Relationships

Pula, Plitvice and thank God for Rijeka!

We had been waiting patiently for this. Holidays of late had been to visit family and this time we decided to throw caution to the wind and conquer another country. There were going to be a lot of firsts for us. We decided to try Norwegian Airways and got our return tickets for really cheap – GBP 58.00 return per person! No, not a typo – just amazing. They were also no delays (so not the Easyjet experience) and free wifi on board. Yes, the plane interior was not the best, old and on our return flight, what looked like porridge splattered on the side next to the window seat but hey, the journey lasted a total of about 2 hours and I wasn’t bothered. I mean, what’s a little crusty old food when you paid to get to a whole new country for the price of a train ticket? The captain was polite, informative and professional so seeing as he was taking me there, that was high on my priority list.

We hired a car. Another first. We were spending three nights in Pula at a plush apartment which we rented. Our accommodation, housed in an old historical building along with the street leading to it, was impressive. As we passed by using our GPS navigating the way, those houses spoke to me, each screaming out at me different anecdotes from their past. The friendly lady who owned the premise showed us in. She spent a lot of time explaining things about the town and how, because we had a car, we should explore further out and she gave us lots of ammunition for the days to come. We were both appreciative and excited.

First thing I wanted to do was check out the beaches. Just to have look so we could pick and choose where we would spend our second day lounging and taking some sun into our cheeks. God knows we needed it after having London to contend with for almost three years. I needed that Vitamin D! We got in our car and drove out for about 10 minutes to the beach we knew was there, close by.

Beach Hawaii was a sad sight. Now, I knew why they took the picture from that angle. Approximately 80 meters of white pebbles and although the water it led to was shimmering shades of blue, the little stretch was filled to the brim. Along the coast, there were lots of big boulders and rocks that people positioned themselves on so they could both sunbathe and plunge into the sea. There was wind and as a result, some currents and waves beating against the rocks. We did the math. New to this place + not used to the current and rocks + general disappointment = not happening. I did have a momentary relapse and decided to try convincing ‘husband’ that it was worth a try until he painted a picture for me. Of my head hitting against one of those big sharp rocks on Day 1 of our Croatian adventure.

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An ATM machine on the door which I found unique

We decided to explore the town on foot so we parked the car back at the apartment and made our way in. Although we expected to see a lot more buzz, it was a pleasant and calm walk. Once in the center, the pace became livelier. We decided on trying some local baked goods and pastries. Croatians know how to make coffee. Everywhere we went, wherever we ordered from, the coffee was fantastic. The people of Pula were a mixed breed. They seemed to not really want us around and even the waitress at the cafe seemed condescending, as if she was bothered by us in some way. There was eye rolling and what seemed like sarcasm when we tried to engage with her. It was at that point, we decided that we would keep any interaction to a minimum. I think it is important to note here that on all our travels, both my husband and I were sociable and we liked speaking to the locals. Never intrusive but just for the purpose of a cultural exchange or learning more about our surroundings. In Pula, we retreated to our space and avoided talking with any of them unless we had to. The nicest people we met there was the owner of our apartment, a young girl at the ice-cream parlour and the taxi driver that took us back to our haven.

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Gladiator Arena

The amphitheatre or arena in Pula was the attraction. I could imagine the Gladiators as I stood right next to the gates and underpasses where they would be waiting to meet their fate. My mind and φαντασία (fantasia) took a stroll and I wondered about them and their families. How many of them ever really made it out of there? Were there stooges and inexperienced young men and women? I could taste the fear and cruelty that must have occurred right there at that very spot. It made me melancholic. We didn’t stay to watch the orchestra although I am sure the acoustics would have been amazing. Knowing me, I would have heard screams and cries blended in with it.

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Risotto with scampi…yum

Over the next two nights, we would explore Croatian cuisine which is very similar to Italian. We ventured out to Rovinj, in particular, a wonderful restaurant called La Perla where we felt very welcomed. The owner was all smiles and whenever he spoke to my husband, he touched his back warmly. The service was excellent too and the food sumptuous and delicious. Some of the best risotto I have ever tasted.

We also visited Farabuto in Pula on our last night there and this left us feeling good because the proprietors of this family owned restaurant were definitely people who had exposure and a little more sophistication in their approach and handling of their guests. The fish soup…mama mia…to die for!

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Croatian Beer

Next stop…Plitvice. A three hour or so drive from Pula. We stayed at a typical Croatian cottage the first night but because it was dusty and my sinuses were doing the fandango, we left and found a hotel about 30 minutes away for our second night. From here, we visited the Plitvice Lakes which we paid GBP 40.00 to see.

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Plitvice Waterfalls

Was it beautiful? Hell yeah. Could we swim in the lakes on that hot summers day? No. They were a UNESCO protected site and us humans would have just messed the balance of everything with our rubbish left everywhere, tanning oils and the like. I didn’t think that the price was fair. Only because everyone should be able to visit. What about those who cannot afford that? It was only the next day in Rijeka, that I learnt from a nice man whilst lounging by the sea, that if we had driven 20 minutes in another direction from the lakes, we would have crossed over into Bosnia and there we could see waterfalls and lakes just like those of Plitvice, for free. To top it off, swimming was permitted. He also told us that drinking a beer in Bosnia was as cheap as two Kuna! Just to give you a comparison – they were an average of 25 Kuna in Croatia.

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Plitvice Lakes

Arriving in Rijeka was a great choice! We loved the place and the people. The town was much bigger than the likes of Pula but it wasn’t that. It was the whole vibe of the place with its quaint restaurants and superb food plus service, pretty squares and architecture. I loved the doors and stone walls. This was a place I could see myself visiting again for a long laid back weekend. The hotel itself was a lovely place to stay because it gave us the sea as our own private swimming pool. We literally walked down a set of steps and there were sun chairs and umbrellas on one side and then steps leading into the ocean. This made up for all those days without having our time in the Adriatic sea.

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The full moon view from our balcony

As if the universe was rewarding us, we got to sit by a full moon on our first night there and be greeted by a huge fish in the middle of the ocean that came to the surface twice and went back under. It was so exciting because it was like it could feel us and we could feel it.

That’s why I love journeys into the unknown because you never really know what you are going to get and it really becomes an exploration. Enjoying the experience with one of my partners in crime is a bonus of course because nothing would have been the same without him. Even if we couldn’t relate to our surroundings all the time, we at least had each other. Rijeka was the icing on our cake and besides eating and drinking Malvazia wine, all we did was to take in the rays, feel immense gratitude and dive deep into the big brilliant blue.

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Our balcony into the sea

Shared Journeys

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Write on My Balls

Blogging 101, Day Twelve: Be Inspired By the Community

I have been inspired by so many of you. ID-10043163

Thank you.

When I signed up for the course with the Blogging University, I thought to myself, “Hmm, that looks interesting. I think I’ll do that!” I am so glad that I did. 

The assignments before this one asked us to visit blogs and make a number of comments and spread the love. I had already been doing that so the likes, follows or comments were out there. It was great to see that I was on track with the action that was expected of me. Feedback.

A couple of nights ago, I received a number of follows and so very early this morning when I had some down time, I sat with my filtered coffee in hand; an Espresso roast, black no sugar and spent some time visiting and reading. Something on Joe Seeber’s website caught my eye and I lingered on one of his posts in particular, even extending my stay by watching the video of him discussing the topic and elaborating further. He talked about not putting so much emphasis on what people think about you. He put it in his own way and if you have the time, you should go visit his blog.

I completely get the point he was making about not giving a shit. I think that people can be very fickle and if I were to base my actions and ideas based on what people might think of me, then I’m headed for ‘Doomsville’. I’d be Jekyll to you and Hyde to her because let’s face it, not everybody shares the same values or sees things the same way. I welcome different ideas and opinions, it’s the flavour of life. What I don’t welcome is someone trying to force their point of view down my throat and have me accept it in order to do right by them. Stuff that!

“But Morpheus, everyone doesn’t believe you”

“My belief does not require them to”                                        

I think that building a relationship with myself is more important than any other because if I don’t have that to begin with, I won’t have the others either. I now have a strong sense of myself and because of that, I have real relationships with many people. When we have conversations with each other, there is no need for anyone to be right or wrong. It is a meeting of souls that have had a variety of experiences and we are seldom attached to any one of them. Sharing and connecting is really our primary reason for reaching out to each other. A coffee, a dinner or even a phone call. We exit the scene feeling fantastic.

“Always leave a situation better off than how you found it”

In Greece, there is a saying, perhaps more so in the modern community but having said that, everyone there gets it. Saying it to your grandmother however, would not be appropriate.

“Γραψεις στα αρχιδια μου” (Grapsis sta arxidia mou) This literally translates to “write on my balls”.

When I first learnt that saying, I had a good laugh and I thought it was perfect. It encapsulated exactly how I felt about expressing myself when it came to this type of thing. A person doesn’t agree with whom I want to marry. They can write on my balls. A store attendant thinks she is all that and a bag of chips and is treating me like she owns me. She can write on my balls. An acquaintance thinks I’m an idiot for giving up my job and moving half way across the world because I’ve got such a good thing going. He can write on my balls too. You use this phrase when people are imposing or self importantly judging. Not because a friend may like chocolate and you hate it.

We were sitting at the beach and basking in the beautiful Mediterranean sun. A woman emerged out of the water and she was wearing a bikini that had watermelons on it. In fact, the bottom part of her suit looked like a serving of a big piece of watermelon. She was on the larger side and the swimming suit didn’t flatter her body. I actually didn’t even notice her. I was sprawled over the chair and had my shades on. I only looked up because Sakis, a friend of mine said, “I am never eating watermelon again!” with such utter disgust. The woman glanced over and it looked like she had caught his comment. She looked directly at him and slapped her inner right thigh with her palm facing outward and simultaneously said loudly, “Nah!” which is the sign for…yes, you guessed it…altogether now…write on my big hairy balls! It was classic. I burst out laughing and immediately jumped out of my chair, going towards her with my hand in the air signalling for a high-five. She gave it to me. God bless her. That was the only exchange we needed. She got me and I got her. And Sakis got it nice and proper.

Source: The Matrix Reloaded 

Blogging 101, Day Six: Write to Your Dream Reader

I have the day off which is a good thing because I spent my night blogging, burning the midnight oil and passing out from the fumes. I promised myself that I would get to these assignments after signing up for the Blogging 101 Challenge. First thing I did was to backtrack and look up Day One in the list of assignments. I used it as a checklist and I’ve gotten right through to Day Six which is why I am here, writing this post.

Dear Dream Reader,

I am so glad that I found you and that through my writing, we have connected. I am happy that you get me and my thoughts enough to drop me a line and share your comments and ideas. You are why I started blogging. I wanted to find a platform to experience the connection I know we already have. We belong to the same species and you have so much to teach me about the world around me. I know that in this lifetime, I will not be able to see or do all the things that interest or inspire me and I am hoping that through you, I will get to live some of it. After all,  I have experienced entire eras and new worlds through the words of some great authors so why not you? In truth, it’s a whole new experience because I get to give you instant feedback about how your words moved me or what triggered which emotions.

I know that you are genuine. I thrive on the notion that my thoughts and words conjured up different feelings in you and that created a reaction…a comment, a laugh, a follow, a like, a nod or the act of wanting to read more. I am grateful and respectful of you and the time that you have spent with me. I know that I am feeding you but you know that you too, are feeding me. Open channels and enchanted energy laced with the real deal.

With Love and Light,

Jules

 

The Petticoat Wars

I have four siblings. One of whom is adopted. She is actually my first cousin from my Mum’s family and after her father passed away in a car crash, she came to stay with us. I remember that day quite vividly because we went to the hospital and he was the first dead body I had ever seen. It was surreal.  He just lay there, lifeless and I recall feeling scared and anxious.

Maria was about fourteen when she moved in and she was a troubled teenager. Her mother had four children, each from different men and when she was younger, she was passed from one house to another growing up. My mother who was her godmother put an end to that when we took her into our family. I was very young when she came to our home. I didn’t have a problem with it. I thought that it was all very exciting and I loved her very much. Of course I didn’t really understand the dynamics of it all. She was ten years older than me and I already had a sister who was the oldest until Maria entered into the scene. They were only a couple of years apart and so they had more in common or so we thought. The truth is my sister, Talissa, was a bookworm and was very different from Maria. She didn’t care much for attention nor was she bothered about boys at that time. It was only later that I truly understood how annoying my sister found Maria and how her becoming part of the family would have an effect on Talissa for a long time after.

I was just a kid with my own issues and growing pains. I remember how Maria would drive me insane with her antics. It was always one thing or another. Believe it or not, we use to fight about petticoats. I know it sounds pathetic but I was a bit of a control freak as a child and I always had things in order. So much around me was beyond my control so I had to have that much. I was obsessive. I remember every dinner where it was compulsory in our household to sit and eat together at precisely 8.00pm, I would take the plate off the table and go to the sink to wash it and dry it before using it. My mother would always tell me to stop being silly and that it was already clean but I had to do what I had to do and so it became a routine that soon everyone was use to. The only time I couldn’t wash my plate was when we had guests so I would usually identify where I would be sitting and do some preparation before guests arrived. Understanding this, you will realise that the idea of someone coming into my room, rummaging through my drawers and choosing an item she liked to wear without my permission was a nightmare for me. That’s when the petticoat wars began.

It was just silly squabbling over nothing really but because of her heightened sensitivity and her deep insecurities, it was impossible for her to deal with me rationally. Everything was always blown out of proportion and she was ever the victim. This in turn lead to handling her with ‘kit gloves’ which would not help her deal with her demons in the long run. We felt bad for her and we wanted her to feel welcomed so tiptoeing around Maria was something we mastered very well. It was only later on in life that things changed and that happened because nobody can tolerate having to be careful and constantly on guard with their own family. We grew up and she had to catch up or be left behind. I soon realised that although I never had any issues with acknowledging her as my sister and it was never something that I debated on, it was a point of contention for her. She had the problem with that, not us. Even though my parents had done everything to ensure that there was no division or difference in their treatment of all of us, it didn’t matter. Her issues were too deep for her to see just how good she really had it. You couldn’t win with her. It was a constant test.

She was allergic to aspirin and I recall one particular evening when she had taken a pill that contained the ingredient and her whole face looked like it had been through a boxing match. I was hiding in the corner of the room because there was so much commotion and our aunts were all around her, getting her off the bed and rushing her to the hospital and for a child, that whole scene haunted me for a while because I didn’t know what was going on. I was petrified that she was going to die and I would see her lifeless body just lying there like her father did on that operating table years before.

For Maria, anything and everything is always about her trauma and her experience. You will never have it as bad as she has had it. Although we were close as a family, these issues would constantly be apparent and more wars would ensue. She harboured a lot of resentment and jealousy towards me, thinking that I always got what I wanted and things always came easy to me. She felt that any triumph or success that I enjoyed was some sort of negative for her. As if there wasn’t enough for everyone to share. There was always some bitterness involved and I let it get to me for a long time.

Maria taught me so much. I learnt that having everyone’s approval is really overrated and that self-love and recognition is the best kind of acknowledgement I could ever attain. She also taught me so much about unconditional love because til this day, I can say that she is my sister and that I send her the best of vibes and buckets of love. I learnt tolerance and acceptance from her too. Honestly, the list goes on but for the sake of a conclusion, I would say that one of the most priceless lessons I gained from having her in my life, is that I would never compromise my authenticity for anyone ever again. I owe that to myself and to the person involved. I am who I am and if you don’t like it, in the words of my marvelous mother, “You can lump it!”