Fast Forward to Croatia

The last few days of our Danube River cruise were great, but for now I’m fast-forwarding on to Croatia and fully intend to eventually fill in the blanks regarding Austria and Hungary. As river cruise-lines go, Viking Cruises is as good as any, but one can only take so much queuing for buffet meals before the thought of launching out on your own starts looking mighty attractive.

My thought in planning the third segment of our European adventure was to transition with a romantic train ride through bucolic countryside between Budapest and Zagreb, and on Sunday the 21st we planted ourselves in our reserved window seats with the confidence and pride of seasoned travelers.

Budapest Zeleti train station with porter

Budapest Zeleti train station with porter

Helpful porter

Helpful porter

Budapest train station monitor

Budapest train station monitor

Spy #1

Spy #1

Spy #2

Spy #2

The confidence and pride lasted for an hour after departure until our non-stop train stopped at a remote station labeled “Sarobogard.” Our portly conductor waving all the passengers off the train across rough tracks and onto waiting buses followed a static-y overhead Hungarian announcements. We had absolutely no clue what was going on and no one to ask. There was great competition by the more agile among us to load their bags into luggage compartments and grab the prime bus seats. One of the bus drivers saw us struggling, took our bags and motioned us on to his bus. We rode along in our seats made even more cramped by our smaller luggage as I followed our progress on my iPhone, posting slightly frantic updates to my Facebook account without regard to the global data charges I was incurring. We shared a hope that we’d just keep heading in the southwesterly direction towards Croatia. At just over two hours, we stopped at a station labeled “Kaposvar” and reversed the process, back onto the train and into our 1st class reserved seats. This time we were joined by some lively English 20-year-olds who kept us entertained with a variety of trivia and riddle games. In the last hour I glanced at my ticket and noticed “Autobusz: Sarobogard – Kaposvar” – uh……

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Passing Hungarian town

Passing Hungarian town

ticket

We finally pulled into Zagreb train station an hour late and immediately spotted the smiling faces of our family – Domagoj and his girlfriend, Ivana – waiting for us on the platform. We knew we were now in good hands.

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Zagreb Train station

Zagreb Train station

Sunday June 21, being the first day of summer, is also World Day of Music, and as we exited the Zagreb train station a concert was underway at the Zrinjevac Park. We waited for the #2 tram that brought us directly to the Hilton Doubletree Zagreb at the city’s edge. We checked in, had a late dinner, and fell immediately into deep and relieved sleep.

Villages on the Danube – Regensburg, Passau and Melk

[Sorry for the delay – I finally have some dependable wifi. The wifi on the river ship is by satellite and we have travelled through some narrow gorges.]

Between Nuremberg, Germany, and Vienna, Austria, the Danube River courses past towns and villages whose character seems frozen in time, at least from the vantage point of a river cruise ship. Our tour stopped at three of them, Regensburg and Passau, Germany, and Melk, Austria.

Regensburg, our first stop, apparently one of Germany’s best-preserved medieval cities highlights the Gothic St. Peter’s Church, Old Town Hall and the 12th-century Old Stone Bridge as Germany’s oldest bridge. It is also claims to be home to the oldest sausage kitchen, located near the bridge. I don’t know if we were just hungry or if they truly are the best sausages I’ve ever eaten, but I do know that we were pleasantly surprised at how good were the sausages on sauerkraut served with crusty rolls – that the dark beer, even to this non-regular-beer-drinker, was absolutely fantastic – thirst quenching and flavorful.

Regensburg mural

Regensburg mural

Regensburg old stone bridge

Regensburg old stone bridge

Regensburg - woman on the right plucking petals - he loves me? loves me not?

Regensburg – woman on the right plucking petals – he loves me? loves me not?

Regensburg portal

Regensburg portal

Regensburg river

Regensburg river

Regensburg sausage kitchen

Regensburg sausage kitchen

Regensburg sausages

Regensburg sausages

Regensburg St Peters

Regensburg St Peters

Passau, Germany, is a beautiful historic city at the confluence of three rivers – the Danube, the Inn and the Ilz – and thus susceptible to flooding. High water marks are kept on buildings throughout town, and the mark for the flood of 2013 was only exceeded by that for 1501. Rather amazing that 500+ years later they just keep rebuilding and carrying on. Cobblestone streets and historic building are carefully restored; our guide explained that, two years after the 2013 flood they still have difficulty finding enough skilled craftsman to complete the restoration today.

A guided tour barely scratches the surface of the patina of these towns. After our visit I happened upon a CNN story about Passau being used as drop-off point by refugees from the Middle East wars. I would so have liked to learn more – why Passau, why this quaint little town? Were we passing refugee ships in the night as we cruised down the Wachau valley? What are their stories, and how can we help?

Passau cathedral

Passau cathedral

Passau shopping

Passau shopping

Passau shopping street

Passau shopping street

Passau rivers confluence

Passau rivers confluence

Passau high water marks

Passau high water marks

Passau cruise ship

Passau cruise ship

In the night we cruised into Austria and docked at Melk. A Jesuit Abbey dominates Melk, Austria, and during our tour I caught sight of one of the brothers skirting the edge of the courtyard, skillfully avoiding the tour groups on his way. The Abbey contains a middle-high school that is growing in student population and currently has 900 day students – tuition is only 80 euros a month! They no longer board students in order to have more classrooms for the burgeoning student population drawn from the local towns.

The cruise ship passed through the beautiful Wachau Valley in the late evening – at this time of year it stays light past 9pm. One of the most peaceful times aboard the cruise ship is standing on the top deck during a warm evening, alone at a rail, wondering about the lives of those we are passing.

Melk view

Melk view

Melk town

Melk town

Melk marker

Melk marker

Melk brother

Melk brother

Melk Abbey

Melk Abbey

Cruising evening

Cruising evening

Cruise dropoff of the evening's entertainment

Cruise dropoff of the evening’s entertainment

Nuremberg photos

We’re in port so I think I’ll have enough wifi to upload the photos from Nuremberg, Germany.

Nazi Parade Grounds 1930s

Nazi Parade Grounds 1930s

Nazi Parade Grounds 2015

Nazi Parade Grounds 2015

Parade Grounds 2015

Parade Grounds 2015

Parade Grounds Car Rally

Best friends in Nuremberg

Best friends in Nuremberg

Nuremberg bridge

Nuremberg bridge

Nuremberg from castle

Nuremberg from castle

Nuremberg Castle

Nuremberg Castle

Danube lock

Danube lock

Entering the locks

Entering the locks

 

Cruise like a Viking

[NOTE: Still having problems being able to upload photos – the river ship uses satellite for internet, so i will upload the photos related to the story below as soon as I can]

We left France behind with a quick one-hour flight from Paris to Nuremberg, Germany, and even on this short trip we were served food in the Air France tradition – roll with goat cheese, fennel and honey – so unlike American flights where an ounce-pack of dry mini pretzels during a 5 hour coast-to-coast trip is an unexpected treat. Have you ever landed at San Francisco International airport, where you seem to be skimming the top of the Bay, certain you’re landing in the water, and at the very last second the wheels touching down on the edge of the tarmac? In Nuremberg you skim the top of what I believe is the Black Forest – a huge, flat dense forest – wheels just above the treetops, seeming close enough to touch, and then you land in a sudden edge of airport tarmac.

We slapped the Viking Cruise stickers on our shirts and deplaned to be welcomed immediately by a Viking Cruise line representative. The luxury segment of our trip had begun! No more car rental negotiations or GPS or schlepping suitcases up several flights of stairs. Our bags were whisked away by a uniformed Viking Cruise representative, and in short order we were aboard the Viking Var, room 107. We’re travelling from Nuremberg, Germany, to Budapest, Hungary over an 8-day period, with no concerns in the world regarding where we will eat or sleep or tour or shop. I had originally thought we might drive from Paris through Germany, Austria and Hungary on our way to Croatia, but when I started working out the logistics of renting a car in one country and leaving it in another, that plan began to unwind. Thanks to a well-placed ad during an episode of Downton Abbey on PBS, Viking solved all our logistical problems with their “Romantic Danube” trip. I’ve uploaded here the detailed description of the 8 day trip so you can follow along.   The cruise consists of meals and evening activities aboard on of their river long-ships – ours is the “Var” named after some Nordic god – with both included and optional excursions in the towns we visit. Each evening is a briefing on the next days activities and sometimes a presentation on local culture, the Danube history, or the Viking Cruise company itself. Last night I learned that Viking is privately owned and based, interestingly, in Los Angeles with an office in Basel, Switzerland. It is owned by the Hagen family whose daughter is the face and voice of the ads. Of course she’s a gorgeous Nordic blonde. There is no justice.

Our day trip to Nuremberg was fascinating and educational. Nuremberg is known by most for the Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals after WWII, but it’s a vital city otherwise. The most chilling part of our day excursion was a tour of the Nazi parade grounds. We’ve all seen familiar pictures of Hitler standing at the very podium which today is used for rock concerts and sports events and car rallies, one of which was happening the day we were there.

Nuremberg Nazi Parade 1903s

Nuremberg Nazi Parade 1903s

 

 

 

 

 

 

I found most interesting the way today’s Germans describe that awful period in their history.   I found a sign that described 1933 as when “the seizure of power by the NSDAP (predecessor of Nazis) marked the beginning of oppression and destruction of political freedom and economic self-government.” A great reminder that most people living under dictatorship just want to live good lives and take care of their families.

Nuremberg is now a vibrant, creative and productive city. After our tour of the former Nazi parade grounds we toured the heart of the city, so much needed rebuilding after the war. Churches and open air markets, outdoor art and restaurants, and scenes that could not have existed during Hitler’s time – these cute little girls, clearly best friends, one black, one white, just walking along having a chat.

Back on the ship, we took off for the next stop, Passau, Germany. One of the many treats of taking a river cruise is watching the ship navigate the river – and during this trip we go through 12 locks – I believe it’s 7 locks up and 5 locks down. During one of the “up” locks we were able to sit on the forward deck as the ship entered the lock enclosed in 10 story high walls, then watch as it rapidly filled with water before we floated out the front. Here are a few pictures of that experience.

Normandy Photos

I thought I uploaded these once but they don’t seem to have posted.  Here are the photos I described from Normandy, and here is a link to the video of the winds: Winds of Normandy

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Tour guide Magali and guest Abby & Eliza celebrating Eliza's high school graduation

Tour guide Magali and guest Abby & Eliza celebrating Eliza’s high school graduation

D-Day re-enactors - note the clerical collar on one - they disappeared before I could chat with the

D-Day re-enactors – note the clerical collar on one – they disappeared before I could chat with the

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Normandy

[NOTE:  Due to very slow Internet access I’m unable to upload the pictures and videos mentioned below, but will do so as soon as the wifi improves]

We might have met our goal of touring the D-Day landing beaches by taking a day-trip from Paris as did the other guests on our afternoon tour. Thank goodness we did not. We instead chose to drive nearly 2 ½ hours along a northerly route of lush green and fertile farmland from Giverny to Bayeux for an overnight stay. So much of France outside Paris is farmland. I hadn’t realized. The A15 highway from Giverny cuts through fields and farms and farms and fields. Did I mention farms? I suspect France could serve as breadbasket to most of Europe with the amount of farming they do. Seems so distant from all the France I’ve known being Paris.

Fortunately I had timed things correctly and we were able to check in to our Bayeux hotel and drop our bags before our 1pm pickup four our Viator tour pickup. We were a small group of 8 led by a our charming guide who introduced herself as “Mag.” She was surprised that I asked if that was short for “Magail” – it was – because it’s such a uniquely French name. I told her my son has a good friend named Magali. Throughout the afternoon as she took us to Omaha Beach, the visitors center and the American cemetery, explaining the roles of both the liberating soldiers and that of the French villagers and farmers involved in the action, Mag made frequent references to her grandparents who lived through the experience. Coincidentally the anniversary of D-Day was the Sunday before our visit; the week turns out to be the busiest of the year, and stragglers of the “re-enactors” who show up each year to recognize the date were spotted throughout the day. An unexpected complement to our experience was the weather – cold and extremely windy. We were buffeted by strong and erratic winds as Mag described the rough seas, which caused a 24-hour delay in the D-Day operation. We watched the English Channel roil with high waves, our faces buffeted by cold wind, and felt quite vicerally a bit of the experience of D-Day. I’m hopeful that this video I took from inside a former German bunker records the waves and wind I attempted to capture.

The following day we drove to the lovely town of Les Andelys, dominated by the crumbling castle of Edward the Lionheart. Our hotel, L’Chaine d’Or, sits right on the bank of the Seine, and we had a river view. Attached are a few snapshots outside our window. The lack of air conditioning was a bit uncomfortable on an unusually hot and humid evening, but the view of the northern Seine with its fishermen and birds, and a spectacular electrical storm, made up for it all.

During dinner at L’Chaine d’Or a friendly gentleman in dapper pink pants came to our table and introduced himself to us. He asked we were enjoying our time in Les Andelys, if we were staying in this hotel, and said he was in charge of tourism for the town. Mike asked if he were the mayor – vice mayor, he replied, in charge of all tourism. He said L’Chaine is the best restaurant in town and hoped we would return. He then pointed to the table behind us, 6 or 7 men deeply engaged in debate – I caught that one felt “we need a majority vote,” and suspected them to be the town council.

Our drive from Les Andelys to Charles de Gaulle airport took us again through many back roads and farms. It’s just a 45 minute drive, but the contrast between the country and sudden city could not be greater. With a bit of confusion we finally found the rental car return, cleared the check-in and headed into the next leg of our trip.

 

Road to Giverny

Bienvenue, mes ami et ma famille,

Iceland Air is great – and did you know all their international connections go through Reykjavik? I met the loveliest couple from Puyallup, Washington, in the adjacent seats on the flight segment from Seattle. I so regret not asking for the names of this bright and fit lady and gentleman who told me they were on their way to Surrey, England, to visit their son. They proudly announced that their son runs Boeing UK operations, and they were going to celebrate her birthday. The wife said softly, “I think this will be our last trip.” Of course, I asked “Why? “ She said that she was the birthday they are celebrating would be her 80th and she thinks that’s old enough for this kind of travel. I immediately though of Maude in “Harold and Maude” who decided to pack it in at 80 – seems terribly young to be having those thoughts these days, doesn’t it?   I mentioned how my 90-year-old mother often reflects that one must take advantage of the phase of life when you have the money and health and spare time to travel. My seat-mate heartily agreed. We wished each other well and safe travels.

Mike and I easily made our 55-minute layover connection in Reykjavik and finally arrived Paris Charles De Gaulle airport 1pm Wednesday, safe but exhausted. In spite of all my clever anti-jetlag techniques, these long haul flights are certainly becoming exhausting with age. The technique that completely and utterly backfired was to not drink any caffeine in order to encourage sleep. Didn’t have coffee. Didn’t sleep. It was in state of exhaustion and caffeine withdrawal that I attempted to find our rental car counter. Long story short, I couldn’t find the counter for the Dollar Rent a Car we’d reserved and ended up signing a contract with a charming Sixt car rental agent who, sympathizing with my situation, graciously produced a Toyota Yaris for 10 times the bargain price we’d planned to pay. He knew, as we did, we’d pay a king’s ransom for anything that would get us to Giverny. Lesson learned was to read the reservation fine print, which clearly state the Thrifty Rental Car counter immediately adjacent to my Sixt charmer was honoring our Dollar rental. Fortunately, the 3-day rental won’t break the bank, and I’ll get it back when Sixt honors the bargain rate they’re giving me in Zagreb.

I’d discovered that Giverny is on the route we’d planned to take to Normandy, and while I knew we wouldn’t have much time there, I’d hoped to arrive in time to visit Monet’s home, gardens and water 1_Monet Gardenslily ponds before they closed at 6pm. The drive from Roissy to Giverney is less than an hour through green farmland and quaint villages, and we easily found Le Dime de Giverny B&B with our GPS. Two friendly and cheerful English women enjoying a cup of tea in the courtyard greeted us.

Jet-lagged Maggie at Giverny

Jet-lagged Maggie at Giverny

They shared that they’d been to Monet’s home that morning, a 10 minute walk up the road, arriving early before the crowds to enjoy the place before the tour buses arrived. We quickly threw our bags in our room, walked up rue Claude Monet and spent a good hour exploring the home and grounds. I’m so happy we had the time.

 

Tired and hungry, trying to stay awake until a suitable bedtime, we ate dinner at the only restaurant open at 5:30 pm, a near-empty bar with cold sandwiches. We again spotted the English ladies on the restaurant terrace enjoying a glass of wine. We learned that they are Mo Hooper and Judy Pearson, best friends from their Bedford College days, retired Physical Education teachers who take an annual trip together.

Mo and Judy

Mo and Judy

 

We met once more at breakfast and they agreed to let me take their picture for my blog. I could tell they were dear, long-time friends when, while taking their picture, Judy announced she’d stand behind Mo to make herself look better. What fun these two are, and I’m sure their choice of professions contributed significantly to their energy, fitness and zest for life.

 

 

Before ending our stay we met the Granade family, celebrating their son, Jay’s, 15th birthday exploring France.

Grenade Family

Grenade Family

They had been all over, and after Giverny are driving to Brussels to fly home to Atlanta.Dr. Grande, a dentist, spotted Mike’s dental braces and thrilled him by saying that meant he was young. Jay, an avid history buff, enthusiastically agreed this was one great birthday gift.

 

 

 

 

 

Our gracious hosts at Le Dime de Giverny have so tastefully renovated and restored what was once the local tax collector’s home and office (he who collected the dimes) into a comfortable and welcoming bed and breakfast.

Next, we storm Normandy beaches……

And we’re off…..

Mike and I have started our vacation adventure and to share it with you we are keeping the notes and stories and pictures of our trip on this site. Apologies for the two year gap between this and my last post.

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If you’ve just been randomly cruising around the Internet and happened upon this site – Welcome to you, too! The greatest joy in travel is the random chaos that allows strangers to cross paths and share a moment of humanity together. That is, unless you are a hacker or a hater or one of those robo-intelligent-thingies that is going to take over the world, in which case, buzz off, your kind is not welcome.

So, to get started, I’ll confess that one of my greatest thrills is receiving that email “SUBJECT: Time to check in for your flight.” This one was especially thrilling because we had spent such a very long time in the planning. Boarding passes in hand, and thanks to our awesome friend Bill who chauffeured us from Fox Island to Seatac, we arrived comfortably early to ease into our trip. I’ve taken so many business trips over the years that merely passing through airport Security isn’t itself cause for cheer; however, cozying up to the Iceland Air gate made it sink in that this was no business trip. That magic moment when the wheels lifted off the ground we were on vacation.

Click here to see our itinerary  color coded for each segment of the trip: Pink for home, blue for France, green for the Danube river trip and yellow for Croatia. Feel free to follow along, and if you have a tip from your travels to any of these locations, please do write a comment so we can try to fit it in. Many of the locations we’ve already added were from the suggestions of friends. PS: I’ve already broken my promise to indicate pronunciation for the Croatian cities – I promise to do that (indicate pronunciation, not break a promise) throughout the trip.

Enjoy!

Iceland Air boarding pass Maggie Iceland Air boarding pass Maggie2 Iceland Air boarding pass Mike Iceland Air boarding pass Mike2

Catching Up

I’m a terrible, terrible person for not finishing my story about our trip to Croatia.  We had two more stops to report (Ljubjana, Slovenia and Zagreb, Croatia), but it’s so easy to get pulled back into everyday life when you return.  I hope to write more this weekend, but I want to give you a little taste of the fun we are having getting to know our Croatian family now that we have found them!  My cousins Domagoj and Ivan are great Internet users, so they’ve been keeping us posted with family news.  Here is a link to some pictures Domagoj sent me from Kajgana.  More to come – and so much more to tell!

Rovinj

I’ll write much more about our Kajgana experience in a trip addendum – it’s so different than the rest of our trip – but let me catch up on a few stops we’ve had since, before I go back for the deeper dive regarding my family.

Following a wonderful two days in Garesnica and Kajgana, Mike and I bid farewell – more accurately, “until we return” – to our Croatian family and headed west back to the coast.  Our excellent travel agency had selected the key sites for the full flavor of Croatia which must include the peninsula of Istria in the north Adriatic.   The drive from Garesnica to the town of Rovinj takes about 4-5 hours, skirts the southern tip of Zagreb midway, rises to 3,000 feet as it tunnels through mountains touching the edge of Slovenia (Croatians do love their tunnels), glimpses the Mediterranean at the town of Rijeka, passes through vineyards then opens to the Adriatic Sea.  Not too shabby a way to spend a day’s drive.  We took the opportunity to swing by the Zagreb airport to locate exactly where we’d be dropping off our rental car at the end of our visit, time well spent as the drop-off spot wasn’t immediately apparent and required a quick trip into the terminal to speak to a rental car representative.  We took our time on the drive, as much to decompress from the excitement of the last few days as to enjoy the change in scenery.

Port of Rovinj

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Rovinj is yet another historic port town, though its proximity to Italy lends it a cosmopolitan air not apparent in Dubrovnik, Hvar or Trogir.  Our GPS came through with flying colors this time, guiding us directly to Villa Dobrovac and into the hands of Natalina, our host for our 3-night stay.  It’s hard to describe what Villa Dobrovac is – not a hotel, as the reception desk is not regularly manned, not an apartment, as we did not have our own kitchen – the closest description is a bed and breakfast, though that minimizes the elegance, comfort and experience of this lovely villa.  Natalina – our beautiful and elegant, multi-lingual, informative host runs the accommodations which feel like an elegantly restored (have I used the word “elegant” enough?) Tuscan home.  She uses phrases like “welcome to our home” while checking us in to a room with an extraordinary view of the Rovinj port and Adriatric beyond.  Natalina’s mother and mother-in-law both live with her and her husband; their children are grown and now live in Zagreb.  The family owns fields just 10 minutes drive away where they grow grapes for their wine and vegetables to sell at the stand outside the villa.  It’s not easy to describe this amazing woman who could both grace the cover of a European fashion magazine, debate politics (it was a very interesting experience to be an American in Europe during the U.S. federal government shutdown), and check in the grapes delivery that arrived by tractor.  One of our most noteworthy discussions with Natalina is her opinion – which we shared – regarding a universal loss of family values, honoring and respecting our elders, making time for family celebrations, taking time to enjoy the simple pleasures of life.  These conversations were friendly, open, and invigorating, and made our visit to Rovinj all the more pleasurable.

View from our balcony at Villa Dubrovac, Rovinj

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It was at Natalina’s suggestion that we spent a day travelling through Istria, driving up through the vineyards that rival Italy’s, and on to the – hold on to your hats! – Tartuffa (truffle) festival in the town of Livade.  Istria is a region that honors truffles (NOT the chocolate variety) as the gems that they are.  Once per year the town of Livade, where the Guinness Book of World Records –verified largest truffle ever was discovered.  Mike and I had an amazing (superlative deserved) truffle-infused lunch at the hilltop town of Motovun before heading down to Livade below to admire the award-winning gigantor truffle behind glass.  I was seduced into buying some local olive oil in one of the Tartuffo Festival tents, and bought some bargain truffles at a panoramic overview at the side of the road.  We simply had a flavor of the Istrian peninsula, and what a flavor it is.  The pungent taste of excellent truffles certainly brings a distinctive flavor to whatever dish it enhances.

Motovun truffle risotto

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We had the great good fortune of meeting a delightful Canadian couple, Barb and Joe, whose stay exactly coincided with ours.  We spent our days exploring the lovely historic port town together, and were happy to see that the town retains much of its integrity as a fishing port, in spite of the occasional cruise ship docking for the night.  My biggest indulgence for this entire trip was the purchase of a 1940s Austrian crystal decanter and set of 6 shot glasses for the homemade Slivotica I was gifted in Kajgana (oops, dang, I haven’t described that yet) from a small antiques shop high up a hilly road in Rovinj.  Of course we have promised Joe and Barb that we will come visit them in eastern Canada, and we then each set off for the next stage of our Croatian adventure.

Hilly streets of Rovinj

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My greatest travel joy, bar none, is the people we meet.  The world is full of amazing, interesting, beautiful, and kind people.

Oh yes, speaking of the kindness of others – one more thing – I have not yet mentioned my new role in our family, that of designated-bell-tower-climber.  MikeLohnes begs off any part of this responsibility, claiming dispensation via his artificial knee and back-surgery experience.  I, therefore, have taken it upon myself to climb, on behalf of our family, any bell tower that enters our sphere of experience.  As I gloatingly left him at the base of the tower, Mr. Lohnes (knowingly, I believe) neglected to point out that I was proceeding to climb the Rovinj Church of St. Euphemia bell tower at 11:55 a.m. and would reach the summit at precisely noon, when the bells would initiate, in all their glory, their most magnificent and lengthy chorus of chords and chimes.  When our friends Joe and Barb happened upon him at the base, and asked if I’d really climbed the tower, Joe told Mike he suspected I’d require and increased volume of conversation over the next few days – they were right.  I’ve captured the bell-chiming experience in a video which I will upload as soon as I have better Internet connectivity.

MikeLohnes sitting on bench below bell tower

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View of the rickety wooden bell tower steps upon which Maggie Lohnes risked her life

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