Have you heard of the jungle in Europe where 65% of the area is covered by magical forests? This beautiful place is Gorski Kotar, also known as the Green Lungs of Croatia, and here is where Devils Passage hides. Croatia is a unique place in the world like many others, but here in a range of only 350 kilometers, you will see landscapes from many places around the world all in one! The undiscovered beauty that you can enjoy without the crowds, gives you the possibility to heal your mind and soul. One of the best things is the ability to eat and drink domestic food and beverages with the kindest and most generous people in the world, the Croatian locals. We are so honored and excited to share all of that beauty with all of you, and will continue to share much more in the close future 🙂 If you like our content, please share, subscribe, and follow us on YouTube and Instagram.
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We just finished our 2nd hike on the Croatian Way, and this time we were joined by so many amazing people! We want to share some of our favorite moments here on the website, and send a huge thank you out to all that joined us on our adventure. This first photo was taken just outside of Netretić, a perfect sunset to end a truly perfect day.
Here is one of my personal favorite evenings. We were camping near the castle of Severin Na Kupi. We were joined by James from Ireland, Joshua from the U.S,. and Filip and Nataša from Croatia. We cooked sausages and sang songs around the campfire all night.
This was a gorgeous sunset from our room in the mountain house Žitnica on Japetić. This day was special to us in so many ways. It was only our second day of hiking, and it seems like a lifetime ago already!
This is the beautiful mini waterfall at Zeleni Vir. I always get excited when we get to go to Zeleni Vir! It reminds me of Lord of the Rings. We were with James and Joshua again here, we spent the night at Planinarski Dom, a restaurant, and hostel singing the night away with the guitar we brought.
Here we are camping at river Rječina, this place is special for an obvious reason... Just look at that turquoise water! We couldnt believe it. So relaxing and beautiful. We were only 100 meters away from a small waterfall, and the sound lulled us to sleep that night.
Here we were hiking in Grobnik! Stunning wide open views all day. Thats all for now, well continue to post our updates as they come. Our Croatian Way bicycle expedition is in the works right now, so make sure and stay tuned! Our bicycle route is around 700 km of adventure. We cant wait!
This story begins in Ozalj, where we woke up at 6:15 to start our almost 22 km long hike to Karlovac. This was the fateful day of our journey where I caught a bug and began to get super sick. It was bound to happen at one point or another. I really couldn’t breathe at all, and my throat felt like someone rubbed it raw with sandpaper. It was so bad that at one point during our hike I just burst into tears and threw down my hiking poles like a little 3 year old. Not super proud of that moment. But I refused to let Saša send me home on a bus to recover for a few days. I had come this far, and to be perfectly honest, so many amazing things were happening to us every single day that I couldn’t imagine missing out on a single second of this adventure. I couldn’t let him have ALL the fun. So I put on my big girl panties, drank some rakija, and powered through every single grueling kilometre of that day.
When we were finally close to reaching Karlovac, we stopped in a village right outside of the big
city to see if there was any accommodation in the area. There was no way I would survive a night of camping. (Not to mention the fact that my nose was so stopped up that I was snoring like an old man, so if the illness didn’t kill me in our tiny tent, Saša would have.) We stopped at a convenience store to ask the worker about it, and she informed us that there was a holiday house very nearby, but she wasn’t sure if the owners were there or not. We thanked her and walked outside when we saw a man sitting on the porch of the store drinking a beer. Saša stopped to have a conversation with the man and ask him for directions to the holiday house. While they talked I wondered if this guy was homeless or what, and why were we talking to him? Why is he sitting outside of a store at 5 in the afternoon drinking beer? Where I’m from, that isn’t exactly normal behaviour. I know now that it is completely normal behaviour here, no one even thinks twice about it, so of course now I feel like a jerk because I really thought we were wasting time talking to this man, and after the day I had, I was not okay with wasting any time that would prolong the time until I got to sleep. So after getting directions from the man, we found that we had only a short walk to this holiday house. I have never been so grateful to sit down in my whole life. But lo and behold, the lady at the store was correct, no one was home. I felt like crying again. But instead I
busied myself with helping cook our dinner. It was a fancy one that night, instead of just instant pasta, we had instant pasta AND sausages. Because we deserved it.
So after finishing up, we decided to just hike it in the dark the rest of the way into Karlovac and find a hostel. We were making our way down the street when a border collie and a Pomeranian that were fenced in someone’s front yard started to bark at us, so of course we walked over to pet them and tell them what good boys they were, when they hopped over their fence! We tried, and failed, to get them to go back into their yard, but they instead began to follow us. Suddenly we saw a man coming towards us, and he seemed to be yelling. We nervously waved and started to shuffle away before he caught up to us. But he persisted, and when he finally came into the light, I recognized him! It was the man from the convenience store! He had come outside to see what his own dog was barking at, apparently we had caused quite a fuss with the local pups.
He then invited us into his home (apparently he had one, so you see why I’m a jerk in this story) to get some water and meet his wife. His wife was about to come home from church where she was helping the kids there make Christmas cards for their families (A super jerk). His home was lovely, and so was he. When his wife came home, she invited us to stay for strudels. Apparently, that’s why the man was at the store earlier, to buy her the ingredients for her famous strudels. He was so excited for us to try them, so of course we stayed. I’m so glad we did too, they were such a joy to be around, and I see why he was so excited about her strudels. They were so good, she made a sweet one and a savory one, and they were her great-grandmother’s recipe. After the food, the boys went outside to talk shop, and she and I sat in the living room and had a lengthy conversation (she spoke nearly perfect English). We talked about life, and love, and living in Croatia. She was originally from Germany, but moved to Slovenia when she was 9 to live with her grandma. She went from living in a bustling metropolis, to living in a village of 8 where they had to collect their own rainwater to shower with. I was fascinated, and for an hour I forgot how sick I was.
But eventually it caught up to me, and I realized it was now almost 9, and our chances of finding a hostel were getting slimmer and slimmer. We informed them of this, and they both insisted we let them drive us the rest of the way into town. We piled into their car, and made it to our hostel just in time. We exchanged info, and said our goodbyes. Another story of the grace and kindness of the people that live here, and another story of me having to check my prejudices. I’ll never forget
these two wonderful people, and hope to repay their kindness someday.
So around mid-October of last year, Saša and I embarked on an expedition to set the hiking route for the Croatian Way. We encountered so many beautiful people along the way. In villages that were as small as 12 residents, to cities with a population of 700,000. We’d walk into some of the tiniest villages I’d ever seen, and every time we would meet someone who would open their homes to us.
One time, for instance, we had been hiking all day and I was exhausted. It was almost time for the sun to start setting, so we needed to find a place to camp, and quick! We hiked to a village named Dragonoš. I don’t know if I can even call it a village, more like a grouping of houses. There was no one around, only one little dog that would not stop barking at us, we were walking over to pet him when somebody came to see what all the commotion was about, I don’t imagine that dog had much to bark about around there. We found out the total headcount of the village was 19 people! So not quite the tiniest village we came across, but not too far off. The man walked off after informing us that there wasn’t any accommodation in the area.
We were about to go find somewhere to put our tent up when we saw another man walking by in quite a hurry. Saša tried to say hi to him, and he said hi back without even turning around to see who had said it and kept walking. I said to Saša, “Geez the people around here aren’t very friendly are they?”. Saša just shrugged and went to find the man. We caught up with the man around the corner. He and two other men were very hard at work cutting firewood for the long winter that was coming. Saša walked up and asked the men if maybe they had some water we could use to fill up our water bottles. One man immediately jumped into action and got us some water to drink. I sipped on this water gratefully, thinking to myself that I needed to revise my previous statement. Saša chatted with all 3 of them for quite some time, when the man that brushed off our hello walked away. I thought, “My god, that man really doesn’t like us.”. I was waiting for a break in the conversation (which, of course, was in Croatian) to ask Saša what that was all about when the man returned with a bottle of beer for Saša and me to share! I was so confused. But I just decided to enjoy this kindness while Saša talked to them for a bit longer. After a bit, they walked away and went back to work with the firewood. Saša told me to come and sit down for a while, and I told him that we didn’t have time, we had to find somewhere to camp for the night! He just smiled and said, “Do we?...”. He then informed me that the man that I originally thought of as unfriendly, had a place we could stay for the night. He was even going to give us a ride! I couldn’t believe it! The man eventually finished up his work, and we piled into his van to head to an Eko Village that he worked at to settle in for the night. We still keep in contact with this man and visited him on Christmas to deliver a small present to say thank you. One day we hope to give him, and all of the other wonderful people we met on our way so much more. And we hope Croatian Way can help us do that.
We’re All in This Together.
Now this is a story that absolutely floored me. So, being from the Midwest, the winter in Delnice is like nothing that I’ve ever experienced in my whole life. I mean, as I type this, there is a blizzard outside piling on top of existing snow piles from other blizzards that are already reaching 7-12 feet tall! The most I’ve ever seen is like 3 feet, mayyyyybe. Anyway, so around the end of November, we were already beginning to get a bit of snow. An elderly lady had just moved here, and she told somebody she had just met at church that she didn’t know how bad the winters could get here. She hadn’t known how much firewood she was going to need, she had none! Upon hearing this, the woman from the church told a friend, who told a friend, who told a friend, and within hours had gotten in contact with someone from the sawmill. Saša used to work at the sawmill, so he got a call to come help…
When we showed up behind the woman’s apartment building, there was a huge truck piled high with logs. There were two men unloading the timber from the truck, two men stacking the timber for cutting, and two men chain sawing the timber. 3 of us ladies were collecting the cut timber and throwing it into the basement, where there were 3 more young ladies putting cut timber into nice stacks in the woman’s basement. While I was collecting the wood and throwing it into the basement, I wasn’t really thinking about it. Everyone was in action, and we were all working like a well-oiled machine. But once the pile of wood was almost gone, we all began to joke around and laugh. This was around the time where I actually realised what had just happened, it struck me like a bolt of lightning. One woman mentioned to one person that she didn’t have any firewood, and within a matter of hours, TWELVE people were spending their Sunday supplying this woman with what she so desperately needed while asking for absolutely nothing in return. And we were laughing and smiling while doing it! What kind of Mister Rogers “Will you be my neighbour?” neighbourhood was I living in??
Believe it or not this is just one of thousands of examples of the selfless kindness that I’ve had the good fortune of witnessing here in Croatia. I’ve seen it over and over and over again, and it still renders me speechless. This, being the final lesson that I’m sharing with you, is the most important. It should go without saying, but this day and age it unfortunately does not. We are ALL in this life together, and NO ONE should EVER watch or listen to someone else struggle through it alone. If you can help, you should. And if you can’t help, you probably know someone who can, so there is no justification for just throwing our hands up and saying, “Well what can you do?” I will never allow myself to do that again. So in summation, THANK YOU CROATIA. I LOVE YOU.
This title is true for many -a- reason, of course. But I say it now because based on what I used to eat, I apparently should have died at age 7, according to Croatians. A slight exaggeration, maybe? Yes... But only a slight one. We all know that the food the average American eats every day is greatly lacking in anything of nutritional value, but is definitely bursting at the seams with gross stuff that causes cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. The sad truth is that unless we go to our local “Whole Foods” (organic food that is priced at the value of gold) and spend $320.00 on 4 days’ worth of groceries, we’re basically just doomed to consume poison. But even though we all know this, we continue to eat all the bad stuff because really, what else can we do? We also justify it by saying, “Who cares? It really can’t be thatttt bad.”. But my dear friends, it is that bad. Just the other day I explained to someone from here what a “McGriddle” was, and they looked at me like I was an abused puppy that they wanted to take home and give a better life to. (Sarah McLachlan actually started to play in my head.) I couldn’t help but laugh because a McGriddle is probably the one of the healthiest things I used to eat!
The first time I had a proper Croatian meal is something I will never forget. I didn’t know that food could have so much flavor! I have never once felt miserable after eating a meal from here. Which back home, I genuinely thought I had stomach issues. I, of course, “WebMD” diagnosed myself, but I really couldn’t eat anything without writhing in pain for the hours to follow. I now understand (duh) that it wasn’t my body’s fault, it was what I was putting into my body. In fact, I’ve only eaten McDonalds once since coming here. It was purely for nostalgia’s sake, and I felt so awful afterwards that I ended up throwing it all up by the time we got home (eww sorry). But it’s like my body was shouting, “We’re not gonna take it, NO we’re not gonna take it! We’re not gonna take it anymore”.
Half of the restaurants that I have been to since I’ve lived here (outside of the larger cities) serve you food from their own farms and gardens, and wine from their very own cellars. Oh, and homemade “rakija” too, I can’t forget to mention that wonderful elixir. Never in my life have I had access to such pure and wholesome food, and that’s something that I will NEVER take for granted. My body, my mind, and my soul have never felt better, now that I’ve completely detoxed from poisonous food. So thank you Croatia, because all kidding aside, you probably have saved my life in the long run.
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Where I’m from, you have your best friends (usually 2), then you have your good friends (usually 3-5). Then it starts to become vaguer, you have “the people I went to high school with”, “the people I went to college with”, etc… Essentially, “the people I used to be friends with”. I’ve noticed that is not the case here in Croatia. Of course, they still have those core friend groups that I have, but “the people they used to be friends with” are people that they are still friends with and engage with on a regular basis. I don’t have some cool story about this, but I’ve seen it every single day, 17 times a day. I wanted to share it as one of my “lessons” because it is beautiful, and it is rare.
Friendships are less fleeting and less changeable here. Once you make that bond with someone, it is solid, and it is lasting. I was envious of this when I first came here, and I am still trying to think of ways I can apply this lesson I’ve learned to my own life. People should not be as changeable as we allow them to be where I’m from. Nearly all of the people I’ve met here are still very good friends with people they were friends with in elementary school! I can’t even remember exactly who my friends were in elementary school. This is one “thing” I’ve learned that I wish I could’ve learned a long time ago.
Thank you Croatia.
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Okay, hear me out, I am actually a very kind person. But that being said, we are all products of our environment. I didn’t realize the uptight, and sometimes rude product my environment produced until I came here. It was hard for me to wrap my head around how much the people from here want to help one another. At first I just thought that it was because Saša was so outgoing, that he could talk to anyone and ask for help. But the longer I’ve been here, the more I’ve experienced it for myself. One time, for instance, I was catching the bus from where Saša and I live, Delnice, to the capital. I was meeting him and a friend there, and this was my first time taking a bus in Croatia alone! I embarked on my journey to the bus station, but when I arrived I realized that I had instead found the train station. I was terrified to ask for help, which is so funny to think about now. So after being frozen in fear for about 5 minutes, this older woman came up to me and asked me something in Croatian, and I just flushed a deep shade of red and said, “Umm bus station?”…. She just nodded her head and found someone who spoke English to translate for us. We all three chatted for a bit and she told me about her niece that lives in Boston. Once she understood that I was looking for the bus to Zagreb, she grabbed me by the hand and guided me the few blocks to the bus station. Once we made it there, she hugged me goodbye and walked all the way back to the train station. Did I mention that it was raining? Because it was definitely raining. I couldn’t believe it. She didn’t even think twice about it but this simple act of kindness had me re-evaluating everything I thought I knew about myself, and about others for the entire bus ride. The kindness that I’ve experienced from the Croatian people has changed everything about how I interact with others now. Even something just as simple as making eye contact and saying hello as I pass someone on the street is something that we just don’t do back home, and I can’t wait to visit so I can bring this light to others. I am happy to announce that I am no longer a “jerk”. Thank you Croatia.
This was probably the most shocking revelation for me. Croatians know how to chill! There is this movie called “In Time” where the economy is based on minutes instead of dollars. The main character is from a poor area, where every minute could be his last. The first time he goes to the wealthier area, he gets called out right away because he is moving so quickly and all the wealthy people are doing everything so slowly. This is exactly how I felt the minute I landed in Zagreb. For instance, Saša and I found a bus to take us from the airport to the main square, and I decided (in the last second of course) that I HAD to use the restroom right then and there. I told Saša expecting to hear, “Okay, so hold it obviously. The bus won’t wait for us.”. Instead he immediately went to the bus driver and told him, and the bus driver without even blinking held the whole bus so I could use the facilities! That would absolutely NEVER happen back home. Or anywhere else I’ve traveled for that matter. Just one tiny example of many. Did you know that when Croatians sit down at a restaurant, the waitresses and waiters let them sit there for HOURS? I mean, it’s actually weirder to them if you’re there for only 30 minutes for a “quick lunch”. Don’t even get me started on Croatians and their coffee. That’s an event in and of itself. Long story short, I’ve learned that it should never be okay to rush anything or anyone, that is something I hope I can pass on to others the way the Croatians passed it to me.
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This spring, we will be offering something completely new on the Croatian market called Croatian Way.
Croatian Way will have 2 options:
* Hiking trail of 320 km which connects more than 30 villages and small towns through a very historical, natural, and undiscovered part of Croatia. From the mountainous areas with lakes and rivers, to the coast. It finishes in the Nature park Učka, which is a perfect final challenge for world hikers.
* Driving route of 767 km from Zagreb to Pula with medieval roads show the real Croatia, and all of its incredible history. With domestic food and drinks grown in local farms and gardens, this option has its own perks for individuals not so inclined to hiking. (Pun intended).
With the Croatian Way, you can find yourself. Gain new perspectives, and education. Experience something new and different every day. Overcome challenges, fearlessly and triumphantly. Discover the real Croatia, and boldly go where no tourist has gone before!
We just opened all of our social media accounts including Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube. Be sure and give us a follow, add, or subscription to make sure you’re always up to date about Croatian Way. Of course to see the gorgeous photos and videos we’ll be sharing as well. You can find the links to all of our pages located at the bottom of our website.