Friday, 11 January 2013

Croatia - The Grandmother Land

Hello Readers,
A quick note before I get started. Since there was a family connection on this trip I will make the post longer than usual to fill in my Croatian relatives on our experience. Consequently I understand if the casual readers skip parts or all of the post. Hopefully I won't bore my Croatian relatives with the non-family parts of the post. So before I bore myself I will stop talking and get on with the show.

With a heavy heart we set off to Croatia for our post-Christmas, pre-New Year's Day holiday.  My Croatian grandmother Rose (Sayotovich) Tessmer passed away in late December at the age of 99.  I was looking forward to discussing Croatia with her when we returned from our secondment this summer, instead the trip was more of a reminder of her.  She was sharp almost to the end and had only recently moved into an assisted living home so her quality of life was good to the end.  Plus she beat the Sayotovich curse of dying at 97 years old as my Uncle Art said.  (I hope I am cursed enough to die at 97.)  The food was probably the biggest reminder as we had many really good and a couple excellent meals.  A lot of the wooded scenery reminded me of home also so this trip was a little more emotional for me than usual.  Now onto the trip.

Wednesday the 26th - We flew over from the Birmingham (OZZZZZIE!) airport with a stop in Paris on Air France which was fine except for the rude Air France worker in Birmingham.  We tried checking into our flight the night before we left but it would not let us check in Kalle, still not sure why maybe because she was on a child ticket.  So when we arrived at the terminal Lori tried confirming our seats on the kiosks but couldn't confirm Kalle's so we stood in line waiting to speak to a person at the desk.  When we finally did reach the desk the rude Frenchie told us (Lori really since she was the one talking to him) that it was her fault that we didn't have seats since it is Air France's policy to assign seats together for a family travelling with a minor and they had done that but when we checked our seats on the kiosk we ended up removing ourselves from the seating chart.  Never mind that when we put our information into the kiosk it didn't tell us we had seats already.  Nor did it tell us the night before when we tried checking in online that we had seats already.  I guess you are just supposed to know that they assign seats for you.  So we knew that for on the way back but it didn't help us from Birmingham to Paris as we ended up in the very last row.  You know, the row against the back wall that doesn't recline.  Luckily Lori didn't get sick on the flight so we survived.

We finally arrived in Zagreb and after picking the wrong Customs line we passed through Customs after the flight crew.  First time in all of my travels the flight crew has actually beat us through Customs.  Fortunately the international terminal was about the size of the Hancock airport so once we passed through we had a ten foot walk to the luggage carousel then a ten foot walk to the lobby where our taxi was waiting for us.  The driver spoke decent English so we talked a little on the ride to our hotel.  The weather was unseasonably warm for us, per the driver it is normally around -10 C (14 F) this time of year but we were lucky and had temps in the low 40's F for the first three days.  Much like our experience in Helsinki I can understand why my Croatian ancestors settled in the part of Michigan they did.  Warm summers, cold winters, woodlands, hard working jobs, hunting...  as I was to find out later there were a lot of similarities in where I grew up and where my great-grandmother Veronika grew up.

Our hotel was the Hotel International (link) in Zagreb.  We had reserved a family room for our stay but when we arrived they didn't have any available so they comped us with a superior room and a deluxe room.  Very nice.  The hotel rooms were big and clean, the food in the restaurant was good, and the walk to the city centre was only twenty minutes.  And they had a hair dryer - what a place!

Rose Tessmer Pic - the boys room.
Rose Tessmer Pic - the girls room.
Rose Tessmer Pic - my start of tasting the local pivo.  We arrived late and it was still a holiday so everything was closed which meant we had to tap into the mini bar snacks.  Ouch that hurts but still not as painful as dealing with a hungry (and cranky) family.  Oh well, its only money.  At least my pivo was cold.
Thursday the 27th - one of our days to explore Zagreb city centre.  The day was sunny and the temperatures ranged from see your breath cold in the morning to sweatshirt warm by the afternoon with highs in the mid 40's F.  The fog/haze was the only downfall of the day but with sunny and dry weather I won't complain about a little haze.  The plan was to view the monuments/historical attractions/other attractions in the Gorni Grad (Upper Town) today then explore the museums/cultural attractions/parks in the Donji Grad (Lower Town) on our last day in Croatia.  The city footprint was a little smaller than I anticipated though so we ended up seeing more today than I expected.

Rose Tessmer Pic - breakfast spread was pretty good.  The kids liked the pastries but I skipped them as I usually do whilst travelling Europe.  The mini hot dogs and sausage (not shown) were very good.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Trg bana Jelacic (Jelacic Square).  Trg is square, we'll meet Mr. Jelacic later.  The square still has the Christmas tents and decorations up so the views weren't great for pictures of the buildings.
After looking around the square and picking up a city map from the tourist office we headed up the hill to Kaptol and the Katedrala (Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary), check out the Wiki link here.  Cliff notes version for the non-link readers - a religious site since ancient times the cathedral was founded on it in 1093 AD then destroyed and rebuilt multiple times by wars, fires and finally an earthquake in 1880.  A visually appealing cathedral with many, many monuments inside the church.  There were so many people praying in the cathedral that Karl felt uncomfortable looking around and I almost put my camera away.  Croatia started out being as religious as I figured it would be, heavily Catholic from my observation.  From a Wiki link on the history of Zagreb, Kaptol was given its name based upon the Latin word capitulum for a group or row of canons.  Sounds very typical of the pre-medieval times, a church or castle on a hill surrounded by cannons.      

Rose Tessmer Pic - The cathedral front.  More construction, we sure seem to be hitting a lot of construction projects as we travel internationally.

Rose Tessmer Pic - A nativity scene with some of the 15th C wartime fortification tower and walls in view.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Statue of the Immaculate Virgin Mary and four angels in Kaptol square.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Entrance to the cathedral.

Rose Tessmer Pic - my buddies in the middle.  St. Methodius and St. Barbara are on his sides.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Cathedral time line.

Rose Tessmer Pic - The nave looking towards the altar.

Rose Tessmer Pic - One of the many monuments.  This is Saints Peter and Paul.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Required stained glass shot.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Another gilded monument.  The monuments were beautiful, my pictures just didn't capture them in their glory.  This one is a "[n]eo-Gothic altar of Hungarian saints and kings Ladislaus, Stephen and Emerick, 1881".  

Rose Tessmer Pic - Tomb of the Blessed Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac (Wiki link), designed by Ivan Meštrović (we'll see his museum later).  The Cardinal was beatified in 1998 by Pope John Paul II.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Interesting collection of wall statues (Mary the Queen with angels from 1632 on the left) and stained glass windows.

Rose Tessmer Pic - "Baroque pulpit of 1696".

Rose Tessmer Pic - "Painting of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven of 1986".

Rose Tessmer Pic - the sanctuary.

Rose Tessmer Pic - "Neo-Gothic altar of Holy Cross".

Rose Tessmer Pic - View of Kaptol square.

Rose Tessmer Pic - After the cathedral was a visit to Dolac, an open air market.  We browsed the tourist treasures and food stands for a while.  The kids found a traditional bowling game.

Rose Tessmer Pic - View of Dolac and Katedrala.

Rose Tessmer Pic - KJ next to the Dolac greeter.  This must have been where Sam Walton got the idea for his stores.

Rose Tessmer Pic - KK buy the Tkalciceva neighbourhood greeter.  Check out her name Mariah Johnson.

Rose Tessmer Pic - I think something was lost in the translation here... 

Rose Tessmer Pic - The girls wanted to stop for a drink and snack so we checked out this local joint.  Or so we thought until Lori checked in on FaceBook and it came up as an American Cookie Company.  Nice.  One of my two favourite things while travelling internationally is eating at non-local/national restaurants.  (The other favourite things is getting repeatedly kicked in the cherries in case you are curious.)   One of the reasons we have seen so many countries in our across the pond adventure is my love of experiencing the differences in each countries culture.  Eating at an American joint in Croatia does not fit that bill.

Rose Tessmer Pic - I almost tried the chocolate chip cookie before giving it to the kids.  Upper left is my coffee and milk latte, upper right is Lori's coffee.  Not exactly an American sized coffee.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Another different sun dial, we have seen quite a few varieties on our travels.

Rose Tessmer Pic - After our snack was a walk through the Tkalciceva neighbourhood.  We walked up and down this street a couple times until we found a path to our next stop.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Now that's a long drive.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Random artwork on the street.

Rose Tessmer Pic - These guys follow me everywhere!  Here they are in front of the Stone Gate.

Rose Tessmer Pic - KK in front of Kamenita Vrata (Stone Gate).  You can read this Wiki link for information on the gate and area.  From this link, this is the last remaining gate of the walls that once enclosed the Upper Town.  The present gate dates to 1760.

Rose Tessmer Pic - The religious site that is part of the Stone Gate.  Once again I felt a little uncomfortable taking pictures here with so many people looking and praying so I snapped a quick one before we moved on.  Behind the metal screen is a painting of Jesus and Mary that the people are praying to.
Next up was Crkva sv. Marka (St. Mark's Church) in Markov TRG (St. Mark's Square) with its distinctive roof (Wiki link here).  From the Wiki link the church dates to the 13th C and was reconstructed in the 14th C.  The inside was basic with some nice murals, kind of plain to be honest.  

Rose Tessmer Pic - St. Mark's Church in St. Mark's Square with its awesome roof.  I'm so glad today was sunny with a blue sky.  From the link above: The picturesque roof featuring coats of arms of the Triple Kingdom of Croatia, Dalmatia and Slavonia, and the city of Zagreb date back to that period.

Rose Tessmer Pic - From the same website: Some of these statues were carved by the Parler masters from Prague in 1420.

Rose Tessmer Pic - The church entrance.

Rose Tessmer Pic - The nave and altar.

Rose Tessmer Pic - One of the murals by Jozo Kljakovic.

Rose Tessmer Pic - The altar, Jesus on the Cross is by Ivan Mestrovic.

Rose Tessmer Pic - A shot of the inside.
Up the street from the church was the Mestrovic Atelier, Ivan Mestrovic's home and studio that is now a museum displaying some of his works (Wiki link).  The museum had some nice pieces in it but it appears that all of his more famous works are scattered around the former Yugoslavia region and eastern America region so I was a little disappointed in it.  Mestrovic was a famous Croatian sculptor who interestingly enough became a professor at Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana and eventually died in South Bend.  I am not a sculpture man so the museum wasn't a highlight for me.  You could see the difference in level of detail between the works here and at Rodin's Museum in Paris but it probably isn't a fair comparison.  Rodin is world renowned for a reason.

Rose Tessmer Pic - The entrance to the museum.

Rose Tessmer Pic - A rare wooden piece; the Eternal Crucifix, Zagreb, 1930.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Srda Zlopogleda, Paris, 1908.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Large Relief of Job, Zagreb, 1932.  One of my favourites from the museum.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Mother Teaching a Child to Pray, New York, 1925.  The hands stood out to me.

Rose Tessmer Pic - St Roche, Dubrovnik, 1922.  The docent tried explaining to me why this was a St Roche, something to do with the dog and sack/bottle tied around his waist, but I could quite understand what she was trying to get across to me.

Rose Tessmer Pic - The Evangelist Luke, Zagreb, 1929.

Rose Tessmer Pic - History of the Croats, Zagreb, 1932.  One of his famous works per the docent.

Rose Tessmer Pic - The Evangelist John, Zagreb, 1929.
After the museum was a walk to the Kula Lotrscak (Tower) for a higher panoramic view overlooking Zagreb but it was closed for the season so all we saw was the tower.  There was a haze over Zagreb anyway so it probably wouldn't have been as impressive as on a clear day.  The haze combined with the low sun position was so bad I didn't even take a picture from the promenade.

Rose Tessmer Pic - The tower.

Rose Tessmer Pic - We walked along the Strossmajerov Setaliste (Strossmayer Promenade) for a view overlooking the city but today wasn't the day for it so we continued onto lunch.  We asked the tourist place for some local cuisine recommendations and one she gave us was a place called Stari Fijaker (link).  Once we walked in it smelled like my grandma's kitchen when she was cooking a meat dish so I figured we had picked a good place.  And it was - great bread (per Lori) and spread, dumplings, meat and sauerkraut combined with a cold refreshing beer was just what I needed for lunch. 

Rose Tessmer Pic - Bread with a cheese, cream cheese and bacon spread.  Very good.  Lori couldn't have the dairy so I took her share and piled it onto my bread like I was in a gluttony contest.

Rose Tessmer Pic - More of the local pivo.  The pivo was good but not outstanding.

Rose Tessmer Pic - I had a sausage, mashed potato and sauerkraut dish.  I was full three quarters of the way through but stuffed myself past comfortable because it tasted so good.  Almost as good was the fact this dish cost four pound thirty in UK currency.  Can't remember the last time I paid under five pounds for a tasty plate of food that was bigger than my appetite.  Definitely wasn't in England.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Lori had a steak and potato dumpling dish we all sampled and loved.  The food was so good on this trip.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Sample street shot along Ilica as we walked (and I waddled) to the next stop.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Next stop, Muzej Mimara (Wiki link).  We were winding down for the day after seeing everything I had planned for the day and then some so after lunch we walked to the Donji Grad to check out this massive art museum.  One interesting note from our first day was the frequency of cash only attractions.  Usually we try to pay entrance fees and meals with credit card then use cash for smaller ticket items like snacks or smaller souvenir places but we ended up exchanging some pounds for kuna after burning through so much cash the first day.  Didn't affect our trip at all, I was just surprised at how many places didn't accept credit cards. 
Rose Tessmer Pic - I think this was a 14th C painting.

Rose Tessmer Pic - I like these colourful pieces.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Not sure why but there were a lot of pieces here with this "feeding" theme.

Rose Tessmer Pic - I loved the combination of the colourful people in front and the monochrome buildings in back. 

Rose Tessmer Pic - A Rubens painting.  The paintings floor leads us to the "Dan Stine extreme self restraint in the face of surmounting adversity moment of the week".  The lighting was positioned so that each painting had a glare spot on it.  If I moved around enough I could minimise the glare spot but it was very annoying having to find that one spot for each painting. 

Rose Tessmer Pic - A Jordaens painting.  Interesting theme here, the devil over one shoulder, fighting birds over the other shoulder, and a mean baby about to stab the lady in the chest with an arrow.

Rose Tessmer Pic - I loved how the artist captured the girls playfulness as she feeds the dog off of her spoon.  Interesting colour selection on the cat on the left, its almost as if it is purposely camouflaged in the painting. 

Rose Tessmer Pic - Check out the corset the women on the ends are wearing.  They are both really thin waisted while the women in the middle are normal sized. 

Rose Tessmer Pic - A painting of Venice, hopefully we will make it there on one of the upcoming breaks.

Rose Tessmer Pic - A Renoir painting. 

Rose Tessmer Pic - A Manet painting.

Rose Tessmer Pic - A Degas painting.

Rose Tessmer Pic - A Seurat painting.

Rose Tessmer Pic - A wooden 16th C St. Barbara with her constant companion the tower.

Rose Tessmer Pic - A beautiful ivory carving.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Some interesting sculptures were in the museum.  I think we saw the giant size version of this 16th-17th C piece in the Louvre.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Jesus and his parents fleeing to Egypt from King Herod on this 15th-16th C piece.

Rose Tessmer Pic - This 16th-17th C dancing boy must be a cousin to peeing boy that we would see in Brussels on our after New Year's Day holiday.

Rose Tessmer Pic - I loved the detail on this 17th/18th C piece.

Rose Tessmer Pic - I am really starting to like porcelain pieces, not sure why.  Maybe the combination of colours and minute detailing?

Rose Tessmer Pic - Starting to notice a religious theme to our trip yet?

Rose Tessmer Pic - 14th C Sv. Juraj.  Not all obsessions are bad, right?

Rose Tessmer Pic - 15th C St. Ana.

Rose Tessmer Pic - I think every museum should have a 14th C English horn on display.

Rose Tessmer Pic - 3rd-2nd C pre-Christ Aphrodite and Eros statue.

Rose Tessmer Pic - 20,000-15,000 year pre-Christ idol.

Rose Tessmer Pic - 8th-7th C pre-Christ disc.  This really old stuff is fascinating to Lori and I.

Rose Tessmer Pic - 10th C vase.

Rose Tessmer Pic - I think I need a 16th-18th C Home Fireplace Guardian for our home. 

Rose Tessmer Pic - This 20th C porcelain wine goblet was neat.

Rose Tessmer Pic - I also liked the 18th-19th C Temple Guardians.

Rose Tessmer Pic - This 18th-19th C jade phoenix shaped teapot was neat.

Rose Tessmer Pic - In the basement was a poor display of someones picture collection and a few other items.  This decent stained glass caught my eye.
After the museum we walked around Donji Grad (Lower Town) for a while since it was approaching five o'clock and the museums were closing.  Eventually we made our way back to the hotel to relax for a while before deciding to eat at the hotel restaurant.  A little more expensive then eating elsewhere but the only downside to our hotel was distance to other restaurants; and after walking all day around town we just didn't feel like walking any more.  We ate a late lunch so dinner at five o'clock was to early to eat again so that option was off the table.  Fortunately the hotel restaurant meals tasted good and weren't super expensive.  Plus they had really good desserts.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Random shot of buildings in Donji Grad.

Rose Tessmer Pic - I think this was the National Theatre in Donji Grad.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Almost night time shot on the walk back to the hotel.

Rose Tessmer Pic - On our way back to the hotel we stopped for room drinks and snacks and I saw this plastic bottle pivo so I thought "why not?".  Seemed like a good idea at the time and was an even better idea as we finally sat down in the room and let the dogs bark.   
So far the trip has been a positive experience.  Great food, very good weather, interesting sights - it got even better later that night as I was channel surfing and saw the ESPN America channel on the TV.  You know what that means?  Bowl games baby!  I was able to watch a little bit of college football every night and even saw the last two minutes of the Michigan State game when I woke up one morning.  Talk about a great trip!  I even caught some pro football on Sunday night.  So for the rest of the trip I can look forward to exploring Croatia in the daytime and ending each night with a little bit of American football.  Does life get any better?
Friday the 28th - One of the goals of our two year European adventure was to visit mine and Lori's homelands to experience a little of our ancestors sights, cultures, food, etc.  So when it came to picking a destination in Croatia I selected Zagreb after doing some research.  My Uncle Rick passed on a name, house number, and a couple of town names of the last known family contact in Croatia (thanks again Uncle Rick) so after a quick search I found the towns which were fifty kilometres west of Zagreb but not much else so I planned on spending the day driving around the area hoping to find out a little of my ancestry.  Of course that was all dependant on picking up our rental car.  The pick up location was twenty feet from our hotel so the location was great.  The situation quickly turned from great to terrible as we learned that they didn't have our rental car reservation in their system.  I went through AutoEurope which apparently farms out the car rentals to local companies.  The problem was a disconnect between AutoEurope and the local rental company as AutoEurope sent me a confirmation email before we left so I thought everything was in order.  Once we figured out that I had a reservation and was supposed to have a car they proceeded to tell me they didn't have any cars available.  They could get a car from the airport but the problem was all of the cars were manuals and I wanted an automatic.  It's been about twenty years since I driven an automatic car so I wasn't keen to get back into the groove while driving in a foreign country.  In hindsight I should have bought a manual instead of an automatic when we moved to England.  Manuals are predominant here, cheaper to rent and readily available while automatics are a hassle to get.  But I didn't so we kept talking to the man at the rental desk until he found an automatic car that was due to be returned to the airport later that morning.  By now I was about to explode so we decided to rent a manual car, drive it to the airport, and swap it for the automatic when that arrived.  I did okay on the drive to the airport, no stalls or ground gears although I did shift into the wrong gear twice but my speeds were close enough that I didn't lurch us or grind anything.  So now we are at the airport and waiting.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Lori's coffee on left, my coffee with milk on right.  Still waiting for the car.
We finally pick up our automatic car around 11:30, just a tad later than the 9:00 start I had planned on for the day.  But there wasn't anything I could do about it.  The local rental company was helpful so I can't complain about them.  AutoEurope is another story, I will be talking to them later.  So armed with a little information and a poor map we are off to find a village named Veliki Jadrc.  The other town name was Severin na Kupi but from my internet research I figured that Severin was a bigger town or area and Veliki Jadrc was where my relative used to live.  And I was correct!
Rose Tessmer Pic - Driving west on the A1.  Driving in Croatia wasn't any different than driving in the US.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Still driving, mountains are calling us.  Eventually we pulled off of the toll road and started looking for highway 3.  The GPS couldn't help us at all so we went off of my poor maps.  Poor maps + English speaking tourists + non-English speaking locals = a lot of driving down the wrong roads.  We were so lost the GPS gave up on us.  I figured it was time to turn around when our options were turn off the dirt road onto the dirt track or stop driving (reminded me of driving in the depths of the Baraga Plains for awhile).  So we back tracked to the very first tee after exiting the toll road and took the other path which turned out to be wide two lane road so we figured we were on the right path now.  The GPS switched from confused mode to electronic map mode also which I took as a good sign.  After driving for a short bit we passed through signs of civilisation until we drove into Severin na Kupi.  Success!  I think.

Rose Tessmer Pic - The centre of Severin na Kupi (we later found out that the town name means North cold place on the river Kupi).  If you stand in the centre of the town you can see the road leading into town and out of town so its not big at all.  And from my research I knew this was the bigger town/village so we weren't sure what to expect for Veliki Jadrc.

Rose Tessmer Pic - We stopped at a grocery store (think rural grocery store - a wide variety of items but only one or two quantities of each item) and were able to communicate with them enough to know we were on the right path.  They gave us directions and we were ready to rock.  See the buildings straight ahead?  The other side town limit is just past those buildings.  Restaurant, post office, grocery store, and a handful of houses is the extent of the town.  The post office also confirmed my suspicion that this town was in my relatives address to serve as a central postal location for the area and he actually lived in Veliki Jadrc.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Random building picture.

Rose Tessmer Pic - See the yellow sign with diagonal red line on the left?  A close up and explanation is below.

Rose Tessmer Pic - See the yellow sign with diagonal red line? That sign tells you that you are exiting Severin na Kupi.  On the opposite direction road is a sign without the red sign telling you that you are entering Severin na Kupi.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Hill view from the town.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Random hill and backyard view from the town. 

Rose Tessmer Pic - On the drive to Veliki Jadrc.

Rose Tessmer Pic - After turning off highway 3 we were getting closer.  My poor maps are useful now so we are getting a little excited.  Side note - is it just me or does this look like a country road in the U.P.?

Rose Tessmer Pic - We just passed the village Mali Jadrc on the bottom of the hill and are going up to the top of the hill to where Veliki Jadrc should be.

Rose Tessmer Pic - SUCCESS!  Not sure how to describe the feeling of seeing this sign.  A mixture of shock, excitement and cloudy confusion as way to many question start flooding my mind.  When we started this adventure fifteen months ago I never imagined I would actually find a town that one of my ancestors lived in.  Little did I know this was just the tip of the iceberg.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Random village pictures.  At first we drove through the village (took about two minutes) and then turned around to park and walk around to take some pictures.  This spot would end up being extremely fortuitous to us.  More on it later.

Rose Tessmer Pic - More random village pictures.  Veliki Jadrc was a hilltop village of houses only. Hopefully none of Ivan and Marija's neighbours are upset with me posting pictures of the village on my blog. I apologise to anyone in Veliki Jadrc that is upset with me for posting the pictures, I am posting them to show my American relatives pictures of the town where there ancestors are from as I know many of them are as curious about their heritage as I am.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Veliki Jadrc is a single road through a bunch of houses.  Nice sunny day to take pictures, almost like today was meant to be.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Looking back at the road leading into the village.

Rose Tessmer Pic - More random pictures.  So far we have seen a few dogs and chickens, no people.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Same house as above.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Looking away from the village.  Huron Mountains in the distance?

Rose Tessmer Pic - We decided to park and walk around the village a little bit and maybe find the house number of my relative.  We did not find it on our drive through so we figured walking would be a better option. 
Now is when all of the planets aligned in an unbelievable jumbling of coincidences.  Remember how steamed I was that our car wasn't ready at the rental place so we lost two and a half hours in the morning?  And then we couldn't find the house on our drive through so we decided to stop and walk down the road that bisects the village?  So now we are walking and end up at the extremely fortuitous house with the gravel pile across the street from above.  Well, now there is a man there moving the gravel pile so we stopped and asked for directions.  He speaks Croatian and Deutsch and we speak English so it takes a while but we finally are able to explain that we are Americans looking for my relatives and not the Griswolds on a Croatian Vacation.  Through verbal and written words we are trying to convey to him that I have a name (Ivan Verbanac which is as common as John Smith it turns out) and address for a relative from around the turn of the century who used to live here so we are looking for that house.  Finally he understands and says that's my brothers house!  WOW!  What makes it even more unbelievably coincidental is that the houses have been renumbered so the house I was looking for wasn't the same number any more.  And we find the man whose brother lives in the house that was my relatives and knows it has been renumbered.  So he tells/motions us to get our car and follow him.  Exceeding expectations doesn't even begin to describe the situation at this point.  And it gets better.
The Ivan Verbanac we are looking for is this man's brother's grandfather-in-law.  Not only that but the house has stayed in the family since my great-great-grandparents time.  We pull in and meet Marija (my mother's generational cousin) and her husband Ivan Vrbanac (same last name but not blood relation to me) who are as shocked to see us as we are meet them.  The three of them and four of us sit down at their kitchen table and slowly exchange family history.  Karl is taking German in school so he was able to help us communicate with our good Samaritan as we introduced ourselves to each other and looked at old photographs they showed us.  Luckily Marija has a relative  named Ana who is fluent in Croatia and English so we really get cooking once she arrives.  I think Ana was a relative of Marija not Marija and myself but I may be wrong; if I do get any of the familial information wrong it is my misunderstanding not Marija or Ana who were as helpful as they were shocked.
I will try to write down everything we discussed so here comes a family download history.  The relative whose name I had was Ivan Verbanac but I didn't know when he lived at the address.  It turns out that Ivan's parents lived here then Ivan inherited the house.  Now Ivan's granddaughter lives here.  Ivan was the youngest of nine children, he was born in 1894 and died in 1986.  He had one brother - Mijo, who moved abroad (they weren't sure where) and lost touch with everyone.  He had seven sisters - Barbara, Veronika and Tonka moved to America; Driga, Marica, Ana and Franca who all stayed in Croatia.  (Veronika is my great-grandmother and is Rose (Sayotovich) Tessmer's mother.)  I'm not sure what happened to Barbara or Tonka but my mother remembers them from her youth.  They said Ivan used to correspond to someone in America but once he died they lost contact.  They didn't know who he corresponded with but I know my great-aunt Mary wrote letters in Croatian to someone in the old country and once she died we lost touch with the old county.  I guess the letters don't exist anymore but Mary's death is about the same time as Ivan's so my uneducated guess is that Mary and Ivan were the correspondents. 
As for some of the family stories or questions:  They didn't know what the name Verbanac meant (for example seppa in Finnish is smith so I guess my Finnish ancestors were metal workers of some sort) but did know that veliki means big, mali means little, and jadrc is an old word that no one knew....  I asked them what "cherikza" meant and they said little daughter.....  I asked them about Ivan and Veronika's parents and their names were Ivan Verbanac and Ana Blazevic who both were from Veliki Jadrc.  They didn't know anything more about Ivan and Ana or their parents.....  I asked them if there was a Stiglich family here around Veronika'a time and they confirmed there were Stiglichs in Mali Jadrc at the time but they moved to America and didn't know what happened to them afterwards which would match a family story Veronika told her children.  There are Stiglichs in the area now but they aren't related to the Mali Jadrc Stiglich family from Veronika's time....  They thought the village of Veliki Jadrc was around 400 years old and has a population of about 200 people.  In the World War II time period the village had about 700 residents.....  They had a lot of questions for us as well which we answered.  They were not surprised that the American Croatians work physical jobs like mining and logging since the Croatians have a strong work ethic and often work physical jobs.  They said the main jobs in the area are logging and teaching.  They also asked about instruments as many there play the harmonica (we call it an accordion) and other instruments.  Music is a large part of their life it sounded like..... Ivan (Veronika's brother) had two daughters and five boys.  Three of the boys (Eddie, Drago, and Tony) moved to Australia and the other four children stayed in Croatia..... They asked about hunting since it is very popular there.  They also combined drinking with hunting (sounds like deer camp) as well as hunting for their meats.  Ivan told us a Croatian joke that a hunter is someone who walks in the woods on his way to a bar.  Sounds familiar doesn't it?  

Rose Tessmer Pic - At our relatives house.  My great-grandmother Veronika was born and raised in the house that stood here prior to the existing house.  Indescribable feeling thinking that she lived here one hundred plus years ago and here I stand.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Ivan with his wife Ana and two of their sons.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Ivan and Ana later in life outside the house Ivan and Veronika grew up in.  The house was demolished and the existing house was built in the 1950's.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Ivan (with the harmonica) and Ana with other family members.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Ivan in the middle.  Not sure who the other were.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Ivan in his younger years.

Rose Tessmer Pic - "gimisht" which is mineral water and homemade grape wine in the glass.  The wine is in the decanter.  It tasted great.  I asked them about dandelion wine - they have heard about it but don't make it themselves.  Zivioli! as Ivan and the others here would toast.  Grandma Rose and her siblings would toast Zivio!

Rose Tessmer Pic - Marija threw together an excellent meal of sausage, bread, cured ham and salami, and pickles.  It was so good.  They said that all of their food is homemade and it tasted great.  I asked if they made "sadama", which is a rice and meat mixture rolled into cabbage, and she did.  She offered to make it for us the next day but I didn't want to impose so we declined.  I should have said yes but I was still a little in shock and my head was still swimming at this point.  From left to right is Ivan, Marija, their son Tomislav and his daughter.  Tomislav treated us to some harmonica music later which was great.
Rose Tessmer Pic - Ana took our picture.  From left to right; Ivan with Tomislav's daughter on his lap, Tomislav, Marija, Zvonko (Ivan's brother), Kalle, Lori, myself, and Karl.  Zvonko was who we stumbled into which started the extraordinary chain of events.  We ended the excellent night with exchanging FaceBook contact information with Tomislav and Ana.
Rose Tessmer Pic - They gave me some pear hooch when we left.  Zvonko told us it can be used as a rubbing alcohol as well as a drink.  And he was correct.  It takes a man to drink this stuff.  I think it was about 210 proof alcohol.

Rose Tessmer Pic - I was in the Croatian mood when we arrived at the hotel so I ordered some "pitzika" from the hotel restaurant.  It was almost as good as grandma's.  Pitzika is actually an apple strudel properly named potica but when my Uncle Rick was small (and cute) he pronounced it "pitzika" so the name stuck.  I asked Marija if they made potica and she did.  Tomislav joked that potica originated from that house.  Homemade "sadama" and possibly "pitzika" and I turned them down - did I screw that one up or what? 
I was starting to switch from shock to excitement as the night wore on so I had to Skype my Uncle Rick, mother and brother to tell them the news.  They were excited and had some questions and comments I didn't think of asking so now I really regretted not accepting their invitation to come back and see them. 
Saturday the 29th - We had planned on visiting Novo Mesto, Slovenia but after a night of waffling and regret I was still torn.  I wanted to stop by and see them again but I had already so no so it would require us dropping in unannounced.  I felt bad about dropping in like that a second time but decided to cut Slovenia short and stop by Ivan and Marija's to trade some more information and thank them for all of their hospitality.  So off we go.

Rose Tessmer Pic - The view leaving our hotel looking towards Zagreb centre.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Back on the A1 retracing our steps from yesterday.

Rose Tessmer Pic - A little bit colder overnight, check out the frost.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Off the A1 and towards a church that Ivan and Marija thought may have old family records.

Rose Tessmer Pic - At the church in Lukovdol.  Another goof by me as it was locked.  That was at the point I realised I should have asked last night if they knew someone who could open the church for us.  Rural churches generally aren't open unless by appointment and I am sure it could have been arranged had I asked.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Lukovdol from the church steps.

Rose Tessmer Pic - We drove back to Veliki Jadrc but we weren't sure if it was to early to call on them so we opted to check out Slovenia then return later in the afternoon.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Parked at a tee intersection looking at the other end of Veliki Jadrc from yesterday's pictures.  The road to the right leads to Ivan and Marija's house.

Rose Tessmer Pic - From the tee intersection looking back into the village.

Rose Tessmer Pic - From the tee intersection looking down the road leading to Ivan and Marija's.

Rose Tessmer Pic - So we put Novo Mesto into the GPS and set off for Slovenia to collect some more passport stamps and Slovenian Euro coins.

Rose Tessmer Pic - On the way to the border crossing.  Last night when we were visiting we told them about getting lost and driving on dirt roads on the way to Severin na Kupi and they laughingly told us we were crossing back and forth into Slovenia from where we were driving. 

Rose Tessmer Pic - Here we come Slovenia!

Rural Slovenia was beautiful.  Another sunny day made for us driving through the countryside. 

See the church on the left?  Lonely churches perched on hillsides were a common theme in rural Slovenia and Croatia.

Another common sight was small villages set in the foothills.

It's almost noontime and we made it as far as Crnomelj so we decided to cut Slovenia short in order to make it back to Veliki Jadrc at a decent hour. 

We stopped at the local tourist office and asked for a couple of lunch options and found out there was an Old Town to explore and not much else.  The Old Town turned out being a tad closed but we enjoyed the sights on our way to lunch anyway.

Pretty yellow building.

Walking down the Old Town.  Church of the Holy Spirit is on the left, the green building is the Primozic House which is supposed to be a house for local craftsmen.  We didn't check it out.

The town was settled at the meeting of the rivers Lahinja and Doblicica.

After a short walk we found our lunch spot, Gostilna Muller (link).

Looking down the street from the restaurant.

Lasko beer - it tasted fresh, I really liked it.

My lunch - pork fillet with cheese and carst ham with mashed potato and an orange dip that was a little sweet and tangy which tasted great on the pork.  Lori had pork as well so I didn't include her picture.

Karl's lunch - spaghetti with cream and ham.  He picked out the olives.  I wonder if my brother or cousin Dino put olives in their pasta dishes?

Kalle had a traditional meat rolled into a dumpling dish that tasted great.  All the food here was excellent.

Not to bring toilet humour into the blog but I am surprised the Brits don't have these head rests at their urinals. 

The girls dessert.  Lori said the layered pie dessert tasted like something my grandma Rose would make.  Kalle had fried ice cream which tasted like fried ice cream.

Walking back to the car.  The buildings are so colourful in Croatia and Slovenia.

St. Peter's Church was closed for a service so we couldn't check it out.

Some houses overlooking the river Doblicica.

The picturesque little house outcroppings were everywhere.
After walking around the town for a while we hopped back into the car and drove back to Vinica, Slovenia to cross back into Croatia.  We stopped at a gas station and asked if they had any Slovenian Euro coins.  We explained our Euro coin collecting search and once they understood what we were collecting they were super helpful.  They rifled through the whole change drawer looking for one coin of each denomination.  They found us everything but a one Euro Slovenia coin so they proceeded to go through the change in their pockets and even small envelopes of money they dug out from the back somewhere.  We must have been in there twenty minutes while they looked for coins for us.  Super people unfortunately the one Euro was not to be found.  Maybe we will find it on our future travels.

We drove by this church which was having a wedding or marriage ceremony.  I say that because...

there were two tractors parked there amongst all of the cars.  I wonder where the farmer's wife sat on the ride in to the church? 

Crossing the river Kupi on the way back to Croatia.
Rose Tessmer Pic - Back in Veliki Jadrc.

Rose Tessmer Pic - On the road to Ivan and Marija's, hoping they are home.

Rose Tessmer Pic - On the road/driveway to their house.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Ivan and Marija's house.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Their garage.

Rose Tessmer Pic - The driveway leading to their house.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Marija's sister and her family with Marija and Ivan.  They live in Sweden.  Marija has relatives everywhere. 
I felt bad about dropping in again but we didn't have any way to contact them yet and I wanted to see them one more time while we still had the rental car and were so close.  Luckily our excellent interpreter Ana was available so Ivan picked her up so we could talk some more.  We met Tomislav's sister Marina this time and traded more information and stories.  Tomislav was out wild pig hunting so we missed him and his harmonica playing this time.  We gave them our house address in America and my parents address since we are still in England and received Ivan and Marija's Veliki Jadrc address.  We also traded Marina's FaceBook information - we were finally able to friend them later that night so now we have FaceBook contacts with Ana, Marina, Marina's son Antonio, and Tomislav.  How cool is that?  They were all super people which easily made Croatia one of my favorite trips. 
Sunday the 30th - Our last day in Croatia.  I had to find some activities for us to do as we burned through my two day itinerary on the first day.  It was a Sunday so most museums were only open for part of the day which didn't help but we finally settled on an itinerary of museums in the morning and afternoon with shopping in the evening.  Talk about a fail.  We started out looking for the Tehniki Muzej (Technical Museum, see museum link) to teach the kids a little about Nikola Tesla but it wasn't the same museum I remember seeing on our first day in Croatia so we ended up walking away from the museum instead of towards it.  Fail.  After swallowing my man pride I asked for directions and realised exactly where it was.  Scratch that off the list.  So Kalle suggested the Muzej za umjetnost i obrt (Museum of Arts and Crafts, see unofficial link).  She has a pretty solid (albeit small sample size) track record on suggesting interesting museums to visit so we rolled with it.  I don't think it ended up being the type of museum she thought it would be but we all enjoying it so her record improves. 

Rose Tessmer Pic - Approaching the museum.  Cold day today, it started out -4 C (22 F) and peaked at 4 C (38) but it didn't feel that warm.  Bust out the warm jackets today.

Rose Tessmer Pic - With St. George and the Dragon guarding the museum it must have some good stuff in there.

Rose Tessmer Pic - The clock section.  Lots of interesting clocks.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Why don't I have one of these watches?

Rose Tessmer Pic - Kalle noticed the chain links are tiny vertebraes.  Creepy.

Rose Tessmer Pic - A porcelain lady clock.

Rose Tessmer Pic - There were also some fine carved ivory pieces.

Rose Tessmer Pic - This room was full of bells.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Required stained glass picture.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Some fancy plates.

Rose Tessmer Pic - An interesting glass gun.

Rose Tessmer Pic - The plate on the left made me chuckle.  The defensive woman is fending off the amorous soldier while the little girl is whacking the soldier for all she's worth.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Zivio! or Cheers! for the Americans.  It looked the English Toby Jugs which initially captured my eye then I saw the Zivio on his cup.  I wish I had one of these guys.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Kalle liked looking at all of the early 1900's dresses.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Kalle's favourite dress.

Rose Tessmer Pic - The stained glass, dishes and glass room.  Lots of interesting pieces here even though I am not a big fan of painted plates and blown glass.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Picasso replica.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Interesting field design from 1935.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Interesting jumping man pic from 1894.  Must be Doug Schetzel's relative.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Portrait from 1865.  Lots of interesting pictures in this part of the museum, lots of variety and interesting displays that captured my attention.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Front of Katedrala from 1864 (pre-1880 earthquake damage).  Same entrance as one of my early pictures in this post which is why I snapped it.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Onto the furniture part of the museum.

Rose Tessmer Pic - I liked this window so much I included a close up.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Sorry for the rotated picture, I liked the shape lines on the couple from 1933.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Colourful flowers.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Magnificent carved wooden cabinet from 1879.

Rose Tessmer Pic - St. Barbara with her tower close up.

Rose Tessmer Pic - What detail.

Rose Tessmer Pic - They had a few oddly different pictures here where they added out of place pieces to existing pictures.  Wedding Will and Kate are greeting us here. 

Rose Tessmer Pic - Lori like this four person chair/stool furniture piece.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Colourful 19th C something.

Rose Tessmer Pic - In the middle of each floor were more paintings.

Rose Tessmer Pic - There were a couple abstract pieces we tried interpreting.  I thought this was a cabin in the woods caught up in a forest fire during the wintertime.  Karl thought it was rubbish.

Rose Tessmer Pic - 15th C Sv. Juraj.

Rose Tessmer Pic - I thought it was neat that the kids were comparing how this Mona Lisa replica looked different than the real thing.

Rose Tessmer Pic - This tapestry must have been impressive in its prime with its rich colours.

Rose Tessmer Pic - I still don't know what this is but I think I want one.

Rose Tessmer Pic - This is the religious artifact area that had a little of everything in the way of statues.  Small wall mounted ones up to...

Rose Tessmer Pic - This massive 1660 shrine.  Just a tad excessive I think.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Not sure I will ever see another harp for the rest of my life and not think of Dublin.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Far out Frank Zappa practising for his end of the month facial hair pic.  I am sure it'll be a tad different like Frank was. 

Rose Tessmer Pic - King David with Harp from first half of 17th C.  Still makes me think of Dublin.

Rose Tessmer Pic - After we finished the main museum I ducked into this Christmas exhibit room.  Here are some traditional Christmas tree decorations from the 1930's.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Some Christmas cards.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Postcards with flowers.

Rose Tessmer Pic - More decorations from the first half of the 20th C.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Tree topper decorations from the first decade of the 20th C.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Doll Stroller is from end of 19th C, Sewing Machine is from beginning of 20th C.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Doll House from the 1920's.

Rose Tessmer Pic - A Dora Doll from mid 19th C.  I think Dora is a Croatian literary character but I forget the specifics.

Rose Tessmer Pic - One more cards picture, these are more recent than the last picture.
Rose Tessmer Pic - Walking to the main square along Ilica after the museum.

Rose Tessmer Pic - The funicular is advertised as possibly the shortest in the world.

Rose Tessmer Pic - The Trg bana Jelacic.  We walked past here on our way to finding lunch.  We finally found a place in Tkalciceva called Agava (link).  It was one of those places that looked really good or really overpriced so I was a little apprehensive at first but once they started serving the food it was a grand slam home run.

Rose Tessmer Pic - More Croatian beer.  Still tasting good.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Not good when Dweezil and Moon Unit don't listen to father Frank.
Rose Tessmer Pic - For a rare treat we ordered a starter, strukli and focaccia bread.

Rose Tessmer Pic - On the bottom is strukli - a cheese sauce filled dumpling with the dumpling actually being a rectangular layer folded onto itself to form a pillow.  It was double awesome.  The focaccia bread is an olive oil basted bread with herbs and salt crystals sprinkled on top.  Not as awesome as the strukli but maybe the best tasting bread I have ever eaten.  This starter was great.

Rose Tessmer Pic - For my meal I ordered Dalmatian beef and dumpling balls.  Not great but very good.  The beef was cored a couple time and carrots and mushrooms were pressed into the holes.

Rose Tessmer Pic - The steps leading up to our excellent lunch. 

Rose Tessmer Pic - After lunch we walked to our next destination.  As we walked by St. Mark's Church I saw these Crusader (just a guess) scenes leaning against a wall in an alley.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Sorry, one more pic of the distinctive roof.  Another sunny day to explore. 
After walking past St. Mark's Square we arrived at the Museum of Broken Relationships (link).  When we travel we like seeing the different historical sights, local monuments, geographical treasures, national oddities, local food samples, etc. so our next stop seemed to fit that category.  The museum is a collection of items donated by people after their relationships ended.  The place was small and won a bunch of awards which means it was expensive.  Some of the items were funny, some were therapeutic, some were vindictive, some were sad, and some were plain odd.  Certainly a unique museum but I can't say it was worth the inflated price of admission.

Rose Tessmer Pic - See below.

Rose Tessmer Pic -  For above, I hadn't heard this superstition before.

Rose Tessmer Pic - See below.

Rose Tessmer Pic - For above, this was a little sweet and sad.
Rose Tessmer Pic - See below.

Rose Tessmer Pic - For above, no symbolism here mate.

Rose Tessmer Pic - For below, this was funny.

Rose Tessmer Pic - See above.

Rose Tessmer Pic - For below.  Therapeutic and good exercise - double winner!

Rose Tessmer Pic - See above.

Rose Tessmer Pic - See below.

Rose Tessmer Pic - For above.  There was an inordinate number of items from Bloomington here.  Maybe the museum travelled through there and picked up some donations?

Rose Tessmer Pic - See below.

Rose Tessmer Pic - For above.  This one was funny.

Rose Tessmer Pic - See below.

Rose Tessmer Pic - For above.  A little funny and a lot "eww".

Rose Tessmer Pic - Looking down one of the halls.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Museum of Broken Relationships on right, St. Mark's Square and Church straight ahead in Old Town.  By now the museums are closed so I planned walking around the city and checking out some stores.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Overlooking Kaptol from Gorni Grad.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Look BeeGee... Numbs from California!

Rose Tessmer Pic - Riding down the self advertised world's shortest funicular.  Best part was it was free today.  Yeah!

Rose Tessmer Pic - It was tough and I had to channel my inner Chuck Norris willpower to turn down the Chuck Norris American Hot Dog. 

Rose Tessmer Pic - ban Josep Jelacic (Wiki link).  Ban is a lord or ruler.  If I understood one of the locals correctly Josep was considered the first great general of Croatia.

Rose Tessmer Pic - My Sunday afternoon plan was a failure so we stopped for some super thick hot chocolate and coffees.  Somehow I misunderstood the store hours and everything closed in the afternoon.  There were a lot of outdoor booths/kiosks open but nothing grabbed our attention and it was cold standing in the shade so our day was cut a bit short.  If I was on the ball we would have went to the Mirogoj Cemetery (link) after lunch then the broken relationship museum after that but I forgot about the cemetery so we slowly made our way back to the hotel before darkness dropped down on us.  The cemetery is advertsied as one of the most beautiful cemeteries in Europe so it probably would have been fascinating to see.   

Rose Tessmer Pic - Another coffee and milk (latte).  I am not a big fan of lattes, I just feel a bit cheated paying for two sips of espresso and calling it a coffee.  I drank bigger coffees when I was a toddler with my grandma Seppanen.  For those not on the Seppanen side of the family, as soon as you were old enough to hold a cup grandma would pour a little coffee and a lot of cream/milk in the cup and you would sit around the kitchen table drinking coffee, eating a biscuit and talking with grandma.  Finns start young with their coffee.  It must be genetic as we gave Karl a sip of black coffee when he was at the "sitting on your lap at the table because he couldn't sit up by himself yet stage" to cure him from grabbing at our coffee cup one morning but instead he drank it and went "ummmmmm".  But I deviate with my memories so we'll continue back to Croatia. 

Rose Tessmer Pic - Another side street view.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Timing is everything.

Rose Tessmer Pic - This is the shot I was trying to take of the random street.  Lots of multi-level buildings here.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Older apartment building on the walk back to our hotel.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Zagreb is small with a lot of people so there were a lot of taller buildings like those in the distance. 
Monday the 31st - Basically a travel day for us so we slept in until eight o'clock, ate breakfast and relaxed for a few minutes until it was time to taxi to the airport then fly home.  The flights home were uneventful but this time I had the camera ready as we flew over the mountains of Croatia and Slovenia so here are some of mine and Lori's better shots.

Rose Tessmer Pic - After a few horrible pictures I smartened up and snapped some decent ones.

Rose Tessmer Pic - I liked this one that shows fingers of clouds swallowing up the valleys.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Close up of the clouds and mountains.

Rose Tessmer Pic - I liked how this picture shows the cloud elevation being below some of the mountain peaks.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Clouds, mountains and snow.

Rose Tessmer Pic - More snow capped peaks.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Close up of snow topped peaks.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Cloud close up.  I used to travel a lot in a previous job and one of my favourite parts of travelling was seeing the clouds as I was flying.  The clouds were never the same shape which I find fascinating.  It brought me back to a time when I was much younger and wasn't so busy.  I would lay on the grass watching the cloud shapes high in the sky trying to determine what each clouds looked like.

Rose Tessmer Pic - Last cloud pic.  I put my camera away as we started our descent and I wished I hadn't as we were between an upper layer and lower layer of clouds for awhile.  Very cool and rare to look out the plane window and see open air straight out the window but a cloud layer just above and just below the plane.
Well, that was our fantastic trip so I hope you have enjoyed it if you made it this far.  If any friends or family have questions on our trip that I didn't cover feel free to contact me on this blog or through my FaceBook page.
For an unfiltered look at my camera roll you can look at my pictures on a Picasa web album here.  I didn't add descriptions to most of the photos but they are in chronological order (except for the one family group shot that is in the air plane pictures for some reason) so you should be able to follow our travels.  Make sure you watch the two videos at the end of the folder showing cousin Tomislav playing the accordion.  They were to big to upload so I didn't put them on the blog.
Since it is the end of the month its time to wrap up the Facial Hair of the Month.  The hairy awesomeness we know as Far out Frank Zappa had a great time checking out England, Lisbon, and Croatia but its time to move on.  See ya later Frank!
Thanks for listening,


  1. I can't believe you found your long lost relatives. I also can't believe they were nice and let you hassle them while giving you food and hard liquor. Pretty amazing.

    Rose Tessmer must be what the Dos Equis guy wishes he was. She encompasses every facet of life from breast feeding to snow covered mountains at 30k feet to tomahawks. Stay thirsty Rose Tessmer!

    1. They were great, especially considering they put up with us dropping in on them like we did. Easily a trip of a lifetime for us.

  2. Hi Jay and Lori. We've never met and I'm not sure which of the Seppanen's you are. (I only know Jim and Carol). My name is Paul Sayotovich I am Rick Tessmers cousin on his mothers side. You definitely have a touch of his sense of humor. My dad Frank and Rose (RIP) are brother and sister. Thank you for posting this trip. It is wonderful to see the sights and people. I hope to get there myself someday. Thanks again and Zivio!

  3. Hi Paul, I'm Carol's younger son. We may have met at one of the Sayotovich farm summer family reunions about 25-30 years ago. I remember going to a couple but don't remember everyone who was there any more. The trip was amazing, I wasn't even sure I would able to find the house let alone realtives still living in the house. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Please tell Uncle Frank I said hi, it's been many years since I've seen him. Zivio!

  4. Jay, another excellent post. Well written, nice pictures, and nice documentation of your trip to Croatia. If I had known you were headed there, I would have suggested a day trip to Ljubljana, Slovania. If you ever have questions while you are planning, or if you want to bounce something off someone, drop a line. Rachel and her husband also lived in Germany for a while and might have a few thoughts on your future trip there.

    I think you have found out that half the fun is in the planning and research. Thanks for sharing. Tim Seppanen

    1. Thanks Tim. I agree on the planning and research, I really do enjoy it. Thanks for the tip on Jerry and Rachel also, I will drop her a line to see if they have any suggestions. Did you visit them while they were there?