Tuesday= Travel Day.

That’s how most of us have known February 27th and related it to our agenda. The day we go from that southern point of Dubrovnik and make our way back to the capital city of Zagreb.

In traveling, as in life, plans change. What was originally supposed to be a bus ride to Split and then a scenic train ride to Zagreb became a bus ride to a Plitvice Lakes to take in some excellent scenery in a National Park before continuing on the bus to Zagreb.

Then it changed again and neither of these worked out for us. Flexibility. Adaptability. It was a great day to improve our strengths in both of those areas. If there was any doubt that we are the Snow Storm Class- that doubt has been erased. Honestly, all of Croatia is under some amount of snow- something that any Croatian will tell you is incredibly rare, but that we should have predicted happening. Especially given our track record.

So, it was a solid 10 hour bus ride from Dubrovnik to Zagreb. We were on the bus by 6:00 AM. And the most important word of the day became Safely. Our fantastic driver Goran was only going to take us on the roads that were safe to travel and he would take as long as he needed to get us there unharmed. Just when we thought his driving skills were impressive enough- he outdoes himself once more.


There was a little bit of everything going on during this adventure. Some of us rested. Ines kept us occupied with her insight and knowledge. Some classmates hosted debriefs and reflections on our time here in Croatia. Others encouraged us to reflect not only on our journey within MARL but also on the changes we have witnessed in our fellow cohorts. Snacks were passed. Laughter broke out randomly, stories were shared. And most importantly, support was given. Support that we would arrive safely to Zagreb and that we could handle any amount of time on a bus, traveling snow covered roads, winding through the coast and hills of Croatia. And we did. This was the first leg of our three part path Home. And we are going to enjoy this time with each other as we prepare for the next.

Tour guide Ines provided a walking tour of the historic city center of Zagreb upon arrival.


Submitted by Ashley Schmeling, Darren Newville, and Loren Molenaar.


We’re more than half-way through our international study. Today started with a tour of the HE Dubrovnik Hydro power Plant led by Mr. Teo Sekondo a department head at the plant. The HE Dubrovnik Hydro power Plant has been open for 53 years and provides power to the 120,000 residents of the Dubrovnik region and to residents in Bosnia where the water is collected in the biggest reservoir in Europe.  With the snowy winter weather the plant is running at 100% capacity producing 250 MW of electricity through 2 turbines using 1.6 million gallons of water per minute. Today the hydro power plant employs 50 employees and the reservoir holds a 6-month supply of water for the regions it supports.

Mr. Sekonda is a veteran of the Homeland War also known as the Croatian War of Independence and shared his emotional story of working at the plant and coming back from clinical death with our group in a very personal touching moment.

After our tour of the hydro power plant we headed over to the Dubrovnik Fish Market. The Dubrovnik Fish Market is owned by the City of Dubrovnik but managed by Sanitat. The Dubrovnik Fish Market is next door to Green Market. The Fish Market is opened every day of the week except for Sunday and extremely popular on Friday and Saturday when most residents of Dubrovnik eat fish. Fisherman fish today for the fish they will sell at the market tomorrow. In Croatia fishing is a family business with  all family members working the business.

We then headed back to Old Town Dubrovnik for lunch at Poklisar were we had meal that Croatians eat on a frigid day like today: Green-pea soup with sour cream, baked pork belly with crispy skin, potatoes, cabbage and chocolate brownie with fruit fro dessert. We also presented our wonderful tour guide, Ines with a special THANK YOU at lunch.

A few members of our class skipped dessert to walk the walls of Old Town Dubrovnik. They described walking the walls as an exhilarating site that won’t be forgotten.

After lunch and walk around the walls we met with the Deputy Mayor of Dubrovnik, Jelko Tepic and two members of her team, Jelena Loncaric and Mario Miljanic at City Hall. They provided us with an overview of tourism in Dubrovnik and their roles at City Hall and shared some of their advice for being a good leader.

  • Leaders use their intuition and emotional intelligence
  • As a leader it’s important to find a way to stay calm and avoid bursting out when stressed
  • Leaders remain calm
  • Leaders don’t take things personally
  • Leaders take the time to review, process and consider all the facts before making a decision
  • Leaders look ahead…they’re futuristic in their thoughts
  • Leaders give respect first
  • Leaders make a decision…a bad decision is better than no decision at all


Our afternoon programming ended at the City of Dubrovnik Development Agency (DURA). DURA is a NGO or non-profit organization established by the City of Dubrovnik. DURA’s primary objective is to support and achieve balance among the economy, culture, social and technological development for the City of Dubrovnik. They’ve initiated a SLOWFOOD project based on SLOWFOOD Italy that focuses on the vaporization of food as cultural heritage. They also support rural Dubrovnik with agribusiness and funding.

We spent a few hours shopping for souvenirs in Old Town before heading back to our hotel. Tomorrow we’re headed back north to Zagreb. The weather has been terrible and the road conditions are not the best but we’re crossing our fingers and toes we get to visit Plitvice Lakes National Park.

Night Night

SMT – Brent Krohn, Jasmine Brett Stringer Moore, Ryan Wendland

Traveling is hard. That sounds silly, and even slightly spoiled, when you are on the trip of a life-time. However, it is true. There is the kind of traveling where every need, every comfort has been attended to: think cruises, or all inclusive resorts. That kind of traveling is designed to be easy, to cater to the needs and expectations of the paying customer.

Early morning in Makarska

That’s not this kind of travel. This trip is about pushing ourselves, throwing ourselves into discomfort and ignorance. We are not mean’t to be comfortable (though the 4 star hotels and incredible meals help). Instead, we are hoping to recognize and celebrate discomfort, because that means we are experiencing another culture, and different expectations. Today, travel became hard.


It’s small things, like doors that aren’t clearly push or pull (leading to some hilarious, but mostly embarassing moments), or frustration at having to constantly ask for water refills at every meal. Doing complicated math every meal because we have to pay in cash and they don’t split checks for a group is annoying. Travel in a foreign land and culture is an accumulation of small discomforts that can lead to great discomfort, and eventually frustration.


We are fortunate to have a wonderful guide in Ines, who helps us navigate these discomforts by explaining why it makes sense in Croatia. That has helped us adapt, to modify our behavior to match our surroundings. Modifying your behavior on a constant basis is exhausting though, and definitely difficult (is that coming across yet?). Thankfully, this group is better equipped than most . We have an understanding of what it means to be interculturally competent, and the ability to navigate critical conversations – skills that are helping us utilize our strengths and participate fully in this experience.
We have Ines, of course, and Olga, who has spent her entire life navigating new cultures and adapting to new surroundings. Eriks, through his fantastic trainings, has given us tools that allow us to recognize what is happening, describe it, interpret it, relate to it, and finally adapt to it.

Ines tells us that we are one of the most inquisitive, curious groups she has ever guided through Croatia and we are inclined to believe her. Our classmates are rising to the challenge, constantly pushing themselves to embrace the small discomforts and understand what motivates the cultural collisions we are constantly experiencing.

Today though, was hard.

It’s cold.

It’s rainy.

The bura never stopped blowing.

Dubrovnik was cold, dark, and empty.


And yet, like tiny rays of sunshine peeking through the never-ending clouds my classmates persevered. We found moments to laugh at, and found joy in each others company and in the company of the Croatians who so graciously host us in the businesses and restaurants. Today we met two brothers, Josip and Ivan, who, together with their family, are working to build a world-class winery, Winery Milos, that will put Croatia on the global list for great wine-making. Their ambition was palpable, but it was a different kind of ambition, a cultural shift from what we think of in the states. Profit was a goal, yes, but profit as a supporting player in a greater goal: to make the best wine they possibly can. When asked about their goals in 10 years, they explained that they have no interest in expanding their winery, to reach more countries, or to get in every wine shop. They just want to be able to make truly audacious wine. Scale and efficiency is not on their radar. That’s pretty exciting and it helped keep my MARL classmates up through the first snowstorm Dubrovnik has experienced in over 5 years.

Lunch, again, was a highlight as we supped in a 12th century stone warehouse converted into a beautiful restaurant, Bota Sare, run by one of the ambitious new entrepreneurs that give Croatia should promise. He is a serial entrepreneur with five restaurants spread across Croatia, and a dream to ride across the United States on a big fat Harley Davidson.

Dubrovnik Old Town

And of course, Dubrovnik is spectacular.  A walled city that fended off the Venetians, the Ottomans, Napoleon, Rome, and so many others to become what is known as the “Pearl of the Adriatic”. Truly a stunning city and deserving of its reputation. We are excited to explore it and a nearby hydroelectric power plant tomorrow. We will wear our long-underwear, drink our hot tea, and prepare for another day of glorious discomfort.

Greg Bohrer and Angela Guentzel
Seminar Management Team Today
Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dalmatia, the Adriatic Coast: Zadar – Split – Markaska

Sunny weather and bright attitudes from the MARL group greeted Croatia today. We departed Zadar with our guide Ines and driver Goran headed south to Split.

We stopped along the way to Stankovci where ROCA Agroturismo has made a business of showing tourists how Prosciutto and other fine cured meats are produced. When our guide shared that their hogs are slaughtered after reaching 500 pounds, we assumed he calculated the weight wrong. But they actually do raise them that big! Landrace, Yorkshire and Duroc are the breeds of choice and raising the pigs yourself is the only way to make a good product. They buy piglets at 100lbs in March and slaughter twice, once in November and once in January. Their small vineyard, olive orchard and fig trees are designed to host weddings and visitors, including the peak tour season with 100 guests per day. It takes 8-10 kilograms of olives to produce 1 liter of olive oil and the leftover rinds are made into briquettes for heating. Our gracious hosts created a thoroughly delicious sampling of their own products and a full meal.

Fun Facts:

*500lb pig produces 55lbs of prosciutto from its hams

*Prosciutto is aged 2-4 years before consuming

*The Bura wind is a valuable part of this farm’s natural curing process


Split was our last stop of the day where we enjoyed a refreshing dusk at a seaside city. Split is home to a Diocletian Palace and is the second largest city in Croatia. The Palace is one of the best preserved structures of the Roman world. Our palace tour primarily included 200’s BC history viewing structural and religious highlights. We even practiced prostrating to our “Emperor Ryan!”


We had a brief time to self explore the city before traveling south to our hotel in Markaska where we stay for the night.

Signing off – Christian Lillienthal & Sarah Dornink




Day 6 – Pag and Zadar, Croatia

Our day started a bit later today and we had the opportunity to get some much needed rest and relaxation.  We were again worried the bora winds may jeopardize our plans.  Thankfully we were able to travel this morning to the island of Pag, one of the very famous Croatian islands along the Adriatic Sea.

Our first stop, once reaching the island, was lunch at Kondoba Giardin.  Here we had a treasured Croatian meal of lamb cooked in a cast iron kettle under an iron lid.  We also experienced other delicacies during our meal.  This meal was served family style, like many of the meals we have experienced in Croatia.

Next we battled the rain and near bora winds to see a sheep farm with a local shepherd.  He took us to the nearby pasture where we saw ewes, with their newborn lambs.  Interestingly enough, this island is home to 30,000 sheep!

Sheep production is important to Pag, not because of their meat, but for their milk.  We had the pleasure to visit Gligora Dairy, a family owned cheese making company.  Here they make award winning cheese from sheep, cow, and goat’s milk.  Their winningest cheese is Paški Sir – a hard cheese made from sheep’s milk.  Paški Sir cheese is protected for the entire process it is made.  It starts with sheep’s milk that is hand milked by local farmers.  Then the milk is processed into cheese using a special process at Gligora Dairy.  We all enjoyed our taste testing with Rosa Gligora.

As we enter the half way point of our trip, we are all gaining a greater sense of the Croatian culture.  We are moving to a greater understanding and acceptance of this unique culture and their agricultural practices.  Seeing the cultural pride for agriculture on Pag Island was inspiring and eager for more of our Croatian adventure.

Submitted By:  Adam Stratton and Pauline Van Nurden