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¡Ay, caramba! We got so lost today in Dubrovnik, driving around. Good god. Thankfully by the 20th helpful person our 60th U turn got us going the right direction. To our
retirement facility hotel. I’m kidding, it’s not quite that but we are on the younger end. We took a short bus trip to the old town while the car rested. He was dizzy.
We have a little Fiat here. Which if I had any doubt in driving a stick its now gone since the roads and drives are like San Fran here. Here’s the little guy:
The thing is huge. I mean it seems big for even American standards; it really resembles a European ambulance. Weeee-ooooo-weeeee-ooooo-weeeee-ooooo. But we drove across Croatia and ate virtually no gas. So, win!
I can’t say today was all that exciting other than getting to some if the prettiest sights ever. To us mountains are uncommon. Having the opportunity to drive with, through, and around them was phenomenal, it was so pretty!!!! Here’s a photo of Dado along the way.
The drive was easy, one road all aling the coast. so many gorgeous things to see and talk about.
I about jumped out if the car when I saw olive trees lining the highway! Aaaaargh, so prettttty! So we jumped out for a quick sec to take some photos.
You wouldn’t believe my delight when we saw a guy selling food off the back of his truck, so to speak…we stopped and what did he have?! OLIVES!!!!
What better to do than eat olives when you’re dying of thirst? The vendor, who was great, didn’t have water. Lets remember we are talking fruit cart here. So dado got some sweet juice I couldn’t drink and I ate olives. What was funny at the cart is that all of the seals on all of his homemade products appeared intact. Sealable lids were on the jams, on the juice, on the olives…but in fact, they weren’t intact, they were loose. So when we asked about the juice, he said, “evo, probaj!” Which means “here, try!” He proceeded to unscrew each cap and pour us some. But after he opened and closed the bottles, the seals were still good. I had to laugh. It reminded me of a story of there in the US.
My mom goes over to the Serbian/Croatian/Bosnian store and picks up a bag of “our” coffee. At one point this was called Turkish Coffee, but we’re onto different names now. There’s a variety of names, but lets call it Bosnian coffee now. It’s something between regular American coffee and espresso. It’s quite good actually. Water is boiled on the stove in a metal pot called a dzezva and then removed from heat. A couple of heaping teaspoons of the special coffee are folded into the still water and them very lightly stirred. I mean is almost not a stir at all, and there and then, before your eyes, a creamy layer, made entirely from coffee, forms on the top. Aaah, but here comes the most important part, the pouring and serving, or as I call it the allowance distribution. The most coveted part of the coffee is that caramel colored cream on the top. But nobody gets all of it. It’s rationed off strategically and systematically. A little metal spoon, roughly a teaspoon, is used to scoop one spoonful of the cream into each fildzan. Fildzani (pl.) are little teacups that hold about the same volume of liquid as an espresso cup or Japanese handle-less tea cup. The host of the party, who 95% of the time is the server, goes around the set of cups and puts one dollop of the cream in each cup, repeating the process if more cream is left, so long as it’s expected that all of the coffee will be emptied from the pot on the first round of pours. IF the coffee will not be emptied on the first pour, only one large dollop is given to each participant, saving cream for the second pouring. You never want too much coffee cream.
One other thing worth mentioning since we are on the topic, is that all good former Yugoslav women who enjoy this coffee formerly referred to as Turkish coffee also know how to read your future, subconscious, past, present, or secrets in your cup. When you are done drinking (leaving the sludge of grinds behind), you flip your cup onto the saucer and let your secrets write themselves on the walls of the fildzan. When all the main town gossip has been shared, when tears have dried and laughter has died down, the cups are flipped. But never in unison. Then the reading begins. It’s usually a series of items you find written in your coffee hieroglyphics…your writings on the wall….your alignment of stars. Mountains dividing people, horses, old evil ladies, horses, and in my case dinosaurs. I always seem to find a brontosaurus (which was a dinosaur during the same period of education as when Pluto was in our solar system).
This coffee can be served with both milk (often straight from the cow), and is served with two cubes of sugar, which you never actually put in the coffee if you’re good at it, instead you dip a portion of the cube in the coffee and watch it wick up then eat the coffee laden cube.
Back to my moms shopping trip…
Ok so this stuff is imported, and my mom turns the bag over to look for the expiration date. Well, the stamp reads:
Unstamped, the coffee could be years old, as you could figure, so mum heads over to the register guy who owns the shop and asks why the coffee isn’t stamped with the expiration date. His very matter of fact response: “well ma’am if we stamped the bags, we couldn’t sell them as long. They’d expire!”
Back to our fruit cart. He also had us try mandarins (which they grow a lot of), figs (sooooo much better freshly dried here), and jams (also out of the “sealed” jars, which he put back up on the shelf after we dipped our spoons in). Somehow though, you trust your countrymen. And we’ve lived to tell about it, so it was fine.
Ok so lets wrap this up. We arrive to Dubrovnik drive in circles, eventually get to our hotel. Hug it out with the hotel guy who was a breath of happy fresh air. His name is Željko. We heart him. He told us how to get to the bus, so we took the 10 min ride over to the old town and wandered around. We found a Mexican restaurant, of all things, which we plan to visit and critique thoroughly.
We walked through the fortress, which, like Split, is filled with the best things in life, people, food, drink, and ice cream! You’ve got to understand the walls, this fortress I’m talking about is thousands of tears old. The roads, made of large stone blocks have been polished shiny after thousands of years of being walked on. Its incredible. And it looks fake. But its an ancient piece of history and we feel so blessed to be here. Along our way we saw many tame little house cats that despise people (or me specifically) and an impressively large numbers of non-leashed dogs. The dogs don’t give a sh*t about me anymore than the cats do, but I’m very impressed with them. Their owners walk nearby but the dogs are their own bosses, yet incredibly obedient. The dogs never stray too far, and they don’t stop for anyone. They don’t use the bathroom on the stone and they don’t bark or jump. It’s very unlike our dog who does the opposite of these guys. Minus the bathroom thing. Django also prefers grass (or potted plants on other people’s balconies, unfortunately).
Well a little puppy ran past us, and I heard a very Midwestern, ahem, non-accent call the puppy over. So as the puppy tore past them completely ignoring the call, we went over to say hi. They were from Chicago and we had a nice 10 minute chat. Well after them we headed over to a beautiful alleyway for some dinner.
We ran into the BEST people ever. Dado and I arrived at the outdoor menu stand and started to look, when Josip, the Kirk Cameron look-alike waiter popped up in front of us like a maniac. We all laughed, hugged, and he sat us at a table right in between two other tables (we’re talking a distance between tables smaller than the distance between two people at the same table in the US). So rightly so, when our best friend Josip brought us some pickled sardine looking things we offered some to the couple next to us (Steve and Catherine, from London). That sparked a conversation and I fed my portion of the fish to the one cat in Croatia that was smart enough to come close to me. Not only did she get love, but she got to gobble the sardine! Next, Josip kept insisting on speaking in half Cro half English. Well then when he went inside Natalie, my sisters twin sitting in the other side of us, switched from Aussie English to Cro and told me that Josip had learned English in Japan, of all places. After poking a little fun at Josip, we learned that Natalie was Croatian and her friend Michelle was also from Australia but lived in London. Thus, our three tables of two became a close table for six and we laughed the night away and hugged a lot!
Here are a couple of things we found on the walk back home:
The store with the most unique selection: