diego and Lesley woke up before dawn, drove to a scenic spot for the sunrise, then finally returned the rental car. Mission accomplished!

Walking around Dubrovnik later that afternoon, she decided to head back to a cliffside restaurant/bar she had passed their first day in port. She unexpectedly met up with a large group of SAS voyagers who were already there, and who were CLIFF DIVING! Remember, it is still winter, and no one had their suits. Not wanting to miss out on yet another memorable experience, Maggie joined her friends and dove off a cliff into the freezing water.

At some point she and Lesley also managed to squeeze in the main tourist attraction - the stone walls built to defend Dubrovnik from invaders centuries ago. All in all, Maggie declared Croatia the best port on the trip so far. She discovered a kindred traveling spirit in Lesley, was overwhelmed by the beauty of the country, and seized every opportunity to create memories for a lifetime. Hopefully we'll get some pictures from all these adventures to add to this post at a later date. For now, on to Malta!

Additional photos below
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9th February 2022

Cliff diving!!!!
Maggie is a girl after my own heart! Maggie, you seize the moment and don't miss out on adventure. I admire your ability to come up with alternate plans once your original plan falls through. That’s my girl! And a rah, rah for Lesley too! You are having so much fun!! I have never gone cliff diving. I should add it to my bucket list!

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