Trip Start Aug 01, 2006
35Trip End Dec 29, 2006
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We took our luggage train and headed for the heart of old town. With each step we went back in time because the cobblestones became larger and more rutted. By the time we had climbed up the narrow street and stopped at our apartment the cobblestones were like walking over skeletons, slippery and shiny with age.
The apartment was tiny, very tiny
Day one was spent walking up and down the main boulevard that led into old town. An ornate arch and the beginning of an incline separated the two parts. This road contained the restaurants, ice cream parlors, tourist shops, and clothing stores. All were laid out in typical medieval fashion where nothing is square or linear and the separation of sidewalk and street is made ambiguous by uneven stones. It's hard to account for the next three days. I have a vague recollection of eating some excellent fried calamari, going to the park for Colette, and the usual ice cream stops, but in what order these events happened and the particulars are lost. Like waking from a dream and trying to remember it before it vanishes or makes so little sense it is incomprehensible.
After a small battle with a tourist agency, which was half our fault and half theirs, we switched from the tiny apartment to a "normal" hotel
Mario represented many of the workers we encountered. An aspect that fascinated me was their ability to speak several languages. From the souvenir vendor who sells plastic turtles and postcards to the tie clad bus driver most can speak passable English, German and their native tongue. In the US being multilingual is relegated to the well educated and the well read except for the children of immigrants. I am in constant awe when a kid turns to us in Croatia, speaks German, sees the dumbfounded look on our faces, and then switches to English. One waiter in Rome had no trace of an accent and I asked him if he lived in the US, He replied "Simpsons." Not only do the Simpsons entertain us but it's also educational. What a wonderful show. If I could learn another language from an Italian satirical cartoon, which I can't, I would brag to everybody I knew and people I just met. I could imagine that at night everybody in these countries is taking a night class and conjugating irregular verbs and giving short speeches about the color of clothes they wear and common conversations at bus stops
Having exhausted the sites in Rovinj and craving a ferry, bus, train, anything that moves and is inconvenient, we decided on two day-trips. The first was a simple bus ride to the industrial port city of Pula. A Roman coliseum was the major attraction and we walked around it and took pictures like dutiful tourists. Collette and I had a mock gladiator fight that I came out a little ahead on. The second site of interest was a fort perched on top of a hill. After hauling Collette up the hill we saw the size of the fort and the entry fee and decided to give it a pass. We have become more concerning and have to weigh the tourist value of a place against the number of stairs. The fort just didn't make it.
The next excursion was another bus ride to the city of Porec. This is supposed to be one of the most visited harbor towns in Croatia due to the Byzantine mosaics in the church and its quaintness. The town was nice and similar to many we had seen. After we viewed the mosaics we saw a group of German tourists filling in the courtyard and every available space so we decided to hit the bell tower before they could get to it
We arrived at the hospital which luckily was in walking distance and followed the signs that read "tourist clinic" to see a receptionist who promptly charged us forty dollars. The doctor was short and gruff and was preoccupied with something that had nothing to do with our case. Collette faced the doctor with her typical stoic demeanor. He popped her elbow but Christy and I both had doubts that he had accomplished resetting it. We had seen the procedure four times before and when the elbow was reset properly Collette would immediately get better and pass the candy test. We hold down the good arm and have her reach for a piece of candy with the bad one
The rest of the day was back on track. Had pizza at an outside café, ate ice cream, went to a bar at the top of an ancient tower for coffee, and took some pictures. The town was nice but not great, but it did teach me about myself and to do some basic reevaluating. To what end I do not know but I did gain respect for my daughter. To see her in pain brought my feelings for her to the surface and I was reminded at their intensity and strength.
Our departure was several hours before the sun's arrival, and we were not only departing Rovinj but also Croatia. We had come to take the harbor towns, the beauty of the ocean, and the friendly interesting people for granted and had to face that we would miss it. I already was missing it by the time we boarded the bus in the dark when the only people on the streets were some other blurry-eyed, puffy-faced tourists and some lonely fishermen. A fitting example of Croatia was in our backpack. On hearing that we were leaving so early in the morning Mario had packed us a lunch that his wife had handed us the night before. These kind gestures we will always carry with us. This particular one we would carry as far as Venice where we ate the tasty packed lunch with exhaustion, thanks and reflection on a wonderful and complex country.