Notes from the Road – Split, Croatia
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If you’ve been following along with my travels, you know that my year got off to a strange start. I had a ton of work that came out of nowhere, and I spent a few months at home in Malaysia. Which honestly is always a strange thing to do when you are a digital nomad and used to traveling all the time. For more on this, check out my recent blog post Going Home As A Digital Nomad.
Now I am traveling again, and things are starting to feel more “normal.” Or as normal as they can when you travel to a different country every month or so! I am excited to be back on the road, and back in one of my favorite places – Croatia! It's my fourth time here, and I am very happy to be back. I am also traveling with a friend right now who is also my first employee. In fact, he is working on a blog post so you will get to “meet” him soon enough.
So … Why Croatia?
Croatia is sort-of a hidden gem. It's a nice place you can go to party hard, or just chill. Split – where I am now – is an interesting and beautiful city. It is right on the coast, with lots of white sand beaches. The city itself looks very Medieval, with stone houses and narrow roads. In fact, the television show Game of Thrones has filmed some scenes in Split, and Dubrovnik, south of here.
Aside from being beautiful, it has a lot of other features that are great for remote workers. It's not expensive. It has good infrastructure in terms of fast WiFi and co-working spaces. It’s a place that not a lot of digital nomads think to go, which is a little odd to me because I think it's comparable to Bali in both of cost of living and resources.
You don't really have to spend a lot of money here. Groceries and cafes have good prices. In the tourist season, restaurants have two sets of prices one list of prices for locals, and one for tourists. If you're near tourist places, you might end up spending more at restaurants. But if you go more inland it's usually the same price for everyone. Or, you can do what I do and make friends with the locals. Often times they can help you get the local prices when you go out!
It Feels Like Home
One of the reasons I like coming to Croatia is because I have local friends here. My friend Ana is a tour guide for Sail Croatia and we met when I went on a 1 week cruise last year. She introduced me to another local, Marina who is a dance teacher and also interestingly had a marketing background. Marina is now handling social media ads for me. I have another friend, Jennifer, who is here traveling right now, who I met through Hacker Paradise. Having local friends to hang out with, and connecting with people I already know, makes the experience of being here better.
And I found a great shisha bar where I've been going every day for the past month. I’ve been coming here for shisha and drinks, so I’ve gotten to know the owner and the staff pretty well. It’s a good feeling to come to a place that becomes familiar, and it makes this place really feel like home to me. It's nice not only to know the location and know people too.
The Croatian Experience
The first two times I was here it was more about partying, going out on yachts, that kind of thing. I met a lot of Australians and Americans. Now I am more into networking with local people, and seeing friends here I've met before.
The culture here, and what I’ve learned speaking to people, is that almost everyone has two or three jobs which means in my view they are very hardworking. It’s very eye-opening when talking to them about why you choose to work here or there. And many people I meet are in school, and working full time at the same time. Or more than full time. It's a different vibe, makes you realize you are not the only one who has problems.
The people I meet may not feel financially secure, but they are more hardworking and more positive than most places. They care about their friends and their families, and they really take care of each other. It's really a unique thing, and I enjoy connecting with people here because of that.
An Easy Place to Visit
The thing about Split is their economy relies heavily on tourism. All the young people speak English, and even many of the older people do too, or are learning. It's very easy to navigate here. Going places where English is widely spoken is part of my criteria for traveling now.
It is very easy to navigate Croatia, both in terms of language and transportation. The city of Split is relatively compact, and it's easy to get around walking. Plus, Uber is legal so you have no problems getting to anywhere.
There are a lot of parks, which is really nice and the weather is pretty good. The sun has been up and shining for most of our visit. It is not hot like summer (which I appreciate, since I was just in Malaysia which is really fucking hot), but sunny and warm, with cool breezes. It's been nice to walk around and just enjoy the city.
London, Amsterdam and then Berlin for a few months. But I may come back to Croatia for the winter. I really want to see the national parks (Krka and Plitvice) I've been during the summer and it's very nice and in the winter the waterfalls freeze supposed to be really nice.
Have you ever been to Croatia, what did you think? Is there another place you have traveled that feels like home to you? Please share your thoughts with me in the comments!