Sunday 24th August- less bulk in our bags

Luka returned to Croatia, married and had four children. Blanchi who has passed away. Lilli-Tui who lives in Zagreb, Rina, Tanja’s Mother, who came to NZ, and Josip whom we haven’t met. This is Lilli-Tui who we visited this morning. She seemed a little disorientated after not sleeping well last night and then waking to find all seven of us ready to greet her. I’m sure she is still wondering who the hell we all were and why we were there. A well traveled and educated woman, she has had a distinguished career as the director of a University among other things and I’m sure a great role model to the women in the family. Now in her eighties she hasn’t been so well lately. I remember for many years her writing letters in Croatian to Mum, taking over after Maricá became too old. Mum would phone Sonja Lukan who would come around and translate them. These were treasured and shared. It was lovely to meet her today and lovely to see how her eyes sparkled when she saw Zarko.

We also visited Zarko’s offices and saw his awards for the olive oil he produces. A couple of bottles in the bag for home that we will definitely enjoy being even greater fans than we ever were before… And then we head to Varaždin. A quaint old town that has a festival each year. I have been looking for earrings to be my Croatian memory and hadn’t seen anything that really jumped out at me until today. In Zadar on the coast I bought the stone necklace. I was immediately taken with the colours as it reflected the many colours of the waters we have been swimming in. Every shade of blue is depicted here. Yes it’s heavy but I love it!

In Varaždin I found a jewellers stall who specialises in restoring old jewellery and making replicas. I chose two rings. The right one is a traditional style from Dubrovnik in the renaissance period. The left is a style from Dalmaticia in the 16th century and the earrings from Split in the 18th century. They are perfect reminders for me.

There were food stalls of course and this is called a Kotlovina – a hot plate where the juices run to the middle. The Skinny sausages are called Debrecinka and the fatter ones Cheshnjovka – with a garlicky flavour. The weather started out perfect but unfortunately it started to rain and steady enough to be a pain. We left after a couple of hours and headed for a restaurant that is a restored village house that had an Austrian-Hungarian feel to it and it just so happens they have won awards for culinary excellence. Tony said his steak was one of the best he has ever eaten. We weren’t disappointed either and left feeling it had been a wonderful day and dinner…but it wasn’t to end there. We had a drive around the old town before collecting some delicious sweet treats and back to ‘our’ flat for coffee. Kisses goodbye all round and Gilbert and I offloaded our warmer clothes to Lindy’s girls to bring back with them so we can head on to the next part of our journey with less bulk in our bags.

I thought it was going to hard to say goodbye but now with the cruise on the horizon I’m excited. Talk soon!

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