Gettin’ a Kick out of Dubrovnik! – Backpack Croatia, Slovenia, Austria & Czech Republic

Dear Parents of Backpack Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, and Czech Republic,

We truly cannot believe that our time together is coming to an end!  We write to you sitting at a cafe in our final city, Zagreb, the capitol of Croatia.  Since we last wrote you, we have been quite busy!  For our last day in Split, the group went on a white water rafting adventure and then to beautiful Omis Beach.  We showed our strength by paddling through the rapids as we went downstream, and all of us managed to stay in the boats!  That was, of course, unless we weren’t swimming!  A few of the trip members even explored a nearby cave which added even more adventure to our morning as they reported that it was very dark and could only swim with help from our guides and their flashlights!  After our adventurous morning, it was off to Omis Beach, which many of us exclaimed was the most beautiful beach to date.  We welcomed the chance to squish our toes in the sand, take some beautiful photos, and jump into the water!

After saying our goodbyes to Split, we headed to Dubrovnik.  The drive was the most beautiful any of us have ever seen as the highway was right along the coastline.  We successfully crossed the border into Bosnia for a few minutes (so now we can add that to the list of countries we have visited!) and then we continued on to Dubrovnik.  We enjoyed a group lunch overlooking the beautiful beaches and then had some time to enjoy the hotel pool and gym, which many of us were excited about!  That night we walked down into the Old City to explore and get some dinner!  We all had fun exploring the side alleyways and the many restaurants Dubrovnik’s old city has to offer.  We are noticing that many dishes here include truffle oil, which seems to be a group favorite and those of us who had tried it before encouraged other trip members to give this rare mushroom a try!  After dinner we had an authentic Croatian disco experience where many of us showed off our dance moves!  We also celebrated Trip Director Shelby’s birthday.  We presented a card that we all signed and an ice-cream cake with candles!

BP Croatia, Slovenia, Austria & Czech Republic Touring the Old City

The next morning we had a guided tour of the Old City of Dubrovnik and learned all about the interesting history that took place inside the castle walls.  Of course, a high point for many of our trip members’ was seeing the sights where the popular TV show Game of Thrones was filmed (for all those who watch, the King’s Landing scenes were filmed here!) We all cooled off with a little bit of lunch and then walked down to the harbor for our sunset kayak adventure!  After pairing up, all of us set out in our kayaks to a small cove just beneath the old city walls.  We had the chance to swim and some of us even went snorkeling!  The water was clear and blue and we all enjoyed the chance to swim beneath this historic city!  We climbed back into our kayaks to paddle back just as the sun was beginning to set, which provided some pretty amazing views.  Although paddling was hard work, on the way back, all of us took some time to appreciate the beauty of where we are and who we are with!  We had a night on the town again and many of us explored the shops of the Old City.  The group met up to enjoy, what we were told, was the best ice cream in all of Dubrovnik, and let me tell you, it did not disappoint!  All of us were ready for seconds almost as soon as we finished our delicious treat.  We took the bus back up to our hotel and it is amazing to see how all of us have improved our ability to ride public transportation since our first evening in Prague together!

BP Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, Czech Republic in Dubrovnik

Yesterday we had a relaxing day at the beach.  We all enjoyed taking in the views of the beautiful Adriatic Sea (for many of us, this trip is our first time swimming in this body of water!)  We collected cool rocks and sea glass, explored a few caves, and listened to some music on the beach.  In the afternoon some of us opted to explore the top of the Old City Walls and took the gondola for a beautiful view!  They returned to the group later that afternoon with some beautiful photos to show!  Last night we took the bus into town for one last night in the Old City, and of course, in true trip fashion, one last visit to our favorite ice-cream shop!  Then it was off to bed for our flight to Zagreb early this morning.  Today we enjoyed a great city tour, complete with a visit to the market and a view of the famous Cathedral, which has a beautiful roof that looks like it was made from legos!  Soon we will head out to explore the city center and then we are off to our final Banquet!

We are sad that our time together ends tomorrow, but we all have so many incredible memories, photos, and friends from our European adventure.  A big thanks to all the mom’s and dad’s out there for sending us on this once-in-a-lifetime experience!

That’s all for now,

The Westcoast Blogger

Bringing a World of Experiences Back Home – Ecuador Community Service

E6 final Blog Pic

Just like that, our 18 days have come to an end. On the last leg of our adventure through Ecuador we were able to visit the Galapagos Islands. While we were in the Galapagos we got to see some very exotic animals in their natural habitat. We helped reforest part of a Giant Tortoise habitat. Everyone thought it was really cool to be doing work, while right next to us Giant Tortoises were roaming around. “Big Daddy G”, a giant tortoise named by Gabby and TD Joelle, sat and watched us work all day long, only about 20 feet away! Walking around Santa Cruz Island was also a great place to spot Iguanas and Sea Lions. We all took a ton of pictures and Matt took a great Selfie with a sea lion that will be cherished forever.

When discussing the trip over all, the trip members all had their favorite experiences that they wanted to share.

Michali’s favorite part of the trip was the service and he says that it was “the most rewarding service I have ever done!” This service included working at an orphanage, school, senior living center, and a nature preserve.

Gabby and Remy both liked rafting down the Pastaza River the best. Gabby said “I like rafting because it put me out of my comfort zone.” Remy added that “Rafting made me feel alive!” Rafting was one of the three major water adventure activities that we participated in. The other two were kayaking in Tortuga Bay and Snorkeling at Kickers Rock.

“I had a very fun experience snorkeling” Anthony declared when explaining his favorite part of the trip. TL Mikey, had a blast with snorkeling as well.  Matt also loved to snorkel and explained it this way, “I enjoyed being a foreign person, visiting and unknown and beautiful world.”

It was hard thinking about just one highlight of the trip for some of us. We accomplished so much throughout our time in Ecuador and Leslie and Daniel both the whole trip was their highlight. “I liked Ecuador…. I liked the Galapagos…. You could say I liked the trip” explained Daniel. Leslie couldn’t agree more by emphatically stating “I wouldn’t trade this amazing Ecuadorian experience for anything in the world!”

All of these diverse outlooks on the trip really sums perfectly. Over the eighteen days that we were in Ecuador we all had amazing and life changing times, whether it be in the seat of a kayak or snorkeling by Kickers Rock, or whether it be playing soccer at the orphanage or making bracelets for senior citizens. The diversity of our trip helped us all grow in many different aspects of our lives and will help guide us in our lives ahead.

The Westcoast Blogger


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