David and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary yesterday here in Vinkuran, Croatia. Vinkuran is about 6 kilometers from Pula, a city on the Istrian peninsula, pretty much across the Adriatic Sea from Venice. Pula is a pretty small town – about 60,000 residents – with a gorgeous Roman amphitheater.
Vinkuran, on the other hand, is a small fishing village, best known for having the quarry which provided the stone for the amphitheater. It is tiny. There is not a single restaurant in the village, just two little markets that make a 7-Eleven look like Walmart. We have no car, and the hike to a regular supermarket in the next town is about 30 minutes each way.
One website described it thusly: Vinkuran is a true oasis for those seeking relaxation, where only birdsong and crickets disturb the peace. This is actually why we came here; Quinland has a big project to finish for school, and after 5 weeks of constant travel and sightseeing, we needed a place where she could buckle down to schoolwork. My criteria were few: free internet so that she could finish her research; a swimming pool to give her something to look forward to on her break times; and a washing machine, since I figured we wouldn’t be near a laundromat and we have very limited wardrobes. (Our many suitcases are filled with books and medical equipment, and the clothes have been kept to a minimum and jettisoned along the way.)
We got our three wishes. That’s our little patio on the left, to provide David with shade, and the pool is where Q and I swim most days. It is ice cold glacier water, I think (kidding)… I have taken to running straight in because if I think about it or dip a toe in, I will never get in. We get warmER after a little while, and it’s a nice break in the day.
So, since we don’t really have any restaurants to go out for dinner to celebrate the big day, David picked me up some lovely flowers (and some candy) when he was in Pula the day before. It was a true sacrifice on his part, as he hates the smell of lilies, and since we are living in a small apartment, it is hard to escape. They are some of my favorite flowers, though, and I had the stargazer lilies in the bouquets at our wedding. He gave me flowers for our first anniversary, too, the one I completely forgot about. In my defense, I was having surgery for the BigEye and had other things on my mind.
But that was not the end of the celebration! Our lovely landlord, Petra, and her husband brought down a cake and a gift. (I’d mentioned it was our anniversary as we shared the date with her son’s first birthday.)
The cake was yummy! It was pretty dense – almost like a cross between a cake and a scone – and the whipped cream frosting was to die for. I don’t generally like really sugary frosting, so this was amazing. The three of us polished it off as dessert after lunch and dinner. I guess the low carb diet could wait one more day…
The gift came beautifully wrapped and was really thoughtfully chosen. We got a bottle of grappa, the locally-made liquor that is so strong it feels like fire in your throat and belly. A very authentic Istrian experience! The bottle also came with two traditional grappa glasses, and all were hand-decorated with an outline of the region:
So as you saw yesterday, we toasted our anniversary and the next twenty years we look forward to together. These last twenty sure went quickly! (I am sure I am only 26, so how could I have been married so long?)
I’m grateful! Being in Vinkuran for the past 12 days has really given us some quality time to spend together. I miss our summers off together, when we could both let go of the stress of teaching and just relax and have fun and travel together. During the school year, that doesn’t seem to happen nearly enough. Here in Vinkuran, we have had time to talk, to make plans, to cuddle up and process photos (whoo hoo…), to go on hikes and sightseeing trips, and to work together on teaching Quinland. It’s been restful and productive and pretty much stress-free.
We won’t mention the steroid day (today) and the funk I got into for no reason (yesterday). Those were some blips in the happiness radar, and I am sure by tomorrow they will both be resolved.