Maslinica, Croatia

I didn’t think we’d get a summer holiday abroad this year, but Nathan’s parents kindly invited us along for a week in the sun with them in Croatia. The few months in the run up to the holiday, for various reasons, were some of the most stressful I’ve ever had. I was so ready for this trip. It’s only when you start working life that you realise just how important holidays are, partly because during Uni the holidays tended to be the time where most essays were written. Anyway.

Maslinica is a port village on the island of Šolta and it was a flight, bus and boat journey away. For some baffling reason I hadn’t prepared myself for quite how hot it was going to be when we arrived, and was in my ‘plane clothes’ of full length trousers, t-shirt and cardigan. By the time we got to the ferry both Nathan and I were pretty crabby (we’d been up since 2.30am) and I had to crawl to the ladies to peel off my trousers and pop some shorts on – hardly the glamorous arrival I had envisaged. What did live up to my expectations, however, was how beautiful the place was. I’ve never stayed on an island before (England doesn’t really count…does it?!) and it was every bit as relaxed and lacking tourists as I hoped it would be. It’s funny how it doesn’t take you long to slot into that mindset yourself, and soon enough I was sitting reading my book and enjoying the view from our balcony (The Husband’s Secret, by Liane Moriarty, for anyone who’s interested, more here).

view from our balcony
view from our balcony

The apartment was pretty basic, but all we really cared about was the balcony and, mercifully, the air conditioning, as most of our time was spent either at the beach or at the family apartment, which was a few meters away from ours – perfect combination of family time and privacy, worked very nicely.

I have to say, I’m not that much of a beach bum, I usually prefer a pool to lounge by – less salt and easier access to the apartment and so on. And don’t get me started on the summer magazines with countless images of perfectly sun-kissed and made up women emerging gracefully from the sea. That’s not how it is, we all know it.

However, the waters were so unbelievably crystal clear it was hard not to feel the pull and spend a lot of time down there, it was only a few minute walk away after all. We even ended up swimming out to one of the little islands which sounds more romantic than it was, but was an achievement all the same.

Unfortunately for the majority of the day it was too hot to be outside at all, and this was a shame, particularly for someone like me who a) burns easily and b) seems to have less tolerance than others for heat. I think the lesson may be learned with that one, and any holidays we take in future will either be at the start or tail-end of the summer. However, I’m more than happy to mooch around the apartment, and that’s what we did for a lot of the time, playing cards and scrabble-based games with Nathan’s brothers (does one ever grow out of such things? I think not). Our favourite family game ended up being ‘which yacht would you buy if you won the lottery’ – the countless sleek boats gliding across our balcony view and in the little port were hard not to lust after!

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We were able to get out one of the days we were there and, to my delight, we went to Tvrdic honey. Croatia is apparently famous for its honey, and it’s been a little dream of mine for a while to keep bees (see more on this here), so I was looking forward to this part of the trip immensely. When we finally got there – the signs weren’t brilliant and we ended up squeezing through some roads which didn’t feel all that road-like – we were invited to try the different honeys in their little show room. We loved the rosemary and sage honey, the sage being my favourite, with a tangy, earthy undertone which contrasted nicely to the more fragrant rosemary. Unfortunately we were on a hand luggage only allowance and you could only get a couple of teeny 50g jars, but we were grateful that even this was an option. I was dyig to ask more questions but the owner’s English wasn’t very good. They offered a full tour of the apiary for a small fee, and if we’d had more time I definitely would have liked to go back for that. As it was, it was lovely for a brief visit, and we had what felt like equal parts greek yoghurt and honey for dessert every day afterwards – delicious.

I’d been a bit wary of the food situation in Croatia, as I knew it was big on seafood, for obvious reasons, and I don’t really share that enthusiasm. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good piece of fish, it’s when you have to get your hands involved/you can see eyes/head/anything else along those lines that I start to balk. Doesn’t go so well with the fact that a huge part of my enjoyment of a holiday comes from immersing myself in the food culture of the place and eating a lot. This coupled with the fact that we ate with Nathan’s family most of the time meant that I didn’t have as much control as I’d usually like – as with a lot of things in my life, I get quite bossy and militant about food and meal times. The trip’s saving grace in this respect was mine and Nathan’s trip to Sampjer, which had the best fish I’ve ever eaten and had the most wonderful view.

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We were presented with a lovely amuse-bouche and when the seabass came there was no filleting that needed to be done (win), and it had that fresh off the grill smokiness and caramelisation which was to die for. The carafe of red wine we’d ordered was nicely chilled, and I’m sure some people might have a problem with that but I quite enjoy a chilled red wine, and with the heat we were having it was most welcome.

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One thing I must mention is something that seems to occur far too often when I’m abroad, and that’s seeing stray and abused animals. My heart breaks every time I see a pitifully skinny cat or kitten wandering the streets. I saw a local carrying a puppy and holding its face to stop it from barking, and then hitting the poor little thing when it tried to struggle free. There are plenty of people who will adore their pets, of course, but it doesn’t stop how helpless you feel when you witness the opposite nearly every day when you’re in a place. The selfishness I feel in those moments that I’m there for my own pleasure and enjoyment when the suffering of many animals is so stark, is almost unbearable. I owe it to them to at least mention it here and hope to see it change in my lifetime.
On a happier note, I felt very well rested by the end of the week, and have managed to space out our holidays this year enough that we now have a holiday in the lake district to look forward to in September…watch this space.
Photo 13-09-2015 17 19 58

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