Ken’s global selfies – Europe


Leaving hot and wet Costa Rica behind, my next destination was Europe. But first I took more than a month to stay with my daughter and her family while I planned my next moves. Zadar, Croatia, was my next target, followed three months later my Sicily. After that, I wasn’t sure.

Croatia required flying through Zurich and then on to Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. From there, a 3-hour bus ride took me to the seaside town of Zadar, a beautiful spot on the blue Adriatic Sea.

Unfortunately, I had a terrible time finding lodging for 3 months, finally settling on an apartment 30 minutes south in the small town of Vodice. Very pretty area and super landlords who lived below my apartment. They had their own fields of olive trees and grape vines, making their own olive oil and wine. One day, the husband took me on a tour of his old home town and his fields.

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My first order of business when arriving in Zadar was to find someplace to live. I initially stayed at an apartment that was too far to walk into town and was a little out of my budget. Here, I’ve made my way to the waterfront and was using wifi for apartment search. No luck. I walked several miles that day in the hot sun looking for rental signs. Finally, exhausted and dripping with sweat, and thirsty, I stopped at a small bar for a beer. The pretty waitress saw I was needing some help and volunteered to assist in finding me a place to live. She searched Croatian-language sites and we finally came up with the Vodice place. I called her my ‘Angel.’

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In Vodice, my landlord took me to see his old home in the nearby town of Skradin, including this wine cellar.

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Fishing the Adriatic

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My apartment came with a bike, so one day I took a ride to a nearby town of Tribunj, a beautiful little fishing village.

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Vodice had a ferry that went to the nearby islands, so one day I decided to see the islands of Prvix Sepurine and Prvk Luka.

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Vodice in the background. The weather is starting to chill up. I had forgotten I had entered Europe on the edge of winter, and me with no winter clothes.

Rome and Sicily

One of the places I’ve most wanted to see is Rome. I was an ardent student of ancient Rome and Greece and had always wanted to see the ruins. The Coliseum in Rome was a special attraction to me. At this point, a stay in Greece was definiely on the rader.

I decided to fly from Zagreb to Rome, stay a couple of days, and then head on to Catania, Sicily, an island off the boot of Italy. Why Sicily? My mother’s family is from there, not that I hoped to connect with anyone, as finding them would have been difficult. The family name is Ricci, about as common as Smith in America. But I felt a need to visit the home where my grandfather was from.

I intended to stay the 3-month visa limit and then head to either Greece or Turkey for three months. The problem with Greece, however, was that I could only stay in the EU for 90 days, and would have to stay outside the EU for 90 days to re-enter after my 90 days was up in Italy. I was tempted to buck that ban and head to Athens, where I had already found low-cost suitable apartments for rent.

Destiny had other plans.

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My first day in Rome I did a walking tour and saw most of the sights, including this old prison on the river.

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I have to say that I really didn’t know this was the Vatican when I visited. There was a long line, so I did not go in, but I did have a pizza and large local beer nearby.

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Inside the Coliseum. I almost cried when I saw the building, I’d wanted to visit for so long.

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On day 2, I took the hop on-hop off bus to see the sights.

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In Catania, this is the Duomo church.

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Fishing in the Agean Sea, sitting on volcanic rock. Catania sits at the foot of Mt. Etna, an active volcano that erupted once again shortly after I left.

About 2bagsandapack

Lifetime journalist, author, magazine editor and publisher, now semi-retired and traveling the world. My plan, after living in Costa Rica for 14 months, was to visit a new country in southern Europe every three months to experience the culture and the challenge of adapting to a new environment, while on a fixed income. That plan was sidetracked when I was offered a job in Indonesia, providing an opportunity to explore Asia. Indonesia lasted for a 4 wonderful years but I have now moved on to Hua Hin, Thailand.
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