Road Trip to Skradin

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Had a surprise today. Came back from my morning walk and grocery shopping to run into

Zdrako and his mother outside the family home

Zdravko and Visjna. Told them when I would be leaving and Zdravko immediately asked if I wanted to ride with him to Skradin, the village where his mother lives. It’s Zdravko’s home town, where he went to grade school, and where the family still has property.

Skradin, Croatia

To get to Skradin, you have to take a circuitous route around some hills that surround a large lake that is connected to the Adriatic. The part of town where Zdravko’s mother lives is a short ride from Skradin center andn sits on a small hill that consists mostly of old stone houses. Zdravko’s mother was very nice, although we didn’t know what each other was saying. Zdravko acted as interpreter. He was there to take her to the doctor. I took some pictures of the two of them next to the stone wall outside her gate.

The countryside here is crisscrossed with these stone walls, the result of clearing the fields centuries ago for farming. The farming is disappearing but the rocks aren’t going anywhere. The fields still have abundant olive trees, grape vines, almond and walnut trees, and such, but mostly growing wild now, or tended to by people like Zdravko who live elsewhere. Next weekend is time for Zdravko’s olive trees to be harvested and I’ve been invited.

Main street, Skradin, Croatia

We dropped his mother off at the doctor and I peeped in. Not very fancy but the usual patient table, computer screen, medical stuff inside. Zdravko then gave me a tour of the town, where Microsoft’s Bill Gates apparently has vacationed at least three times. A very picturesque town that is quite literally nestled into a cleft between two hills, with clear blue water in front.

The town was typical from what I’ve seen – stone buildings, churches, narrow alleyways, storefronts mostly closed for the off-season, and occasional cafe/bar open for business. Zdravko showed me where he went to grade school.

Back at the doc’s, we piled into the car and headed back to the Rosko family home. Zdravko wanted to show me the old house where he grew up. It’s not being used now. I told him I know a lot of Americans who would like a structure like it in the U.S. to renovate. The rooms were small but it would make a beautiful stone cottage. In those days, the entire family would live on the property – parents, kids, grandparents, uncles, aunts. The property has two wells, with the water only 7 meters down. This was interesting in that the house was near the top of a hill. The water table for the well is actually well above the water level of the nearby lake.

The property also has a cellar for storing and processing olives and a wine-making and

wine cellar (konoba)

storage cellar still in use. Zdravko has five large stainless-steel containers holding wine (320 to 500 liters each). Finally, we said out goodbyes to his mother, who gave me about two pounds of almonds and a string of dried figs. On the way out, we passed an old lady shepherding a small flock of sheep. Pure Old World stuff.

Zdravko had a couple of errands to run in nearby Sibenik so I tagged along. Turns out he’s running for parliament to represent the Vodice area and has a good chance of being elected. We talked a lot about politics, globalization, why America feels a need to invade other countries, the pluses and minuses of communism, you know, light conversation. When he said he was reading a Glenn Beck book I almost gagged but he agreed the guy’s a kook.

On the way to Sibenik, we stopped at a highway rest area above the river and on the opposite side as Skradin. He had to pick up two political flags. As we drove off, he recognized a man standing in the parking lot who came in second in the election for president. Like any good politician, Zdravko stopped to say hello (dober dan).

In Sibenik, we met up with an artist friend of his at a cafe just outside of old town. His friend has his shop in Skradin, where he sells his paintings. Somewhere during our ride he mentioned that he had bought my book and his wife was reading it. So at the cafe, he asked about its genesis and my approach to writing. I told him I just make it up as I go along. We got into a deep discussion of why I wrote Love Letters from Mama.

Talking all the way, we made our way back to Vodice and he then helped me print out my travel itinerary in his home office. A nice day.

—————————————————————————————New Book by Ken Anderberg – “Brothers Lost” @

Also at the above outlets, Mr. Anderberg’s other books: “Love Letters from Mama“; “Costa Rica: An Expat’s Tale“; and “Mother and Son,” a book of poems.

Road Trip to Sibenik

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The weather finally warmed up a bit today (and tomorrow), the wind stopped, and so did

Sibenik, as seen from the Adriatic Sea. Taken from the Web.

the rain. So it was time to take the bus trip south to Sibenik, as I’ve been planning. I could have ridden with Zdravko (landlord) in the morning when he went to work but Friday was the first day of decent weather lately and he doesn’t go into Sibenik on Friday. So I went by myself.

Walked the mile to the bus station and paid the 16 kunas ($3.20) fare. Bus was mostly full but I had two seats. We stopped at Srima, the town just south of Vodice, and then on to Sibenik. You cross over this bridge that spans the straight and it’s quite a view either way of sharply sloped rock walls falling into the blue water.

I got off the bus when everyone else did (the Lemming rule), which was essentially in the center of town, on the main street, and right in the middle of an extensive farmers’ market. Lots of people on the sidewalk at about 9:30 in the morning. Turns out, that wasn’t the bus station, which I found quite by accident later.

Of course, I started walking in the wrong direction as I searched for the old city. After maybe a mile I realized I was entering an industrialized area and turned around. The southern part of Sibenik is mostly a shipping port area, with lots of cranes and docks. Turned out that the old city was in the opposite direction and only a block from where I got off the bus.

My walk did allow me a chance to see parts of the city more local in nature. The city is basically embedded into a rocky hillside, with apartment buildings and multistoried homes climbing up the side of the hill. Sibenik looks like an industrial city, quite the opposite of bucolic Vodice. This might have been a better place for me to spend my short time in Croatia, simply because there are more people and more activity. There is a City Life mall with upscale department stores, several computer stores and a casino bar. Lots of people on the streets and lots of traffic. Cars were parked anywhere there was a space, even on the sidewalks.

The old city was pretty deserted so I was able to get around well. There were several large signs posted that explained the history of the area in four languages. Lots of religion involved, as well as efforts to protect against invasions. The area has numerous churches, narrow alleyways, all-stone construction. The section catering to tourists was mostly closed up for the off-season, and it was obvious by its lack of looking like the rest of the place. You actually have to climb a lot with this old town, as it rises on its own hill and towers over the sea to its west.

I had only just found the old town area when I was propositioned – by a man! I saw the guy coming from across the street and expected a beggar’s plea for money. But instead, he was looking for a “tourist who wanted to have sex with him.” Not only did I look like a tourist, but I guess I looked gay. Geez!

When my dogs got tired I found a restaurant near the beginning of the area, Rivica, probably heavily frequented by tourists in season. I took a seat outside where I could look over the water and ordered a draft beer. The menu was extensive and I took the waiter’s recommendation for lunch. The veal escalop Zagreb style was a large piece of veal wrapped around a cheese and ham filling, with a side of french fries. (They use french fries as a side dish a lot here.) The food was very good, as was the beer. The meal was only 70 kunas, or $14, the beer was 15 kunas ($3).

During the course of my walking around, I found the bus station and returned there after lunch, bought a ticket to Vodice and was on the bus on my way back in 10 minutes. I almost missed the bus because they didn’t tell me which dock the bus would be on but I found it.

From the Web

SIBENIK, a city and port in northern Dalmatia, not far from the estuary of the Krka river into the Bay of Sibenik, connected by narrow straits with the Sibenik Channel; population 41,012. The city is arranged amphitheatrically around the natural harbour and on the surrounding hill slopes. The climate is mild. The average air temperature in January is 6.5°C and 24.2°C in July; around 2,750 hours of sunshine a year. Economy is based on industry (non-ferrous metals, aluminium), textiles and food processing as well as on shipbuilding and tourism. The city, with the old fortresses of St. Anne, St. John and Subicevac overlooking it, consists of the Old Town, characterized by narrow and steep alleys in the west, and the modern part in the north and south-east. Sibenik is a cultural centre: the International Child’s Festival. There is a department of the Faculty of Economics of the Split University. Chief occupations in the Sibenik surroundings are viniculture, vegetable and fruit growing. Natural beauty of the region (Skradinski Buk, Roski Waterfall, the small island of Visovac on the Krka, the Kornati Archipelago) as well as the rich cultural and historical heritage of the city attract many tourists and excursionists. Sibenik lies at the intersection of the main roads Zadar – Sibenik – Split and Sibenik – Drnis – Knin; the railroad over Perkovic connects Sibenik with the railroad Zagreb – Knin – Split. Ferry connections with the neighbouring islands (Prvic, Zlarin, Zirje, Kaprije, Obonjan).

The historic town of Sibenik, connected with the expansion and development of the early Croatian state, is rich in cultural and historical monuments. The most representative among them is the famous Cathedral of Sibenik, one of the most original architectural projects of the late Middle Ages, primarily linked to the local master Juraj Matejev Dalmatinac (George of Dalmatia). Sibenik is today a tourist centre situated in the area where the best-indented archipelago in Europe (Islands of Kornati) and karst hydrographical phenomena (Skradinski Buk, Visovac, Roski Waterfall) merge into the ecologically and aesthetically most attractive tourist and recreational zone on the Croatian Adriatic.

Restaurants offer domestic specialities (lamb, grilled dishes, baked dishes – especially turkey). In the quarter called Dolac, in the town centre, there are about a hundred cafés with music.

Short-term visits in Europe

As I’ve researched where my next home will be, a primary issue is how long, and how easily, I can stay in any given country. My initial plan was to live in a country for a year and then try someplace new. With my research on possible European countries for relocation, however, I’ve come upon a common fact – you can only stay up to 90 days in any European country on your U.S. passport. There is no running to the border to get your passport stamped so you can stay another 90 days, like you can do in Costa Rica.

Virtually all the countries I’ve looked at in Europe that have a relatively low cost of living do allow you to “apply” for an extension up to a year. The process, however, usually is difficult, with multiple documents needed, all translated into the language of the country you are applying to. Often, these extensions are specific to having work or family in the country, or are affected by immigration limits. Usually, the paperwork needs to be started in the U.S. before you move to the country in question, so you incur the paperwork and translation expenses without knowing if you will be approved for an extension.

There had to be a better way.

My solution is to use the 90-day restriction to my advantage. Instead of living, for example, in Croatia for a year, which was my preferred choice, I will live there for 3 months. Then I will spend 3 months in Greece; then 3 months in Sicily; then, if I’m not exhausted, 3 months in Portugal or Spain.

One disadvantage of this plan is travel expense. For each move, I will need to arrange round-trip flights; however, I can redeem the return flights once I reach my new destination. (NOTE: Later experience showed I could not get refunds on the return portion of my airplane tickets.) Another problem is that several of those countries are not much cheaper to live in than the U.S.

On the positive side: I was budgeting to purchase a few expensive items with each move, such as a TV and furniture. Since I will not be staying in any place long enough, these purchases can go toward air fares. Also, while my expenses may be higher than anticipated, they will still be within my budget parameters. And if I had stayed in Croatia for a year, I would have wanted to travel to other European countries anyway, so the air fare costs might have evened out.

Finally, as my experience in Costa Rica has shown me, I can’t stay in one place too long before getting bored. Three months just might be the right amount of time to have the experience without getting bored. And if I really like one of the countries I live in, I can always go back, after, of course, first going back to the U.S. to start the extensive paperwork.

So, here’s my new plan: mid-September – travel to Croatia, probably Sibenik (look it up); mid-December, probably Nafplio, Greece; mid-February, Sicily, near Catania; mid-May, probably Sines, Portugal.

Each of these locations is a relatively small town/city. Sibenik is the largest, with 50,000 population. All are on the water. All are scenic, with lots of new culture and stuff to see, and nearby countries that can be visited.

And, if for some reason travelling every three months is a problem, I can always adjust.