• Kim-Cherie Davidson

LIVE YOUR LIST - See it, Feel it, Experience it!

Known for its natural wonders, fabulous food and centuries-old culture, Croatia was high on Glenys Mullholland’s bucket list. And it started to creep up the order when fellow travellers returned raving about it. (Above: Dubrovnik, in the old city, where the Game of Thrones was filmed.)

In September this year, this Novocastrian and several friends went to Croatia and Montenegro for 13 days as part of five-week Europe trip. The verdict was: “Incredible – it was all I had heard and a lot more!”

For this office manager, travel is all about history and learning as you go. She researches a little before setting off to a new destination, then likes to wander, especially the back streets, to soak up the culture, absorb the atmosphere and really feel the place.

It was during one of these jaunts in Dubrovnik’s old town, Glenys stumbled on a photographic exhibition: Kosovo War – the end of Yugoslavia by Wade Goddard at his acclaimed War Photo Limited Gallery.

“Walking from photo to photo the story of the war started to build and about halfway around, an image of a little boy with tears rolling down his face hit me in the heart. I could feel his pain, and I came undone.”

Sobbing, Glenys left the gallery, she regained her composure and returned to view the rest of the 60 images.

“What hit me was I didn’t know about the region’s recent history – in the early 1990s it was just a soundbite on the television and we took no notice.”

The war between the Kosovo Liberation Army and Federal Republic of Yugoslavia forces, from February 1998 to June 1999, claimed more than 10,000 lives and displaced a million-plus people. “During the rest of our stay, we wanted to learn more about the war. We did it with care and respect and soon discovered it was still very raw for people.”

Staying in Airbnbs, they found that the war had impacted most families. In the countryside, they saw bullet holes in homes and deserted villages, while in Montenegro, they witnessed open hostility when a German tourist tried to pay for a pizza with Croatian money and his money was thrown back at him and told: “you are in Montenegro, not Croatia”.

However, they also experienced friendliness, hospitality and passion.

“At one stay, the son’s room was being let out during the uni break to pay for his tuition. We were greeted with sherry made by grandma and strudel by mum.”

Glenys also enjoyed the natural beauty through a seven-day self-skippered sail around the islands, including the Split Island of Vis, Havre and “the best pizza ever” at Komiza.

“The water was sapphire blue; even when anchored we could see the bottom. At night it was serene with the moon on the water, the coastline lights twinkling in the distance and the shore sounds drifting around us.”

Of course, while in Croatia, Glenys soaked up the centuries-old history, including places made famous by the Game of Thrones tv series. She even sat on the throne.

As for her next bucket-list tick, she is going to see what opportunities turn up. Though sitting high on the list is India, Morocco/Spain and New York. Through being an opportunist, Glenys has accumulated many memories, with her favourites including building a language school in Kampot, Cambodia through a Rotary project; visiting biblical sites in Israel; and finding London to be one her most-like cities.

“I am travel-focused, though my trips are about the experience, how it makes me feel. Whether it is excitement, wonder, curiosity, gratitude, joy, sadness, compassion or love. My bucket list is based on seeing it, feeling it, experiencing it!”

Kim-Cherie Davidson is an adventure coach and speaker. She helps women to live their adventure dreams. To start now – write a list, tick off the activities and celebrate. So they can feel empowered, grow from their experiences and be role models for their families, friends and other women. For more info visit www.facebook.com or email kim-cheriedavidson@bigpond.com

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