Month: September 2014

Day 1: Split and Trogir

The calm after the storm in Kastela Marina

The calm after the storm in Kastela Marina

As I mentioned before, our first day didn’t exactly go as planned because of the freak thunderstorm that closed down the coastline for two hours. When the rain did finally let up we began getting ready for our first night out in Croatia!

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Rain couldn’t dampen our spirits – or stop our drinking

Instead of sailing from the marina to Trogir we ended up having to take a cab in order to get to the party on the riva. Our night out in Trogir was my least favourite of the week, but I’ll chalk it up to hauling luggage around and grocery shopping completely exhausting my energy stores.

The strip of bars that were on the riva weren’t the greatest – we were actually subjected to a lot of sketchy characters that, thankfully, were never to be seen again. One of which being a 12 year old that seemed to run one of the bars. In typical drunk girl fashion two of my girlfriends (ehm Emma and Tori) befriended him and were fed free drinks the remainder of the night, which definitely wasn’t a horrible experience. To combat their drunkenness my friend Alex and I decided to go on an adventure to find them both something to soak up the excessive amount of vodka shots they were consuming. This wouldn’t be the last drunk food search of the night, but it was certainly the easiest. As it turns out drunk food really isn’t a thing in Croatia, unlike in Canada, where drunk food is the quintessential way to end a messy night out. It took the girls and I a good half hour to realize we needed to cross a bridge to find a bakery that was open at 3am – but let me tell you, it was completely worth it. There are few things that make me happier at 3am than drunk food, especially if that drunk food is a flakey pastry filled with cheese and minced meat.

Our crew

My wonderful crew on the riva in Trogir

 

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The Yacht Week: Introduction, Booking, Getting There, and Check-In

My trip of a lifetime started out in Croatia! Our YW preparations started months ago when two of my girlfriends decided to rally some of us together for a graduation/Eurotrip. Most people thought that we were nuts when we said we had booked a yacht. There’s a stigma attached to YW that makes most people think it’s super expensive and unattainable, when in reality if you plan it out it costs just slightly more than a really nice all-inclusive in the Caribbean.

Booking the yacht itself was very simple – we simply had to log onto TYW website and chose the number of people sailing with us (not including our skipper – more on this later) and the website listed off the yachts that could accommodate our party.As of right now our crew is actually the background movie playing on the bookings site! I even have a quick headshot in there:)

One thing that could throw some people off is that they ask for the exact number of girls & boys that will be on the yacht (no doubt to ensure fairly even gender ratios for that week). When choosing the yacht, there is a percentage directly beside the model year that shows the percentage of females that must be on the yacht for you to be able to book. From experience going over this ratio is encouraged – being the only all girl boat (that I knew of) on our week was a TON of fun. We were immediately coined the ‘Toronto Girls or Canadian Girls’ and were known for hosting a few too many APs on our boat.

Depending on which week you plan on travelling you follow a different payment schedule (all of them include 3 instalments) – the first two are usually around the same amount (30% of the total cost) and the last is the largest (40%). We opted to purchase TYW bracelets which grant you entry to all TYW parties – I STRONGLY encourage this as TYW puts on some of the best parties I’ve ever been to, especially at Fort George in Vis and Carpe Diem and Carpe Diem Beach in Hvar. You also need to budget in money for a skipper, unless you are particularly skilled at driving large yachts, and even then I recommend hiring a skipper – who wants to be worried about steering when you could be funnelling beers? Our skipper was an absolute godsend – I have no idea how he dealt with 11 girls for a week without loosing his mind, but we absolutely adored and appreciated him for it. Skippers also know all the best places to eat on the islands, bays to swim in, and they party the hardest – you don’t survive a summer of yacht week without being able to out-drink the average 20-something. That last reason alone is enough to befriend your skipper – ours brought us a funnel, something that I had originally wanted to bring but had no room to pack – yes, he is actually the best skipper in existence.

Looking for a taxi outside of the Split airport

Three of the four Ninja Turtles looking for a taxi outside of the Split airport

If you choose to sail in Croatia you will be leaving from a marina near Split, a city situated right on the Dalmatian coast. I chose to fly through Rome in order to reach Split airport, but I know that it’s possible to fly through other large European airports such as Frankfurt and Munich, it all really depends on your budget and timeline. I arrived with 3 of my girlfriends the night before (Friday, August 22nd) and would definitely recommend this as the day of is very hectic with grocery shopping and check in.

We easily found a cab that took us from the airport into our hostel in town where we met the rest of the girls. If you’re travelling to Split and need a hostel stay at Grand Hostel LerO. The owners were SO incredibly friendly and helpful – they actually greeted us with their garden grown watermelon and grapes alongside a platter of figs that I still dream of to this day. In addition to feeding us an assortment of mouth-watering fruit, they insisted on us drinking some of their homemade grappa. Coming from an area that is largely Italian back home, I was initially horrified as my first memory of grappa was quickly taking a few too many shots before a friend’s 17th birthday in a moment of sober desperation. I was actually pleasantly surprised at the fruity taste when I tried it with the girls at 11am (yes 11am, I was on vacation and it was considered celebratory – no judgment). The owners also helped to set us up with a shuttle to the marina in the morning (I told you they were the best) for around 10 EUR each.

All of us waiting outside the hostel - yes, that's me fixing my bralette.

All of us waiting outside the hostel for our shuttle – yes, that’s me fixing my bra, clearly not ready to be photographed.

There are a few different marinas in Split so make sure you check your itinerary on TYW booking to see which one you leave from. We were assigned to leave from Kastela Marina, which was around a 20-minute ride from central Split. These 20 minutes flew by thanks to our shuttle driver who was absolutely hilarious – he was an actor and actually sang to us the entire way while playing his Ukulele. If that’s not talent I’m not sure what is.

Waiting what seemed like eternity to board our yacht.

Waiting what seemed like eternity to board our yacht.

Once we arrived at Kastela we met a few of the crew members who handled the whole check-in process. Since our party was arriving at different times from the hostel (the shuttle couldn’t carry all of us at once) we decided to wait to check-in later and went grocery shopping! The closest grocery store to Kastela Marina is a Getro that is literally a 5-minute walk up the road – if you’re coming in from Split you’ll pass it on the way. The only unfortunate thing is that travelling back with groceries isn’t as easy – we had to take a cab that cost us 100 Kuna (I think it was equivalent to around $20CAD), which was obviously a complete rip off, but it was way too difficult to carry 4 jugs of water and all our groceries back. I’d say grocery prices at the Getro were comparable to those in Canada; they also had a small shop outside that had towels, water shoes, and floaties. If you’re going to buy something there buy water shoes! I think they were around 50 Kuna, but were completely worth it. I was very thankful I bought them when I climbed the Green Caves as the rocks heading up are extremely sharp (I also lost a chunk of my shin this day) and when I had to shower in some fairly gross public stalls. Buy floats if you can as well; they’re a lot of fun during the circle party that happens later in the week! Getro had a decent selection of produce, non-perishables, and most importantly – alcohol. If you’re lazy there was a small convenience store at the marina, but they jacked up the price of pretty much everything by 20-50 Kuna.

Now onto groceries – we just bought the essentials because we really didn’t plan on cooking all day. Here is our basic list:

1) Water (Buy double what you think you need – I would buy my own large bottle every time we docked because the thought of being hungover and dehydrated in the middle of the ocean was my absolute nightmare)

2) Pasta

3) Tomato sauce  – Be careful you aren’t buying the red pepper sauce – we, along with a bunch of crews made this mistake… luckily it tasted good as a sandwich condiment

4) Fruit – we bought peaches, apples, bananas and plums … it made an excellent breakfast/mid-day snack

5) Vegetables – avocados (we were craving some guac), onions, garlic, tomatoes, lettuce

6) Bread

7) Chips – Europeans seem to love their Pringles and so did we! We also bought some tortilla chips for our guac day

8) Peanut butter

9) Peanuts

10) Chase – Redbull, OJ, and Coke were necessary

11) Alcohol – buy a variety, I can tell you from experience you aren’t going to be able to drink the same thing for 7 days and nights straight. I ended up alternating between Somersby, Red Wine, Vodka, and Beer

12) Lunch meats – Sandwiches are generally a crowd-pleaser and make the best lunches when you’re sailing between ports

13) Olive oil

14) Balsamic vinegar

15) Plastic cups/paper plates – no one wants to do millions of dishes

16) Garbage bags (big ones) – So incredibly necessary for clean ups after parties

17) Salt and pepper

18) Shampoo/Conditioner/Body Wash – the majority of our showers happened off the back of our boat and in the ocean, so if you’re a princess this may not be the trip for you (think camping on a boat)

19) Toilet paper

20) Paper towels

This was just our first grocery trip, we ended up purchasing more food at each port depending on what we needed. Whenever we stopped on an island we found it easy enough to find a market so there is no need to buy supplies for the entire week – you don’t have enough room to store it all anyways!

We ended up boarding our yacht around 5PM which we initially weren’t very happy about, but it ended up being a blessing in disguise. There was a huge thunderstorm (something VERY uncharacteristic of Croatia in the summer) that we would have been sailing though if we had made it on earlier. There were only two yachts that left before the storm and passengers on both boats said they thought they weren’t going to make it!

I hope I gave you guys a little insight into what to expect before getting onto your yacht – if you have any questions I’d be happy to answer them :) My next few posts are going to focus mainly on what we did on each island and little tips on making the most out of the best week of your life!

xx R

The Yacht Week Croatia

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Hey guys,

Sorry for the huge gap between my posts – I’ve been in Europe for the past three and a half weeks! I actually planned on keeping a detailed journal of everything that happened during my trip so that I could write about it here, but there was always something to do that sounded more exciting that staying home and writing about my day! My resolution for my next trip (yes there is already one in the works) is to actually complete said journal on the daily.

This is most definitely going to turn into a series of posts just because I have too many things to say to get it all out at once. This first post is just going to be a general introduction to my experience booking and boarding our yacht. The next few posts will go into more detail about each destination, what I brought – including what I should of packed and what I wouldn’t next time, and a few tips on surviving YW!

When you watch the trailers for The Yacht Week you really can’t comprehend what they mean by “It’s nothing like the real world” until you’ve actually lived it. The trailer depicts young, attractive, carefree individuals who look like they’re having the time of their life and let me assure you, they are. I’ve been fortunate enough to have experienced numerous wonderful vacations, but nothing will ever compare to the memories and friends that I made on YW.

Here’s the 2013 trailer in case you haven’t seen it.

The Yacht Week started in Croatia and now has routes in Italy, Greece, Thailand, and British Virgin Islands. We chose Croatia because it’s known to be the most party-centric route. They cater to the 20-35 year old demographic, as 22 & 23 year olds we were definitely one of the youngest crews – and trust me, this wasn’t a bad thing at all.

Let me just warn you, YW isn’t for those who want a relaxing travel experience in five star accommodations. I barely slept the entire week, most nights I crashed in our hammock or on the top deck of the boat, but I wouldn’t change a single second of it. If you’re doing YW it’s to experience the insane parties, meet amazing people from around the world, and see the coastline of a beautiful foreign country – NOT to lie in a bed and enjoy ideal sleeping conditions. Believe me most nights sleeping isn’t even an option until around 6am when the party settles down. This isn’t to say that you’re going to living in absolute squalor for a week, but it’s definitely more like living in residence first year-university that being put up in the Ritz. Be prepared to be woken up by people scrambling across your boat mid-morning trying to find their boat before their crew leaves to the next port or just by your own crew mates who insist that 9am is a perfectly acceptable time to start drinking (this may or may not have been me). Exploring the islands and sailing a little buzzed is half the fun anyway.