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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Makarska, a local Rivieria style resort dating back to the time of the Romans.

Old Style Fiat!

Does this look like a politican rally to you?

Peristyle...Diocletian's Palace Courtyard.

Langostines for dinner! Yum!

Seaside front of Split, Croatia from our sailboat, Eos

The internet is truely a wonder of modern technology. I'm on a boat in the middle of Mljet National Park and surfacing the web on mylaptop on unsecured wireless network signal from adjacent hotel. Just crazy!

When we arrived in Split, the old city town was definitely in a party mood, there was free concert as well as free food consisting of a local beef sausage with bread (the Croatian hot dog) and free beer too. Later, we learned this event was sponsored by a local political candidate who was running for a seat in the regional government. Canadian politicians could learn a thing or two here on how to win/buy votes.

We have sailed from Split to a local resort town of Makarska and then this morning, we sailed onto the National park of Mljet which is just outside Dubrovnik. The weather has been quite varied. It was sunny in Split (and I got slightly burnt while sleeping in a deck chair). In Makarska, it was somewhat cool overnight on Saturday and this morning it was down right cold as set sail to Mljet. The weather was fine in Mljet until after dinner when we had surprised by a sudden rainstorm.

We are certainly spoiled for choice for seafood. Each night thus far,we have shared our meals: grilled calamari, octopus salad, squid ink risotto, and stewed langoustines. The local wines have been quite fruity and there is a local herb/grass flavored liquor called Travarica which tastes more like a cough syrup formulation than an alcohol. We have also tried a tripe stew and on the boat had a grilled mackerel with a local spinach-like vegetable. Both were suprisingly delicious.

In Mljet National Park, we took a small boat to an ancient Franciscan monastery which was built on local Roman ruins. The monastery is located on an island in the middle of two fresh water lakes which arethe star attraction of the national park. The waters were clear and coloured much like that of Lake Louise in Banff. Mljet is reputed to be where Odysseus was ensnared by Calypso for 7 years and also where St. Paul was shipwrecked to and bitten by a viper. If these stories sound familiar, you are right....we heard them on Malta as well. The name of the cafe at the St.Mary monastery in Mljet cafe is Melita (whichis the Latin name for Malta). Coincidence?

Friday, May 29, 2009

Split, Croatia

After a long three-legged flight, we have arrived safely in Split, Croatia. There was a bit of a mix up with the bags. We thought they needed to pick them up in Zagreb before boarding our flight to Split. We assumed we would have to do this as we were all changing airlines from Air France to Croatian Air.

When all of our bags did not show up in Zagreb, we went to the lost luggage office and discovered they had been checked through to Split by Air France. Mom thought this was so in the first place but nobody else seemed sure. Score one for her but I still maintained we were misinformed by our travel agent.

I had gnocchi in a truffle, proscuitto, and brandy sauce this afternoon in Zagreb. This I have learned is a popular dish in Croatia. The heavy carbo load at lunch and poor sleep for the past 18 hours contributed to a power nap on the flight to Split. After a shower in the hotel Jadran, in Split, which is the original swimming complex where the Croatian National Team use to train, I discovered the free internet set up in the hotel lobby....happiness.

It is true what Red said, everyone speaks some English here. This is all part of a national push to put Croatia on the tourist map. It's working on me thus far. Noel and I will probably take a walk into Diocletian's Palace which is the Old City of Split before crashing tonight.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Moon Yuet

Another lovely Chinese tradition was carried out last Saturday. Ms. Crowded House's baby boy had his month old party which is called Moon Yuet. The celebration is much akin to the presentation of the baby to the community particularly the elders (and other ancestors unseen).
I suspect the celebration stems back to the times when infant mortality was somewhat higher than it is today. For the superstitious Chinese, it seems more appropriate to have a post birth month dinner than and pre-birth shower.
For the majority of this 12 course meal, the baby boy was paraded around, cooed and cuddled and really pretty much getting the paparazzi treatment. Most befitting a baby, he slept through most of dinner. These hard boiled "symbolical" red eggs (more pink) were presented to the attendants. Red is the colour of good fortune and the eggs representing ?fertility.

Income Tax Return

I was pleasantly suprised this year after filing my taxes at the end of April. Why? Because:

1) I received a return.
2) I received the cheque for the return amount today.
3) The amount of the return more than sufficiently pays for my upcoming European vacation.