IJM International Trip - Croatia

The last stop of our tour- Split, Croatia- wasn’t part of our original plan. Because the ports in Venice were closed on the night of our departure and our trip was delayed, we didn’t get to go to Mykonos and Corfu, Greece. But, we are all so thankful that we had a chance to stop in Croatia because it was so beautiful there. Walking through the port on foot, we saw a myriad of shops and restaurants lining the streets. We spotted Mrs. Nikki and Mrs. Jess in the middle of an outdoor produce market where there were dozens of farmers selling their fruits and vegetables. It was really cool to be in the center of the early morning bustle and see exchanges done the Croatian way.


The buildings in Split were extremely old, almost medieval, with extensive vines, weathering, and crumbling walls. It gave the area a lot of character. Haley and Sullivan climbed one of the watchtowers and got to see Split from a watchman’s point of view which I thought was extremely cool. Haley also got an extensive tour of the historical sights in Split. Fallon, Ava, and Khloe hiked to the top of one of their national parks and got to see really pretty waterfalls and the mountains down below.


My mom and I caught a ride on a bike-carriage that was driven by Croatian locals for us touristy types who wanted to see and learn more about the city. Our biker was so kind. He had the coolest accent and a great sense of humor. He knew a lot about the history of Split, and took us through an ancient castle and to the base of their Priest’s statue so I could rub it’s golden toe for good luck. It really seemed like he was interested in our story and who we were as people in the short time that we were with him and it was touching. I cannot express enough how thankful I am to have met the people I met while on this trip. Each encounter I’ve had impacted me in some way and if it were not for IJM, those monumental moments of human interaction would never have happened.


Later that night, we all gathered for our last cruise meal at the fancy restaurant and spent our time enjoying the company and service over our wait-staff. As a final goodbye, the servers in the room performed a choreographed dance at the stairs that was really engaging and was a sweet, thoughtful way to end the night. After dinner, Haley and I walked into the ending of a comedy show and then spent the rest of the night talking and bonding until the early hours of the morning. The nights I’ve spent talking to Fallon and Sullivan, all piled up in my cabin room are one’s I will never forget. When Khloe and Ava came running to my room one night and watched old Disney shows with me, I was so excited that they came to me as their big sister. And having Haley as someone to look up to and talk about life with in the late hours of the night is a dream come true for me. These girls are so incredible and I am beyond blessed to be able to fall in love with them every day. Thank you, thank you, thank you, IJM.

Lessons Of The Day: 
- If you see something you really like when you’re traveling, get it. You might not ever have another chance to get it and you’ll be bummed when you miss out. Treat yourself sometimes!
- If you’re really bad at souvenirs or don’t want to overspend, choose something small that is easy to find to get at every place you visit. In my family, we get magnets from everywhere we go, so you can imagine how extensive our magnet shopping was on this trip. 
- Know a bit of the language for each of the countries you visit! You feel really cool and gain appreciation for the language.
- Spend time bonding with the people around you. Some of my favorite moments were the late nights with my sister queens where we would just talk and eat pizza in the middle of the night.
- Invest in relationships


Croatia was the perfect place to finish off our cruise. The weather was absolutely perfect on that day; it was like it could never rain there, it was so beautiful. We loved walking down the narrow, twisty alleyways and discovering quirky characteristics of life in Croatia. To read more about our trips to Milan, Venice, Athens, and Montenegro, make sure to check out the other editions of the 2017 IJM Travel Series! Stay tuned for the final, closing blog from this trip that will contain the Queen’s Highlights and favorite memories! 

Thank you for reading! Always, “Spread Love, and Choose Happiness”,
Ariah Alba
2017 International Teen

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