Two years ago my sister and I took a trip to the Motherland. Our motherland is Croatia as the majority of our ancestors emigrated from there in the 1800s. I was an anxious traveller on the way there as I have mentioned before, but once I arrived, I instantly fell in love. Everything about it made me feel at home: the weather, the scenery, and the people. A lot of the women are tall and curvy with an intimidating outside and tenderhearted inside. I could see my mom and grandma in each of their eyes. A lot of the men tower over you with deep voices that resemble the bass line in a marching band. The people of Croatia and neighboring Slavic countries have a warmth and sincere willingness to help out neighbor and stranger alike that you can feel instantly upon meeting them. My sister and I knew that this was a place our mom needed to experience, so after the stress of planning a wedding was done, Rob and I took on the task of planning a family trip to Croatia. On this trip was my mom, sister, brother, Rob and myself.
Brief overview of our trip:
San Francisco----->Zagreb (via London)
Split----->Supetar----->Postira----->Bol (all on the island of Brač)
Hvar----->Lumbarda (on the island of Korčula)
Lumbarda----->Dubrovnik----->Šipanska Luka (island of Šipan)
Zagreb----->San Francisco (via London)
We were there from May 27- June 8 2014 and the weather was phenomenal. It began slightly cool and rainy, shifted to slightly warm with clear skies, and finished slightly humid and hot. As we got towards the end our trip it became obvious that the high season had started. Dubrovnik, especially, was very crowded. We used a mix of boutique hotels and Airbnbs as lodging and though we rented a car for 2 days at the beginning of the trip, the majority of our transportation was on ferries and in private vans.
An island off the coast of Split, Brač is where my mom’s maternal grandparents were both from. Some of our family still own property on the island in Mirca, but unfortunately they were in the states while we were on Brač. A very nice cab driver helped us find the house though and we got to walk around the garden and imagine what it would have looked like when my mom’s grandpa lived there.
In the hospitable way of most Croatians, the cab driver offered to take us to Postira (the next town over) and help us find the house that my mom’s grandma (the mother of the party planner I get my skills from) grew up in. We located the building and after the cab driver chatted with a restaurant owner we found the exact house she was born and raised in.
Editor’s note: Once we were back in the states and telling our cousins and uncles about our trip we realized that the house we had taken a picture in front of was not the house our great grandma had lived in. She had lived in the house behind the house we were told was hers. Close enough though!
Šipan is an island off the coast of Dubrovnik and is where my mom’s paternal grandpa was from. My sister and I had walked across the whole island (about 30 minutes) in 2012 and ended up eating cookies and drinking dessert wine in what was our great grandpa’s childhood home. We tried in broken Croatian to figure out how the late husband of our hospitable host had been related to our family, but to no avail.
On this trip we brought my mom back and stayed the night in Šipanska Luka at a beautiful hotel only feet from the harbor. I arranged for us to meet a translator (who also happened to own a delicious restaurant next to our hotel) on the island who would help us plug the holes of our family tree. He introduced us to other relatives still on the island and we sat under the palm trees eating breakfast and singing along to Croatian songs that my grandma used to sing to my mom. We are also pretty sure that we have our family tree sorted out so it was a mission accomplished!
Dubrovnik is a breathtaking walled city on the coast in the southern part of Croatia. We have no ancestral ties here so our time was spent exploring, swimming, catching up with friends and celebrating my sister’s birthday. My favorite part of being in Dubrovnik was opening our window every morning and watching the walled city come to life. Our Airbnb was perched above most of the city and watching the sunrise over the terracotta tiled roofs was breathtaking. I made sure to take that experience in every morning that we were there.
My Bucket List
I have been twice in the last five years and each time I discover something new about the country and the culture that I love. I have made it one of my life goals to visit Croatia over and over again and I hope someday to be able to stay for weeks at a time instead of only days at a time. I also daydream about sharing this awesome country with more of my family and friends in the future because if making everyone’s bucket list were up to me, Croatia would be at the top every time.