Our final week of travel
12.12.2015 - 20.12.2015
Our. Last. Week. Ending a long trip is rather like graduating from high school. No, it's exactly like graduating from high school. You spend so long coasting from fun event to fun event, meeting challenges and new friends, and then in one fell swoop it is over and you are left standing there in a bad outfit while people ask you what you are going to do with your life.
But first we had one more precious week with our Croatian cousins. Dalia drove us to a nearby village to see the Christmas lights, but I think I speak for both Gina and myself when I say we were not expecting this level of Christmas cheer.
This is all just one guy's property here people. Maybe a few acres. He's been decorating at a serious level for about fifteen years, every year adding more and more lights, and it began to draw quite a bit of traffic from all over this part of Croatia.
Then about five years ago his village started stepping up and pitching in for electricity, and a small admission fee was added to cover the parking attendants and clean up crew. There's now a small restaurant, souvenir shop, and lots of our favorite little Christmas market huts selling the usual brandy, honey, mulled wine and Holiday baubles.
So Dalia, Gina and I had a wonderful girl-date, wandering around this enchanted forest. There was two or three santas and a snowman, and an inexplicable village of Smurfs, but really it was just a forest of lights, which was quite romantic. Could have used about three inches of snow though, and it would have looked even more spectacular.
He even floats little lighted rafts on the pond! They drifted around with little penguins and polar bears on them, one even had a swan.
We had a snack in the restaurant and cups of mulled wine, and it was a pretty awesome date overall.
She also treated us to one last visit to Tomislav, who seemed relieved to *fix* us a little more. I must admit I do feel more like myself now.
Dalia and Siniša threw a big party on Saturday. They were expecting thirty-odd people, but seriously downplayed the enormity of such a party. They're so casual that having thirty people over for a full dinner and drinks doesn't phase them at all. Dalia cooked for three days and only let us help with the addition of two more batches of cake pops (we have started quite a cake pop following) and two pavlovas. I chose the Aussie pavlova because more desserts here are quite heavy, and I thought this would be quite refreshing.
It went over quite well. Everyone seemed to like them. It was shocking how much food Dalia produced though, and everything homemade except for the bread and cheese--she got one or two things from neighbors, such as sausage, but most of it was churned out of this solitary kitchen with frightening efficiency. She had lists, and lists of lists, and crossed off line items with the resolution of a military general. There was stuffed squid and turkey wrapped in bacon, stuffed pigs feet and goulash with gnocchi. I loved the pheasant risotto and French bread stuffed with sausage, and lasagna rolls with cheese and tiny mussels. There were cheese trays and sausage trays, a veal aspic with carrots and celery, a massive veggie tray with four kinds of handmade dips. There were potatoes and a huge bowl of fresh white cheese, carrot salad and thick sausages with sauerkraut. In addition to the pops and pavlovas there were Dalmatian cookies that were like little empanadas of ground nuts, Christmas honey cookies, and Dalmatian nougat with almonds.
Siniša was in charge of drinks and running to the store every hour because we forgot something. They even make their own wine! And it's delicious! He brought huge jugs of it in red and white, along with pop, juice, and of course the Croatian staples of medica (med-EETZ-ah) and šljivovica (SHHLEE-voh-veet-zah), which are brandies made out of honey and plums. I like them, especially the honey one ("med" is honey in Croatian, and Croats love them some honey), but they are the sort of alcohol that strips your nasal passages and makes you forget what year it is. But they breeze through it like mother's milk.
There was also a single bottle of champagne, which everyone drank from Bruno's championship cup in celebration of his gold medal. Especially Siniša and Coach, who pounded down what was left.
The party went on until four in the morning. So our last day was one of recovery, and when I tried to clean up Dalia batted me away like a pigeon. Now we have to pack, one final, back breaking time, and start the two day shit show to get home.