Recap of August 23 - September 13, 2018: Here is a complete picture of my 3-week journey by bus, covering nearly 1,200 miles through the Balkan countries of Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Total bus fare was about $250, or about $0.20 per mile. Not bad. I’ve posted details of each leg below, but I thought it would be useful to post a high-level picture. I recommend the route!
September 13, 2018: I took the ferry from Split to Trogir, back to Palace Central Square Apartments - where Ivan and Danielja were waiting with my room (and sail bag) ready! I’ll stay here two nights, and then board a sailboat for 2-weeks of sailing down the Croatia coast, from here down to Dubrovnik!
September 11 - 12, 2018: I took the bus from Mostar back to Split, where my journey had begun three weeks ago.
September 9 - 10, 2018: I made the long journey from Belgrade, Serbia to Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina. To break up the bus ride, I spent the night of the 9th in Sarajevo, but only had the next morning to explore the historical town. I arrived in Mostar on the 10th and enjoyed the afternoon dining alongside Mostar’s famous “old bridge.”
September 4 - 8, 2018: After spending 2 nights in war-torn-but-recovering Vukovar, I took the bus to Belgrade, Serbia. I was hoping to meet a friend here but his plans changed so I'll spend the next 5 days exploring the city on my own.
September 2 - 3, 2018: After spending the weekend in Zagreb, I boarded a bus and made the 5 hour journey to Vukovar, located on the eastern border of Croatia and sitting on the Danube River.
August 31, 2018: I took the bus from Lake Bohinj back to Ljubljana (2 hours) and then from Ljubljana back into Croatia - stopping at the capital, Zagreb, where I'll spend the weekend.
August 28 - 30, 2018: I did three major hikes. First, around Lake Bled and up to the castle and other viewpoints. Second, around the lovely town of Ljubljana. Third, around Lake Bohinj (in Triglav National Park) and up to Slap Savica (a waterfall). After the third hike, I spent the night in the small lakeside settlement of Ribcev Laz.
August 26 - 27, 2018: I took a bus from Split, Croatia to Ljubljana, Slovenia. To break up the trip, I spent a quick overnight in Zadar, one of my favorite towns in Croatia.
August 23 - 26, 2018: Having landed in Croatia, I head to Trogir to spend one night at Palace Central Square apartments. I leave my sail bag with the family who runs the place (who are super friendly), and head off with a lighter load for 3 weeks of exploring. I spend this first weekend in Split, strolling the promenade and wandering the cobblestone streets.
August 22, 2018: I depart from SFO, headed for Croatia.
August 21, 2018: I flew back to the Bay Area for a quick transition into full "DBT" mode. I'm moving out of the San Carlos apartment, re-renting my house, storing the cars, packing my bags, and heading out for 4-6 months abroad. First stop, Croatia.
August 16 - 20, 2018: I flew to Portland, Oregon to join my family at our beach house in Manzanita for the annual "Givens Family Reunion." We enjoyed a weekend of beach walks, board games, and bonfires. Plus great food including fresh salmon and fresh crab. The crab was thanks to my Uncle Bruce, Aunt Mai, and cousin Isabel who spent the previous day catching the crab, and then drove 5 hours to deliver it to us! I also took the opportunity to catch up with a few good friends in Portland, too.
March 10 - August 15, 2018: I hunkered down in the San Francisco Bay Area (San Carlos, to be precise) to work as a part-time Sailing Instructor at OCSC Sailing Club. It was hardly part-time in reality; I logged over 80 days on the water during the 5 months of summer. This will help me satisfy the sea-time requirements set by the U.S. Coast Guard for my Captain's License, which I hope to apply for by the end of 2018.
February 25 - March 9, 2018: I flew to Portland, Oregon where I took a 10-day course with Columbia Pacific Maritime to prepare for the exams required for my Merchant Mariner Credential (Captain License) with the U.S. Coast Guard. Good news: I passed the course, and the exams!
February 8 - 24, 2018: I arrived back in the San Francisco Bay Area and settled into an apartment I rented from a friend of mine in San Carlos. This will be my home base for the next 6+ months.
February 1, 2018 - February 7, 2018: I headed by bus north from Puerto Montt, making my way back to Santiago. I stopped in Concepcion and Chillan on the way, for two days each. Then, after two days in Santiago, I flew back to the U.S.
December 15, 2017 - January 31, 2018: I returned to Isla Tenglo, a small island community off the coast of Puerto Montt, Chile. I spent 7 weeks here volunteering for the same family I visited in 2015.
November 19 - December 14, 2017: I flew home to San Francisco. I temporarily moved back into my vacant house where I made some minor repairs and touch-ups to get it ready to re-rent again. I also made plans for my next adventure -- back to Chile!
November 14 - November 18, 2017: We sailed from Marsden Cove Marina down to Auckland. About 100 nautical miles. But we took our time, anchoring twice and visiting two islands for day hikes and peaceful evenings. We arrived in Auckland on November 17, cleaned the boat, and then spent an evening celebrating with current and past crew of SV Avalon who happened to be town. It was a great way to end this trip! (I fly home to SF on November 19.)
November 6 - 13, 2017: I'm at Marsden Cove Marina, New Zealand, having sailed down from Fiji! I'm resting and recovering now, helping the skipper and admiral clean up their boat. I hope to spend a bit of time with them "cruising" the New Zealand coastline before flying home to California later this month. (We actually are watching the weather for a good sail down to Auckland.)
October 29 - November 5, 2017: We sailed across the South Pacific Ocean from Fiji to New Zealand! Fresh to strong breeze and 2-4 meter swells along the way. Challenging, tiring, exciting, fun, beautiful, amazing trip. Glad to arrive in New Zealand although it was a dark arrival at 11pm. The picture below *approximates* our route - we chose to head a bit west from Fiji to avoid bad weather directly south of Fiji - then we curved back toward the east and down the coast of New Zealand. Kudos to skipper Tom for great passage planning!
October 19 - 28, 2017: I headed to Fiji to join the sailing vessel Avalon for her 1,200-mile voyage south to New Zealand. While in the Port Denarau Marina just outside of Nadi, we prepared the boat and then waited for a favorable weather window. It was hot, hot, hot! But we cooled off with cold beers and beautiful sunset breeze at Travelers beach resort. And we splurged for a few fancy dinners and air-conditioned rooms at the Westin, too.
October 6 - 18, 2017: I'm back in the San Francisco Bay Area where I'm taking a U.S. Sailing Instructor course for 3 days. (And I passed!) I'm also preparing for a trip back to Fiji / NZ, and trying to re-rent my house! Busy, busy.
September 17 - October 5, 2017: I traveled to Germany for a friend's birthday on the island of Sylt, for a hiking trip in the Tegernsee region, and for Oktoberfest in Munich. So great to see my German friends and be one of the locals!
June 5 - September 17, 2017: I stayed in San Carlos, subletting an apartment from a friend of mine and working as much as possible at the OCSC Sailing School as a sailing instructor. What a great summer!
May 27 - June 5, 2017: I sailed 1,250 nautical miles from New Zealand to Fiji, with two friends on their 50-foot sailboat.
May 11 - May 26, 2017: I've been at Marsden Cove Marina, working on sailing vessel Avalon, helping prepare her for the 1,200-mile sail up to Fiji. After our 100-mile shakedown sail from Auckland to Marsden, and lots of boat jobs since then, we are now ready to go. We've been waiting for a safe weather window. Having been tempted with two previous "dirty windows," we have been playing it safe and continue to wait. Our current plan is to depart May 27.
May 2 - 10, 2017: I have returned to Auckland, New Zealand, to rendezvous with the sailing vessel Avalon. Our plan is to sail her north to Fiji later this month.
April 25 - 27, 2017: I headed back to the ranch in Glen Ellen, Sonoma County, California, for a few days of volunteering. It's great to work outdoors!
January 1 - April 24, 2017: I've been back in the Bay Area for several months, and have been focused on getting a job as a part-time Sailing Instructor at OCSC Sailing Club in Berkeley. This involved interviews, written exams, practice sails, evaluation sails, and training sails -- plus studying the syllabus I'll be teaching from. I got the job! :-)
December 19 - 30, 2016: Road trip!!! I drove along the coast, from San Carlos, California to Portland, Oregon. I visited family and friends along the way, including stops in Florence, Oregon and McMinnville, Oregon. And then finally Portland, Oregon. I took my Subaru WRX STI and followed the curvy, coastal route on Highway 101 and Highway 1. I ran into a little too much excitement in Eureka, California, when I was assaulted and robbed while walking back to my hotel.
December 1 - 18, 2016: I'm back home in San Francisco, California, bouncing around between hotels and friends' houses. Thanks to everyone who has offered to host me! I don't have any specific travels plans as of yet, other than a bit of holiday travel to see family and friends. The year of 2017 promises to be another year of adventure, though, as my renter has asked to extend the lease! :-)
November 27 - 30, 2016: Tom, Rick, and I took a bus down to Auckland, where we had a delicious crew dinner at a local Italian place. Then we bid our farewells and continued on our respective journeys. I took a flight back to Nadi, Fiji, for one night. This was an error in my original booking; but it turned out to be rewarding to fly over the big ocean that I had sailed across the previous week. I enjoyed seeing a few of our local Fijian friends who had been so kind to us during our 3-week stay in Nadi.
November 17 - 26, 2016: We sailed from Port Denarau to Vuda Marina, where we officially checked out of Fiji; we spent the night in Musket Cove and then departed on Friday, November 18 for the 1,200-mile sail down to New Zealand. The passage took 8 days. We arrived at Marsden Cove Marina, New Zealand at 3:00am on Saturday, November 26. We couldn't check in until the Customs/Immigration Office opened at 8:00am that morning, so we just tied up to the Customs/Quarantine dock and enjoyed a few beers, high fives, and a can of Pringles. The picture below is for illustrative purposes only.
November 13 - 16, 2016: We came back to Port Denarau, Nadi, Fiji to make final preparations for our sail south to New Zealand.
November 10 - 13, 2016: We took a break from boat jobs and sailed from Port Denarau to Musket Cove where we enjoyed three days of fun in the sun, including sunset BBQs on the beach.
October 26 - November 10, 2016: I flew to Nadi, Fiji, and spent a couple of weeks helping prepare SV Avalon for our 1,200-mile sail back down to New Zealand.
October 23 - 26, 2016: I returned to San Francisco for a couple of days to read mail, check in on my house, change gear, and do laundry.
October 18 - 23, 2016: I'm back in Trogir, staying at Palace Central Apartments. Thanks Ivan and Daniela for watching my sail bag and accommodating me for this final visit in the great little town of Trogir. I fly home to San Francisco on October 23. But before then, I'm using the apartment as a home base to explore the Klis Fortress (of Game of Thrones fame) and take a final overnight visit to Split.
October 5 - 17, 2016: I traveled over 800 km (500 miles) by bus along the coast of Croatia, passing through the Dalmatia and Istria regions, as well as a brief stay in the country of Montenegro. Here is a rough approximation of the route I took, along with the stops I made (red arrows). Further below are more specific details about when I was where. Thanks to online service www.buscroatia.com the travel was pretty easy to figure out. And the fact that it was after peak season meant the buses were not that crowded. I sort of enjoyed it. :)
October 15 - 17, 2016: I headed back south again, and spent the weekend in Zadar - which is probably my favorite town, all things considered. It offers a little bit of everything. Walls to waterfront, beaches to bistros, clubs to cafes. Apartments Donat is my go-to place to stay here. Thanks Katarina!
October 14 - 15, 2016: I spent 2 days in Pula, also in the Istria region. Highlight of this town is the Pula Arena, which is the 6th largest remaining Roman arena. It's awesome.
October 12 - 13, 2016: From Sibenik, I took a long 8-hour bus ride north to visit the small peninsula town of Rovinj. The town is very scenic, with buildings clustered around a big church on a hill. I also visited a nearby stone quarry that dates back to Roman times.
October 10 - 11, 2016: I continued my travel north, stopping in Sibenik to explore the waterfalls of Krka National Park. Too cold for swimming!
October 8 - 9, 2016: I spent two days in Ston, hiking the wall, touring the ancient salt works, and eating mussels and oysters.
October 5 - 7, 2016: I took a bus into Montenegro, to visit the historic town of Kotor. I spent two days trekking the hills behind Old Town, to see the famous St. John's Castle and its fortification walls, and to hike the old military road and supply line called the "Ladder of Cattaro (Kotor)." What a great place! I'm so glad I took the 2-hour scenic bus ride down from Dubrovnik.
October 1 - 4, 2016: I stayed in Dubrovnik at a very nice top-floor apartment run by Zig-Zag Apartments organization. It was a fabulous, spacious place with a great view. Just what I needed after two weeks on the sailboat.
September 17 - October 1, 2016: Along with a crew of 3 friends, I sailed a 42-foot Jenneau monohull from the Agana Marina (just outside Trogir, Croatia) down the Dalmatian Coast to Dubrovnik, Croatia. We weaved our way through the islands of Brac, Hvar, Vis, Korcula, and Mljet, stopping along the way to explore historic towns, taste wines, and pick olives. Here are a few rough illustrations of the route we took. We covered almost 200 miles in 2 weeks.
September 13-16, 2016: From Hvar, I took the Jadrolinija ferry back to Split, and then the Bura Line ferry up to Trogir. I hunkered down in Trogir for 4 nights to prepare for my 2-week sailboat passage around the islands, beginning on September 17. The biggest prep work was to get myself well. I ended up going to the doctor to get some antibiotics before my sailing trip.
September 9-12, 2016: I liked Hvar Town (and my apartment) so much that I extended my stay through the weekend. I enjoyed this high-end port/resort town, and look forward to returning by sailboat in about a week. I resisted the world-famous night life in an effort to try to kick my cold.
September 6-9, 2016: From Plitvice Lakes National Park, I made a series of one-day jaunts south. Zadar to Trogir by bus. Trogir to Split by boat. Split to Hvar by boat. Here in Hvar I will spend a few days in a nice apartment and try to get well (and resist the island's world-famous nightlife).
September 4-6, 2016: I took a bus from Zadar to Plitvice Lakes National Park, where I spent two days hiking around the lakes and waterfalls. It's not of the magnitude of, say, Yosemite in California, but it's magnificent nonetheless.
August 30 - September 3, 2016: I traveled by land yacht (i.e., bus) up the Croatian coast, making stops at Trogir, Vodice, and Zadar.
August 18-29, 2016: I rented an apartment in Diocletian's Palace in Split, Croatia, where I spent 10 days exploring this historic and yet trendy town.
August 17, 2016: I flew from San Francisco to Split, Croatia. I was supposed to have just one layover in Frankfurt, Germany, but the flight out of San Francisco was so delayed that I missed my connecting flight to Split. So I ended up flying SFO-Frankfurt-Munich-Split. A long day, but it was worth it to be back on the road again! I'll be in Croatia for the next 10-12 weeks.
August 2-13, 2016: Thanks to my good friends Melissa and Griff who are in England for a couple of weeks, I am house-sitting at their beautiful home in the quaint East Bay town of Orinda. This is the perfect place for me to get some peace and quiet so I can focus on planning for my upcoming 3-month adventure in Croatia. It also helps me to try to get back on budget: I'm not paying for a hotel or Airbnb, and I can do some more economical grocery shopping and home cooking. Thanks M&G!
July 28 - August 1, 2016: After spending a few days back in the SF Bay Area, I returned to Oregon for a family reunion at my parents' beach house in Manzanita. Beach walks, forest hikes, jigsaw puzzles, board games, and lots of snacks. Also spent a little time in Portland again, which is fast becoming a favorite city of mine.
July 18-23, 2016: I stayed in Menlo Park at my friend's house while she was out of town. (To be clear, yes, she offered me the house-sitting opportunity.) Thanks AP!
July 14-18, 2016: After driving up from LA and spending a few nights with my aunt and uncle in Florence, I then headed to Portland, Oregon. My how the city continues to grow up. I had a few great days and nights hanging out with friends. Highlight was visiting the Pittock Mansion, dining at Jake's Famous Crawfish, and walking around the Pearl District. Also found a new favorite artsy neighborhood over on Mississippi Avenue. On Sunday, I delivered the car to my parents' new place in McMinnville - a very cool little town and community.
July 10-13, 2016: I flew to the Glendale/Burbank airport from San Francisco where I met my parents. This was my final time seeing my childhood house. My parents had made the tough decision to sell the large, two story house and move to Oregon. I was here to drive one of their cars up to Oregon for them. They were doing final packing and would drive up a few days later. I stopped in Florence to see Bruce and Mai. And then would continue on to Portland and eventually my parents' new house in McMinnville.
July 1-5, 2016: I drove down from Sonoma to Berekely where I had rented a variety of boats for the long holiday weekend. I would sail during the daytime, and sleep on the boats in the evenings. I sailed a J24 twice, the Beneteau 37 twice, and the new Hanse 385. Great weekend!
June 20-30, 2016: After bouncing around a few hotels and friends' houses (and a road trip to Los Angeles to attend my college reunion and to see my parents), I then spent 10 days in Sonoma Valley (Glen Ellen community) volunteering for a family who owns a 10-acre ranch. It was such a great experience, I actually stayed a couple more nights there in early July.
June 9-15, 2016: I took a road trip down to Los Angeles and back. I visited Occidental College for my reunion, and also helped my parents pack up my childhood house in nearby Glendale. (My parents are downsizing and moving to Oregon!) The road trip was pretty much a straight shot down Interstate 5 both ways. Next time, I'll do a little more sightseeing perhaps.
June 6, 2016: I arrived back home in San Carlos. (Well, not exactly at my house, but I'm in the neighborhood doing Airbnb for a few nights as I get myself re-organized and re-energized for my next trip.)
May 26 - June 1, 2016: Having safely made the passage from New Zealand to Fiji on a sailboat, I'm now letting someone else do the driving, so to speak, and working my way up the Yasawa Islands on a series of short ferry cruises.
May 12-22, 2016: I am somewhere in the South Pacific Ocean on the 50-foot sailing vessel Avalon. Departed from New Zealand. Headed to Fiji. For illustrative purposes only, our route looks something like this -- sailing northeast to get away from New Zealand shore as quickly as possible, then heading north to pick up the southeast tradewinds which would carry us to Fiji.
May 7, 2016: After nearly 2 weeks in Auckland doing final preparing and provisioning, we have sailed back up the coast to Marsden Cove Marina, where we will wait for a few days for the weather to turn favorable for our passage to Fiji. We are looking for a northwest wind to take us away from New Zealand and up to the trade winds. We will then ride those southeast trade winds up to Fiji.
April 23-25, 2016: We departed Town Basin in Whangarei, and began the two-day sail back down to Auckland. We anchored again in Kawau for the one night. Back in Auckland, I bounced around from hotel to hotel again, trying to get the best rate in town each night. Boat was off limits for sleeping, since we'll be on her for over a week as we head to Fiji. Need some space for now! :-)
April 11-23, 2016: We motored up the Hatea River, from Marsden Cove Marina to Dockland 5 Services (a boatyard just outside the town of Whangarei). We navigated the narrow channel for two hours. We had beautiful, sunny weather which made for an easier passage than it could have been. The boat was “on the hard” for over a week. When we were put back in the water, we motored a short distance up river to “Town Basin” (a marina nearly in the center of Whangarei). Below are some maps and charts of our course.
High level view of where Whangarei and Marsden Cove Marina are located with respect to the Northern Island of New Zealand.
April 6-8, 2016: We sailed from Auckland to Kawau Island, and then from Kawau Island to Marsden (just south of Whangarei). We covered about 80 nautical miles. The bold yellow line is our track on the charts above. We had plenty of wind (15-25 knots) but it was coming from the northwest, giving us an unfavorable sailing angle since our destination was also to the northwest. (For you non-sailors, remember that you can't sail a boat directly into the wind. You have to sail at an angle of more than 30 degrees, depending on the type of sailboat.) We were able to do some sailing with two out of three sails up, but the majority of time we motor-sailed (main sail + engine). Our eventual destination is Whangarei, where the boat will be hauled-out for inspection and maintenance. Our haul-out appointment isn't until Monday, April 11, so we are currently docked at Marsden Cove Marina. (We came early to take advantage of the clear weather on Thursday and Friday. It is now raining on Saturday and Sunday.)
March 27 - April 5, 2016: The boat was docked at Pier 21 Marine Centre, but I bounced around various hotels in the area. The last few nights I stayed on the boat, as we were waiting for the weather to clear for our passage north to Whangarei.
March 25, 2016: After about 6 weeks in San Francisco to re-rent my house and change gear, I'm back on the road. I flew on Air New Zealand from SFO to Auckland, New Zealand. It was a non-stop flight, which was great. (And I used miles to upgrade to business class, which made it even better. I slept most of the way.) I departed on a Friday evening, and arrived on a Sunday morning, thereby missing Saturday completely. I guess I'll get the day back when I return.
January 25-27, 2016: I made the journey from Ko Jum, Thailand to San Francisco, California. Not all of the legs are shown here, but I went from Ko Jum to Laem Kruat by boat, from Laem Kruat to Krabi by pickup truck, from Krabi to Bangkok by plane, and from Bangkok to San Francisco by plane (with layover in Taipei).
November 16-18, 2015: I left Ko Yao Yai on a speedboat over to Ao Nang, and took a pickup truck from Ao Nang to Krabi (where I spent a couple of nights. Then I took the ferry from Krabi toward Ko Lanta (not pictured) but I executed an open-sea transfer, hopping onto a long-tail boat which took me to the less developed island of Ko Jum where I'll spend the next several weeks.
November 12-15, 2015: I enjoyed 3 days of motorbiking around Ko Yao Yai and its sister island to the north, Ko Yao Noi. (I took a long-tail boat across the channel. I didn't drive or swim my motorbike across.) These remote, relatively undeveloped islands were absolutely horrible so please scratch them off your travel list. :-)
November 12, 2015: I traveled from Phuket to Ko Yao Yai via speedboat (solid line). At the pier on the north shore of Ko Yao Yai, I then climbed into the back of a pickup truck and traveled southeast to Baan Taranya resort where I stayed for the next few nights. While Baan Taranya was very nice, I use the term "resort" loosely.
November 9, 2015: After landing at Phuket International Airport, I took a taxi to the south part of the island, to my hotel at Cape Panwa. The taxi driver was a crazy driver, going twice the speed limit, passing on blind curves, driving on the shoulder...all at night with only his parking lights on! At the end of the trip he said, "I'm good driver, yes? Tip for me?" Yes, sir, I'll tip you just because I'm thankful I'm alive!
November 9, 2015: I flew from Bangkok to Phuket on AirAsia. I hope to meet some sailors here who can add me to their crew.
November 1, 2015: I flew from Hong Kong to Thailand on the friendly Cathay Pacific airline. Economy premium was nice (and empty)!
October 28, 2015: I flew to Hong Kong, on my way to Thailand, on Cathay Pacific. Great airline.. One way ticket for a multi-month trip. Not exactly sure when I will return to the United States.
October 6, 2015: I flew back home to San Francisco, California, from Munich, Germany. I will change gear, apply for a visa, and head to Thailand next.
October 1-4, 2015: After spending 5 days in Berg, Germany (and enjoying Oktoberfest in nearby Munich), I drove with friends down to Pertisau, Austria for hiking in the Alps.
September 26, 2015: After returning from Chile on September 22, and spending a few days in the San Francisco Bay Area to do laundry, change gear, etc., I flew to Munich, Germany, for hiking in the Alps and drinking beer at Oktoberfest!
September 4-6, 2015: We sailed from Isla Tenglo down to Isla Puluqui for the weekend. (We repeated this the following two weekends as well.)
September 2, 2015: Road trip! From Puerto Montt to Castro, Isla Chiloe. We drove through some really cool small towns like Dalcahue and Tenaun.
August 27, 2015: The short ride by taxi from Puerto Montt to Club Nautico Reloncavi, and then by motorboat across the channel to Isla Tenglo and Casa Roja.
August 26, 2015: Took an overnight bus from Santiago down to Puerto Montt.
August 25, 2015: Flight from San Carlos, California to Santiago, Chile.