w days in Paris, a few in Lyon, a couple in Munich, and then our week on Hvar with the family. SNCF messed up our train schedule, but we compensated (took a bus to Lyon instead; went to Strasbourg a day ahead), and although it felt a bit stressful at the time and was one move/bed more than I wanted to make, that part of our trip worked well.
And so far, it's been better than okay. It's been a gentle adventure (with one horrible navigation argument in the car, I'll admit, but air cleared within a hundred kilometres). You already know that I let Pater make our booking for Ston -- a destination that hadn't been our intention, but that suited us quite well (my original romantic notion had been to spot a place while driving -- you know? a pretty little cottage with a Vacancy sign that we'd see from the road and there'd be an easy turn at the intersection just ahead. Oh, and in this fantasy I'd have long flowing hair, a backpack that I could heft without effort onto my tall, willowy frame . . . ha!). . .
He did very well making that first online choice -- the reality turned out to be even better than the online marketing photos conveyed.
But as we drove into Zadar -- a destination we'd agreed on together -- I began to have serious reservations. Granted, we approached it through some homely suburbs, and then an industrial area followed by a swarm of aggressively bland hotels. That approach had us hoping for some beauty in the Old City Quarter, but as the numbers counted down to our target address, the buildings were looking increasingly like ageing inner-city, project-built apartment clusters. Not attractive at all.
The owner/host of the apartment we rented met us in front of the building -- the top photo is of a cafe we passed on the way; the second photo is of the restaurant just outside "our" building -- where we enjoyed a bottle of Jamnica (the Croatian water to drink -- I always ordered the green bottle "with gas"); the photo directly above this section of text is of the ancient church just next to that restaurant.
As we followed the very friendly L. into the building, he explained that while the building looked old (everything in Zadar looks old, he said), we should be reassured that the apartment was very new inside. I should have taken pictures for you, I know, but let me tell you how right he was -- the inside of the apartment had been completely gutted and redone. Sleek and modern -- and, frankly, rather sexy with a sliding-glass-door enclosed bathroom. Fabulous lighting, built-in contemporary cabinetry. And yes, an electric kettle, a small fridge, a Nespresso-type machine, and a good selection of coffee pods and tea bags. Wifi, flat-screen TV. Hotel-quality towels, tiny bottles of shower gel and shampoo, cellophane-wrapped glasses. . .
A tiny balcony with that view of the harbour (third photo from the top) just past the pretty geraniums. And across the way, incredibly, a collection of ancient (some appear to be Roman vintage) architectural remnants gathered in a courtyard. Somehow I didn't get any pictures of the five to ten (likely feral) cats within view at any time.
Ridiculously affordable, and an abundance of free entertainment just outside the door . . . If you like wandering through ancient alleys, past beautiful architecture, that is.
|Pulley wheel for one of the Five Wells that give this Trg (Plaza) its name -- they're obviously no longer in use|
The path curved 'round and 'round, up and up, and the surrounding trees were tall and leafy enough that I knew Pater would never find me here. So I texted him, reminded him of the labyrinth we'd climbed in Paris almost a decade ago, in the Jardin des Plantes, told him I'd discovered its Adriatic soulmate here, and then waited for him to join me.
Instagram, if you're interested.
Soon he'll wake, and I'll remember to wish him a Happy Father's Day! If any dads are reading here, Happy Father's Day to you as well. I've been so lucky in my life -- the Patriarchy definitely pisses me off, very regularly, but the Dads I know and have known (and grown, if I may say so!) are wonderfully loving and strong fathers, and tender and vulnerable and supportive and kind and firm and adaptive and flexible and realistic. My dad, my husband's dad, my children's dad, my grandchildren's dads, my brothers and my brothers-in-law, my nephews, my niece's husband -- these guys all give me hope that some things are truly getting better, and I celebrate them all with much love.