Croatia; A Visual Journey Through a Country of Splendor

My husband, stepson, and I recently journeyed to Croatia. This country was such a surprise to me. I found a country full of rich heritage, natural beauty, and kindness. I had first heard of it a few years ago when another friend traveled there because of his family’s heritage. I had no idea what to expect. Through my blog, I would like to share some photos of this beautiful land. 

I must tell you, I thought writing an “photo” blog would be an easy short cut to get a blog done. This turned out to not be true. There are so many lovely photos to chose from and so much I want to share with you about Croatia, I will have to do a short series to share even a handful of the photos and the experiences with you.

Lets start by talking about the people of Croatia and the hospitality. Complete strangers opened their homes, restaurants, and kitchens to us.

Long lost relatives brought us grapes they had grown, bread they had baked, and salami they had made from animals they raised.

The generosity was overwhelming to me. Such a blessing.

Early one morning as we were traveling along the coast we stopped for breakfast. We did not really grasp that Croatia does not do breakfast in the way America does. A restaurant owner who was setting up for lunch welcomed us in. Her brought us a smorgasbord of food and cooked us eggs. Another blessing on our trip.

Next I want to share with you the landscape. Croatia is a relatively small geographically. The state of Minnesota (where I live) is 4 times larger than Croatia. The landscape of Croatia is diverse. As we drove across the country we would see the landscape change, and change again. It is a beautiful country.

There were coastlines, forests (of different types depending on region), mountains and valleys. We saw farmland and we saw land that would never be farmable. All of it was breathtaking.

Growing along the roadways we saw grapes, pears, apples, plums, sugarcane. There was a valley we drove through were you could se many diverse crops all growing in close proximity to one another. Honey was often offered in roadside stands.

The homes changed from area to area. In the North we notices lots of cute balconies adorned with flowers. There were brightly colored flowers everywhere we went.

There was such charm in the homes, it was easy to believe that this is a very happy place to live.

Business and churches also had a lot of charm. Often as we were driving down the road I would squeal in glee seeing a church that was so cute. We would have never made it around the country if we stopped to take a picture of everything that caught my eye.

This country is truly a country of slender. It starts with the people and their big, kind, generous hearts. It moves on to a beautiful landscape that covers all of the country as it moths and changes from area to area, and charming, homes, business, and places of worship are not to be forgotten.

I will be writing future photo blogs about our trip to Croatia. There is just too much to share for one blog to possible be enough to show you all that I want to here today.

Zagreb and Dubrovnik: Two Very Different Cities

The Roman Theater at Pula, Croatia

The Most Beautiful Place I Have Ever Been; Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Thank you for reading my blog today. May your life be filled with journey to places of splendor, as if by magic.

** Thank you to SydneysByDesign for doing photo editing to featured image on the blog. Your work is breathtaking!

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Our Missteps Can Be a Reason To Laugh; Why Let Problems Steal Our Joy.

Do you ever have one of those days when you think you should have just stayed in bed? How do you choose to deal with them? Do you get frustrated, mad, and let it ruin your whole day and everyone that you interact with? Do you roll your eyes, come up with a counter plan, and laugh at the day? Can you carry on without letting a couple missteps ruin your whole day? I want to share with you my ‘Monday’ this week. Where circumstances fell into place to give me just such a day and a ‘choice’ to make.

I typically travel Monday through Thursday every week. My husband enjoys driving me to the airport. It gives us a last few precious minutes together. He is such a gentleman and really works hard to take care of me to ensure that all my needs are taken care of. So, well before the crack of dawn, ourMonday morning started. I packed my suitcase and rolled it into the kitchen, as I always do. I set it by the backdoor where my husband always grabs it and puts it in the trunk of the car. Typically I put my computer backpack onI; he dutifully and lovingly places both in the truck of the for me. This morning, I decided to carry my backpack myself and placed it in the backseat of the car. On the way to the airport, my husband asked about the computer backpack, stating he didn’t remember seeing it with the suitcase. I assured him that I had carried it to the back to the car. When we got to the airport he opened the trunk, said, “It’s not back here”. I am sure I looked like one of those wide-eyed cartoon characters who silently blink in shock. What did he mean it “wasn’t back there?” I asked him, didn’t you put the suitcase back there? He said he thought I had put it in the car. I let him know that I had left it by the door, like I always do for him to carry to the car. So there we stood. In front of the airport, 45 minutes before my plane was due to depart. There was no possibility of going home and making it back in time for the flight. I could either not go, which since this is my job, was not really an option. Or I could be the ultimate light traveler today! I grabbed my backpack, told him I guess I would be going shopping. Kissed this sweet, wonderful (and easily distracted) man, and headed into the airport.

I could have been angry at him and thrown blame his way. But ultimately I am a grown up and responsible for myself. I trusted him to bring it but I did not verify that he did indeed put it in the car. He had arrived home after midnight, the night before; having gone to a family funeral about 7 hours away. The alarm had went off early, for my departing flight. So I know he had likely only had about 4 hours of sleep, if that. I had offered to make my way to the airport by other means but he said he enjoys those extra 20 to 30 minute together in the morning and so he would drive me.

I could have been frustrated with my job and cussed and carried on about the lifestyle I lead; always the go and burning the candle at both ends. I could have blamed it on my busy weekend that had left me exhausted by Sunday night.  All of these choices would have negatively impacted my day in a big way! Instead I decided to laugh at it. How funny that he was able to walk past the bag in the doorway and that I so trusted him, to bring it, that we got all the way to the airport without it.

He let me know that my stepson called him in a panic when he realized it was still in the kitchen. Poor boy thought his Dad was going to be in big trouble for leaving the bag behind. I had decided why spoil my day and everyone else’s, by being mad and throwing around blame. In the end it is my responsibility. Marty works very hard to take care of me but on this earlyMonday morning he thought I was embracing my independent streak and carrying my own bags. We got some good laughs about it. I encouraged myHusband to go home and go back to bed for a bit before going to work. He was evidently more tired than he realized.

I have a couple new outfits in my immediate future and a great story to tell. Embrace these days when you feel you should have stayed in bed. Look for the humor in the missteps along your human journey.  Life is too short to be angry and frustrated.

 

I love you. Thank you for reading my blog today! May your life be filled with smiles and laughter, as if by magic.

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The Roman Theater at Pula, Croatia

I have been fortunate enough to see the Coliseum in Rome. Coming from a country where all the architecture is brand new in comparison to Europe, I am always awed to walk in something built so long ago.  The trip to Rome was on our honeymoon. My husband and I were walking along the streets when suddenly, there it was. This huge ancient structure rising up out of the city. It seems so out-of-place with traffic lights blinking and delivery vans zooming by. But there it was, none the less. Giant and majestic and so old it boggles my mind.

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Colosseum  Rome, Italy

The Roman Theater at Pula, Croatia is small in comparison to the Roman one. It is still well worth a visit though and has some very interesting things to offer.

Doing some research on the Theater at Pula, I learned it is thought to be the most intact of Roman theaters. Another fascinating thing, about the one in Pula, is that it is still being used as a Theater today. Concerts and film festivals are held there routinely.  It is still fulfilling its original purpose of entertaining the people. Thankfully, we no longer watch Gladiators destroy one another, but people still flock through the entrance anticipating a great show.

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Roman Theater – Pula, Croatia

When we traveled to Croatia, there was one main purpose. This is the country that my husband’s family originated from on his Father’s side and our purpose in visiting was connected to that. We brought my stepson along, thinking what an excellent opportunity for him to see and experience his roots. I was reading a guidebook, my mother-in-law had loaned us for the trip. When I happened across the mention of this Roman Theater.  We adjusted our plans and added several hours of driving, in order to make the track to this part of Croatia, to see something history left behind for us.

It was well worth that drive. The setting sun painted the theater again and again, changing its appearance.

We sat where crowds of people sat and were entertained by events of days gone by.

IMG_6272We Walked where Gladiators had walked, pumped up for the battles they were about to fight.

We were surrounded by shadows of the past and hope for a bright future.

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Even having seen the Colosseum in Rome, which is bigger and more famous, the Roman Theater at Pula was well worth the drive. It was a visit that I will relive in my memories. and I am glad that my 14-year-old stepson was also able to experience something so old. Hopefully it will live on in him, inspiring creativity, dreams, and the promise of future adventures to come.

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Thank you for reading my blog today! May you find yourself on adventures and experience snapshots of history, as if by magic.

** Thank you to SydneysByDesign for doing photo editing to a couple of these photos. Your work is breathtaking!

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The Most Beautiful Place I Have Ever Been; Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

When we were planning our trip to Croatia, I was very excited to be able to visit this park full of waterfalls. I was sure it was nice but I had no idea how breathtakingly beautiful this visit would be. I have loved waterfalls since I saw my first one in Ireland. I now try an see them every chance I can get. I have heard that there is healing energy that is released by the cascading water. If you have ever stood near a large waterfall, I’m sure you have felt the energy it releases.

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I feel my words cannot adequately share with you the beauty of this park. Please enjoy my pictures with the hope that they might give you at least a little glimpse of the amazing glory of this place on earth. If you get the chance to visit, go! I suggest trying an early morning visit as this park is very popular and very large.

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The color of the water is breathtaking. From some quick internet research it seems limestone deposits are to credit for the stunning color of the water.

The water is also crystal clear too. My stepson’s quick eyes noticed this boat sunk under the clear water, pushed up against edge by the flow of the water, trapping it there for us to discover.

Of course, the beauty of this natural world is not without it’s dangers. This park is full of cliffs with drops-offs and some caves that offer fun climbs for the brave.

This park is dazzling because nature made it so. The park is also full of thoughtful walkways made to blend in gracefully with the lovely natural surroundings.

Veliki Slap or Big Waterfall brought me to tears when I saw it and I am not a person easily moved to tears. The magnificence of this fall did, what few things have done before.

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I have traveled a lot and I have been to many amazing places both natural and manmade. It will take a lot for this place to be dethroned as the most beautiful place I have been.

Thank you for reading my blog today! May your life offer you adventures to beautiful places, that take your breath away, as if by magic.

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Regrets; Looking Back on the Life You Have Left Behind

I have always tried to live my life in such a way that I have no regrets. Recently, someone told me that I will regret living my life the way I currently am. They feel that I will regret traveling so much and not spending more time with family. It gave me pause to reflect on my life and choices. Will I have regrets in the future?

As I reflected on my life so far, there are 3 things that came to mind that perhaps I wish I had made different choices. One was a high school friendship that fell apart related to my ego. I have since found this person and apologized. I no longer regret this, as I believe all things happen for a reason and they help us learn and be better people. The second thing is a stepdaughter, who I wish I would have fought to raise when I heard she was in foster care. I was divorced from her father at that time and although I considered fighting for her, I was really not in a place in my life where I could have taken her on and provided her with the life she deserved. I also have since found her and apologized. She easily forgave me and told me her life was going well. Once again, everything happens for a reason and perhaps the journey she walked help form her into the wonderful person she is today.

The final regret I have in my life still haunts me to this day. I wish I had stuck up more for my children. Don’t get me wrong; I fought the school systems, volunteered as a Girl Scout leader, scrimped so that they could be involved in more things and have experiences. I worked hard to be a really good mother and advocate for them out in life. But at home, when their step-father had a very different parenting style than I did, I didn’t have enough self-confidence that my way was the right way and to speak up. I allowed him to set the tone for our house. I do regret that I did not stand up better for my daughters at home. I think they are wonderful mothers and women and hope that these earlier life experiences are what helped form that “will” to overcome barriers in their lives. My hope is that, my not having enough self-confidence to stand up and speak up for what I believed in, made them stronger. This is the one part of my history that still haunts me when I look back on my life thus far. I have healed from the experiences and now have the confidence to stand up and tell others what I believe and why.

Being told that I will regret living my life and traveling, instead of staying home to spend all of my free time with family, gives me pause. Because I intentionally try to live a life free from regrets, I cannot simply let this comment pass without reflecting on it. I have worked most of my career as a nurse caring for the elderly and those on hospice. I saw countless people and couples who waited to take the trip until they were retired or until they had “enough money” (however much that is). Then one of them would get sick and those dreams would die with them. The trips were left untaken and those dreams never reached. Their money went to pay for medical care. I don’t want that to be my story.

I want to find balance in my life. I love my family and enjoy spending time with them. I enjoy doing things with them. We try having a family meal once a week. There are times when I am not home, because of my job or a trip I am taking, and I am unable to make the weekly family meal. But when I am home it is a wonderful get together. Holidays are spent with family as well. My Family has grown and spread out, so it is not always possible for me to spend holidays with “all” of my family. I have daughters, grandchildren, parents, a brother, a niece and nephew, and a whole other set of family with my in-laws. Decisions and compromises must be made. I do love my family in a very big way!

I feel that traveling also makes me a better person. I get to see and experience the ways that other people live. I see that our way is not always the right way to do it. There are other ways to accomplish the same things. I learn through my travels. I have fun and feel fully alive when I travel. I know that I need to travel to be fully me. It feeds my soul. Perhaps there will come a time in my life when traveling is no longer the right choice for me. Right now though, I feel I must travel.

I appreciate that this person felt brave and comfortable enough with me to share their opinion on my life choices and how it may affect me in the future. It was not something easily dismissed. I caused me to reflect on what they had said. It caused me to think about my family. I reflected to things my parents and grandparents did before me. Those wise ancestors who I came and learned from, made choices about their lives too. Did they regret the choices they made? I don’t know. I do know that I am responsible for my life and my choices. I will continue to work to find a healthy balance between time with family and living my life the way my soul is calling me to live.

Thank you for reading my blog today. May you find perfect balance in your life, as if by magic.

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