My Trip to Croatia, Joining Instagram and Other Updates

April 10, 2016

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On top of one of the forts overlooking Sibenik

I usually focus my posts on specific topics, but this time I thought I’d do a bit of a round-up of different things.

I feel like I should do more casual writing sometimes, so this is trying to loosen things up a bit! So without further ado, let me tell you about my recent travels and other going-ons around the blog…

Road tripping through Croatia

A couple of weeks ago I teamed up with a friend of mine to go on a road trip through Croatia.

I’ve been to Croatia once before, on a sailing trip around the southern Dalmatian islands back in 2010. It was in mid August with gorgeous sunny weather and lots of swimming in the sea every day. It was a wonderful trip, though this time around the goal was to have more of a sightseeing trip and less of a summer holiday, and to see much more of Croatia.

But I must confess, going to the Croatian coast in March wasn’t the best, and I would have liked to have gone in May or June (my friend could only go in March). I’ve travelled in off-season many times, but along the Croatian coast I definitely had the sense that many places weren’t quite ready for us yet.

Hostels were closed or empty, museums shut early, and some places felt like ghost towns. When we checked in to a guesthouse in Sibenik, the receptionist showed us a map of the town but stopped describing the places mid-way, saying “actually, there’s no point in telling you this as everything is closed”. Oh… ๐Ÿ™

I had hoped things would be ever so slightly livelier, though fortunately things did pick up as we got closer to Dubrovnik, which is located in the southernmost tip of Croatia. It was wonderfully sunny there, and hiking up one of the hills for a view of the city made for a particularly nice day.

We also lucked out in Dubrovnik as it just so happened that it was being used as a location for the next Star Wars movie that weekend. Being a bit of a movie geek, I didn’t mind this at all…

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The houses along the main street all had Star Wars facades attached, the street name plates had been replaced with suitably galactic versions, and some of the windy back-alleys had been cleverly re-dressed with futuristic-looking lamps. All of the filming locations were accessible while they were still setting them up, so it was fun to take pictures, poke around, and watch some stunt people test some of the rigs.

Since it was St. Patrick’s Day, we hit up an Irish bar in the evening where we got to mingle with a bunch of people working on the movieI randomly had drinks with some of the costume designers, riggers, and the main cameraman for the sequence they were filming that day, which was pretty cool.

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While the weather and timing of my Croatia trip weren’t generally that awesome, one other aspect that I did enjoy hugely was simply driving along the beautiful Dalmatian coast. Some of the views were gorgeous and the last leg of our trip to Dubrovnik was especially satisfying, as there the roads are all fun and windy, with cypress trees dotting the cliffs along the Mediterranean coastline.

The old town of Dubrovnik

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Some strong winds along the northern coastline

Driving through Croatia was also made all the more enjoyable by the fact that we had a decidedly non-shitty car…

The last time I was on a road trip with my friend Wout we were actually travelling through Central America in this 30-year-old clunker:

This was a fun adventure but we probably saw a few too many mechanics on that trip! Things got so bad with that car that we eventually had to abandon and sell it for scrap to a man in the street in Mexico. (It’s a story I told on the blog before.)

This time we rented something a bit better:

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It’s nice to be a flashpacker sometimes.

I finally joined Instagram!

I’ve posted some of my pics from Croatia on Instagram, as well as some favourite photos from my previous trips. You can follow me on Instagram here.

People have asked me for my Instagram name forever, and I’ve always had to tell them “sorry, I’m not on it”. My phone camera isn’t that great so I rarely take pictures with it, and a lack of a data connection in many places abroad made me not want to bother.

What finally changed is that I found an easy way to get my DSLR pictures onto Instagram. Now I can hit just one a button in Adobe Lightroom, have the image automatically compressed using JPEGmini, then sent to an Android emulator called BlueStacks, which then opens the Instagram app with the photo ready for publishing. If I include a specific hashtag, it also then gets automatically reposted on my Facebook and Twitter accounts as well. Crazy.

It’s kind of a ridiculous set up but it works amazingly well. It’s cool to have a channel for my travel photography now, and I expect I’ll be dipping into my archives regularly as so many photos I’ve taken have never been published before.

I hope you’ll join me on Instagram! It seems like a positive place and I’m amazed by the photos other people are posting. It’s cool not to miss out on it any longer.

Responses to my book

Speaking of Instagram, it was fun to see someone posting a pic there of my book along with an impressive range of Lonely Planet guides. (Planning something big, indeed!)


Seeing people’s feedback always puts a smile on my face. Some new reviews of my book appeared on Amazon recently and they totally made me blush. I love that this thing I made is helping people out.

I didn’t have such a direct feedback loop in any of the things I did before my blog, so it’s rewarding to see people connect with what I’ve made.

I also liked reading this blogger’s post about researching and preparing for a trip. It’s still weird to me that anyone would mention Indie Traveller in the same breath as a site like Nomadic Matt. (I think my blog is pretty good now, but Matt’s blog is simply unstoppable.)

Nomadic Matt was an inspiration for me back when I started mine in 2013. I think it’s easy for travel blogs to become quite self-absorbed, but Matt always seemed mainly concerned with giving people insight and information. There are many other ways of putting your audience first (good storytelling is another one), but his example was so clear and obvious that it made me think a lot about what a travel blog could or should be.

I’ve kind of come full circle on this now though as I believe my blog has been a bit too informational lately. I think it’s okay for me to have a bit more fun with and share personal things on it too. This is another thing that guys like Matt and others do so well, and it’s something I’d like to try doing more. (It’s also why I’m trying to do a more casual post right now.)

Q&A on Nomadic Matt

Speaking of Nomadic Matt (wow, lots of easy segways here today…), I was a featured forum member there recently which meant I got to answer some questions about my travels. The Q&A was done sometime last year when I was still travelling around Morocco, though it wasn’t published until just a couple of weeks ago. Be sure to give it a read if you’re curious about how I started travelling or my general approach to travel.

Future travel plans

My recent Croatia trip was actually the first I’ve done in 4 months. I’ve not done so much travelling lately as I’ve mostly spent my time rebalancing my life.

Last year threw me off-balance a bit as I found myself dealing with a few too many uncertainties. I worried about money (which was getting pretty tight) and about life, love, belonging, and everything. For several years everything had been so weighted towards freedom that I forgot about having a foundation.

I decided to get some permanent work: I’m helping with AdWords and SEO at a travel company called Rickshaw in Brighton, which has been super great. I’ve also taken time to focus on a few much-neglected aspects of my life. After some stormy weather in 2015 I find myself in much calmer waters now and I’m super pleased with what I’m doing.

Meanwhile Indie Traveller began generating some nice revenues, which made me feel much more justified in the time I’ve spent on it. Money isn’t such a worry anymore which is an awesome feeling to have.

Anyway, after not really travelling for a while I’m now turning my attention to doing some bite-size weekend trips in Europe… in fact, following Croatia I’m going to be in Spain next week! I’ve read a lot about Iceland as well and I think it would be cool to explore some of those ice caves out there. Later in the year, I’m thinking of going back to Brazil, and visiting some friends in the States.

That said, I change my mind about destinations all the time, so we’ll see. ๐Ÿ™‚

Thatโ€™s it for now โ€“ I hope you enjoyed reading just a few miscellaneous thoughts and updates. I normally tend to write posts that are quite search engine optimised, but I think it’ll be fun to experiment with more casual posts as well. I’m not sure what format works best for this, but I guess I’ll find out.

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9 comments

  1. Carmen Reply November 26, 2016 at 10:33 pm

    Hi Marek,
    normally I don’t read travel blogs, i prefer to experience it myself ;). However, I really like your blog and I have been reading a few articles. Keep it going!

    • Marek Reply November 28, 2016 at 2:06 pm

      Thanks Carmen! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Bharat & Supriya Reply July 17, 2016 at 11:37 pm

    Welcome to Instagram Marek – it is quite the pain to schedule posts to Instagram, but wow this sounds pretty cool. We’re definitely looking up JPEGmini. Since you’ve sailed in Croatia before – which islands would you recommend? We’re hoping to sail for 2N 3D starting maybe in Dubrovnik and ending maybe in Split. So far we’ve thought about Korcula, Hvar. Additionally, which sail company did you go with? Was it a mini cruise or a boat you sailed yourself?

    Look forward to your suggestions ๐Ÿ™‚
    Supriya

    • Marek Reply July 18, 2016 at 6:45 pm

      Hey Supriya. I’m a bit useless answering this question as I did that sailing trip about 8 or 9 years ago, looong before I started blogging, and I don’t remember the specifics! I did go on a mini cruise though and I went to Hvar (which I liked) and several other islands. Sorry I can’t offer better details!

  3. Anca Reply April 11, 2016 at 10:01 am

    As a Croatian, living in Split, I totally get it when you say you felt like some places weren’t ready yet or they felt like the ghost towns. The whole coast is basically dead until the end of the May. The atmosphere during the winter and the summer is completely opposite but I don’t prefer neither one of them – cause than again, the summer is usually packed with tourists. We definitely need some toruist strategy in the future so we can achieve some balance between those two.
    Anca recently posted…Traveling to The Philippines – Two Week ItineraryMy Profile

    • Marek Reply April 11, 2016 at 10:06 pm

      I can see how the summer would be a bit too much especially if you’re a local. When I was in Dubrovnik 6 years ago it was already rammed! It’s too bad there’s such a contrast – the shoulder months could be really lovely if there was slightly more activity. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. MarkDeafMcGuire Reply April 10, 2016 at 4:22 pm

    Ya not alone. I joined Instagram about three months ago. I’m not a big fan of Facebook or anything to do with it so it’s been an interesting experience with Instagram. It still feels Facebookish to me but I’m no Mark Zuckenberg.

    It sounds like you are adapting to a fluid lifestyle now that you squared a few things away. I was surprised to see this post pop up in my Feedly and came over here to read it. Any lifestyle adjustment always requires a time period to adapt.

    Best of luck to you here on out.

    • Marek Reply April 10, 2016 at 8:31 pm

      Nice Puerto Rico pics on your Instagram! I’m mainly a twitter man myself and use FB begrudgingly as everyone is on it. I quite like Instagram as it’s just pictures being shared, which makes it somehow more positive and fun.

      Cheers for your comment Mark ๐Ÿ™‚

      • MarkDeafMcGuire Reply April 11, 2016 at 3:30 pm

        Aye, I agree with you on Twitter being terrific for discovering content and Instagram for a visual experience. It does seems more Facebook like in terms of visual entertainment than Pinterest which appears to be more like visual catalog of information.

        Thanks for the feedback on the pics. I am glad you enjoy them. Looking forward to yours.

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