From Italy we took the “Croazia Jet,” a high-speed catamaran ferry across the Adriatic from Ancona, Italy to Split, Croatia. We sat in lazy-boy type seats with DVD movies for the 4-hour trip. After resolving a little mix-up about the Croatian rental car, we spent 5 nights in Croatia after driving down the coast to Jay and Christine’s home in Slano, Croatia. The Garmin GPS mapping was useless in Croatia because it showed only major highways.
We have become quite comfortable with Slano life, and this was probably our best visit ever. Each morning, 8 dollars American gets you 2 cappuccinos and either a bike or kayak rental. One night after dinner, at around midnight, we walk next door to visit Jay’s 83-year old neighbor who used to be a “harmony singer,” part of a traveling group around Europe. We sat outside, and he sang old-time love songs for all of us. This year a new 5-star hotel resort opened in Slano called the Admiral. Jay and Christine were gracious enough to buy a summer swimming pass at the place, so we used the kid-friendly facilities every day. In addition to the beach, the hotel has indoor and outdoor salt water pools, whirlpools, and massage jets in both pools and towel service.
We also checked out the new Radisson Blu resort in a nearby town. This place has 7 pools, 5 restaurants, a bakery, butcher shop and its own post office -- a self-contained village. We enjoyed a long afternoon lounging, swimming and eating. Saturday night in Slano was the “White Night” street dancing festival. There was a famous Croatian Las Vegas style singer named Jasmin Stravos, who was enthusiastically welcomed by the crowd. Just another after-midnight event for us.
Because we had an early morning flight out of Dubrovnik the next day, we decided to get a room in Cavtat about 5 minutes from the airport. Hotel prices were very high (200 euros per night) since this is high season in a quaint, touristy, seaside village. The clerk then asks if we want to stay privately. We agreed, and he calls his girl friend who shows up about 10 minutes later all dressed up for an evening out, and rides with us to show us an apartment for the night. The place is clean and very cheap. Accommodations worked out well for all involved.
Another night while eating at a local seaside outdoor café called ‘Mirakul’, two older guys sitting at the bar began singing old time Croatian songs with the jukebox and it was real nice. After dinner little Luca is running around the place and seems to be gravitating around the ice cream freezer with a glass case. Soon thereafter, we witnessed Luca having his first ice cream cone ever. Man, his eyes were so wide open with excitement. He knew he found a great thing. Later a gathering of little kids from around the restaurant, ended up in the back yard of the owner’s house which was attached, playing and kicking soccer balls around. What a simple pleasant night out. Dinner at ‘Mirakul’ is like many little Croatian restaurants. The waiter brings out a tray of the various whole fish fresh from today’s catch and you get to choose what your dinner selection will be. We did this several times and the meals are always sooo good.
In Slano there was some fest going on one night. It started quite late, but there were still plenty of families and kids. The next morning we slept until 10:15 am, something that hasn’t happened in 20 years! One event was a sack race, with the kids using white kitchen garbage bags to run in. The winning prize was some ice cream given in a large stainless steel type bowl. I guess one had to eat it quickly.
The master of ceremonies spoke everything first in Croatian, then German, then English. Some of the translations were hilarious, like at the end of the night to announce the main event, the gran finale; he says “For the great final, a fast beer event”. “If you want to partake, you have to come up see the panel of judges and they would look at your belly”. It ends up he was talking about a beer drinking contest.
Favorite Dish: Tony and Darla, friends from Florida, arrived the next day during their two-week tour of Croatia. We all took the boat out to an island restaurant and had grilled whole fish. After dinner, the owner brings us a plain jug of blackberry brandy; the bottom 1/3 of jug is a mash of marinated crushed berries. Actually, it was real good stuff – I had two shots! We also drank rose liquor on another night with some neighbor ladies, who called us over to drink shots with them on their patio. Now that was some tuff stuff! I think there were long strands of grass in the bottle, which of course we are told that it “aids the digestion.” We brought back a 2-liter Pepsi bottle of homemade olive oil from one of the local ladies that “J” knows. We were told that this is not for cooking but for use on bread, lettuce, eating, etc. It was full-flavored stuff, which is also “good for the digestion.”