Hello friends and family,
I write to you from a ferry headed to the island of Hvar.
Split, where we spent the last three days, was a nice introduction to Croatia. We stayed at a pleasant if sterile IKEA-furnished apartment near Diocletian’s Palace, the ruins of an ancient palace built for the Roman Emperor Diocletian at the turn of the fourth century. More recently, it was used as a location for filming Game of Thrones. And, interestingly, it is one of the only heritage sites in the world where people (about 3,000) still reside. This is truly living history. But…touristy. Lots of tchotchke shops, restaurants, bars, and hordes of cruise ship tourist groups. I can”t imagine how much more crowded it is during the peak of the summer tourism season. I guess it’s true that Croatia has really become more popular in recent years!
Theo thought the palace was very exciting and had a lot of questions about the king that used to live there. Did he ride a motorcycle? How exactly did Roman soldiers fight their enemies? Did they wear Birkenstocks like he does? We went to this tiny ancient church where Theo asked the lone person there, an ancient nun (who didn’t speak English) what would happen if Godzilla came. What can I say, he saw one poster of Godzilla in Copenhagen and has since been obsessed.
Ok, we’ve now arrived on the island and I have a few minutes to finish this post. Our rental host just texted us to let us know that we can’t check into our apartment until tonight. She thought we were arriving tomorrow and now she has to catch a ferry herself to let us in. Oh well. Unfortunately, we just loaded up on a week’s worth of groceries. The amount of cheese and yogurt it takes to get us through the week is significant and is now melting in the trunk.
On another note, I haven’t been much for writing lately (nor have I had much time with Theo not really napping anymore and going to bed at 10pm!)…Given the dismal state of global affairs, everything is seeming so trivial over here. And frankly, mentally adjusting to and navigating new places so often is, well, exhausting! I’m inspired but tired. We’ve only planned up until Portugal (where we’re headed next) so we still have time to adjust plans. I think we’d all benefit from having more downtime and taking turns caring for Theo more often so Rafe and I can each have more time to focus on our own work and projects.
Portugal should be less daunting as it’s both familiar (having visited last year) and we’re meeting up with family there. We’re renting a house outside of Lisbon where Rafe’s mom and stepdad come first for a week, then my dad and his girlfriend the week after. We’re really looking forward to seeing everyone. And I know Theo will be over the moon for some quality grandparent time.
It has been two months since we left home and we’re missing everyone back home. I can count on one hand the friends we’ve been lucky enough to see so far (not counting New York.) Theo is talking wistfully about our “California house” and what he’s going to do when we return (go to preschool, play with the toys we had to leave behind, ride his bike at grandma’s house, etc.) His sense of place is really developing. He knows we’re far from home, that people speak different languages in each country and he can recall where we’ve been and knows where we’re headed next. He can arrive in a new place like this island, take in the view, and say “This place reminds me of California.” (The coastline does actually resemble Big Sur in parts.)
Picking up this post again. At this rate, I’ll finish by the weekend. We finally made it to our apartment in Hvar Town. Hvar is known for its party scene although we’re in a more quiet, residential area. It has two bedrooms and a separate, detached kitchen with a courtyard ” living room” in between. Island living for ya! The host was endlessly apologetic about the mix-up and was very kind to Theo, letting him play with her Chihuahua and plucking sweet grapes off the vine for him to sample.
Wrapping up this post at the beach now. We had a rough start to the morning having temporarily lost the car keys (pro parenting tip: don’t let 3-year-olds play with car keys) but we eventually made it out the door. Most beaches on the island are pebbly rather than sandy but I don’t mind as there’s no annoying sand to deal with! On recommendation from our host, we found a sweet little beach shaded by pine trees and full of families, a handful of nudists, and people of all ages and sizes wearing their underwear instead of swimsuits. I think we might be the most clothed people on the island, ha.