Stairway to Heaven at Vor Frelsers Kirke

Who says you can’t climb a stairway to heaven? One of the first things Mike and I did after we arrived in Copenhagen was climb the stairs of the incredible Vor Frelsers Kirke.

First things first, “kirke” is the word for “church” in Danish and Vor Frelsers Kirke in English means “Our Savior’s Church.”  Many of the Copenhagen city maps have the tourist spots in Danish (which is only natural) and if you go looking for Our Saviors Church, you are not going to find it on the map in English. However, if you are anywhere in or near the Christianshavn neighborhood, all you need to do is look up at the massive black and gold spire and you will find the majestic Vor Frelsers Kirke.


The spire has something magical about it that draws you in with its golden spiral staircase and the large gold globe at the top of it.

It has a magnificent presence towering over the streets of Christianshavn.


According to the church’s website, the red brick facade of the church was built in 1680 in the baroque style and consecrated in 1696.  The tower wasn’t consecrated until 1752 and it’s imposing presence stands over 300 feet (95 meters) high.  The wooden steps leading up to it are a little shaky and worn and lend to the excitement as you climb the 400 steps to the top.


The last 150 steps are outside and wind around the tower. The day we went there was ice on quite a few of them, so they were a little slippery, thus with the wind made the climb even more scary.  Here are the different views of the city that you are able to see as you ascended:



This is not a climb for the faint of heart, but it is so worth it if you are able to muster up the courage and energy to attempt it.  I did see some older people (older than me, that is!) climbing the stairs, so if you visit right before the church closes like we did and have the stairs pretty much to yourself, you could probably take your time to get to the top.  It was one of my favorite things that I did in Copenhagen, so I highly recommend you get over your fear and go for it if you can.

Along the way up the countless steps there were some interesting sights to say the least to keep you occupied.

First,  a few jailed stone cherubs. This fellow was about five feet tall, so he was pretty impressive:


An incredible mess of gears with a Ferdinand the IV emblem on it.  I’m not sure what this was for (perhaps for the clock on the bell tower?), but it was very interesting:


A fluorescent array of teacups were also seen on the way up on a large shell-type display.  Either that or somebody had a wild tea party the night before and left their dishes:

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Before you enter the outside steps there is a large carillon, which is musical instrument consisting of a number of bronze bells, housed in the tower.  We heard the bells chiming as we ascended and it was quite eery.

A few of the carillon bells in the church’s bell tower.

I found this church extremely inspiring thus I dedicated the whole post to it. I didn’t even see the incredible organ inside because the building was closing so we had to rush to the top then leave.

Shadows cast a eery picture on the beautiful Vor Frelsers Kirke in Copenhagen.

The photo below is Mike and I at the top of the tower with the incredible view of Copenhagen below us. If you visit Copenhagen, climb your way up to the top and be inspired.

The view at the top of Vor Frelsers Kirke.

Is the Danish really Danish? (And other facts about Nordic Cuisine)

Suppose I told you the raspberry Danish pastry that we know and love in the USA didn’t originate with the Danish.  Blasphemy, you say.

No, it’s true. In Denmark pastries are called Weinerbrød (which translates to “Vienna bread”) after their origins in none other than Austria. In the 1850s bakers went on strike in Denmark, and the country hired some from Austria to fill in for them.  When the strike was over, the Austrians went home, but the recipes remained to be used and improved upon by the Danish.

Variations of these delectable pastries were everywhere on our recent stay in Copenhagen, and I found quite a slew of them in the bakery near our Airbnb rental.    Carolyn and I made quite a few bakery runs in the morning while we were staying outside of the city center.  I think we both enjoyed the brisk morning air watching the residents zoom by us on bicycles as much as we did the bakery itself.

The Danish Hindbaersnitter is a delectable treat found at many bakeries in Copenhagen.

One look at the hindbærsnitter above and my brain started thinking about Pop-tarts.  But truth be told, the taste of the hindbærsnitter is so much better that it’s probably not fair to compare the Pop-tart to one.  These pastries literally fall apart in your mouth with their buttery goodness and then if you’re not careful, they’ll fall apart in your hands. The trick is to eat them fast. At least that’s what I did.  But in Copenhagen they are more of a special treat for children’s birthdays and not an everyday breakfast food.  Made from two thin buttery cookie-like pastries with raspberry jam in the middle, they are topped with a sugary glaze and decorated with the non-pareils. Very sweet and delectable!

Not so with the next item. It’s called rugbrød and forms the base of the open-faced sandwiches called “smørrebrød” that are a popular meal for many in Denmark. The bread is very dense and chewy, and the one below was served before our dinner and was quite good.  It was so rich that I was afraid to eat a whole piece before my dinner came.

This dense bread forms the bottom of the open faced sandwiches called Smørrebrød popular in Denmark.

I was glad I refrained from eating the whole piece when I saw my dinner.  A pile of tiny shrimp, some raw tuna, pan fried fish with several different relishes, some tomatoes and some sour cream topped with fresh dill and I was in heaven. The yellow relish in the little dish was my favorite. The Danish call it “remoulade,” but it is very similar to our tartar sauce only it is sweeter, has larger chunks of sweet pickles and pickled onions in it, and has curry and yellow mustard for flavor and color.

My first meal in Denmark was truly a treat.

One rainy evening we visited Torvehallerne, which is a food market in the center of Copenhagen. It has two glass enclosed sections with about 60 stalls between the two, which was perfect with the rain. We tried a real smørrebrød from Hallernes in this market and it was incredible.

IMG_0164The lady who waited on us said we were lucky we came late (around 4:30 p.m.) because the line had wrapped all around the place earlier. I believe it. The food not only looked beautiful, but it was pretty delicious.

A wide variety of smørrebrød was available at Hallerne’s Smørrebrød.

While I was enjoying my smørrebrød, I noticed this bottle of Linie Aquavit from Norway sitting on the counter. IMG_0159I had to do some research when I saw the label saying it “matured at sea,” especially for my husband, Captain Mike, who would also love to mature at sea, although not in an oak sherry cask. Apparently aquavit is a Scandinavian liquor that has the taste of caraway seeds and fennel with notes of dill and anise. The Danish like to drink it with fish, and I didn’t realize until I got back to Croatia and actually researched it that I had had some aquavit in on a day trip to Helsingør that came free with the pickled herring I ordered. It was delicious together, and I’m not sure I would have enjoyed the pickled herring as much without it. So order some if you try pickled herring. You will thank me later.  Anyway, the Linie Aquavit travels all over rolling around on the sea in the barrels which gives it a really smooth finish.  I wish I would have tried it with the Salmon smørrebrød I ate at the market, although really good, I think it would have been even better.  You can see the small flute of it in the second picture below.  The first one is my plate of pickled herring, served with beets, mustard and pork fat (!!). The herring is hiding under the pile of fresh dill.

The Torvehallerne market itself is a must-see if you visit Copenhagen.  I’m told it is very busy throughout the year, but it’s worth hustling through a crowd to see all it has to offer. It also had some seating and produce booths outside the glass enclosure, which probably would be a nice place to hang out if the weather is good. Here are just a few pictures I took by the seafood section:



My next posts won’t be so food-oriented, but will be on a few of the places we visited in and around Copenhagen, including my husband’s favorite, The Viking Museum in Roskilde.  Hope you will wander along with us for the next leg of the journey.

There’s Nothing Rotten in Denmark



“Hej” from Copenhagen!! (That’s hello in Danish and it’s pronounce “hi” with a little upward lilt at the end).  We wandered off from Pula on March 20 and spent the last week of March in the beautiful city of Copenhagen in Denmark.   From my time here I have come to the anti-Shakespearian conclusion which is the title of my blog today:  “There is nothing rotten in Denmark!”  It was an incredible place, and I wish we had been able to spend more than just a week there.

fullsizeoutput_3dffYou could argue the weather was a little rotten because it was so bitterly cold (below freezing for most days we were there), and a little dreary on some days, but by traveling in such inclement weather you get a good indication of what the Danish people are made of, and it is actually quite good stuff.

We rented an Airbnb in a little area right outside of the Copenhagen city limits and enjoyed the quiet streets and beautiful house we made our home for a week.  The owner Jesper was fantastic and made us feel very welcome even though he towered above us like a NBA player.  His height and friendly demeanor were quite common among the Danish, who were seen in freezing rain or sleet and snow, on bikes and pushing baby carriages through the bustling city of Copenhagen.

It was remarkable to us Southern folks who would be bundled up in front of a fireplace in weather like this to see hoards of people on bicycles everywhere in the city.  They carried babies in snowsuits on the front of their bikes with just their faces exposed, or zipped them tightly into baby carriages as the mothers leisurely strolled along the streets.  The moms shopped, they strolled, they stopped in the many cafes for coffee, and guess where many of them left their strollers (with the babies inside them!) ?— prepare yourself —- outside on the sidewalk.

A Danish mom strolls along the streets of Copenhagen with baby in tow. Although sunny, it was 32 degrees on this beautiful day.

I’m told this is a common occurrence and nothing to be alarmed about (there is an extremely low crime rate and almost non-existent kidnap rate).  Several factors play into this custom but the main ones are: 1) Again, it is extremely safe in Copenhagen and 2) Danish (and many Nordic) mothers believe the fresh (albeit cold) air is good for babies and strengthens their immune system.  I did notice the large prams which held the babies were parked in front of large windows, so I’m sure a Danish mom or two would be checking to make sure the prams stayed put while they were in the cafe. Still though, it’s an extremely different custom than we are used to both weather-wise and safety-wise.

A Danish dad brings young children to nursery school by bike on a blustery March day in Copenhagen.

Our host Jesper said his 12- year old can ride her bike home from the city at midnight and he has no fear for her safety.  Coming from New Orleans, this feeling of safety was quite surprising and reassuring at the same time.  Most of the bikes we saw that were not being used were sitting leisurely by the side of the street or leaned up against a fence without locks on them. What a great testament to safety to be able to leave your bike without fear of it being stolen.  The country on the whole has an extremely low crime rate with most of the crime taking place during the summer months when hoards of tourists descend on the beautiful city.


Bikes sit unused by bus stops and against building walls throughout Copenhagen with no locks showing the trust Danish citizens have in their fellow citizens not to take them without permission.

The safety of the city and heartiness of the people are just two of the reasons I believe there is “nothing rotten” in this beautiful city.  I’ll have quite a few more posts on Denmark in the coming days as there is much to tell about this lovely country.  I’ll leave you with a picture of some of the delicious food I came across in Copenhagen to whet your appetite for my next post, “Is the Danish really Danish?”



Hej Hej for now!!! (That’s good-bye in Danish.) Now if only the rest of the Danish language was that simple.

A sailboat frozen in place in the Kastrup Strandpark harbor in Oresund Sound on the day we arrived in Copenhagen.

Making Groceries the Croatian Way

If you grow up in New Orleans, I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “making groceries” from someone in your family.  For those who live in other parts of the country or the world, the term doesn’t mean a person is going to physically produce some edible product on the spot, but that you are going to the grocery store to buy something to eat.

My husband Mike after “making groceries” at Konzum, a Croatian grocery chain.

The phrase comes from “faire le marchè” ( The literal translation is “to make the market”) which New Orleanians took from our Louisiana French heritage and transformed to “making groceries.”

Although we have only been living in Croatia a few short weeks so far, we have already been “making groceries” by going to many different grocery stores and outdoor food markets in order to stock our new Croatian pantry. We’ve been to the Konzum, Plodine, Market Grga (all Croatian grocery chains), Lidl (a German chain), and to the “tržnica” or fresh produce market in the center of Pula. We also been to several small corner groceries for a fresh loaf of bread or a quick snack.

” Na tržnicuna tržnicu, prodati debelu svinju… ” –To market, to market, to sell a fat pig…

Two things I’ve noticed right away (besides everything being in Croatian which is more confusing than you might imagine!) are that 1) the Croatians eat a lot of pasta and 2) they also love a huge variety of ham and pork. For example, there is literally one whole aisle of pasta in the Konzum and it’s long and it’s full of delicious variations of pasta on both sides.  They’ve got your fazoli, pljukanci, fusilli, your vermicelli, your tagliatelle con spinach, and many, many, many more that I can’t pronounce. Oh, and that’s just the dry pasta.

There is also fresh pasta in the refrigerated case. Of course there is.  The Fioli brand on the shelf above is a Croatian brand, and the price of 9.99 kunas looks expensive, but is only about $1.45 USD, so it’s very reasonable price-wise for delicious local pasta. So if you like pasta, you will love it here.

For those thinking pasta is an Italian thing, it is. However, besides being very close to Italy (about a 1 1/2  hour car ride), the Istrian peninsula (which includes Pula) was once a part of Italy, so it makes sense that the cuisine would be similar.

The second thing that is very obvious in the grocery stores is the ham (including pršut which we know by the name prosciutto) and other dried and cured meats like salami and sausages. Whole aisles and cases of it with people lined up to the deli counter to buy it.

I got a little intimidated by the girl behind the deli counter when ordering my slices of ham in the Grga (don’t ask me how to pronounce it) and accidentally wound up getting the most delicious smoked ham for our sandwiches. Combined with the slices of freshly sliced gouda cheese and the fresh Croatian bread, Mike and I felt like we were eating gourmet sandwiches for lunch. I’ll do another post on the making of the pršut because it is a very big deal here (They have contests for it like we do for our boiled crawfish and chili), but for now, just know there are multitudes of different salamis, hams, sausages and cured meats, and they are very delicious.


One case of ham in the Croatian grocery Konzum shows a little portion of the vast assortment of hams and salami in Pula. (photo by Carolyn Stewart)

The deli counter below is a popular place for people ordering ham and cheese and sausages, although it was pretty slow mid-morning on a weekday when the photo was taken.

This case shows the large selection of ham and pršut in the Croatian grocery Konzum. That’s our friend James with the backpack on pulling his grocery basket (photo by Carolyn Stewart).

Besides ham and pasta, the grocery stores all have fresh bread counters similar to those we have in the states. The difference, however is there are no breads on the shelves like our Bunny Bread and Nature’s Own brands. The Croatians, like those in many other European countries, eat only fresh baked bread which is prepared daily and has a very short shelf life because of the lack of preservatives.

Since it is so good, it doesn’t need a long shelf life because you eat it so fast! And it is addictive. I remember my Hungarian foreign exchange student Dorka saying how much she missed the bread from home while she was in the US. It’s easy to see why when you get used to eating fresh bread daily. Lucky I am walking so much here as I gobbled up a loaf of the bread below in a couple of days (with Mike’s help, of course).

Fresh bread and cured ham make for a delicious Croatian lunch.

There are many other things besides fresh breads that I found that were interesting at the grocery stores. The wafers below were available on the baking aisle for filling. Think soft serve ice cream cones and that is the type of wafer available. (Thanks, Marlene, for the suggestion of filling them with Nutella. I will try that soon.) Oh, the possibilities!


I have already found some other favorite products that I really love here that are not available in the U.S., but since this post is getting long, I will start another one for those items.  Also, the tžnica or fresh market has a whole different assortment of vegetables and products from the grocery stores.  The people seem to use the fresh market just as much as the grocery, so I will dedicate still another post to the magic of those markets another day.  Thanks for sharing in my adventures “making groceries” the Croatian way. Vidimo se kasnije! (See you later!)

Off on a Pig Trail (or What’s the Buzz?)

The weather’s been on and off around the Pula area the past few weeks with rain and cold days interspersed with beautiful sunny days that hint of the warm weather to come. On one sunny morning Carolyn and I decided to go explore the area that surrounds our new home. Our apartment is in a neighborhood called Pješčana Uvala which means “sandy cove” in English.  IMG_9103It sits next to the Soline Forest Park, a protected forest of holm or holly oaks, that skirts the shores of the Adriatic. These holm oaks are a native species in the Mediterranean and are one of the top three trees used in the establishment of truffle orchards.  They also produce edible acorns that wild pigs like to eat.

So you didn’t sign up to this blog for a natural science lesson, right? The reason I’m giving you this information is that our landlord had just been telling us the evening before that the forest next to us had a lot of wild pigs and not to go out at night into the forest as they could be aggressive, but he said during the day was fine. In fact, Soline Park has a well-marked path throughout the forest with educational kiosks for families with kids, so I don’t think it is a dangerous place to go. Still knowing about the overabundance of wild pigs did get our attention, especially coming from South Louisiana where my two brothers-in-law are always relaying tales of wild pigs in the marshes and how mad they get when you encounter them with their babies.

As we walked along the trail beside the beautiful clear Adriatic waters, we noticed in a few places the mud looked stirred up like something had been rooting through it.  The path went deeper into the forest and got a little darker as the vegetation got thicker and areas of the stirred up mud got more frequent.  We joked that these wild pigs must be everywhere.

Being the adventurous women that we are, we saw a path up the hill that was filled with limestone rocks and was wider, almost like a small road, so we decided to climb up it to get a view of the whole area. The holm oak forest sits on Soline Hill.


The view from atop Soline Hill looking over Soline Park and back toward our home in Pjescana Uvala.

As we ascended the hill, we saw old abandoned houses and huge rosemary bushes in bloom and were marveling at the abandoned beauty of the trail when we heard something strange. A buzzing sound. Not just a little buzzing though. A loud buzzing. I looked at Carolyn perplexed. “Do you hear that?” I said. Her eyes got wide and she said, “Yes, what is it?” We walked a little further and we came upon this sight. IMG_9112

So what does an old truck in the middle of nowhere have to do with the buzzing sound? Take a closer look.


It’s a truck full of bee hives!


Besides olive oil, wine, and truffles, Croatia is also known for its honey or “med” as it is called in Croatian. As luck would have it, we had stumbled upon a mobile apiary out in the middle of the Soline Forest area alive with a huge number of bees buzzing around it. The early blooming rosemary plants are one of the places you can find honeybees this early in the season in Croatia. So the rosemary bushes we had passed in the area may have been the reason the apiary was sitting there buzzing with hundreds of honeybees.  There is even a rosemary honey that is sold in Croatia, so I am interested in tasting it now.

But you are probably wondering why I made such a big deal about the wild pigs at this point. What about the pigs?

As we began to walk past the mobile apiary and take a picture of the view from the top of the hill I looked down and saw hoof prints. Hoof prints from wild pigs.  Walking a little further we came upon some brush and heard a low, deep growling sound. Whatever it was growling, it wasn’t happy with us. And it wasn’t a dog growling, I know what that sounds like. At this point, I have to admit, I was a little scared.  I’m pretty sure Carolyn was, too.  So we took off walking very fast back down the hill until we met up with the regular park path. We didn’t wait to see if it was a wild mama pig, or a wild daddy pig for that matter.  We had had enough excitement for one day.


The Place where Cookie Monster lives

On our first day walking around the city of Pula we wandered through the ancient streets in awe. It’s not just a beautiful city, but a historic one as well.  According to one source, archeological remains show evidence that the city of Pula goes back from 400,000 to a million years B.C.  That’s pretty old, especially by U.S. standards.  One of the first things that strikes you when you drive into town is the Pula Arena, one of the best preserved Roman Amphitheaters in the world that was built in the first century B.C.


Its imposing presence stands above modern day streets and buildings, and the fact that you can drive your car using Google Maps on your iPhone in front of a place where ancient Roman gladiators fought to the death is a pretty surreal experience. Not to mention that the ancient arena holds concerts for its citizens’ enjoyment throughout the year.

If any city had a reason to have a good opinion of itself, it was Pula, which is the largest city on the Istrian Peninsula. Ancient history, incredible wine, delicious olive oil, rich soil that produces a multitude of beautiful fruits and vegetables, and it’s surrounded by crystal clear waters and boasts a temperate climate. Think California with Roman roots and better beaches.

Imagine our surprise when we stopped into a store in the city center and a Croatian lady approached us with a young boy around five or six to ask if he could talk to us. Why? Because he loved America and loved speaking English. Sure, we said, we would love to talk with him. pexels-photo-774316He was quite the little gentleman, and he said hello and answered all of our questions politely and without any traces of a Croatian accent.  If only we could speak Croatian so well, we told him. Besides saying hello, goodbye, where is the bathroom and thank you, we hadn’t been very prolific with our use of Croatian, but wanted to learn more.

We were pleasantly surprised that our first encounter out and about city center had been so positive. Carolyn and I talked for a while with the young mother and learned that the little boy had learned a lot of what he knew from American television.

A Croatian boy skips along a stone bench in Pula with a New York Yankees cap on. Many Croatian children on the Istrian Peninsula learn English at a young age and most adults speak some English.

Earlier in the week we had gone grocery shopping at Konzum and got some things for our apartment at a German version of Home Depot called Bauhaus, and all of the Croatian cashiers had been very friendly and nice, so we knew the people were kind and receptive to foreign guests. In fact, one cashier even told me, “Bravo!” when I said, “dovidenja,” which means “good-bye.” I was so proud that she could actually understand me.  When people are that encouraging, it makes you want to learn more.

And it hasn’t just been the cashiers that have been kind to us in our short time here. Waiters, waitresses, store clerks, and even people on the street have gone out of their way to help us. One day my stomach was upset, and I went into a grocery store for Tums and the cashier pointed me towards a “ljekarna,” or pharmacy, as they don’t sell any types of drugs, even non-prescription ones, in the grocery.  I walked out of the grocery, still disoriented from jet lag and trying to find my way in a new city, and totally forgot which way she had told me to go.  I felt a tap on the shoulder and an older lady who had stood behind me in the grocery line said, “You go that way,” and pointed to the left. “Hvala,” I replied (thanks!) feeling fortunate that someone had been paying attention.

When people are that encouraging, it makes you want to learn more.

When I got to the pharmacy I was in for another surprise; everything was behind the counter except for a few items like vitamins and lotions. So I go up to the counter and ask in English for something like Tums or Rolaids for an upset stomach. The pharmacist was very sympathetic and gave me an option of Tums or something more potent like Prilosec. It was strange, but I felt comforted by her advice and concern. It’s the little things like that when you are far from home and not feeling well.

Yesterday we went back to the city center and were having lunch when a woman with a little girl sat at the table next to us with her elderly parents.  She looked over and started talking to us and when she realized we were Americans, she told her daughter excitedly, “These people are from the place where Cookie Monster lives!”  The little girl smiled shyly.  She was only five, but her mother said she spoke better in English than she did in Croatian. We couldn’t tell because she was too shy to speak to us, although she did take off her jacket and show us her cute butterfly dress.

Carolyn and I with our new landlord, Edvard, holding the roses he gave us on International Women’s Day. He is another example of the kind people we have met in our short time in Pula.

Anyway we are glad to be living in a city where the people are friendly and kind like the people we left behind in Southern Louisiana. And we are glad they like Americans because we definitely like them and their beautiful city.

Searching for a Home in Croatia




As we walked along the cobblestone sidewalks of Rome, I became obsessed with the massive and unique doors that faced the centuries-old streets. Some were brown and heavy with brass knockers; some were heavy black iron; some painted, peeling, and solid, while some were newly varnished and clean. One thing that they all had in common was that they made passersby curious as to what was behind them, and most importantly, who the many people were that had walked through their entrances throughout the years.

The doors became a symbol for me of our new adventure in Croatia and the difference sizes and shapes made me think of the choices that are available to us in our lives. Time and again, we try to open doors that are closed to us, and we hope the right one will open when we want it to.

So as we left Rome inspired and motivated to find a place to lay our weary heads for a year in Europe, I wondered what doors would open ahead for us in Croatia.

Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.” ― Joseph Campbell.

We took the train from Rome all the way to Trieste, Italy on our journey to Croatia. We were met by our friends James and Carolyn Stewart, who had arrived ahead of us in Rovinj, Croatia, and they drove us through the mountain roads filled with olive groves and vineyards.

When we made the decision to live abroad for a year, we found we had kindred spirits in our friends James and Carolyn, who at the same point in their lives were planning to move to Europe for a few years. They had been to Croatia the year before and had decided that Rovinj might be ideal for our plans if we could find an apartment to rent.

For those who don’t know where Croatia is, think of the boot of Italy on a map and hop across the Adriatic Sea and the coast along it is part of Croatia. We were looking for an apartment on the Istrian Peninsula which is up around the upper part of the back of the boot.  (See map below.)




Rovinj is quaint town on the Istrian Peninsula and is a magnet for many Europeans during the summer season because of its clear blue waters and limestone lined streets.  While this makes it an incredible vacation spot, it also made it difficult for us to find someone to rent us apartments on a yearly basis, as most just offered vacation rentals. And the few we did find wanted a price that was beyond our modest budget.



Our second choice, Pula, although a larger city had advantages because of its airport and railway station for easy access to European destinations.  Mike and I had already been in contact with a man named Edvard from Pula, who was tired of the constant influx of people with vacation rentals and was looking for long-term renters.

It was a match made in heaven; he liked us because we were “old” and probably not late night partiers, lol, and we loved the apartments and their proximity to the beach and marina (a 3-minute walk down the street).  Plus, like many of the Croatians we have met,  he was just a really nice person. We stayed in the apartments for a few nights and put down our deposit on the spot.

A door had opened.