|We had an equally wonderful time with the family in Croatia. Dalibar met us at the border and drove us to our hotel in Rijeka. We then went to his apartment. The town is a bit run-down in spots amazingly more the 20th century buildings than the older ones, but their are very pretty views of the city as well. The water was beautiful however and Dalibar’s family was delightful. His wife, Rose, daughter Anna, spoke wonderful English. I suspect his son, Luka spoke better than he let on as he completely understood us. (He did admit that he knows English, but really does not like to speak it!) Anna is 22 & goes to the University. She is majoring in public relations. Luka is 16, 6’3” and a soccer player. He thinks he would like to be a teacher and teach World History and Geography.
The next day, Dalibar led us to Matulji where we met more cousins, Slava, whose mother was Frank’s father’s sister. On the way, we visited the small village of Varljeni where Frank’s great-grandparents had lived before his grandfather build his home in Matulji. There are 20 homes on the one street in the village. We did see the homes of a few Varljens, but were not able to visit with them enough to determine the relationship. Obviously, though, there must be one! This was really a neat part of the trip! And amazingly, Dalibar saw someone he went to high school with many years ago. This many owns a pottery shop there in his home and gave us a tour. It was pretty neat knowing we were walking the same streets of our Varljen fore-fathers.
They were delightful as they some of them live in Italy and were simply “summering” here. It was fun to watch them speak with such animation and to play “charades of a sort” as we tried to communicate with each other.
Later that afternoon, they took us to a beautiful restaurant where we ate out on the porch overlooking a wonderful view of the Adriatic Sea. Again, we were fed “family style” plates of delicious meats, soup, salad, and a marvelous dessert. Sara, (16) one of the cousins’ granddaughters came along to translate. Later, we went to her house for fruit & ice cream. (This is Ivo's's daughter, Mia's family.) Their house is absolutely incredible, a 3 story stone house built into the hills overlooking the sea. The view was absolutely breathtaking! We enjoyed meeting Stephanie, Sara’s 12 year old younger sister, who speaks absolutely perfect English & had a very cute personality. We talked a bit about school. There, they have two schools, elementary school for ages 7-14, and then the high school for 15-18 year olds. Stephanie’s favorite subjects were English and Physics. When I told her she must be very smart. She just smiled, and quietly said, “I am.” =)
Again, it was a delightful evening & we enjoyed making new friends with far away family members and getting a glimpse into life in a completely different country and culture.