Trip Diary Part Two

Day 10, Saturday:  Time to leave the coast.  Supposed to be out by ten.  Make it out by 11 am, not too shabby.  Unfortunately, driving up the Magistrala on a Saturday in August is a little like leaving your beach house and making your way up the Garden State Parkway or Delaware Route 1 on same.  We end up driving south on the Scary Mountain Road With No Guard Rails to avoid this, going about an hour out of our way.  Inexplicably, my husband’s father makes plans to meet up with a cousin while on the road.  After much delay we meet him two hours later, only about twenty five kilometers from where our beach house was.  Because we are so late, it is literally a stop on the side of the highway.  Five hours to Zagreb takes seven, and we are tired and unhappy when we reach our destination.

Day 11, Sunday:  The place we rent in Zagreb couldn’t be more different than our ultramodern, well equipped beach apartment.  It has lots of historic charm, but it is also not as luxurious or clean.  Still, we settle in, retrieve my eldest and my husband’s sister from the airport, and gear up for Week Two.  End the evening at a lovely outdoor restaurant, where our drinks, huge platter of assorted sausages and meats, wine and crepe desserts for all comes in at around $100 US.  Nice.

Day 12, Monday:  We head to the large open air market in Zagreb and the central square, leaving hubby’s mother and my youngest back at the ranch.  It is everything you expect and love about Europe.  Snag souvenirs and makings for dinner.  Make a quiet meal at home to rest for our big outing the next day.

Day 13, Tuesday:  Today we head to Plitvice National Park, an amazing place that has dozens of lakes interconnected by waterfalls.  The water is insane shades of blue and turquoise.  It is stunning and breathtaking.  And curiously, their snack bar serves the biggest hamburgers I’ve ever seen (and I think they were some mixture of beef, pork and veal because they tasted divine), roast chicken and “cevaptcici”, which is a sausage dish.  We are well fed and happy.

Day 14:  Wednesday:  This day is the Feast of the Assumption of Mary, a national holiday in Croatia.  Many use the day off to go to church, and there are festivals all over.  We choose to head to one of them, at the Shrine of Marija Bistrica, up in the mountains outside of Zagreb.  We miss Mass, which is really a blessing because the crowds are just dissipating as we roll into town, having gotten lost on the way.  Everything about the place is beautiful and reverent and huge and old.

Day 15:  Thursday:  We decide we haven’t seen enough churches and decide to go to the St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Zagreb.  It dominates the city landscape.  My eldest gets impatient waiting for all of the very young and not so young to get their acts together and decides he will walk there, getting to see much of the city along the way.  When he fails to show up at 2pm to our appointed meeting place, I panic and find him just walking up.  He got lost and ended up walking north instead of south, but a bus driver brought him back into town.  End the day meeting six of my husband’s family members and eating yet another pork/veal/sausage meal.  It is at this point I start to wonder if vegetarians could really exist in this part of the world.

Day 16, Friday:  Our last full day in Zagreb.  We want to see the Gornji Grad, or the Upper (Oldest Part of) Town.  There is much to see here, including St. Mark’s Church with its colorful roof, and the Stone Gate which protected the city from invaders.  We end up negotiating with my husband’s father to meet another friend for lunch rather than dinner, since we all want to start getting ready for our trip back the next day.  Lunch ends up being a 2 hour affair at a lovely restaurant called Vinodol.  I have fish for the first time since we left the coast (most of the menu being again the pork/veal/sausage options), which freaks my kids out.  Also, this friend of my father in law’s actually speaks English, which is a refreshing change.  I realize how much I miss hearing English at this point and think, I am ready to go back.

Day 17, Saturday:  While our flight doesn’t leave until 3:30, my eldest son’s leaves earlier so the morning is a whirlwind of packing, eating and worrying about travel.  It is at this point where my youngest loses his shit and has a meltdown.  I am actually grateful, because it has been brewing for days, and I am glad it happened at home and not at the airport.  I cry as I soothe him and calm him down.  At the airport, later, my husband encourages me to have a “Strong Croatian Drink”  (this has been a joke for days as it was the English translation of the spirits section on a restaurant menu), and I do, because there is booze at the gate area.  We arrive in Madrid for our overnight stay.  There is really, unfortunately, only enough time to eat dinner at the hotel and go to sleep since we have a long day ahead tomorrow.  I gulp down three glasses of Chardonnay in the Executive Lounge and try not to stress about the long day tomorrow.

Day 18:, Sunday:  Up at 6:30, Madrid time, to have another go at the 26 Euro breakfast buffet.  I try to fill up on anything I can’t get back in the states:  grilled tomatoes and zucchini, awesome cheeses and proscuitto, even smoked salmon (which I can get at home but doesn’t seem as good, somehow).  I don’t bother with the mimosas in the corner, though I debate with myself for a minute about it.  Just after 9am, we are fed, bags are checked and we have passed through five different passport checks before landing at our gate.  Husband checks at the counter just before boarding to find we have yet again been upgraded to business class.  Hurrah!  Champagne before 11am.   We spend the next eight hours eating and watching movies, even though we should be sleeping.  We land at JFK at 1 in the afternoon.  The worst part of the trip is the drive home on the parkways of New York, which are clogged with Sunday afternoon traffic.  Home is stuffy but welcoming when we get there.

Day 19, Monday:  Not really part of the trip but can’t help but mention it.  Up at 3:30am due to jet lag.   Process photos, have coffee, take poor dog who was locked up at a kennel for our whole trip for a monster 4 mile walk.  Husband goes to work and calls home before 9am:  he has to fly out on a business trip.  Today.  He’ll be home in a few minutes to pack.  Yep, there’s a reason he has all of those points.  Sigh.

Back to reality.


One Response

  1. Sounds like a great time–though I’ll bet you’re ready for a vacation from your vacation!! 😉

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