Monday, December 9, 2013

Living Life

Split has been a perfect place for us to wrap up our Europe travels.  The combination of not having a long list of activities to check off our "must do" list and being in one spot for more than a month, the pace of life has been excellent.  When it has not been raining the weather has been amazing.  I know scientifically sunshine does amazing things for your mood, but after this trip I feel it in my heart too.  The sunshine here penetrates my soul.  

In any direction you look, you see God's beautiful creation.  The Dinaric Alps, the Adriatic Sea, and Marjan forest surround the city.   I realize that Split is a really beautiful city, but I remember feeling this same awe of my surroundings at certain points in my life.  For instance, when living on the beach, or rock climbing in the mountains, or camping in remote areas.  I love being in and around nature.  Bobby and I have been talking about the places near home we are excited about taking Amelie and Liam.  Some of the places we have talked about going are Cumberland Island, Rock town (where we used to go rock climbing in college), Rock City, and more.  In moving around, I have seen that there is beauty in all cities.  I am determined to be appreciative of the beauty surrounding me wherever we live (busy city or otherwise!).  

Amelie and Liam keep us laughing.  Liam is talking more and more each day.  Lately, he has been telling us, "Be quiet!  Liam talking first!"  Although this might sound rude, it is almost essential in order to get any voice in our family as Amelie talks non-stop.  They are playing together more and more for longer amounts of time. They are sweet friends.

This past week we were able to get out of the apartment to do some fun things.  Touring through Diocletian's palace basement took up some time one afternoon after rest time.  We would have enjoyed it more had there not been a modern art exhibition up, but we endured the random sounds and videos and artifacts placed around the rooms.  After hearing the sounds echoing in the halls of someone throwing up coins over and over again, I realized that I really dislike some modern art.  

We did enjoy seeing the ancient architecture composing Diocletian's residential quarters.  The ancient floor plan showcases a mirror image of the emperor’s residence above as this substructure acted as supporting walls. Eventually the basement turned into a water storage facility, but through time the basement got clogged up completely. As additional houses were built above the basement, they drilled holes into their floors in order to use the basement is a sewage tank and garbage dump. Croatian architect and the country’s first conservator, Vicko Andrić who constructed the Riva harbor-front devoted his retirement to the conservation of Diocletian’s Palace and began an excavation of the cellars in the 1850’s. Andrić drained and cleaned the cellars and archeological discoveries are still being made to this day, particularly in the far corners of the basement.  Although we looked to discover something new, we did not unearth anything. ;)

Bobby, Amelie, and Liam examining the map.
Standing in one of the open courtyards.  They were all standing the same way, but Liam was backwards. ;)
Bobby explaining how the press was used.
It probably was used either for grapes or olives and dates back to the early Middle Ages.
We have been spending a lot of time on the Riva since the first of December.  A mini Christmas town has been erected along along the promenade hosting a variety of vendors.  Most are serving food (and it is delicious!), but there are also crafts and other various products being showcased.  One of me and Bobbys favorite aspect is trying the mulled wine at each hut.  Mulled wine was originally created as a way to make "bad" wine drinkable again.   Mulled wine is a traditional winter drink made of red wine and various combinations of nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, sugar, orange zest, local liqueurs and served hot.  We have learned that each vendor is given similar red wine, but provide their own combination of spices.  In my mind, it's similar to a chili cook-off...whoever can produce the best recipe gets the repeated customers.  In the States we didn't see mulled wine often, but it has quickly become a favorite here.  It reminds me of hot cider, but better.  Bobby has been researching recipes to try when we get home. Another winter tradition is fritules (fried doughnuts balls essentially topped with powdered sugar and nutella).  We buy a big cup for around $3 and all enjoy a delicious treat.  Although it is not great for our waistline, we just can't resist! :)
Liam is kneeling against the wall talking to a nearby seagull.
"What are you doing?...Oh, you are swimming?"
Amelie and Liam love to run around and jump off the benches.

Excited about buying fritules.
Liam will stand in line and say, "Fritules, please?"  
The Riva as the sun is setting with the Christmas lights lit up.
You can see the various huts opposite of the palace walls.
I love the reflections on the water.

We have also enjoyed time at the apartment while Bobby and I finished up the Fall semester.  Amelie and Liam both love doing crafts.  We do not have a grand supply of materials, but we did find some fresh markers, finger paint, and play dough.  

Amelie is getting excited about fishing with Bobby again in Gulf Shores.
Hanging out at a local Bubble Tea bar on the company's year anniversary.  Their menu was 1/2 price and they had lots of balloons around with loud music.  We had fun drinking our bubble tea while the kids ate frozen yogurt and played with balloons.
Amelie wanted frozen yogurt over hot chocolate because she wanted to add sprinkles and marshmallows.
We have also gone to the playground.  Here is a picture of Bobby's pants after he tried to play on the monkey bars with the kids.  I heard the sound of the rip across the playground followed by Bobby saying, "Oh no.  NOOOOO!"  He had to walk a mile home with a huge flap opening.  I could not stop laughing!
Eating lunch on the Riva.

Cutting through the Venetian Square on our way home.
We are enjoying this family time.  Normally the Christmas season can be hectic for us, however this year it has not been.  It's nice.  We are excited about being back in the States for Christmas Day and being able to see all of our family.  I am hoping that our jet-lag does not dampen the fun of the festivities for us! ;)  One day at a time...

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