Monday, October 16, 2017

Unexpected Overnight

After a long day of travel yesterday, I woke up to a pretty day in Prague this morning, excited about seeing Dave later on.

The plan was that he would fly to Munich from Bucharest, Romania where he's been speaking at a youth conference all week-end, and I would fly from Prague to meet up with him there. We would then take a flight across the ocean together and end up in Chicago this evening.

Well...that didn't happen.

The plane that was supposed to come in to Prague didn't make it due to technical reasons. So I didn't end up leaving Prague for several hours, which meant I'd missed the flight and Dave in Munich. He had to get on the flight without me as he has JV meetings right away tomorrow morning.

Eventually I made it to Munich in the late afternoon, and rushed off the plane to the service center (glad I've been here about a hundred times and know where it is). The line behind me quickly piled up as this man worked on rebooking me.

"There are no more flights to Chicago today so I'll have to rebook you tomorrow morning." And with that I was destined for an overnight in Munich. Thanks for the free hotel Lufthansa!

I wound my way through the airport and out to the bus stop, along with a whole bunch of others, to be taken to our hotel for the night.

While this hasn't happened to me a lot of times over the past thirty years, it has happened a few times and those were always really pleasant experiences actually.

So as we passed by the airport, with the sun shining and trees with their fall leaves glowing, I was expectant about the rest of the day and overnight.

We drove and drove and drove...I should've taken pictures of all the fields we passed.

Finally we arrived at what I can only say is a tired hotel.

With one man working the desk, we all waited in line for our room for the night.

One couple got their room, and while I was still standing in line, came back to say that someone was already in there...with a lot of clothes strewn about, as well as food on the floor.

"This could be interesting," I thought to myself!

All the while as I waited for my room it wasn't just the tiredness of the hotel that struck me. It was a smell. One that was hard to identify, it seemed to have an "old pasta" smell. That didn't make me look forward to dinner (that was also "complementary"!).

After getting my key I headed down the hall and ran into a very fitting vending machine to this whole hotel scenario.

I don't know why but it totally gave me the giggles! I was still giggling (and I mean, out loud!) an hour later. This TOTALLY sums up the hotel.

Well...and maybe the dark hallway that's leading to my room...yeah, that kind of sums it up too.

And the stripes on the carpet? Who thought that was a good idea??!!

I must say that the room was clean, if a bit sparse. But hey, it's a bed! And I've got my own pillow in my carry-on so I'll be okay.

The view out back wasn't too bad either.

Though the chair in the room leaves a bit to be desired (it would be great out on a patio, but in a hotel room?).

I WILL give them props for the hot water heater, and free tea and instant coffee!

The guy at the Lufthansa desk had specially written on my voucher that I was a Gold card member of Star Alliance, telling me that I'd be able to have whatever I wanted for dinner at no extra cost. This left me thinking about steak or grilled chicken, with some nice side dishes.

Instead, there was one choice on the buffet table.

It wasn't old pasta! But it also wasn't very appetizing, though I made myself eat. I'm thankful there was at least salad!

And finally, I discovered what the smell was...a smell that truly penetrates throughout the whole hotel.

A nice big pot of tomato soup. That is probably on the menu every day. No telling for how many years.

Well, I'm at least tucked away for the night and thankful that I'm not on a bench in the airportl! The Lord is totally taking care of me and I'm honestly having a great time. Especially when I remember the vending machine!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

In Traveling Mode

Since I knew today would be a long travel day, I woke up early as a good start to it, enjoying the beautiful sunrise on Hvar this morning.

Then it was off to my many modes of transportation today....first a car.

Then a ferry!

Next was a plane out of Split, which gave me a spectacular view over the Adriatic!

The two land masses that look like they're connecting are Trogir and the island of Ciovo. Split is in the distance.

Plane number one today whisked me off to another country.

First stop? Belgrade, Serbia! My first time ever to land at this airport (though I've traveled through the city before).

For my fourth mode of transportation today, I took a bus between the plane and the terminal here in Belgrade, and then another one to catch my next flight.

Last mode of transportation for the day? My own legs, walking across the street from the Prague airport!

It's strange to be here in the capital city of the country I live in, but only spending the night at the airport. But since I couldn't get a direct flight out of Split to the States (well...I could have, it just would have cost more!), I flew into Prague tonight in order to be here for my flight to Chicago tomorrow morning.

And so begins three weeks of travel, with many more wonderful adventures ahead!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Joy in Work

As with any house, there is always work to be done. It's no different at our house here on Hvar.

While we have people who care for it and guests during the summer months when it's a vacation rental home, we take care of it the rest of the year. Each of the four families who are partners does their share to make sure it's in good shape throughout the year.

So there is never a time we're down here that we aren't working on something. And this time, it happens to be my turn to trim everything, including the lavender.

The weather must have been good for growing this summer as it was much more of a jungle than I expected. But if you have to trim something, lavender and rosemary, among other plants, are incredibly pleasant to work with!

I've spent two days outside working on the grounds and it's been a little bit of heaven! Warm sunshine, cool air, pleasant smells, all the while singing and praying to my heart's content. I can hardly think of anything better to do in a day!

My brother accidentally left his bluetooth remote and tripod, but that meant I could get a few pictures to remember the joy of working these days!

When this job comes up again next year I'll definitely say, "Pick me, pick me!!" There's something so satisfying about doing work that has a pleasant reward while you're doing it, and afterward.

Bushes, flowers and trees are all trimmed and ready for the next guests to arrive!

Hope they enjoy it here as much as I did!

I'm off to the ferry tomorrow morning, then on to the airport where I'll start my travels towards the States. What sweet memories I'll take with me of my time on Hvar this fall.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Treasured Days on Hvar

With just a few hours left on the island with my brother, I wanted him to experience a few last places before beginning his journey home.

Last year, Dave, Claire and I discovered something new that we'd never been to (HERE), and that's one of the places I wanted to take Mike on his last afternoon.

We had always seen that cross from down below in Stari Grad, but never knew how to reach it. Now we do!

The view from up here is absolutely magnificent. You can see down into the bay where the ferry docks.

And you can look across the Stari Grad plain, a UNESCO world heritage sight due to how long ago it was colonized by the Greeks...4 BC!

The agriculture activity has been uninterrupted here for 24 centuries, with mainly grapes and olives still being cultivated here today.

Earlier, Mike and I drove through the plain in search of bee hives, since he's a beekeeper. But to our disappointment, we didn't find any. I know they've been there in the past so the keepers must have moved them to a different location right now.

"Mike, I guess you'll have to come back so we can hunt for them again!"

If you keep going on the road behind Stari Grad, you'll come to another phenomena, though not a natural one.

On the left, near the bottom of the photo is a berm across the road to keep cars from driving in

Over ten years ago, a developer came in and built eleven luxury villas in the small village of Mala Rudina with that spectacular view. Each house is complete with gorgeous stone work, swimming pools, satellite dishes, and beautiful interiors.

The doors are open on most houses so we weren't trespassing illegally!

Sadly, something went wrong in the process of paperwork and permits so they were never inhabited and sit lonely in their beautiful setting on the Kabal Penninsula.

It's like a ghost town to walk through the pretty streets.

And the sign at the entrance that is now decayed, is a sad testimony to these houses that could have been sold and enjoyed by people for years to come.

Mike and I mused that perhaps some entrepreneur will still be able to complete them before they're beyond restoration. I hope so as it's such a waste to let them sit unoccupied.

With just two hours left before Mike had to get on the ferry, we headed back down into Stari Grad for a bit more exploring.

See the cross at the top? That's where we were just an hour before!

We headed onto the new riva (waterfront promenade) that encircles the Stari Grad bay.

How I thank the Lord for blessing us with incredible weather these days we've had together! I think October is my new favorite month on Hvar!

The breeze of the afternoon "maestral" (an anabatic wind for those of you who might be interested!) which happens every day in the summer (and I guess in the fall too!) between 3-6 PM, kept us cool in the warmth of the day as we took in one last look at Stari Grad across the bay.

We found a great restaurant on the other side of the riva from where we'd been walking, to have an early dinner together.

And then all too soon it was time to get Mike to the ferry.

With quick "Love you's" and "Let's do this again", he then headed onto the ferry headed for a couple day's travel back to Oregon.

Driving back to our house on the south side of the island, I felt a twinge of sadness that our vacation together was already over. Mike is one of the easiest people to spend time with, always has interesting things to say (he has such a wide knowledge of interesting facts and tidbits!), and is just fully enjoyable to spend time with.

I'm SO thankful to have Mike as my brother! And we really do need to do this again sometime. What a treasure to have so many days with him!

I have a few more days here at our house before I began my journey to the States. I'll try to enjoy it, even though my brother isn't here!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Walking with my Brother

For fifty five years I've been walking through life with my brother. But we've never taken this kind of walk with each other!

Here in Sveta Nedjela on our first-ever vacation together, we took a walk up through the vineyards this morning.

By the way, that island in the distance is Vis which happens to be where filming just finished for the new "Mamma Mia" movie which will premier next summer. In the movie they'll say it's Greece, but now you'll know that it's really Croatia!

The vineyards have all been picked of their grapes, and are now just waiting for their annual trim which will happen in December-January. For now, their foliage is beautiful to look at against the backdrop of the sky, mountains and sea.

Walking along the tiny road used for reaching these remote vineyards, we actually found a few stray grapes that had been left on the vine.

There weren't many left, but the few that were tasted amazing!!!

These vineyards supply Zlatan Otok, the award-winning winemaker from the village of Sveta Nedjelja. It was a hard year for the grapes so there won't be as much wine produced this year. I heard that in a normal year they harvest four ton of grapes, but this year it was only two ton. If you ever see a bottle of 2017 Zlatan Otok, it will be a valuable one (though may be expensive!).

The work it takes to care for the vineyards, going up and down these steep roads and hillsides, sure makes you appreciate what goes into a bottle of wine.

Coming back down through the village, we noted some of the signs of what else happens here...lots of fishing! At night from the balcony, you can see the lights of the fisherman's boats bobbing out in the sea. I counted nine boats last night alone. Fishing is definitely part of life here. I wonder where those fish end up??

Mike is about ready to head back home, via Istanbul (since he was there for a conference, that's where his flight home begins in a couple of days). I'm glad he could take a rest in the hammock before he's off to some days of travel in order to return to Oregon.

Before saying goodbye, we took a few pictures to remember our time together.

"This is for you, Dad and Mom!"

We're now off to one last little adventure before we say good-bye!