Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Vegan MoFo Day 11: Croatia, or Bust

Earlier during Vegan MoFo, I mentioned that I had been on two cruises in my life. The first cruise was on the AIDA Cara, mere weeks before my hubby and I moved back to the States after spending 3 years in Germany. We wanted to cram as much travel in as we could before we returned home, so we decided a cruise was a good way to go. We headed to a travel agent in downtown Kitzingen to inquire about available cruises. Mind you, it was about 3 months before we were going to leave Germany, so we were on a bit of a tight schedule. The travel agent was very helpful and got us booked on, well, the only cruise available. At least, I'm pretty sure it was the only cruise available, but she was speaking rapid-fire German, and we didn't exactly sprechen Deutsch all that much well. Ah, the naivete of youth. Looking back, it was actually kind of funny. I mean, really. We had lived in Germany for almost 3 years, but we were NOT fluent in German. It's really hard to become fluent unless you really try, because Germans speak English so darn well! And they always want to practice their English. I can't tell you how many times a German said to me, "I'm so sorry, I must apologize for my English, but wha wha whoamp whoamp (insert Peanuts sound)" and their English would be far superior to my own. My hubby and I were also very young (22 and 23) and not very sophisticated in the ways of the world. If we were living there now, I would be trying my hardest to become fluent. But, I was 22 and homesick and missed things like Ally McBeal and Pizza Hut (*sigh). 
But back to the cruise...
So, in early June of 2003, my hubby and I drove to Frankfurt and then flew to Dubrovnik, Croatia to begin our cruise vacation. You know what I remember most about this day, though? We were marooned in the tiny Dubrovnik airport for a couple of hours while armed guards secured the area around the airport. Bomb threat? Nope. Eventually, after peering out the airport windows, I got a glimpse of Pope John Paul II in the Popemobile (where, oh, where was my camera, then?) Apparently, the Pontiff was also flying into Dubrovnik that day. 

He did not, however, join us on the cruise.

After the Pope went on his merry way, we boarded a bus and ferry to our first destination, the beautiful island of Lokrum. It's just a 10 minute-ferry ride away from the old port of Dubrovnik.

We saw some pretty cool wildlife on the island, including this gorgeous bird!

 We spent our afternoon swimming, sunbathing, and just taking in the amazing views of Dubrovnik.

We also ate our first official meal of the cruise, not on the cruise ship itself, but inside Fort Royal on Lokrum. I'd never eaten inside a fort before..it was awesome!!

After lunch, we got to enjoy a bit more time at the beach before we boarded a ferry boat to the AIDA...
...and then our Mediterranean cruise officially began!

We loved the (brief) time we spent in Dubrovnik. It was so beautiful! And the Old Town was really cool. We got to walk around there on the last day of the cruise, before we took the bus back to the airport.

I don't remember a lot about our lunch (it was, after all, over 8 years ago!), but the one thing I do remember is having some really, really tasty zucchini. It was cut into long, thick pieces, steamed, and flavored with Mediterranean herbs. I ate other stuff at lunch, but that is the one thing I remember clearly. It was so good! The zucchini was perfectly cooked - tender, not mushy, and the flavors were so delicate and fresh. I wanted to recreate that zucchini for dinner tonight, so I did my best...and I think it was pretty spot-on! I cut two medium zucchinis into long "sticks," then poached them for 4-5 minutes. I flavored the cooking water with dried basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, and sage, all Mediterranean herbs used in Croatian cuisine. A sprinkle of sea salt finished it off.

Along with the zucchini, I made a Fava Bean Salad with fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, parsley, and lemon juice. Rounding out the meal was a simple salad of baby romaine lettuce, grated carrot, and a drizzle of Mediterranean Olive Oil and Lemon Vinaigrette from Veganomicon. The fresh veggies, herbs, lemon juice, and olive oil brought me right back to that sun-kissed beach and magnificent old fort!

The other thing I remember about Croatia...searching, in vain, for Luka Kovac :)

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