Thursday, August 23, 2007

Bosnia and Croatia

When planning my summer holiday this year, the motherland was a natural selection as my family was going to be there and quite frankly there is no other place on earth more beautiful to me. Plus I really needed a beach vacation as I've taken many city breaks this past year which are by no means relaxing. Basically you run around like a mad man for 3 days making sure you pack in as much as possible and not miss a thing. Don't get me wrong, I love every minute of it, but once in a while you need to get up in the morning and think hmmm I have absolutely nothing to do today but lay on a beach!

So we started out going to Bosnia to visit my extended family and celebrate my Grandparent's 50th wedding anniversary, a crowning achievement in my eyes and one that few get to these days. I've always admired the marriage that my grandparents have because you can see how happy they are to be together and how much they love each other. The celebration was in the works for a while so a bunch of my extended family in Calgary was there as well. 2 birds with one stone I guess. My parents came to pick up Alex and I from the airport and the first thing we wanted to do was eat some Cevape! Nobody in the world makes them as good as in Bosnia. After that was settled, we spent the rest of Saturday visiting with family. It was easy for Alex to blend in since we were there for Christmas so everyone already knew him, and his Croatian had improved by about a percent (we'll keep trying!)

Sunday was the big celebration and it started at the local church, same one that my grandparents had been married in 50 years earlier, where they renewed their vow's in front of all of us. Right after the ceremony the singing and dancing began outside of the church as an accordion player was hired to play away Croatian folk dance songs. I have to say that for 70, my grandparents still have the moves! Then it was back to their place for a family lunch and more singing. Lets just say we like to celebrate. The official party happened in this restaurant in the city where we again, you guessed it, partied the night away. I loved seeing my mom with all her brothers and sisters celebrating this special occasion with their parents. Actually, we also commemorated my parents 25th wedding anniversary at the party so there was more to drink to. We spent Monday recovering from all of the festivities and visiting some more with family then it was off to Croatia!

Since there was 6 of us all together and only a 5 seater car, Alex and I ended up taking the bus to Croatia which really wasn't bad at all. First stop was Split, and then we switched to another bus which took us to Makarska. In the meantime my family had enough time to get there and find an apartment for the 6 of us. They were lucky to find a 4 bedroom apartment at a killer deal of 10 euros per person per night (this is for all those people whom I've been trying to convince to go visit). Naturally our first stop was the beach and it was so nice to jump into the clear water with temperatures hovering around the 40* mark every day that we were there. I think we must have used the same phrase every time that we stepped outside for those 8 days "I think today is hotter than yesterday!" Seriously though, it was HOT. And my skin can handle it but Alex, well he's another story....We kept trying to hide him in what ever shade we could make with the two umbrella's we got right away.


I've been to Makarska several times before and loved it although this time it was a bit too packed with tourists. Because of this, we ended up going to other smaller towns along the riviera to escape the crowds. The second day we were there, we took a boat trip to two islands, Brac and Hvar. The first stop on the trip was to a small port town called Jesla on the Island Hvar. Its quite a popular boat and the "captain" does a lot to make the trip more fun and interactive with music and drink pouring from the early hours (we boarded at 8:3o am). Alex and I took the opportunity to walk around the small town in the little time we had there while the rest settle down for some cold drinks. Walking around, I was really intrigued by how people must live in such a small town on an island nonetheless. Anywho, we boarded the boat once again and then headed off to Brac where there is the most famous beach in Croatia called Bol. On the way, we saw many smaller islands out in the sea and several nudy beaches lets say.

Bol was absolutely beautiful and had the clearest water I've ever swam in. I was afraid that it would be really busy but the beach wasn't that packed at all. I pretty much spent the whole 3 or 4 hours we were there in the water and Alex and I swam from one end to the tip of the long beach. The scenery around there is just breath taking and I definitely plan to do another trip to Croatia where we can rent our own boat and do some private island hopping. On the way back to Makarska everyone was just exhausted, the sun really took it out of us and being on the top deck of the boat certainly didn't help. We all came back with sun burns and I was sporting a very noticeable tan line across my face where my sun glasses had been. Took a couple days to even it out but embarrassing nonetheless.

Bol Beach

A couple of the other days we headed to Brela which is another city about 15 km from Makarska where we met some family from Canada and spent the day on the beach there. Alex bought a snorkeling set and we had fun checking out the undersea creatures in the rocks below (lots of sea urchins). Brela is recognized for this big rock that's separated from the rest of the beach and stands alone in the water. Couple of people were climbing up and jumping off the top. I thought about it only for about a second and then I snapped back to reality and realized that that I would never have the guts to actually do it!

The rest of the time we literally just laid on the beach and relaxed. Only got up to go for lunch, ice cream, and lots of water to rehydrate. One of the nights in Makarska, there was a fisherman's night where local fisherman set up stands along the pier and fried all kinds of sea food. We didn't think of this before we went and loaded up on seafood in a restaurant along the pier, bad planning in hindsight. Alex was in sea food heaven and we had to stop several times as he poked his head in every stand to see what was cookin. I made sure I got my fix of fish and all things sea food while I was there because now living in a land locked country, you really start to miss good sea food. On our last night there, my sister and I shared a whole kilo of scampi of the barbecue and I can't even explain how good it was!

I parted ways with my parents and my little brother in Split but not without tears. I realize that I will see them in several months when I move back to Calgary (God that's scary to even think about) but I'm terrible at goodbyes and it doesn't get any easier no matter how many times I do it. This time was especially difficult because we had such an amazing summer together and it was hard to see them go. But I had my trip to Italy with my sister to look forward to and that helped to raise my spirits. Overall though, one of the best holidays I've taken in my life and lots of good memories to hold on to. Not to mention the gazillion photo's all thanks to 4 camera's floating around!


At 9:55 AM, Blogger Miss Canthus said...

You mentioned so many places that I have very fond memories of. I was in the former Yugoslavia over 30 yrs ago and thought the trip from Zagreb to Kotor (on the coast, in the very south) was the most scenic of all my travels around Europe, and perhaps anywhere that I have been.

Lake Plitvice, Split, Hvar (with the oldest movie theater in Europe), Bol, Dubrovnik, Kotor (with its spectacular bay and fabulous views of it as one goes up the mountain and inland). Spectacular!!

But let's not tell too many people as we don't want it to become overrun with tourists, though that may already have happened in the past 30 yrs.

At 3:24 AM, Blogger Blanka said...

I think that the secret it out! So many tourists especially in the last couple of years. But that only means we have to search for smalled more secluded beaches.

At 7:05 AM, Blogger Layial said...

glad to hear that you are doing well Blanka...Loving the beach photos and a little jealous...


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