Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Split: A City that Blends the Old with the New

Living inside the walls of Diocletian's Palace allowed for many strolls admiring the old mixed with the new.  We loved finding hidden gems carved on walls or small gardens tucked off the beaten trail.  Below are some pictures of such places.
Have questions?  Follow the lamp post directions. ;)
The remains of the Iron Gate Palace (built in the 15th century) could be seen in a tucked away courtyard.  Behind a trash gate, were two heads from statues that once adorned the Iron Gate of Diocletian's Palace that were built into this courtyard.   

This column is also part of the remains of the 15th century palace.  
This is a prime example of how the ruins are incorporated in to daily life. 

The Silver Gate of Diocletian's Palace leading to the open air market.

 Every city we have lived we have loved the markets.  It truly is the heart of the city.  Bobby always thrived more in this environment than I did.  He did great bargaining and finding the best deal, even with the challenge of a different language.   Near the end of our trip, we walked the goods area of the market many days trying to find gifts to bring home to our family.  If we ever planted ourselves in a city with a market I am certain Bobby would become a vendor and sell something. ;)

Recapping the End of the Trip: City of Lights - Split, Croatia

Around the first of December, the city of Split started decorating the city with lights in preparation for the Christmas season.  Every where we walked, whether it be the larger walkways or the small narrow passages, was adorned with lights over head.  It was quite beautiful.  Looking back at these pictures, seeing each type of light reminds me of the individual street in which it hung.  
The walk from our apartment to the Riva.

One evening we happened upon a live concert in front of the Town Hall in the People's Square (Narodni Trg).  We saw the lights set up, with a table, and various wine glasses dispersed.  We did our best to translate the sign with information and decided to wait to see what it would be like.  We were glad we stuck around as they played Jimi Hendrix, Depeche Mode, and other rock/blues songs.  What was fun is that they sang in English but talked in Croatian in between each song.  For about an hour we  were highly entertained while the kids ran around the square while dancing to the music.

Heading down to walk through the Christmas town on the Riva became a favorite evening activity for the Walkers.  By the end of our stay we were recognized by many vendors and were often greeted warmly as we walked by.  One of our favorite places to eat dinner was called Vegeton.  It reminded us of a restaurant that could have easily survived in Athens, GA with it's combo of vegetarian food, indie music, and hipster clothed waitstaff.  We loved eating the veggie burger covered with grilled cabbage, the bean stew, and the pumpkin soup.  On our last night in Split, the owner offered us dinner for the family for free which was incredibly generous.  Amelie made a Christmas card for the staff at Vegeton that said "Merry Christmas" in both English and Croatian.  The owner hung her card front and center of their booth which made Amelie happy.

Amelie's card hanging up at Vegeton.
Don't we look like we fit in?  As long as we didn't speak I'm not sure you would know we weren't a local.
Liam loved pointing out the "ABC's" on the drain covers as we would walk on the Riva.
I am glad my kids do not have to learn to spell in Croatian…look at that word! ;)
Has it only been 6 weeks since we were there?!  I can't believe we were able to live in this beautiful city for a couple months!  Making summer travel plans?  Go to Croatia!!  Trust me, you will not be sorry you took my advice.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

We are back!

We arrived back to the States on December 22nd and experienced the whirlwind of Christmas and then my sister's wedding.  It has only been in the past week that we have been able to really get settled and let the reality sink in that we are back.  There are so many posts that I had wanted to write prior to leaving Croatia that I never had time to write.  I haven't decided if I should go back and try to write them anyways.  Does it lose something if it is not written in context?

When I try to think about what I have learned from our experience I find it very difficult to summarize.  It ends up being a rambling of different thoughts and points taken from different parts and aspects of our experience.  Maybe I will still try to make myself put something down.

A question that I often get is, how is it being back?  It's great!  We love the beach.  It was nice being able to come back to a familiar place.  As we were unpacking and organizing in the rental condo, we would find various things that we had left behind that we had forgotten about:  Terrapin glasses, heating pad, black storage baskets, and other random pieces.  We were able to bring a lot less stuff down with us then we did the first time we came.  This was partly because Liam is not a baby any more and doesn't need a crib, but it is also because we really just don't own much of anything.  The reality hit us that when we do decide to get our own place again we might have to sit and sleep on the floor for a while before we can afford to furnish the place!  Who wants to be in our shoes now?  Haha!

The grocery store has been overwhelming to both Bobby and I.  After being here a week our refrigerator is still bare.  We go in and get a couple of things and leave.  I have not made any lists or meal plans for the week like I used to do before our trip.  Bobby remarked tonight that "we need to get back in American-mode and get more than a days worth of food."  The amount of choice for everything really is incredible.

We did buy a car.  We are loving it.  It did take me a day or so getting used to driving again.  Bobby and I are both a lot more relaxed at the wheel.  I used to be a lead foot, but now Bobby has to remind me to actually go the speed limit.  The slowness of public transit has really helped us not be in a hurry when going places.  The snowbirds are riding my tail instead of the other way around! ;)

As we were loading up a couple of groceries the other day, I asked Amelie if she liked having a car or if she liked walking home after our grocery runs.  She said the car is much better.  :)  I, on the other hand, actually miss all the walking.  I need to get a bike.  I think that would help me.

Amelie has been pointing out the American flags seen flying around town.  I think it is really cool that she notices different countries flags, but especially American flags.  This is going to sound really corny, but I think she is proud to be an American.  She told me that she is glad to be back because now we don't have to ask people if they speak English when we first start talking to them.  I love how her mind works!

Amelie and Liam started preschool this week and have absolutely loved it.  Both their teachers are wonderful.  Amelie has talked non-stop about her friends.  I'm excited for this opportunity for them to continue to learn and have a chance to be more social.

The nice thing is that not much has changed in the year that we have been away.  Our snowbird friends are back and we are having fun fishing near them and catching up.  The librarians are all familiar and do the same Storytime routine each Thursday.  The condo has had a couple of upgrade improvements, but for the most part remained unchanged.  The ghost shrimp are still the best bait to use and yield the best results as far as number of fish caught.  The sand is still as white and clean as I remember it being.

We are thankful to be back!  We would love to have some quality hang out time with our family and friends…who is coming down to visit us?!  :)