Monday, March 23, 2009

Home safe and sound

We made it home! It was a very long day, with a bit of stress at the beginning. We woke up around 4 am and the bus left the hotel at 5 am to drive to the airport nearest to Dubrovnik. We arrived to find that our flight was most likely cancelled due to high wind. We also discovered that our seats hadn't been properly reserved. The good news was that the people who had seats were all put on a bus to drive 3 hours to Split to fly from there. Less than an hour later, the winds died down and our flight took off with us on board (since most of the passengers were on a bus!). So, we landed in Zagreb and caught our next flight to Frankfurt without too much hassle.

We got to Frankfurt with 5 minutes before our overseas flight boarded. No time to shop, unfortunately! After a brisk walk through the airport, we were loaded onto our plane and ready for some long napping. The flight was long, but we all watched movies and slept a little. The worst part of the trip was a 6 hour layover in Washington, D.C. We played games, napped, called our parents and friends, and found lots to eat. It was nice finally being in the States! At 10 pm we left for Indianapolis. We got in around midnight, got our luggage - Yeah! It all made it!! - and took a bus to Kelley. It was about a 24 hour trip home, but so worth it!

Wednesday we'll have class together and it will be fun to be reunited. Class will be dedicated to debriefing the trip and thinking about ways to improve it. Based on our experiences, I don't think there's much to improve!

Thanks to everyone who was involved with the trip planning and facilitation. It was quite a success!

Last Day in Dubrovnik

Today is the last day of our trip (minus the 24 hours of travelling we'll do to get home tomorrow). We spent the morning with Juge, our tour guide. She took us to the old city and gave us an hour tour. We learned that much of the city had been bombed during the 1991-92 war with Serbia. The city looks really old, but many of the buildings and roofs are reconstructed. For Americans, it's difficult to understand why anyone would want to destroy such a wonderful piece of cultural heritage.

After the tour, several groups of students and chaperones paid to walk along the city walls. This was highly recommended by last year's Croatia group, and it was well worth the 50 kuna price. Unfortunately, the weather wasn't ideal. It was very windy and it even snowed!! Yet we all were really happy we did it, and we got great pictures.

We did our last shopping (and old town Dubrovnik is a great place for that!) and took naps. Our last meal in Croatia was at a restaurant near to our hotel and it was a very enjoyable last evening out. What good memories!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Hanging out in Dubrovnik

Today we woke up late and ate a rather poor breakfast. Then we took off for the first of two business visits. We walked about half an hour to a luxury hotel. It was a brisk walk and it helped to wake us all up after a late night out. The hotel was so nice! We tried to listen to its general manager, but it was difficult because of a fancy waterfall cascading behind her. We then took a tour and several students wanted us to contact our dean to get more money to stay there. Wishful thinking! We spent a lot of time in the spa, fantasizing about swimming there. The hotel had several restaurants, and some of our group had dinner at their sushi restaurant this evening. They report that it was fabulous. It was the first sushi restaurant here in the Dalmatian coast.

We then took a bus to Old Town and had a pizza lunch. Then we visited a fancy restaurant and bubble lounge (although I still have no idea what a bubble lounge is!). The place was cool and caters to high end tourists. So, we did some more fantasizing.

After our business visits, we split up and wandered around the old city, which is spectacular. Many of us did some serious shopping, too.

Three Tours and One Long Bus Ride

After waiting for Abbas to do his hair, we began a series of of tours in the Split area. First we drove to Salona, a "town" of Roman ruins. The weather was great so it was a beautiful promenade among the old stones.

Afterwards we took the bus to the town of Trogir. Trogir is a small medieval town filled with narrow, winding streets. It was neat because there were very few cars. The highlight of Trogir was its church. Neat stonework surrounded the front entry. The stoneworker had carved scenes of various occupations, including winemaking and farming. Inside, our favorite thing was a ceiling sculpture that showed God descending from the heavens.

Finally, we toured downtown Split around Diocletian's Palace. We loved the winding, narrow streets and the touristy shops. Our favorite spot was probably the basement of Diocletian's living quarters - it was dark and had a very old feel, but was filled with neat shops

After grabbing lunch, we boarded the bus and headed towards Dubrovnik. Our drive was 4 hours and we got to briefly enter Bosnia-Herzogovina. We even made a pitstop so we could say we walked around Bosnia.

Upon arrival at our hotel, we had a group dinner thatleft something to be desired. our hotel is pretty nice, but it is swarming with teenage soccer player who are "active." Between our loud American group and the soccer players, I think the hotel staff will be happy for the week to be over!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Goodbye, Zagreb; Hello, Split!

After rousing the students who had a late night out, we boarded the bus and headed out of town. While we all thoroughly enjoyed Zagreb, I think most of us were eager to get going and see more of Croatia. We made a couple of stops on the way to Split. First we stopped at a war museum from Croatia's war of independence in the 1990s. The guys were really into the tanks, as you can tell by this photo. We also took a short break and stretched our legs at a scenic mill town.

Next we spent a couple of hours at Croatia's most beautiful national park, Plitvice Lakes. It was gorgeous! We walked along the numerous lakes with cascading falls. It felt so good to walk in the fresh mountain air, and the sky was bright blue. The good thing about going this time of year is that there weren't really any other people (it looks like it's really bustling in the summer). The bad thing was that some of the upper lakes were closed due to snowmelt and flooding, and there were no leaves on the trees. We did see some primrose blossoming and some pussy willows. We also took a very slow boat ride across one of the lakes. To top it all off, we had to climb up 300 steps to get back to the bus!

We spent about 3 more hours on the bus and pulled into Split in the early evening. Our accommodations are quite sumptuous! A few of us just returned from dinner at a seaside restaurant in the Diocletian's Palace area. Split feels more urban than Zagreb even though it's smaller. Tomorrow we'll have a guided tour and learn all about it.

A Long Day

Yesterday was a really long day so we didn't have time to post anything. The good news is that it was jam-packed with educational business visits. We rose early and took a bus to Chromo-Agros, a pesticide and agricultural chemical company out in the boondocks. The most interesting part of the visit was a trip to the factory where they bottled their products. The machines that put on the bottles' screw tops and the labels were really cool!

Next we took the bus to Coca-Cola and had a really interesting presentation about the Coke Hellenic group. We learned about their market share, hiring processes, and interest in sustainability. We also got to tour their bottling plant,which put the one at Chromo-Agros to shame.

Afterwards, we travelled to Geofoto, a smaller company that provides computer enhanced images to governments around the world and groups such as the US Navy. It's like a high tech version of Google Earth. The best part of that visit, besides listening to their company presentation on a nice veranda, was looking at the 3-D images.

Finally, we went to the International Graduate Business School and heard Kelley Professor Larry Friedman talk about the global economic crisis and what he thinks should be done to improve it. He is an excellent presenter and did a great job catering to the interests of not only our students, but also to some IGBS grad students and faculty who attended.
All of these visits occurred between 8:30 and 4:00 with NO lunch! We were starving, so IGBS ordered some pizza for us after Professor Friedman's talk. We also drank lots of Fanta.

The students thoroughly enjoyed our last night in Zagreb, too, as it was very hard to wake some of them up this morning.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Hansel and Gretel and Magma

Last night, after napping, a large part of our group went out for dinner together. We chose a restaurant the tour guide had recommended, called Hansel and Gretel (although I don't know the Croatian name). Everything is cooked fresh and homemade. Their ingredients are ogrganic and mostly hormone/chemical-free. The restaurant looked like an old farmhouse, with heavy wooden chairs and decorated with farm implements from the past. The food was great! Most people chose ravioli of some sort, a few of us had pork kabobs with potatoes, and one daring soul tried wild boar. He found it tasty!

This morning we rose early and were escorted to the Zagreb Chamber of Economy. There we listened to a presentation about Croatia and their economy. The students asked good quesions.

Afterwards, we took a bus ride outside of Zagreb to a company called Magma. Magma is a retailer specializing in clothing, sporting goods, home goods, and toys. They have four store divisions. It was interesting because we've seen three of the stores arond Zagreb (the clothing, sport, and toy stores). We learned about Magma's history and then ate some messy pastries and drank funky fruit juice. Then they took us on a tour of their large warehouse and talked about logistics. After that, we visited their clothing design department and talked about fashion trends. Magma is proud because they designed the outfits for Croatia's olympians in Beijing and won an award for their creativity. When we were finished at the headquarters, we boarded the bus and they took us to a large retail outlet that sold just about everything they make. I think they hoped we would spend some money there, but no one bought anything.

Many group members had lunch at a nearby McDonald's. I had a quarter pounder with cheese and fries and it tasted pretty much the same as in the states. The main difference we noted was that they didn't carry mustard and they charged for any extra ketchup.

Tonight our group had dinner at a fancy club, Klub Knjizevnika, in downtown Zagreb. It was hosted by the International Graduate Business School and our students got to dine with MBA students from IGBS. They all got along really well and it was fun to hear about life as an MBA student in Croatia. We had the best brownies for dessert and tried some rakija brandy, too!

By the way, one of the students is also keeping a blog at . Be sure to check it out!