The Hilltop Town of Moscenice, Istria


Thursday, August 27, 2015

This was our first taste of the region of Istria and... wow.  Istria is in the northwest corner of Croatia along the Adriatic and stunning. Moscenice is a very pretty and tiny medieval town on the southern coast of the region; we spotted it up in the hills while driving and followed the curving road to go explore. Stone homes with pretty turquoise shutters and vines are pressed next to each other, butted up to the encircling stone wall with narrow cobblestone streets winding throughout.  We admired the little passageways and courtyards, stone walls, olive trees and incredible view of the coast from the quiet center as the church bells rang. You can see and feel the strong influences from Istria's history throughout the region: it was once part of the Roman Empire, later the Venetian Republic, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Italy. Our waiter, a native of Istria, spoke to Cam in Croatian and to me in Italian (I am soo terribly rusty but it was a lot of fun!!) which was his first language. We loved talking with him (and with every Croatian, we have so much to learn) and I honestly kept thinking, where are we...?! Croatia or Italy?

Haha, making himself right at home...

Handmade Istrian fuzi pasta with truffles... AMAZING. As were the fresh mussels, grilled calamari and fish of the day cooked with white wine, vegetables and capers. Cam and I were in heaven. We ate at Restoran Perun, on the terrace overlooking the Adriatic. We went after lunchtime and before dinner so for most of the afternoon, we were literally the only people in the whole restaurant and were able to relax while John Shea ran wild around the terrace.

Pointing at her big brother and cracking a joke ;)

Evening Walk in Zagreb


Monday, August 24, 2015

Zagreb is an incredibly lovely and fascinating city. It seems to get overlooked by most tourists who head straight to the coast (understandable -- the Croatian Coast is amazing!) but there is so much to see and learn in the capital. This is the view of Crkva Sv Marka (St. Mark's Church) from the Lotrscak Tower that blasts off a canon every day at noon to mark midday and to signal to churches to ring their bells. Right next to St. Mark's is the Sabor, the Croatian Parliament, and the most important government buildings, which are gorgeous. It blows our minds watching officials walk in and out through the piazza with no security around it.

Zagreb is well-known and well-loved as a cafe culture. There are literally cafes everywhere -- even outside the large hardware store (their version of Home Depot) which made me laugh outloud. All ages and walks of life in Zagreb meet at cafes for a cup of kava. 

We just celebrated this handsome man's birthday on friday!! The very best husband, father, friend. 

We heard these two ladies squeal, "kawaiiii!" and immediately smiled knowing where they're from. Japan! 

Novi Zagreb is in the distance. It's the part of the city easily identifiable as mostly built during the Communist Era. There are parts where you can visually see the effect of socialism on the economy and living conditions. 

We love this beautiful city and are so excited to call it home for a few years.

Babes in Zagreb


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Our precious babies!

I'm happy to say that Zagreb is a baby-friendly city -- we can't go anywhere without grandmothers or nuns stopping us to look in the stroller at both of them, awing over them.  Every restaurant we've been to has been very accommodating. Like any big city, it has it's challenges to getting around with kids... pushing a double stroller up cobblestone streets (I leave that to Cam, haha), busy intersections and markets or crowded public transportation (though we almost always stick to walking or driving our car -- parking in most areas is only 75 cents an hour!). If you ever come to Zagreb with children, our favorite spots for John Shea to run around inside the city are in Kaptol -- in the large square at the Zagreb Cathedral, often full of unsuspecting pigeons to wildly chase, St. Mark's Square (the photos above!) and in all of the parks and green spaces.

Aren't they the sweetest!? I try to sneak in a little extra sleep in the morning with Gracie (thanks to my Cam) after the long nights of John Shea being up for most of it + nursing, and he comes in every time to pat his sissy good morning and wakes me up with a kiss on the lips. Unreal!

I'm writing this from our hotel room in Italia and tonight has been one of the few times since moving to Croatia that he's gone to bed (in a big boy bed no less!) without fighting his Daddy. Let's hope his up-all-night streak is coming to an end:) Gracie is pure joy, smiles and chub.  She is the easy-going, peacefulness to John Shea's high energy. She has the biggest, sweetest smile that lights up her whole face. Cam and I could really use some good ol' sleep (maybe when they're 18?!), but we go to bed each night so darn happy and thankful...  we're two years in to parenthood (on September 8, happy almost birthday baby doll!) and even after the especially exhausting days while they continue to adjust over here, we shake our heads in amazement that we get to keep these two. Our hearts ache we love them so much!

PS: I read this recently...  "Children change us in a way we desperately need to be changed. They wake us up, they wet their diapers, they depend on us utterly. Willy-nilly, they knock us out of our selfish habits and force us to live sacrificially for others." (from the book, On The Meaning of Sex, found in a great article here at World Magazine)

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