“Stockholm is a beautiful city with a rich culture.”
The first thing I learned in my Travel Writing class was that a sentence like the one above barely provides any information and the same can be said about almost every other city in the world.
The art of storytelling lies in showing rather than telling. So, I’ll try again.
Stockholm is made up of 14 islands, and the archipelago offers lush greenery and lakes to swim in during the hot summer months. In June, people celebrate Midsummer, the longest day of the year, when the sun is out for about 80 percent of the day.
Getting to know Stockholm has been a huge delight but the highlight of my stay here is my Travel Writing Class. My professor, Lola, is a professional Travel Writer and Photographer and has been to over 70 different countries and shared thought provoking articles from around the world based on her personal experiences.
In class, we have spent time reading articles together with her, after which she provides insight into her writing style and what made the articles hooking and inspiring. All twenty students seem mesmerized as we take turns to read a couple paragraphs each.
To me, the thing that stands out the most is the conversation surrounding a sense of belonging in different places. I love how the class is not only about writing but also provides insights into different cultures and a traveler’s place in them.
As part of the course, we went for a 5-day study tour to Croatia, spending time in Split, Hvar and Dubrovnik. I had a ton of new experiences during our short eventful visit!
We were received by a very friendly guide who told us all about Croatia during the bus ride to the hotel. We were shown around the Palace of Diocletian which covers about half of the town of Split, and the highly-knowledgeable guide told us about the Cathedral of Saint Duje, with the heat of the sun above us. Amongst the sand colored buildings, I even saw a lot of Game of Thrones souvenir shops and later got to know that a lot of the shooting had taken place in Split and Dubrovnik. We made a stop at the Uje olive oil tasting where we got to try and learn about famous varieties of olive oil in Croatia. I can still recall the taste of olive oil with homemade Dalmatian-style Tapas including bread, cheese, and fish. The highlight meal of the day was our five-course dinner (hosted by renowned travel writer, Jane Foster) at Konoba Fetivi, which included foods like octopus, and risotto with squid ink, which were way out of my comfort zone but nonetheless, delicious.
On our second day, we were shown around the fish and vegetable markets in Croatia. Vendors greeted us with friendly smiles as we awed at the different sea creatures laying lifeless on ice in the busyness of the market. Our guide for the day commented how he didn’t agree with how people in other parts of the world dipped fish in mayonnaise and different sauces. “A fish has to swim 3 times”, he said, “in the Sea, in Olive oil, and in Wine”.
We soon headed to the island of Hvar on a peaceful ride on a ferry, with the Adriatic Sea all around us. We met our new guide and discovered the largest city square in Dalmatia. We saw ancient Roman ruins and the Hvar cathedral, and even made a stop at the Benedictine Nuns’ Museum. Later in the evening, we all decided to go to the beach for a swim. Cooling off, after the morning’s tour and commute, was just perfect. Before calling it a night, some off us went to see live a jazz band who even played their own rendition of “Dancing Queen” by Abba.
The next day, we were shown around Fortica, a medieval fortress, by our amazing guide. She mentioned how the monument used to serve as a nightclub and how she had very fond memories of the castle from when she was young. We explored Stari Grad town and I had some delicious lavender ice-cream! Our day also included a wine tasting at one of the most prominent wineries in Hvar, followed by an eco-friendly farm to table lunch!
We capped off the trip in Dubrovnik. After our city tour of the Pearl of the Adriatic, we headed to Konavle Valley, a rural region where people still follow hundreds of years old traditions. We visited a family-owned restaurant in the Konavle hills, where we met the Mujo family and cooked lunch with them. They were very friendly as they showed us around their farm and told us about their rich family history! Our final itinerary event was a silk-making workshop where we learnt the cultural importance of silk!
After coming back from Croatia, I could hardly believe so much could be fitted into so little time. The people I met on tour enlightened me with cultural insights and deep knowledge about their country. The study tour made me realize how there is so much to see in the world!
I am grateful to have had the real life experience on what it feels like to be a travel writer on assignment, and I look forward to use the skills I’ve learnt in class to write my service piece and immersive travel narrative on Croatia!
See you soon!