We were exhausted. But happy to have made it- ten minutes shy of when we were meant to set sail. Our cruise took us around the Croatian isles all week long. We stopped and swam for hours every day, jumped from the top of our boat into the turquoise blue waters of the Adriatic. We found seashells and collected pumice. We avoided sea urchins and nudists (which were everywhere). And we ate gelato, saw ruins, and old towns, and ate pizza almost every day. Croatian cuisine is, surprisingly, similar to Italian. They are quite close to each other so it makes some sense. It was delicious.
We stopped at a port in Zadar, where we sat and watched a sailboat pass in front of a setting sun, while hearing the man-made ethereal sounds of an underwater sea-organ, as the waves passed in and out of the different notes in the sea. (it was supposedly deemed one of the most romantic spots in the world by National Geographic! Who knew?)
Brandon and I ducked through small alleyways of medieval cities, and explored the long rock pathways through islands which looked like Where The Wild Things Are, with strange bark-like mulch in heaps all around the sparse beaches. People with families laid on the beaches, we biked and walked through these little towns. We slept on the boat. We sang in an echoing cathedral. It was magical.
We stayed in Italy for a few days- Venice for one day where we saw a Manet exhibit. (Inspiring to say the least.) Brandon and I ate our dinner in a little alleyway with a dog and a couple who kept looking at us and a waitress who couldn't have cared less. We squished 6 of our adult selves into a tiny car for hours and got lost at least three times to find our converted stable inn. Our inn-keeper looked like Christoph Waltz, only with a cane and significantly less charisma- though still had an air of quiet dignity as he practiced his French with my mother and I over tea.
We walked the cobble-stone streets of Padova, and listened to a secret concert being played in a small courtyard there. We took a train to Monfalcone, and a dishonest train conductor threatened us with a fine for not stamping our ticket at the last stop (WHO KNEW?) We got out of it when he realized we had no money with us. We slept in an apartment over looking an old bell-tower, and heard it ring for morning mass. We met a young girl who wanted to become a comedian and juggled on the streets at night for extra cash.
As we got onto our first of 4 different flights back to Salt Lake- we said good-bye to the patchwork quilted country of Italy, and reflected on the unreal journey through those countries of real, genuine, and untouched beauty.