So far I am strangely managing with the Croatian language - it's almost like Russian transliterated into English. More strangely is that I am communicating is Yiddish, that's right, Yiddish! The older generation speaks in German, so for us to negotiate anything, I have to pull out remnants of my Yiddish skills from the fifth grade..."gib a kook"!
A few hours train ride from Hungary brought us to Zagreb, Croatia. We were greeted by our couchsurfing host, Domagoj. But it's not like he came by car to pick us up, he came by tram to bring us back to his place. His sister, Eva, and twin brother, Mislav, are also so nice.
Eva and Dom gave us a great tour of Zagreb. We were walking up to the old city when all of a sudden there was a large boom! I thought it was a bomb and I was ready to duck...apparently it was a canon that goes off every day at 12 noon. At night Mislav and Dom took us to a restaurant to eat Pljeskavica, Serbian "meat balls"...so good.
Our next stop was Plitvice National Park. I have never seen such natural beauty in all my life! There are lakes, waterfalls and greenery everywhere. There are a total of 16 turquoise colored lakes with varying elevations. The water cascades from from one lake to another forming the most picturesque waterfalls.
Here we met Uwe, a Canadian, German, American, Nicaraguan airplane pilot that lives in Bahrain. Also, he could be a double for Dan Akroyd! It was great to spend time with him. Thanks for the great stories, jokes and bottle of wine.
The second day we wanted to go into the park again. We didn't know if our ticket was still valid and we didn't want to pay again. Along the highway, we found a pathway into the park so we were in. The park was just as amazing the second day as the first. Also along the highway, we found wild mini strawberries that were smaller than my pinky nail and sweeter than sugar.
From here we made our way to Zadar, a coastal town. Honestly, we kind of regret coming here. The beaches are not so nice and are located right by the marinas. The old city center is interesting but there is not much to do for more than a day. The cool thing about the old town was the water organ which uses under water currents to create "music". As I understood, water enters pipes with different diameters which then displace air creating sounds, kind of like blowing over the top of a bottle.
We are now on a bus to Split and I hope it will be as amazing as everyone says it is.
In the last week, we travelled to the south of Brasil. Our first stop was the beach town of Florianopolis - unfortunately, it rained both days that we were there.
The first day, we tried to go to the noth beach of Jurere, but the rain wouldn't subside long enough for us to lounge around in the sand or go swimming. The second day was also cloudy, so we went on an incredible hike which had amazing views and finally brought us to a secluded beach.
We then made our way to Iguazu Waterfalls to meet up with Keren. The waterfalls are located at the triple forntier of Brasil, Argentina and Paraguay. These waterfalls huge!!! We arrived by bus on the Brasil side but were meeting Keren in a hostel on the Argentina side. We decided to walk the distance, afterall, it looked very close on the map. In reality, not so much. Now I understand why when we asked for directions to walk, people actually laughed at us.
We walked across the Brasil border, then the Argentina border and after over two hours of walking we finally decided to catch a bus into town. We met up with Keren and half the population of Israel. In all seriousness, you hear more Hebrew on the streets than any other language!
The first day, we checked out the Brasilian side of the falls and the second day was spent ont he Argentinian side. The waterfalls are truly incredible; I could have watched them all day. And the wildlife is so diverse from giant spiders to aligators to the cutest little animal, called the coati.
We are now back in Sao Paulo hanging out with family again. Gadi's aunt, Luci, was amazing enough to get us free passes to the swimming pool at the Jewish Center. Yesterday, we got out fill of sushi at an all you can eat restaurant, which included sashimi....hmmm....
Today Gadi's parents arrived. We are moving out of the Gadi's uncle's house and into his cousin's house before we take off the a beachhouse for Carnaval!