Sent: Thursday, July 03, 2008 12:25 PM
Subject: Alex Flachsbart’s Ramsey Great Ideas Tour

So, Croatia: this is the only spot in the world I’ve been able to find outside of the South thus far where the people are genuinely NICE. I mean to the enth degree. Faulkner should’ve vacationed out here in the wintertime because he’d have about the same material to work with. Picture an entire nation that’s completely rebuilt from its latest war yet still ecstatic that it won, where everyone calls you “friend” and where every beach is off a postcard. That, in a nutshell, is Croatia. You just can’t do much better than that. My original intent was to see as many islands as I could in a week; by the second day of my trip, I’d already changed plans to stay in one spot (Hvar) for two extra nights. All three of the best hostels I’ve stayed at have been in Croatia. The first was run by this great old lady who called me “my love” and gave me pasta, homemade olive oil, and some sausage to cook up for my dinner because “the local restaurants surely can’t cook as well as you!” Split was gorgeous, but Hvar was even better. It’s the most deserted island of the populated ones, and by walking down to the port with a group from the hostel and renting a boat, you can scoot around from deserted beach to deserted beach all day. The guy I stayed with there (Luka by name) knew every local on the island and, one night, randomly hosted a barbecue for all of his guests, complete with his own homemade wine, olive oil, and plum brandy– and, of course, massive piles of pork, beef, chicken, fish, potatoes, salad, olives, and the like. Best MEAL (not pork dish) I’ve had yet. Dubrovnik was exactly the same– the hostel was incredible (I changed plans because Luka said he had a cousin that ran one in Dubrovnik; we later discovered that the two haven’t even met, but they found each other through hostel guests and realized that they both ran the best hostels in their respective areas and have sent their favorite guests to each other for the past ten years, all at ridiculously cheap prices). We swam below the city walls and had Nikolai (Luka’s “cousin”) cook for us at night. Oh and the entire time I’ve been here, the average temperature’s been around 85, the sun’s been shining, and I’ve seen a grand total of about ten clouds. What a vacation from my vacation!

Time’s up so I’ve got to roll once more, but with any luck I’ll fill in any gaps in the above account from Florence. Until then, I’m rambling on!