Travel Diary: Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik was the third and penultimate stop on our trip. By then, we were no longer jittery with excitement for the next thing. Herewe settled into a luxurious vacation sweet spot, lingering in the energy and melody of late-night in the old town square, having slow lunches that covered entire tables with shared food and drink, and greedily devouring stunning, sun-saturated views.

When planning, Kev was excited to suggest this stop to me because it hit all of my marks: the narrow streets of a European town, a seaside feel, warm weather, seafood, and a local wine trade. No question, Croatia blew my mind. It is so beautiful. I can't wait to go back. 

We felt the difference from Vienna as soon as we arrived in Dubrovnik's tiny airport. It was a humid morning - a rain storm was coming. We watched it approach during our drive that seemed to always keep the sea just at hand. We could see the clouds, still far but fast moving; we could see the pockets of clear day and crisp borders of light and shadow on the water below. The rain arrived softly at first and picked up quickly, and by the time we arrived at our AirBnB and completed our tour with the host, it had rolled on, revealing fresh blue sky. 

This place had a balcony and spotty electricity, and it would be our home for the next several days. 

Our first priority was lunch. Our host recommended a restaurant in Old Town that serves <capon>, a traditionally prepared chicken. 

We were staying a 15 minute walk outside of Old Town, and I would come to enjoy that walking route very much. For most of the walk, there was a wide stretch of promenade with benches and, on the other side of a railing, steep drops, strange plants, rock edges, and the Adriatic Sea beyond them. 

We had Dennis navigate us to dinner, during which journey he'd stop at every single street corner, unfold his map, and fail to locate us. Eventually we found the place, having gone down some of the most narrow streets I've encountered and climbed the steps used to film Cersei's Walk of Atonement on Game of Thrones.

By the way, GoT is big business in Dubrovnik, with no less than a dozen walking tours. At dinner, we saw two such tourists dressed in armor and dueling with toy swords for a photo op. The meal was good. So much seafood! Jugs of house wine! 

After dinner we came upon a sign that said "Cold Drinks and the Most Beautiful View." We were sold. Turns out, we'd been pointed to Bar Buza, one of the most well known bars in the city. Happy to have fallen into this particular tourist trap. 

Bar Buza sits cliffside and there are multiple levels from which you can enjoy the view. When the water is calm, patrons can enjoy jumping into the sea for a quick dip. There are two locations in Dubrovnik - the one we went to didn't have a bathroom, which struck me immediately because alcohol makes everyone have to pee every 15 minutes right? Not just me? Anyway. We purchased a few bottles of beer and made our way down steps that degraded in stability all the way to the water's edge. 

We arrived just in time for blue hour, and with the day's earlier storm rolling away in the distance, the view pierced me in such a significant way that I find myself, even today, ten months later, thinking (almost aloud) every so often "no blue like the blue on the Adriatic" as if the thought were a mantra or a catchy lyric. I can only speak for my own experience and I learned long ago to show, not tell as a writer - yet I feel the need to document this: watching the day fade into darkness while sitting on a rock two feet above the sea, staring into the distance toward the flat, unnaturally perfect line of the horizon, finding myself in the third new place on the earth in a week and a half.. all of that combined to a memory that is both transcendent and deeply grounding. No, I wasn't drunk, just a sucker for earthly beauty. 

Once it grew dark we started to head toward home, stopping at La Bodega, a wine bar/cafe in the main Old Town square. A band was playing, that familiar lively buzz of night which always calls to me was in the air. We ended up staying for a couple of hours and imbibing on several glasses of wine. We took a group photo on our way out of Old Town which makes me happy to look at. 


The July list

image from Hello Glow
Hello! I've just returned from a trip to London, Paphos, and Chania (Paphos being the destination for a cousin's wedding) and am golden tanned and ready to take on summer. Just in time, as it's getting more consistently hot in the city, and we have a weekend on Shelter Island coming up.

Here's my July list, filled with small goals for my recurring themes, a couple of new things, and some exciting plans.

One. Fitz training. We have a lot of time to make up for with this little guy. He's got Sit down, and is doing really well on Stay. This month, I'd love for him to master Stay, learn Down, and start to practice Place (going to his designated spot in the home).

Two. Try new clay. At last! I've finished the bag of white clay that I've been using for many months. My studio sells them in 25 pound bags so it takes quite a while to go through one. The white clay is a standard stoneware mix that is used in their pottery classes. This month, I'd like to move onto trying a speckled light brown as well as porcelain. Two very different textures to practice with.

Three. Prepare for Big Sky Pond. I.e.: prepare for Kev's 30th birthday! The folks who are joining us are all getting excited as well, even ordering multiple giant inflatable pool floats for the pond, which, if you think about how we're all apartment dwellers with no access to pools ever, is kind of adorable and hilarious.

Four. Dabble in DIY beauty. Annie is super into this idea too and I'm already dreaming of all of the different things we'll make in my little kitchen using baking tools and random jars.

Five. Spend time building my Mammoth & Minnow Instagram account. I've recently changed my Etsy shop's name from Owly Knits to Mammoth & Minnow. I'd agonized over the name for some time, knowing that I needed a new brand because the items in my shop were expanding beyond knit goods. I love ceramics and home goods and want to be able to feature more of the things I'd love to have in my own home. I also want to leave room for my ever-evolving hobbies. I chose the name Mammoth & Minnow because 1) I wanted something starting with M, the first letter of my name. 2) I love the dichotomy of the two animals: big and small, land and sea. 3) It makes me feel close to the earth to have creatures as my shop name.

Six. Sew something. Anything!


The June list, at last

All about the pups this month. (Plus that jalapeƱo butter shrimp!)

The June list is, at this point, a list of things I've done rather than to-dos. This is the month of the summer solstice, the start of no-clothes season in our south-facing apartment, and the end of Kev's time off as he started a new role today. 

Here's a sampling of what this month has been like in our household:

One. Post wedding finance assessment is complete. We've deposited our gifts, paid off our vendors, and opened a joint checking account. I've even gone back to using my budget spreadsheet and am back on track for saving! How adult of us. 

Two. Cook more. We barely cooked in May. Specifically, I didn't cook at all in May. Kev gamely made some big batches of food for dinners and packed work lunches. I wanted to get back into the kitchen after the wedding, and I kind of did. I made dinner twice this month, a couple of soups, and some breakfast sandwiches. Together, we made ice cream last week (on a week night!). This will be a continued focus in July. 

Three. Have a get together. We hadn't seen the people we usually go out with since our wedding, and we got to have that get together this past Saturday night in Brooklyn to celebrate Dennis's 30th birthday. It was a great summer hang, and Kev and I even got to have a dinner date at Olmsted beforehand. 

Four. Make lots of pottery. Yes! With my wedding projects complete, I'd really been looking forward to getting back into the studio. As it turned out, while I did make a bunch of new pieces, I didn't spend too much time in the studio. I did it all at home. I'm almost done with a bag of white stoneware and look forward to trying porcelain out for the first time next time. 

Five. Start planning Kev's 30th birthday. I started looking into this the day that I wrote this goal out. That very next moment, in fact. I almost instinctively knew what to look for. I started to text people to get them on board before I even texted Kev to run the idea by him. We've booked a house for 12 in Upstate New York. It sits on 60 acres of land and has a huge swimmable pond on premise. It's dog friendly. I'm so excited for this weekend of relaxation and pura vida, summer style. 

I'm so happy to be ringing in Kev's next decade with him as his wife. Having known him since he was 18, he has grown tremendously and at the same time stayed true to himself throughout each of the different phases of life I've been privileged to experience with him. I love him so much and am thrilled that we can have a relaxing weekend close to nature with some loved ones to celebrate this milestone. I had a feeling that this would be exactly his taste and I hope I'm right. 

Six. Seasonal cleaning. Gosh!!! What I've learned as an adult, and more vividly as a homeowner, is that cleaning never ceases. Never. This month, we've sent out two boxes of donations (working on the third) as well as purchased an air filter to help clean the apartment air. 

And here's a quick update on the May list: all done! :)