Crazy Year – Part 3

17 12 2010

So after a few days in Gospic with my grandmother and grandfather, we head to my mom’s home town of Morsano al Tagliamento, to visit my great-aunt and her family.  Isabella and I stayed with my Zia Eda (My great-aunt), Zio Ettore – not pictured (My great-uncle), Nino (their son), Mariatheresa (Nino’s wife), Stefania (daughter), Lady ( the dog) and two cats.  Their son Marco lives in another town about 30 minutes away.

When I first arrived, I couldn’t believe how bloody HOT it was!! OH MY GOD!!!!!  Coming from the cool side of the mountains in Croatia to this was a slap in the face.  I know Windsor gets hot but this was just incredible.  It was the slap you in the face kind of heat.  I was glad I had a lot of short and summer outfits for Isabella, but I was lacking in that department.  So it as going to be a hot week for me in my jeans.  But I’ll have to make do with what I have.  As long as Isabella is cool then I’m happy. 

After the initial ooohs and awwws of Isabella, I’m no longer important,  we had to get some groceries for the house.   We piled in to the non air-conditioned car (Lord help me) and headed to Lidl of all places!!!!  I swear this grocery store has the market on Europe.  But I managed to get Isabella more diapers, and some veggies since at the time she was just starting her solids.  The Lidl is in San Vito al Tagliamento,  another town about 20 minutes away.  I’ll put some pictures up of that later.  

The following day I wanted to go for a little walk in Morsano, The best part about this town… one main road you can’t get lost!  I’ll just put up a few of the town that I took.  Notice the blue sky!!  It was like this the entire week I was there.  Morsano has some beautiful new and old buildings in the town.  The centre has a grocery store, doctor, pharmacy, a few bars and cafes (of course), church, and some smaller stores.  There really isn’t a lot in this town which is why I think my family does their shopping in San Vito.  But regardless, it is like stepping into another world when you walk through, and I swear every person that I walked past said hello!!  Of course all the nonnas had to stop and give Isabella the little tap on the cheek and say she was bella.  Isabella soaked up every adoring minute!

The next day we went to San Daniele, where they make prosciutto, that’s right…PROSCIUTTO!!!  Cue Angels and harps.  I love the stuff!!  San Daniele is a beautiful town located a little up the mountains so the landscape started to get hilly compared to the farmland of Morsano.  The building were gorgeous and the prosciutto dinner we ate was  just yummy!!  Who thought you could get excited about a couple of pieces of paper-thin meat with bread, but the stuff is just amazing.  The weather again was perfect, and since we were in the mountains a bit, it was MUCH cooler.  I think I would have rather of stayed there!  Not that I don’t love my family, but  that heat is horrid especially when there isn’t any air-conditioning in the house.   San Daniele was a nice little side trip for me, and since I had never been there a new experience. 

The week was filled with trips back to San Vito to walk around town and lazy days at the house.  I wasn’t really in Italy to play tourist I was there to bring Isabella so she could meet her great-great aunt and uncle and her cousins.  The traveling part was just an added bonus.  I remember some of San Vito and Morsano from when I was there last, but it was great to see it all again with fresh (older and more appreciative) eyes.   San Vito has a wonderful city centre, the building are old and well taken care of.  There is a cute little park we wandered through and strolled up the street to the stores and cafes.  I was content with wandering and of course a little shopping doesn’t hurt anyone either.  I’ve put some pictures of  San Vito down below, I think I took the most pictures from this town then any other. 

 

 With the clock ticking down on my visit to Italy, I had to make sure I spent time with my aunt and uncle who live in the bottom part of the house.   Nino and Co. live upstairs and a beautiful apartment addition they built years ago.   I loved spending time in Italy, and it was too short of a visit.  I’m going to have to make it back there again with Isabella as soon as possible!  

But alas… I had to return to the gorgeous mountains of Gospic.  I also needed to spend more time with my grandmother and grandfather since I didn’t know if I’d ever make it back to Croatia again.  So before I knew it my dad and Leigh Ann were there to pick us up and after a wonderful week in Italy it was time to say ciao.  





Crazy Year – Part 2

1 11 2010

After returning from Canada, we were going to have a slew of visitors in the next few months.  Starting with my brother and his now fiancée Mary.  They came over to stay with us for a weekend before heading out to explore Europe.  We went to Maastricht, on I swear the most humid day possible.  I was drenched after walking for 5 minutes, it was Windsor in Holland.   We also spent time in Amersfoort taking a boat ride on the canal, unfortunately Isabella wasn’t into it and started to fuss.  Luckily she did hold out until near the end of the ride.  It was a nice ride and a different view of the city.  I wish they could have stayed longer, but they were on a schedule and my brother had a plan.  He proposed to Mary in Paris (let’s all say it together now… awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww).   They did however return back to NL for a quick visit before leaving to go home to Canada.  So we headed down to Amsterdam and did the “must-see-tourist-traps”.   Oh and of course the Red Light District.  Granted it was during the day but they got the idea of what goes on at night.   It was a good day and it was nice to spend it with the two of them.  Plus they also got to spend time with Isabella before leaving. 

The day my brother and Mary left,  Frank’s parents and Aunt arrived from the U.S.  It has been a few years since they were over to visit.  Frank hadn’t seen his father in nearly 10 years before they came this summer.  Of course this was the first time they met Isabella and at first she was a bit… “Um and you would be??”  but quickly warmed up when she realized, “HEY!!!  I’m getting MORE attention!!”   It was nice for them to see all the grandkids and one great-grandchild on this side of the ocean at one time.  With day trips around the Netherlands, it was a busy few weeks.    His aunt was with us for about a week and a bit, she then left for Italy for a tour and returned the day before they left to go back to the States. 

Now, just before Frank’s parents and aunt leave to go back to the US, my dad and his girlfriend  Leigh Ann, show up for a visit!  They ended up staying here in NL for about a week before heading out on the road to drive to Croatia to visit my grandmother and grandfather.  

We headed out to some places in NL, like Giethoorn, Blokzijl, Zandvoort, and Haarlem.  We didn’t have much time to do a lot of touring, so we just picked a few “touristy” places to visit.  But before they left to go back to Canada, Isabella and I headed over to Croatia and Italy for 2 weeks.  I was able to see my grandparents again, it has been over 10 years since I saw them last. 

Isabella and I flew to Zagreb and then it was an hour and a bit drive to Gospic (for an English site click here).  We stayed with my grandmother and grandfather in their house and had a great time.  It was so nice to have Isabella meet both her great grandparents.  Especially since we never knew if she would get the chance to meet the ones in Croatia.   My grandmother’s house is small and only two bedrooms so we tried to spend as much time as we could touring the area and my dad showing me some of his old stomping grounds.  Unfortunately because of the war, there are a ton of blown out houses and areas that are unsafe because of landmines.  So there was no way we could just “go for a walk” out in the land by the mountains.  Two of the villiages my dad once lived in are completely abandoned and all around the area are the landmine signs.  The street my grandmother lives on still has houses that have been blown up and the former owners have not claimed them so they can’t be “touched” according to the government.  So everyday you wake up the a sick reminder of what happened.   Some of these houses were huge and they looked to be quite grand, now they are just a pile of rubble.   The city shows scars also of the war, bullet riddled buildings, destroyed churches, empty pieces of land where something once stood.   Regardless of what the reason was for this war and I’m not going to argue who was right or wrong (and don’t make a comment on here either about it – this isn’t a debate), people suffered, they died and they lost years of their life.   I just wish they’d clean up the houses that have been destroyed so people can get on with it and not have to look at it all the time. 

Since I was on that side of Europe my dad drove Isabella and I to Italy.  We took the seaside drive up to Italy, it was a beautiful day and the Adriatic had a gorgeous blue hue to it.  The drive along the coast of Croatia is just amazing, the seaside towns, the landscape, the water, the sun, really it was just amazing to see it all.  Isabella only got a few glimpses since she slept most of the way.  You just want to jump out of the car and run into the water.  That is of course until you feel the temperature of the water!   Talk about chilly!!  Isabella and I braved it for a short period when we took her to the beach for her first dip in the Adriatic.   Once we arrived in Slovania, the landscape changed drastically.  I felt like we were driving up north, rolling hills, lush forests and grasslands.  It was still beautiful.  

Soon we were arriving at the Italian/Slovanian border and only an hour or so until I reached my mom’s hometown Morsano al Tagliamento.  The last time I was in Morsano, I was 17!   We were only going to be here for a week, but it was going to be a busy one!

More to come in Part 3 of this crazy busy year!