July 26, 2019
Hi everyone! Sadly this is the final time you’ll be hearing from us as we are currently heading back to the States. The past two weeks have been filled with more laughter, smiles, and love than we could have ever imagined. While it was only two short weeks ago that we met the kids in the Paris airport, we have been lucky to watch friendships form that will last lifetimes and are taking away memories that will never be forgotten. Thank you to all the parents out there for letting their sons and daughters join us here in Croatia, it truly has been the pleasure of a lifetime to watch them grow since we first met them and we can assure you that they have taught us more than they will ever know.
Since we last talked we made our way to an island off the coast called Šipan. Trust us when we say that the island is a little slice of heaven with the most beautiful sunsets imaginable. Our first full day on the island was a dream as we spent the morning sea kayaking. The waves were calm as we paddled and in pairs, Timmy and Nina looked like pros as their paddles cut through the waves like hot knives through Swiss cheese. During our day, we stopped in a little cove that had a small beach. We had it all to ourselves. How cool is that?!?!?! Again, Drew was taking professional GoPro videos by diving down and filming everyone swimming about. After our kayaking expedition, we went to lunch at a local restaurant and we got pizza. Will stepped outside of the pizza pie and tried some of the pasta, which he loved, while Nate ate his entire pizza! We then spent the afternoon relaxing on the beach with some super cool floaties that we got at the local supermarket. Betsy did not abandon the watermelon popsicle float the entire time as she soaked in the salt water and sun.
The next morning we set out with a new goal in mind, to explore the neighboring island of Lopud. After taking a ferry over to the island we set our sights on an old fort located at the top of the island. Unsurprisingly, with Sophia leading the pack we hiked to the top where the fort stood. We soaked in the 360° view that overlooked the neighboring islands and mainland. We can confidently say that Thomas got a photo with every individual on the trip. Our guide had to force us to leave the view because we couldn’t pull ourselves away and it was time for lunch. We strolled across the island passing old farm houses and chapels to get to a farm where we would dine. We sat beneath the grape vine shade and drank lemonade while we cooled off and prepared for lunch. Lunch consisted of bread with farm made olive oil, veggie soup, fried chicken, potatoes, and all sorts of fresh vegetables. We ended the meal with cold slices of watermelon which was a perfect refreshing desert in the heat. Jack and Sam were awestruck by the meal and deemed it the best meal we got to share together in Croatia! We spent the afternoon at a large beach nearby where Lillian enjoyed a strawberry-banana-mango smoothie. We laid on the sand and waded in the water as we soaked up our last moments on the beaches of Croatia. We caught a ferry back to Šipan and had dinner on a patio near the harbor. We showered and rested our bodies in preparation for our final day together.
On our last day together we woke up and checked out of our hotel. We transferred off the island by taking a ferry and were treated to a chicken and French fry lunch. After lunch we checked in at the hostel where we dropped our bags and quickly got ready to head into the old town of Dubrovnik. The old town is a beautiful place with castle walls, marble streets, and magnificent buildings. While we were there we ate ice cream, found a candy store with barrels of candy, and shopped for souvenirs. Lindsay and Grace found a shop and bought matching sweatshirts. We even got to go into old churches and had to restrain ourselves from jumping into the water when we found a cliff side that was safe for swimming. After exploring the town we went to our final dinner together, also known as banquet, at a pizza restaurant! All 15 of us sat in a private room and ate enough pizza to last us a week. This was one of the most memorable meals and we made every last moment count laughing and discussing our favorite activities and inside jokes from the trip. Today we woke up early to get back home to you all. We cannot wait to share about our adventures we had through this beautiful country. The goodbyes will be hard and we anticipate some tears in leaving each other but we know that we will reunite soon as we have formed lifelong relationships. See you guys so soon, we’re headed stateside!
Much love for the final time,
Lilly & Garrett
July 22, 2019
You all wouldn’t believe how much fun we are having on his adventure. The past two days we have been exploring the Zrmanja River. When we arrived at our campsite, we threw off our packs and we all hurried into our bathing suits to hop into the river. The campsite in directly on the river so it’s only a few steps to the water. We found a safe cliff to jump off of that overlooked a beautiful waterfall. Right as we were walking up Nate ran past us and straight into the water. With the standard set, we spent the rest of the afternoon jumping off the rocks into the cold water. Betsy was surprised by the chilly water and quickly swam across to a large rock to dry herself. Grace and Sophia quickly followed and watched the others swimming around while sunbathing. That evening we shared a meal beside the river that Marin had prepared for us on the grill. We all felt like we were at a true barbecue eating chicken wings and sausage with our hands. That evening at Moonup, Jack asked us about our most embarrassing phase we have been through which was absolutely hilarious and so entertaining.
The next morning, we walked from our campsite up to a farm where a nice lady we call Nana lives. Since Betsy’s favorite meal is breakfast, she was absolutely thrilled to find an entire table filled with breakfast foods such as eggs, pancakes, homemade cheese, sausage, Nutella, jam, and honey. With full bellies, we were ready to hit the river! After loading up on sunscreen we put on our helmets and life jackets, grabbed our paddles, and got kayak partners. Right off the bat, Nina and Drew proved to be such a dynamic duo as Nina filmed while Drew looked like a natural in the back of the boat! The beginning of the river was smooth and scenic. Sam always had new conversation topics and entertained us as we slowly paddled with the current. When we pulled onto the bank for lunch, we walked down a trail to find a waterfall pouring into a little pool. Will jumped in countless times splashing around and filming with the GoPro. After we enjoyed our picnic lunch, we continued paddling down the river. Lillian and Timmy carried their kayak teams so much so that you would have thought they had been kayaking for years. The rest of the river was more technical with small waterfalls and cliffs on either side of us. When we finished the river we got a snack and headed back to camp. The remainder of the afternoon was spent in the river. Thomas was leading everyone to find new spots to explore along the waterfall and Lindsay was right behind him swimming and jumping along. We laid on the big rock after everyone had been exhausted by the water. When we were ready, we dried off and laid in the eno city we had set up until dinner. We walked back up to Nana’s and had goulash and salad for supper. She walked in after our meal with a plate of warm apple strudel. As you can imagine, we were absolutely thrilled and absolutely stuffed! We slept hard that night and woke up this morning refreshed and ready for the next adventure. It was hard saying goodbye to Nana especially after the amazing breakfast and everything she has done for us.
Now, we are headed to southern coast of Croatia where we will spend some time on the sea. We will check back in in a few days so until then the kids wanted to give a little shoutout to everyone!
Hi mom and dad! I’m having so much fun in Croatia! It is so beautiful, and I can’t wait to see you guys. Love you so much! -Grace
Hey family! I’m having the best time in Croatia! I love my group so so much, I miss y’all! See you soon! I love you guys- Lindsay
Hey mom and tony! Thank you for letting me to Croatia. I’m having so much fun. I have a great group and it is gorgeous here. I love and miss you guys. See you soon! – Sophia
Hi family!!! Croatia is the actual coolest, so are my group and leaders, and I can’t wait to come home and tell y’all all about it. Thanks so much for giving me the chance to come here!! Hope everything is good in Nola:)) love, Nina
Hey Fam Jam! I’m having such a great time in Croatia! Everyone is awesome and the views are amazing! Hope Eliza had fun at camp and everything is good in NOLA. Love and miss y’all, Lillian
Hey Family!! I’m having the best time in Croatia & my group is so fun!! The hikes were hard but so worth it, everything here is so pretty!!! Thanks for letting me come on this trip!! Love and miss y’all -Betsy
Hello family! We just recently finished both the hiking and kayaking sections of the trip which were life changing. Croatia really is one of the coolest places that you’ll ever see. I miss all of you so much and want to thank you guys for letting me come here. Give Winnie a pet for me! See you guys soon. -Nate
Hey mom and dad! Croatia is great and the mountains and rivers are so amazing and different from what I have seen before. We have hiked and kayaked for the past few days and are about to go to Dubrovnik. Thank you do much or letting me come on this trip and I can’t wait to see y’all and Lucy! Love y’all and see you soon. -Sam
Hey family! I hope everything is well at home. I love Croatia so much, and the activities have been great experiences. I can’t wait to travel around Dubrovnik in a bit, but I can’t wait to see y’all when I get back. – Timmy
Hey mom and dad. I’m having a great time here. How’s the pup and aunt Ann? We are driving to Dubrovnik right now and I can’t wait to tell you all about my trip! – Drew
Hey fam. I’m having a great time in Croatia and I’ll be back soon. My trip mostly consists of hiking with really cool views with some other cool things mixed in like rafting. Can’t wait to be back with y’all and the pups, but don’t worry about me I’m having a great time. Love you more than dirt- Jack
Hey Mom, Dad, and Lucy! Croatia so far has been so much fun and being disconnected from my phone has been one of the best parts. We hiked through the mountains, which were really tall, and we kayaked on the coolest river I’ve ever seen! Right now we are on the road to Dubrovnik. Sending much love from Croatia to y’all and of course Phoebe! – Will
Greetings darling family…I’m having the time of my life right now in Croatia. We have done some tough hikes, some fun swimming and activities like kayaking, cards, and just general bonding with my new friends. I won’t be able to explain the beauty of this place, you would have to see it. I have never experienced something like this before and this trip has been life changing honestly. Most of all, I absolutely love the people on the trip and Garret and Lilly are amazing! Can’t wait to see y’all soon! – T Hully
Garret, Lilly, and the kings and queens of Croatia
July 20, 2019
Hey hey hey it’s us back from the mountain!
We have spent the last 4 days using our arms and legs to explore Paklenica National Park. We are happy to report that our trip could not be going better and that the group has quickly morphed into a family.
On Tuesday, we packed up our tents at our campsite in Starigrad and made our way into the National Park! The hike was a challenging one as it was almost all uphill and we had our packs full of clothes and food on our backs. While it was a challenge, our group looked like full on professional adventurers as we took the trail by the horns and conquered it with ease. Drew kept the group’s morale high as he kept us laughing and entertained with his many stories while Nina encouraged everyone the entire way. On the way up we had the opportunity to fill up our water bottles at natural springs, how cool is that!! After we made it to Ramiča Dvori, our new home for the next 4 nights, the group took advantage of a nearby natural pool. In total the hike was over 6 miles and we gained over 1100 feet of elevation. The water was a bit chilly but Nate stayed in the longest and just could not get enough of it. That night we were treated to a delicious typical Croatian dinner of pasta and goulash, it was incredible!
The next morning we woke up and set out for our first full day of hiking. Our goal for the day was to reach Golić Peak and we are thrilled to say that the tough hike was no match for our group. The trail offered many incredible views as we climbed, with Sophia and Jack leading the way, and made our way through some magnificent old growth forests sprinkled with boulders that had fallen from surrounding rock faces. We enjoyed many snacks during the ascent and took many pictures (parents, we can’t wait for y’all to see them!). We were so impressed with the group’s attitude despite the difficulty of the hike. When we reached the top, we were greeted with lunch, prepared by Timmy, and incredible views. We could see everything around us, all 360°! We were even lucky enough to look out over the Adriatic Sea, we waved to our MoonCousins over in Italy on the Dolomites trip but we’re not too sure if they saw us or not. After making our way back down to our mountain hut, we went back to the pool and Thomas jumped in over and over again. Our total mileage for the day was about 10 miles and roughly 2200 feet of elevation gained, what a day! That evening we had warm soup and after Moonup under the stars we snuggled into our bunks.
The next morning the stars from the previous night disappeared and our heads rose from our pillows. We quickly made our way to the trail with a new goal, Black Peak. During the hike, Will showed an infinite amount of composure making his way up while Grace took the rains and led the group to the top. After lunch at the top, we began to descend. The way down was absolutely gorgeous as we hiked through forests with tall branches and meadows. We even got to stop at well to fill up our water bottles. After we got back to the hut and visited the pool, we settled in for a delicious surprise dinner; mac and cheese. In total our hike was about 9 miles and we gained about 1800 feet in elevation.
The next morning we woke up with a whole new activity in our minds: rock climbing! We hiked down to Velika Paklenica (Croatian for “big Paklenica”) and met our climbing guides. Velika Paklenica is a beautiful gorge with tall walls in both sides that provide shade for a lot of the day, meaning that it is a unique and fantastic climbing spot. Before we knew it, Lillian and Sam we’re climbing up the rocks with ease that even impressed the guides! After lunch in the gorge and special ice cream surprise, we headed back up to Ramiča Dvori. On the way up, Betsy and Lindsay made great hiking partners for us leaders as we loved hearing what they had to say. For dinner we were treated like kings as we were served Peka. Peka is a traditional meal in Dalmatian Croatia a baked blend of vegetables and meat, sprinkled with herbs, and then baked to perfection under a bell-like dome, or ispod čripnje. Embers from a fireplace are then placed on top of the bell to heat it up so that it actually cooks what’s under it. It was an unbelievable meal and we are happy to report that we are all full and happy.
Right now, we are headed to the river and couldn’t be more excited to explore!
Talk to you all soon!
Garrett and Lilly
July 15, 2019
Bok everyone! That means hello in Croatian. We have had an amazing start to the trip so far and we can tell that this group is going to be really special. We all merged together getting on a tram in the Paris airport! We walked to the gate together and hunkered down to ride out the long layover. Lillian and Drew taught everyone card games and we got to know each other a little better. Lindsay impressively stayed awake the whole time chatting with some while others dozed off. When we arrived in Zagreb we were thrilled to be greeted by cool weather! We drove to a little village where we settled into our bungalows and quickly headed to dinner. We enjoyed classic Croatian cuisine of trout, chicken, or cevapcici. Sam was the only one to order the trout and he loved it! We were also lucky enough to be served dessert of either chocolate mouse, Nutella crepes, or apple pie. What a treat!!! Jack and Nate loved their desserts and ate them all. Afterwards, we found a circular net suspended on a wooden structure over a creek and gathered for our first Moonup and talked about what our B+ superpowers would be.
The next morning, Nina and Will fearlessly led the pack as our first LODs. We said goodbye to our bungalows to begin our first adventure through Plitvice. The park consists of 16 lakes that pour over cliffs into each other and is the most visited park in Croatia. Its also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s like a beautiful set of turquoise stairs. It was a little cloudy so Sophia selflessly offered to carry everyone’s rain jackets in her day pack so others wouldn’t have to bring theirs. We walked along the lakes and took in the sights. Betsy and Grace were in awe of the clarity and color of the water and debated the science behind it with others. Just in case we’ve got any geologists out there or if you’re just curious, the lakes are a result of the way that rainwater, since its slightly acidic, breaks down the limestone foundation of the lakes! We stopped often for photos, cookies, and laughter as we were in no mindset to rush our time in the beautiful park. We had a picnic lunch and hopped in the van to head to our campsite. Thomas and Timmy set up their Enos upon arrival while the others set up tents. During the afternoon we relaxed and spent some time getting to know each better by playing. After, Garrett gave a quick lesson on what to and how to pack and splitting up the food that each of us will be carrying, we got ready for the trail that we will be taking on tomorrow. For dinner we were treated to Spaghetti Bolognese that really hit the spot, Jack loved it as he just couldn’t get enough.
We can’t wait to tell y’all more about our adventures!
Garrett and Lilly
July 14, 2019
Hello Croatia Families!
We just heard from Garrett and Lilly that the group has landed safely in Zagreb. The trip is off to a great start, and we cannot wait to hear more stories from their adventures! Stay tuned.