Jim and I were scheduled to fly out of Phoenix early Sunday, November 30th, so the night before we made sure to get in lots and lots and lots of love and snuggles before we left our girl for the longest we’ve ever left her! Or well, at least the longest we’ve both been gone at the same time and definitely the longest Mama has ever been gone.
We snuggled and hugged and kissed and put her to bed with promises of lots of FaceTime and so much fun for her with Grammy and Pappy.
Before I left her room she asked me, “Is Grammy going to tell you everything I do?”
Why, yes. Yes she is.
Mom told me that the first thing out of her mouth the next morning was, “Are you really going to tell my Mom everything I do?”
Nothing like a healthy fear to help encourage good behavior. And apparently, she was a shining star of stellar behavior the entire time we were gone, so luckily Mom didn’t have much at all to tell me 🙂
We got up at 430am to get ready and out the door for our first flight of the day, out of Phoenix. The plan was to fly from Phoenix to Atlanta(eat PF Changs for lunch YUM), fly to Paris and meet up with the rest of Jim’s work group, fly to Zagreb, and then ride together to Prelog, Croatia.
We loaded onto the plane, got seated in the exit row(extra leg room, HOLLA!) sat and waited to take off until……
we had to deplane because our plane had a fuel leak. Annnnd our first flight of the trip was canceled.
Jim stood in line for a good bit to attempt to get us rescheduled and where we needed to be.
The new plans went something like this:
Spend 9 hours in the Phoenix airport before even getting on a plane.
Fly from Phoenix to Detroit and run to our gate as it’s boarding our flight to Amsterdam by the time we land(plus no dinner and no PF Changs boohoohoo)
Fly in the center row of four people for the next 7 hours, next to a man with more items strewn about than you can imagine so you can’t get out on his side and next to another man with a gas problem and the propensity for sleeping 99% of the trip, leaving you essentially stranded.
Land in Amsterdam, fall asleep on a tile floor while waiting for your flight to Zagreb, accidentally eat some plain yogurt that you expected to be vanilla, throw up all over the airport bathroom as your next flight is boarding….
and take your last flight of the day to Zagreb where you finally meet up with Jim’s work team.
And then drive 1.5 hours to Prelog.
But, nevertheless, we did it. We made it to our very, very wonderful hotel. We walked across the street to a lovely restaurant where we all stuffed our starved faces and then came back to crash into our hotel rooms….and then deal with jet lag/time change, but hey, the hotel was on point.
Across the street was a great CVS style store to help keep me from starvation 😉 but really, I definitely bought a can of pringles over there.
This beautiful church was right outside our hotel window. It was absolutely lovely at night too, they have lights all around it and it’s simply stunning.
A funny story, the night before we had noticed that the bells sound at every hour and it stopped at 10 at night. So, the first morning, come 6am the bells start ringing. It rang the 6 chimes to sound the hours, there was a brief pause, and then literally for the next full minute it was clanging at top level. Jim and I legitimately thought that the bell ringer must be quitting his job and was going out in a blaze of glory.
We drifted off to sleep.
When the full minute of bell clanging started all over again.
Come to find out, during the advent season they have mass every morning at 6 am. So the bells signal the start and end of the service.
One of the first things the Croatian branch members asked us when we met was, “is your room on the side with the bells?” lol. Yes, yes it absolutely was.
But hey, no need to set an alarm anymore.
The woman at the front of our group helped run the hotel and every single morning she waited down in their kitchen area for us to cook us breakfast. She would fix us eggs and bacon, coffee and lattes every day. Jim asked her if the church was open for us to go look inside and she said no, that it was only for members of the congregation. But then promptly called her priest to ask if we could come inside for a quick tour.
They were wonderful people. She translated for us because the priest didn’t speak English and he welcomed us to take photos of his beautiful church.
This particular church was around 250 years old(old for US standards, but quite young for European ones!) and all of the paintings had been made in Vienna and brought to them.
I’d be lying if I told you that I didn’t get a bit choked up and emotional at the sight of such a beautiful church. Jim and I discussed this for a long time after, but really, there is something extraordinarily beautiful that our protestant churches lack(I’m merely talking about the building itself). When you walk into a church like this, particularly in such a small town! You can’t help but feel and know that you are in a holy place to meet with God. Now, obviously, we have that same experience in our own church, but there is something truly ethereal and heavenly about such an ornate and beautiful building.
Because when I get to heaven someday I don’t anticipate it looking like a shopping mall.
Anyway! Moving on! After Jim’s last work day in Prelog, we rode to Zagreb and spent Friday night exploring their city.
My best meal of our entire trip came from this restaurant. Per the chalkboard wall’s suggestions, I tried their famous beef burger and it made me so happy. It came with FRIES and REAL KETCHUP. Y’all, when I realized there was ketchup on my plate, no lie my eyes teared up.
I’d never seen anything more beautiful.
After dinner we spent lots more time walking around downtown Zagreb, eating dessert, and ending our night shopping their Christmas market. They had booths set up all around selling all sorts of things and it was wonderful.