May 7, 2012
We just got to Slovania but we had such an amazing day in Split!
Ashtaan [Horton] woke me up at around 8:45 this morning and we went to breakfast on the patio of our hotel and ate tons of crepes with nutella, and bread with cheese. We even tried the coffee, which kind of made me hyper and fidgety! It’s kind of a trait of the Carlson family that we are not allowed to drink coffee because we become so hyper and ADD. I am definitely not an experienced coffee drinker and pretty much get a caffeine overdose just by smelling coffee but you only live once! It was actually pretty good but I got the baby version of Turkish coffee. It was called “blancocafe” and was a ton of milk with a little shot of coffee, which here tastes like straight espresso, and for a caffeine weakling like myself is all I can handle. I’m going to miss the breakfast patio and being right on the water when we wake up and eating our nutella, but I am so excited to see another place and dive into another culture!
We ventured into a small area in Split that was protected from graffiti and any new building by the government, so you can imagine how great the buildings and the old cathedrals were! There was what looked like our version of a farmer’s market throughout the whole area and we ventured through it all! The mart was on a small canal with old fisherman boats surrounded by ruins of an older city. Courtney [Felinski] and I bought some cherries for 25 Kunas (5 dollars) and didn’t quite understand how many cherries were actually in 1 kilo. We underestimated the measurements and ended up with what seemed like 1000 cherries. Taylor [Smith], Nicki [Meyer], Courtney and I spent a lot of time at a small jewelry booth that made handmade necklaces and earrings out of coral. The nice older man also gave us earrings as a bonus with our purchase! We were advised to buy things in Croatia, as Venice and Slovania are more expensive, and that we did!! It was absolutely gorgeous and I can’t believe only three days ago I was at Georgia Tech taking a final.
I did experience one foreigner moment that I didn’t realize was quite awkward until I analyzed the weird look the man gave me after. So… I was walking around the corner of a little shop/tent and ran into an older gentlemen and my initial reaction was to say “excuse me” but the only Croatian words I knew were VALA, which means thank you. So I ran into him and it translated into “thank you”… Oops! I don’t really think he knew what was going on, because I don’t think I sound quite fluent when I say vala, kunos, or alo, but it is a funny story to take home with me. The best part of the day was our trip to Ivona [Kolak]’s house for lunch. She lives in a 3-story building, her uncle and his family on the bottom floor, her family on the middle floor and more of her family on the top floor. How Ivi left Croatia I don’t know because her view of the mountains and the sea couldn’t be more beautiful. Her room is so cute and has a ton of little trinkets that her dad has made and that she has collected as she’s traveled around Europe.
We sat down and began our traditional Croatian meal experience! We started with this soup that would make you alone want to come back to Croatia. Her father had grown all the vegetables and seasonings in their garden and the broth of the soup was to die for. I also LOVE Croatia because they love bread just as much as me. I think I have eaten about four pieces with every meal, and they don’t cut it very thin. I plan on gaining a few lbs (sorry Scott) and carrying on with the “you only live once” theme for this trip. After we finished our soup and bread we were served a huge plate of roasted lamb. It was so tender and so delicious everyone went in for seconds. And then dessert happened. We had about five different desserts brought to us within 10 minutes and I’m pretty sure Jen [Percy] cleaned the plate of about all of them. We started with a tiramisu fudge type of bar and then got coconut cookies and chocolate cake. My personal favorite was the traditional cheese bread that Ivi’s mom made.
Watching Ivi’s family be reunited with her was a very emotional moment, and watching her leave on the bus with us was even more emotional. Although there is a language barrier their emotions come through so strong and pure. Her father was the sweetest man we have met and was so emotional when we left. Her sister is just like her! Getting to see her at home, with her family and experiencing a traditional meal really opened my eyes to her culture and where she came from. The worst part was leaving and saying goodbye to her family because they were so giving and caring. It pulled at all of our heartstrings and made everyone start crying … until Ed [Tolentino] ruined the moment by trying to take a picture of us (typical Ed).
From Ivona’s house we got to go back to the Palace we were at last night and get gelato and take more pictures. I think in Croatia alone I took about 400 pictures. Nicki and I were also very amused by the word “Kunas” and now call everything a kuna, which in America translates to “dollar.” Don’t ask why, it just stuck.
And then the fun really began….our six hour bus ride to Slovenia. YAY. We were all so wiped out and dreading the bus ride but it was a great time. We got to sit with the Split professional team and talk to them about their experiences and what they miss from home and we also shared a lot of funny stories about our teammates, especially Jen. They played a little joke on Jen and told her we were driving through Bosnia. She turned around and asked why we didn’t have to show our passports and they started making up an extravagant lie about pre-war traditions and how not having a passport was grandfathered in to their countries constitution, and then they caved in and started dying of laughter and broke the news to Jen that we were never in Bosnia! It was great! The American girls on the team also loved that I brought beef jerky, sweetarts, and gummy bears. They said “it tastes like freedom!”
We changed vehicles along the way and took vans into Slovenia and the professional team broke off to go to their game site. To occupy the last couple hours of the trip, Nicki and I started playing 21 questions and then the group joined in. We guessed Nicki’s “seal lion” and then I stumped the crew with my “hedgehog” and then Kaleigh [Colson] broke out the “snail” and delirium set in. We got so ADD while playing the game Nicki and I started narrating our day in a foreign accent and it carried on for about an hour while Quinn [Evans] read her kindle.
All in all it was an amazing day and I can’t wait for more adventures!
I am really going to miss Pekarna though, which is their nummy bakery!