We would be catching a passenger ferry from Dubrovnik to Split on Monday August 28. The views were beautiful. A miniature walled city dominated one island, looking like the place to go. Got into Split around 9:30 that night. My maps showed our location to be in an open space on the map just north of the railroad tracks. We left the ferry and walked around and over the railroad tracks. I was using my gps and it was leading me down this alley into an area of apartments. I came to a dead end with our location seemingly right in front of us. We went out to the main road to make it around but quickly found ourselves moving away from our destination. I called our host who said we were close just come down by the railroad tracks. As we came down one set of stairs there was a spray-painted name and arrow to our destination. I walked the same path we had walked before and turned around to find another pathway in between the buildings. I had to call him. He had already told me I was close and seemed exasperated that I hadn’t found it. We agreed to meet at a neon lit hotel sign. There he was. He said follow me. And off we went. We navigated past some cars to an opening in the wall with a concrete block placed to help us through the opening separating us from the railroad tracks. We then walked along the tracks around a set of apartments. We then turned to one apartment on the far side of the apartments. I retraced this on video the next morning.
Safe and sound we stored our things and headed for the town. Split is the home of the Roman emperor Diocletian’s palace built in the 300’s. The palace is filled with shops and restaurants but still retains its Roman magnificence. The fourth season of “Game of Thrones” was filmed there. Apparently, Dubrovnik and this entire area serves as the location for the show. We walked about, listened to a couple of good sounding American musicians play for a crowd outside of a restaurant and made it home for a sleep.
Woke up and made it to the train station for our 6 and half hour trip to Zagreb. Enjoying the train rides. We had bought a Euro pass that would give us 7 days of free travel. Day one in Italy, two Split to Zagreb, three Zagreb to Zurich, four Zurich to Karlsruhe, five up and down the Rhine Valley, six Karlsruhe to Groningen and seven Groningen to Amsterdam with a trip to the windmills and a downtown trip from the airport on our final day in Europe.
Croatia, my roots. I would see my mom’s face over and over. I might have already mentioned the stories that go with Dubrovnik women; but here goes again. My mother was one of seven children with five girls. The Ivancovich girls were known beauties in the Watsonville area. In the recesses of my mind I remember, especially my Aunt Marie, commenting about their shared good looks and embarrassingly referring to what is said about Dubrovnik girls. The story goes something like this. Dubrovnik, this independent city was run by a group of specific families. When they lost their independence; supposedly a vow was made that they would discontinue the habit of intermarrying among the ruling families. This unleashed the young men of the nobility to go throughout the countryside spreading their seed and thus the beauty of the peasant stock of Dubrovnik. Read it in two different books.
The train ride through the Croatian countryside was beautiful. We could compare the ride down the coast of Italy to this ride. The country could be harsh and I can remember my grandfather talking about the stones and rocks that made farming difficult in Croatia. Fields of olives, grapes and corn. The stones had been gathered to build small walls separating the fields all along the journey from Split to Zagreb. Each farm had a garden plot that mirrored mine back home. The groups of trees surrounding the farm houses would include apples, peach, apricot and figs; all memories I associate with my Grandfather’s farm in Watsonville. We went through some mountains and treated to the rich valley views. All pleasant, enjoying our grapes, figs and nuts and each other’s company.