We're here in a tiny town called Bitez, near a larger overrun-by-tourists-at-the-moment town called Bodrum, on the southern coast of Turkey. Our hotel, the Manuela, is a fav for middle-class Turks, thus making it affordable for long-term traveling Americans also. The heat has come and with it the hotness, the sunnyness, the temperatureness, and the stickyness. Yesterday, we went to a real Turkish bath where we got soaped down, scrubbed, and pulverised into a delectable mélange that had us braving the crowds with ease. (Check the Daily Snapshot under Shirl's entry for some shots...we couldn't take any pictures inside due to the steaminess and the bathiness of the hamam.)
And then there the evening meals where the cats come out to beg and the views are peaceful and serene. (Scroll down the larger picture to see a Macha-look-alike waiting for the American suckers to hand over their shrimps.)
So that's like nearly the whole story for our fun fest on the coast of Turkey. Tomorrow we'll fly to Istanbul for more fun in the unrelenting sun. Overall, the Turkish people are very sweet and the little town here, which closes in the winter since it only exists for tourism, has been great. Rowan's always been curious what the coastal areas look like in this part of the world, so now he knows.
We went from Rijeka by bus to Zagreb, where we checked into the "Zagreb Penthouse." Here are the Bacic's, the owners, shown with Rowan and me. they came over, at our request, with a microwave that also functions as a toaster!
And here is the killer view at night:
When we were in Zagreb, we visited another unique place, ranked highly on Trip Advisor, the Museum of Broken Relationships. It was conceptualized in Croatia, but it has toured internationally. In the words of the creators, this place offers people "a chance to overcome an emotional collapse through creation: by contributing to the Museum's collection."
And one of my favorites from the exhibition about a long-distance relationship with one person on the West Coast of the US and the other in Europe. Oh my, how well I know that calculation and how difficult it is: "I was always calculating nine hours ahead in my mind to figure out if he was sleeping . . . and then we broke up in virtual space and not in person . . . ."
OK, so we met a guy in an elevator our hotel in Brunei (northern part of the island of Borneo), in the first week of December, 2011. And we asked him where he was from, and he said Croatia. He works overseas for two months at a time (two months gone and then at least two months at home in between trips) and was working in Brunei at the time. We said we were going to be in Croatia in the summer of 2012, and he said "I will find you a place to stay." Now, when you travel like we do, you meet a lot of people. And it's always, "Let's stay in touch," and "I'll keep you up-to-date," and like that. So, you don't really expect people to follow through.
And more than six months later, he followed through with arranging an apartment for us to stay in Rijeka, which is on the Adriatic Sea, and a great place to chill out for a month. He set us up to stay in the downtown apartment of Ermano and Daniela (here they are with Andrej at their house in Brsec, about a 40 minute drive from where we stayed).
Here are some pix of the apartment on a hill with great views of the sea and, thankfully, great cross-ventilation. Croatia had an incredible heat wave in the first part of July. If we had a Croatian Kuna (about 16 cents) for every time people said, "This is a really hot (cold) snap and unprecedented for us," we would return home rich.
Not only did Andrej do that, he invited us on tours of the coast of Croatia on two separate days. On the first day, we saw the coast from Rijeka to Brsec, where he lives. The first is from the shore at Volosko, on the way to his house...
On a second day, we swam with Andrej at the Brsec Beach (you would never be able to guess his age!), where he swims twice a day in the summer when he is home. Here are Andrej and Vesna in their back yard in Brsec, where they live.
Andrej and Vesna took us on a tour of their town, Brsec (here is the beautiful coast)...
...as well as Labin, an old town up high on a mountain in Istria. Here is the church in Labin, vintage 15th-16th Century:
The care they took of us was just amazing. Andrej was even our official photographer -- here is just one of his masterpieces, of us at Opatija