October 22 – 30, 2018
They made it happen! With almost no notice Nan and Grandad made it to Croatia and hung out with us in Cavtat (pronounced SAHV-tat) for a week. We knew that Croatia would be our last chance to see them before heading east to Thailand. We knew it would be tight, we knew the weather wouldn’t be optimal (Nanny has been known to love the sunshine and enjoy a beach or two) and we knew Cavtat would be slowing down and shuttering many of its restaurants for the winter season. Even after all those not-so-optimal conditions, they still came and how happy we are they did.
Our check-out from the Dubrovnik AirB&B was at 10am, but check-in to the Cavtat AirB&B wasn’t until 2pm so we decided to camp out at the airport for a few hours while we waited for Nan and Grandad to arrive. We passed the time eating cookies and playing silly games. Bananagrams is one of our favorites but we were feeling silly and didn’t want to play by the rules. So instead we played in the normal way but used made-up words (Sue, you would hate this version :)). The rules were strict. You could make up any word as long as you could describe its meaning and use it in a sentence. No giggling allowed 🙂 It was super fun. A woxin is a toxin that can kill wombats BTW.
The airport was a short hop from the AirB&B. The AirB&B host kindly picked us up from the airport and drove us into town (did I mention how we love AirB&Bs?). Villa Katarina was lovely and Grandad soon found his happy place beside the water. Three bedrooms, four bathrooms, a table tennis table, mandarin and lemon trees in the yard, and a deck facing the ocean. The girls were out in the ocean snorkeling and our wine/beer glasses were full within the hour.
Oh yes, we did! Mom (as it happens) is a Game of Thrones fan. Who knew?!! I too am a Game of Thrones fan. Many scenes in the Game of Thrones were filmed in Dubrovnik sooooo we just had to take a cheesy GOT fan tour while we were here. We woke up early, took a bus into Dubrovnik together, and geeked out for two hours. It was awesome. The GOT production team chose Dubrovnik for a very good reason…it needed less ‘work’ to make it look and feel like the middle ages. Indeed, if you squint a little and try to ignore the tourists it’s easy to imagine bumping into Jon Snow walking through Kings landing. #mancrush 😉 And yes mom did reenact the walk of shame and no she wasn’t naked.
The rest of the family joined us in Dubrovnik after the tour. We spent the next couple of hours picnicking on the rocks outside the old town walls. If you visit Dubrovnik you must visit this site, it’s called the Mala Buza bar. The location is epic – as are the drink prices. I recommend buying some cheap beer/wine at the convenience store in town (grab some snacks and Croatian pastries too) and head down here to watch the sunset, swim and laze for free. The upper section is a paid bar, the lower section is open to anyone.
With my parents and Christiana back at the AirB&B with the girls, I escaped to the mountains for a couple of hours to run. My goodness, this area is beautiful. The climb was brutal but the reward was worth it. I managed to find the Bosnian border which I thought was cool and got to watch the sunset from a stunning perch above the town.
Our AirB&B hosts’ family owns a restaurant close to Cavtat – Seoska kuca Cilipi. The restaurant is part of a family compound that includes a number of homes, a small vineyard, a farm, and an orchard growing mandarins and pomegranates. Most of the food served at the restaurant uses ingredients grown right outside the front door. The restaurant isn’t normally open to the public – it caters to private tour groups – however, we were invited to eat there as special guests of our host. The traditional Croatian meal – meat and vegetables prepared “under the bell” Peka style – was served on large single plates for the whole table. Live musicians played traditional Croatian songs as well as Beatles tunes we could sing along with. It all felt a little bit different but comfortably familiar too.
Yes, that is Amelia trying red wine for the first time and no, she wasn’t a fan.
The entire evening was wonderful. Gordana and her daughter Katarina were the most gracious hosts you could ever possibly meet. They gave us a tour of the property, shared wine in their home kitchen before dinner, and told us stories about this special location passed down through generations. We arrived empty-handed and left three hours later with pumpkins, pomegranates, leftover strudel, homemade jam, mandarins, eggs, and two bottles of wine. We were blown away with kindness.
Everyone remembers their first game of Exploding Kittens. Nan and Grandad certainly will. If you haven’t already played this amazing game you should. It’s awesomely fun. On the road, as a foursome, we’ve started playing more games. Three in particular – Exploding Kittens, Bananagrams, and Rummikub (thank you, Sue and John). I was never a card guy or a games guy growing up. I was bad at spelling, crappy at math, and had a memory like a sieve (I still have a memory like a sieve). In short, playing games just wasn’t fun for me. Interestingly enough however I’ve come to learn that the girls have been gaming for years. Either at school or as part of their afterschool program, playing card games and board games has been a part of their education forever – awesome for them, not so awesome for me. They ‘get’ strategy, they get the timing, they get rules, they get cheating.
These games are fun with four people but they’re more fun with six. My mom faced her fears and played a ‘spelling game’ and my dad sat back and watched while his grandkids ran the table and kicked all our butts.
Above – Dad and I on a water taxi to Dubrovnik for our guys’ day out. We walked a lot (he knew what to expect), visited a forgery museum, and drank coffee and beer. Getting time with this guy was special. Getting time with him here was doubly special. No, I did not take the water taxi back to Cavtat with dad. I chickened out and took the bus home. Large swells and my stomach don’t mix.
Christiana and I are acutely aware that time together like this is rare and special. Tight hugs and nighttime kisses, hand-holding hikes along windy shores, shared sunsets while dancing on foamy rocks, eating soggy gelato in the rain, braiding Nanny’s hair on the front deck. Amelia and Annabelle made the most of their Croatian week with Nan and Grandad and have some amazing memories to cherish.
The weather on our final day was crazy. Not cold, but a little rainy and super blustery. The trees were swaying, waves were crashing and all sea transportation was cancelled. A perfect stay-at-home, wrapped in a blanket, reading a book kind of day. So we went hiking :).
I’d been wanting to take my parents to this second Cavtat peninsula for the entire week. I’d run the route a few times and knew my dad would really enjoy it. The walk wasn’t easy but the effort was worth it. The wind howled while sea mist surrounded us. The girls opened their jackets and tried to fly, Nan held her head trying to prevent the inevitable ‘frizzy head hair’ that came later, and Grandad stood mesmerized (as he always is) watching the white-capped waves out at sea follow their ancient ritual.
Saying goodbye was sad, it’s always sad, but this week was special in new and unique ways. Thank you mom and dad for taking the short notice leap of faith with us. We had a blast.
Amelia has been experimenting with slideshows/videos – Check it out: