We made a good choice to make the medieval town of Šibenik our home for our time in Croatia. I cannot describe the feeling of living in a town where the buildings date back to the 15th century and the history of the town dates back to Roman times. I love the stone-paved streets just wide enough to let donkey carts pass through, which is how they were designed 500 years ago. I love our apartment which is divided off of what was once the residence of the Bishop of Šibenik. This we know because of his statue on the wall as we enter the courtyard outside our door.
I love the weather here on the Dalmatian Coast. There have been December days where we walked along the seawall without need of a jacket as the sun shone brightly on us. I never tire of the view of the bay and the surrounding hills as we enjoy taking coffee at any time of day, just like the Croatians. We have been taken through the surrounding countryside by our Croatian friends to experience amazing sights like the medieval village of Primosten, the vineyards of prized babić (BOB ich) grapes grown almost exclusively in this region, and the viewpoint overlooking Lake Vrana, the largest lake in Croatia. There is so much history here that it takes more than one visit to take it all in.
I have experienced so much good food and drink during our stay. The Croatian people live close to the land. If someone does not live on a farm, they are closely related to someone who does. Everyone has home-pressed olive oil from the olives grown on their land or the land of their families. Everyone has homemade wine as well as rakija, the distilled beverage made from freshly pressed grapes. Everyone eats fresh fruits and vegetables grown locally. Everyone gets fresh meats from the local farms and fresh seafood from the coastal waters. I need only walk a few blocks to the open market whenever I wish to restock our kitchen. And now my favorite baker and produce vendor greet me by name when I show up.
The best part of Croatia, of course, is the people. To say they are warm and welcoming would be an understatement. One of our acquaintances told me Croatians are sometimes better hosts to visitors than they are to one another. I do not know to what extent that may be true. All I know is that we have been treated incredibly well. Our landlady, Nina, has been more than a business contact. She has been our most reliable friend. She took Florence to her doctor when Florence was ill. She used her beautician skills to give me a haircut and to give Florence a hairstyling for our anniversary.
Our friends, Tina Vickov and Biljana Lambasa*, took pride in showing us local hidden treasures that are off the beaten tourist paths. We have seen enough of the islands, lakes, waterfalls, fortresses, and historic landmarks that some of the local people say we now know more about Croatia than do many Croatians. All I know is we have come to appreciate and love Croatia because the people we have met during our stay have not only opened doors for us. They have also opened their hearts to us. We know whenever our path should bring us back to Croatia that they will welcome us back like family.
Thanks to the friendships that have been forged, Croatia will always occupy a special place in our hearts.