Sunday, July 4, 2010

Well I'm going to be honest here: last night was a little bit rough. I was upset about a lot of things- finding myself suddenly alone in a faraway land being one of them- and was feeling a bit apprehensive about the rest of this trip. I've just been warned so many times about being alone in foreign countries. It's been ingrained in my head that I am a girl and this is a fact that simply makes the world a more dangerous place, particularly when I am alone. In case you couldn't tell from my last entry, I was feeling rather scattered. But as a good friend reminded me (thank you, Chris, for all your insight!): everything looks better in the morning. And it did! My outlook was considerably sunnier this morning when I woke up. Yes, being alone isn't the greatest thing. But my momma's taught me well! I know how to keep my wits about me. I'm good at blending in, and looking more confident that I actually am is a (very useful) skill of mine. Besides, I'm in Croatia! This is awesome! And I wanted to make the most of it. I decided that today, I wanted to go to the beach. I also contemplated climbing up to the castle, but wasn't sure about that. I just had one thing on my mind: beach. Because really, who doesn't love a good relaxing day at the beach?! I set off with my newfound friend here in Rijeka, Andy the Australian, towards the beach on foot. Apparently it is possible to take a bus there- but where's the fun in that?! I prefer walking whenever possible. After about thirty minutes, we arrived in Pecine, a suburb of Rijeka that was once very exclusive, but now looks rather forgotten. The beach however, is spectacular. It's primarily used by locals- tourists frequently travel to nearby islands- if they end up in Rijeka at all. Rijeka is not much of a tourist city. Split and Dubrovnik, much farther south, are far more popular for tourists. Thankfully, plenty of people still speak English- hallelujah! Of course, we happened to show up just as it started to rain. Fortunately, the storm passed very quickly, and we soon settled ourselves on the rocky coastline. It was a small lagoon, enclosed by high rocky walls, and the view of the sea was nothing short of dazzling. After a few moments just enjoying the atmosphere, I slipped into the water. It was a bit chilly, but not difficult to adjust to. Andy was surprised at how warm it was- I suppose he's not accustomed to swimming in the balmy Gulf of Mexico! Regardless, the water was great. It became very deep very rapidly, yet still remained crystal clear. From a distance, however, it appears a deep blue-green in most places. I read for awhile, and then went back in. I climbed on a rock, and contemplated life. I also got a pretty solid scrape climbing up there... but it was worth it. Not long after, Andy headed back to the hostel. I decided that I wanted to stay a little longer. And so I did, quite happily... and then it started to rain.
For the first two moments, it was fairly light, but then that all changed. Suddenly, I was caught in a major downpour. Thunder rolled in, echoing off the mountains, and there was little I could do but huddle against the cliffs with a towel over my head (funny thing about towels... being absorbent and all, they aren't exactly great rain-shields), hoping and praying that it would pass. And pray I did! Had a great little chat session with God about storms in a metaphorical sense. I feel like this song says it all. So have a listen. I have really missed going to church. It's been far too long, but it's just so hard when you're traveling constantly, especially since I'm not Catholic, and language barriers can be a bit problematic. I am incredibly blessed to be a part of an amazing church in Columbia, and I can't wait to go back (just six more weeks!). Anyway, back to the rainstorm in Croatia. It was just a very good moment. I was sitting there, finding myself positively soaked to the bone and shivering from the cold and still praising Him for everything awesome that's going on in this world and then I realized how miserable I was again, and was just like "God, should I cut my losses and head out?" And He pretty much told me that you can't run from storms- you are going to get wet whether you try to run, or whether you stay put right where God has put you. So I stayed put, and in a few more minutes, the rain eased off. It was quite cathartic, if I do say so myself. But I did decided then that it was a good time to head out. It was starting to get late, and I wanted to be dry!
On my way back, I passed a guy- probably en route to a hostel in that area- who smiled as he passed me, saying "Howdy!" I was so shocked that I couldn't even respond. It has been a long time since I've heard that sort of greeting! I wanted to ask "Who are you- and how on earth did you end up in Croatia?!" but I was a little slow on the ball. Still, it made me smile. Howdy. Too funny.
Later on, I stopped at a french fry place- called Surf n Turf, of all things- that I had found last night. It smelled positively heavenly. For just 12 lira (not the actual name of the currency, but that's what they call it. Not sure how that all works exactly), you get a giant cone of the most delicious fries on the face of the planet, with two little cups of sauce, any kind you want. I went with the Mediterranean sauce, since that one was marked as the most popular, and who am I to doubt the voice of the people?! And the people did not fail me. It was an all-around incredible experience. And can I also say that I love the cafe culture here? There are far things in this world more pleasant than sitting outdoors with a cup of tea while watching the world go by. It is perfection.

So yes, today has been good. I've enjoyed it quite thoroughly. Tomorrow afternoon, I head back to Ljubljana, where I'll spend the night before heading back to Prague on Tuesday. The twelve hour train ride should be an interesting end to my adventure. Yes, I've made the trip once before, but I had the fortune of being able to sleep through most of it last time! It should be fine though. Food, water, a good book, a paper to write, and beautiful views... I'm sure I'll keep myself occupied! Plus I get to enjoy Vienna one more time- if only for thirty minutes!

And let me end with some patriotic inspiration from one of our most eminent forefathers and my personal favorite, Thomas Jefferson: "One travels more usefully when alone, because he reflects more."

Not entire sure if I want to travel "usefully" but I do agree about increased reflection. And do you know what? It's wonderful. It really is.
One of the largest rocks
The beginning of the storm
People began to flee the waters- can't say I blame them!
It really was quite the storm!
Soon it began to pass.
Stony beaches and beautiful water
The lovely lagoon
The outskirts of Rijeka, a small part of the harbor, and a view of the castle on the hill. This town is beautiful.


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