split croatia

Arriving in Split . . . Hmm . . . a Bit Touristy (and travel logistics with kids)

We arrived in Split yesterday.

The journey was a bit stressful as most of what we do here is by the seat of our pants as we don’t speak the language and have no real idea where anything is located or what people are saying to us.

Our bus to Split departed Zagreb at 8:00am . . . which meant that we had to leave our apartment by about 6:45am to make it to the bus depot and grab breakfast in time.

Rolling our luggage through the streets of Zagreb in rush hour with two kids was no easier the second time around, but needless to say, we did make it in time.

The first leg of the 6 hour bus trip was uneventful. The bus was mostly empty and the roads meandered through mountains and valleys on the way to the coast.

split sunset

The second leg of our trip started poorly as we arrived for a 12:30 transfer at 12:45 . . . luckily for us the Croatians are not quite as precise as the Swiss with their time.

We did not know exactly where the bus was we were supposed to catch and neither did our driver. With some effort we did locate the bus and were able to board before it left. The bus was standing room only for nearly two hours.

Despite being crammed the route was very scenic as the road hugged the coast of the Adriatic sea on route to Split Croatia.

The water is a clear emerald color and you can see into the sea even from a distance.

The bus depot in Split can only be compared to a riot in downtown Los Angeles in the mid 1980’s.

By this time we finally had SIM cards for our phones so we were able to locate our apartment. Split addresses are however even more difficult to find that in Zagreb. The old town contains alleyways of just several feet wide that turn sharply every couple meters.

Upon arriving we climbed the 6 flights of stairs to our old town apartment.

It is a nice 2 bedroom 1 bath apartment with kitchen and a bath tub (yes, I’ve already taken a nice bath).

split croatia

Split is MUCH more touristy than Zagreb.

We went straight to the beach and enjoyed people watching.

Then we stopped at a grocery store for some dinner.

In the evening, Taz and I headed down to the Riva or walkway along the sea.

The Riva is lined with shops, boats, yatchs, tourists, all crammed into a small space with Diocletians palace serving as the backdrop.

I have immensely enjoyed my evening walks with Taz. He loves talking, looking at the people, and roaming all around. It is so fun to talk with him and pick his brain.

This morning we after breakfast we all went to the Riva. We spent several hours wandering around.

Eventually we made our way up to Marjan park located at the top of the hill overlooking Split. Taz and Kai had a ball.

For lunch we enjoyed Asian food while sitting on benches overlooking the sea and then a gellato as we walked home.

At home, Kai and I relaxed and worked while Taz did school with Sandi.

After dinner Taz and I walked back down to the coast and talked for about an hour and a half.

The sunset and cool breeze was cathartic as we walked along the coast.

In the evenings, Sandi and I work after we put the kids to bed.

split croatia

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Continued  .  .  .

The last few days have been nice . . . slow . .. and nice.

As we are traveling slowly we have time to not worry about sleeping in, being late, or missing out.

We have spent the days roaming around Split and venturing to the beaches around the town.

Taz and Kai are enormous troopers. They have walked MILES every day as we explore the town.

Sunday we enjoyed a popular sand beach.

split beach

Monday we walked most of the day. We wandered up to a nice park (Marjan) and the kids played for a bit. Then we meandered through the streets and alleyways looking for beaches.

We discovered an incredible beach tucked at the tip of Split at the base of Marjan park. As we had spent most of the day walking we decided to venture back to the park in the morning with food and more prepared for a day of adventure.

Tuesday (today) we went right back to that beach with goggles, food, water shoes, and sunscreen. We played for several hours. The beach has rocks that jut out maybe 50 meters into the sea. Taz loved running up and down the rocks, Kai played princess, and Sandi and I enjoyed jumping into the crystal clear emerald waters.

split croatia

Our “spots” in Split.

I found a couple sea shells that I was able to fashion into a necklace and bracelet for Taz and Kai.

One of my biggest fears in starting this trip was being together 24/7 . . . we all need our space right?

But to my delight I have found immense joy in spending so much time with the kids and Sandi. We are enjoying each others company and establishing routine. Taz and Kai both have such sweet personalities and are so brave and excited to explore everything they can get their hands on.

split beach

 Some of the logistics:

Home school: Taz does school with Sandi through an online Kindergarten. He spends about 2 hours a day doing homework and other work with Sandi. He is doing really well. He is reading, coloring, and writing as he should and is improving daily.

Finances: We haven’t run the hard numbers yet, but we are spending a bit less here than in Allen, TX. In fact our rent, utilities, everything costs about $1,500 a month. Our goal is to keep our expenses to about $4,000-$5,000 a month. This includes our flights (which adds up to about $650 month), travel, travel insurance, car rentals, entrance fees, food, storage fees back in the US . . . everything to live, everything we are spending every month.

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Possessions: I haven’t missed anything we sold and left behind. In fact I am considering getting rid of more stuff. We have everything we need here in the apartment and feel like we have a very comfortable standard of living.

American Comforts: I think this keeps a lot of people from traveling. To be honest . . . it doesn’t even feel like we are traveling anymore. We have a routine, we have a home, and we just go about our day. Being with the only people that really matter to me in the world helps with that. The only “American” things I have missed are foods. But I think that was mostly due to being in a downtown apartment and smaller stores close by.

I even told Sandi yesterday: “I’d be skinny too if I walked everywhere and never ate anything!”

Today we found a larger grocery store with more options and my belly is full and happy tonight.

Kids: They LOVE every minute. They get more attention from us and they get to explore. We have found playgrounds where they are playing with other kids. One thing I’ve noticed is that they are playing better together now.

Work: I get about 4 hours of work in a day. Right now it seems like the best time for this is in the evenings from about 6pm – 10pm. I work in our room and feel like I am able to get most things done with no problem.

Phones: We got local SIM cards and have WiFi in our apartment. When we are out and about we can call locally and get great 4G. We’ve got Whatsapp to call home and talk with family so we don’t feel out of reach.

Plan: Now that we are here and doing this I actually wish I had prepared less. It is hard to know what you need to know until you are actually here. It is easy to be afraid or nervous about places you’ve never been . . . but at the end of the day MOST people are just trying to live life . . . anywhere in the world.

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split croatia

zagreb croatia

I’m The Only Fat Person . . . Arriving in Zagreb

After just under two months of preparation, selling nearly everything we own, equipping our business to run while we are across the globe, and learning how to homeschool Taz (eek!) . . . the day had finally arrived for us to jump on the plane with just three suitcases and two carry-on for our six month trip!

The Trip

Our travel consisted of flying from DFW to Frankfurt and then on to Zagreb. I have been to Germany a couple of times before so I was not too concerned about what we would encounter there.

We had made the decision to sign up for to great travel credit cards (Citi Prestige and Chase Sapphire) which allowed us to enter the Priority Lounges in airports across the globe. This was my first time into one of the lounges but I LOVE them. Free drinks, wifi, snacks, TV, comfortable chairs. . . it really makes the waiting go by quickly.

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Aside from the 9.5 hours of being crammed like sardines, the flight to Frankfurt was uneventful.

We packed some snacks, toys, and tablets to keep the kids busy and made getting them to sleep around 7pm our focus (yes, I used Darmamine to help a bit with this).

Our layover in Frankfurt was only 1 hour but we didn’t have to go through customs and thanks to traveling with a 3 year old we were able to jump to the front of the lines.

Arriving in Zagreb

The flight to Zagreb was quick at just over an hour.

As you fly into Zagreb you begin to see the little villages dotting the landscape. White homes with red tile roofs.

Suddenly you are landing at the airport.

There are only about 4 terminals and each require you to exit the plane onto the tarmac and jump on a bus to the airport.

zagreb croatia airport

The 4 buses deposit all 200+ passengers (in no orderly fashion) at the same single sliding door. There is one customs officer checking passports and the passengers are spilling out onto the tarmac.

Again, we are lucky to have a three year old. An airport employee spots Kai and says “Follow me” . . .

We follow her to the very front of the line.

The customs officer is sitting behind a glass wall. Without looking up he reaches for our passports. Still, without looking up or speaking to us, he stamps all 4 and hands them back to me . . . that’s it! We’re in!

So How is Zagreb?

Several things that stick out quickly in Zagreb:

This is a country that is still recovering from war and communism just 20 years ago.
A lot of people smoke.

We are able to find our bus and grab our seats. The bus takes us downtown to the central bus station.

zagreb croatia

Assuming, wrongly, that it would be simple to follow street directions we don’t fully prepare or grab SIM cards for our phones before going downtown and looking for our apartment.

From the bus we have to jump on a tram.

Trams run within inches of the sidewalks. Multiple trams which appear to be from the 1980s clammer down the twisting labyrinth of streets in the city center.

I learn, fortunately for us, most people speak wonderful English, that we need to take Tram 2. I forgot to ask the cost or how we pay.

When Tram #2 arrives filled to the brim with passengers we clumsily force ourselves into the pack with . . . yep, our two kids, three suitcases, and two carry-on.

These trams are NOT built for luggage. There is no air conditioning. The aisles are maybe 12 inches wide. Oh, and I still don’t have tickets.

Once we squeeze all of our belongings onto the tram, I ask the girl standing next to me . . . “How do we buy tickets?”

She is a kind stranger who tells me you can buy from the tram operator. She tells me the cost and pays the operator for me.

We get off at the stop we think is lose to our apartment. Again, not realizing how “different” street markings are in Zagreb.

P.s. getting off the tram is about 400% harder than it was to get on.

It only takes about 5 seconds for us to realize we are screwed. I know we are close but have NO idea where to go.

So we saddle up the kids and start pushing all of our luggage down the sidewalks.

With cars and trams hurling by just a few inches from the sidewalk and not knowing the language or where to go . . . we are a bit stressed.

After several helpful locals offer to help we finally find our apartment.

zagreb croatia apartment

The 1 bedroom apartment is located in an older building on a basement floor. The outside is decorated with graffiti. The inside is cozy and comfortable. Our host greets us and welcomes us to the area.

By this time we are completely exhausted and ready to sleep but have decided that we need to stay up a bit longer so we venture out into the streets.

The Zagreb Botanical Garden is right across the street so we stroll around the grounds and then grab a wonderful dinner of 2 kebabs, 2 enormous pieces of pizza, drinks, and two servings of french fries for a grand total of about $76 Kuna . . . or just about $9 USD.

zagreb croatia

We enjoy the vibe of the city. It is unique to other areas of Europe and clearly an evolving city.

I have noticed, like other parts of Europe . . . I am the only fat person!

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