Vacation Archives – Day #2: The Wedding

This is an entry from the Vacation Archives, a somewhat tardy report of my adventures in Croatia and Italy. On June 1st, 2012, I went to one of my best friends’ weddings. This post was written in the early morning hours after returning from the event…

Katie & Nikola

Katie & Nikola, on the way to the wedding

Today was the wedding. It was beautiful and very different from anything I’ve seen in the states. The day started off early, since the bride needed help setting up the pre-wedding cocktail hour, and we wanted to hang out to help her dress and get ready.

I helped her mother iron the wedding dress, then just hung out and acted awkwardly. I really don’t do well in touchy freely situations, and weddings are always too emotional for me. Not in that I cry (which I do) but in that I’m annoyed at crying, and feeling weird about having to keep getting hugs and kisses. I’m just a dork when it comes to PDA from my buds. They all know this about me, though, so when I’m all awkward they think nothing of it, thankfully.

So to keep it short, there were a ton of photos, Bride got dressed, everyone teared up, then we had a party. The tradition is for the groom’s family to come and collect the bride to take her to the church, so the Bride’s family has a small party prepared. The neighbors are all invited, and it’s a good time for the community at large to wish them well. Typically both bride and groom would also host a three day open house at their family homes leading up to the wedding, but they skipped that. A cute little traditional band played a trumpet and two accordions, and lots of bread, cookies, steak tartar, cheese, and dried meats were served.

The cool little band that played the pre-wedding reception.

After the party, everyone stuffed into cars, and we drove as one procession down to the town, horns honking the whole time. The band was in the first car, and played during the drive, in the parking lot, and all the way through town to the church.

The church dated from the 11th century, and was mind boggling in its beauty and upkeep. The only way to get there is on foot, and we stood as one party in the courtyard for a few minutes before being allowed in. The wedding itself was blessedly short, even more of a blessing since it was a Catholic ceremony, all in Croatian. I won’t lie, I would have fallen asleep if not for the beautiful frescos that caught and kept my interest.

After the wedding ceremony ended, everyone went up to the front of the church to meet the married couple and wish them luck. As soon as everyone had paid respects, we were marched back out to the parking lot (actually the local fire department’s lot), the band playing and by this point, drinking. We got back in cars and drove up, up, up the mountain to the reception. This was seriously the most gorgeous spot I could imagine having a wedding reception in. The building had been there, built into the mountain, since at least the end of he 19th century.

There was a large patio looking out to the ocean on one side, a lush valley on another, and onto the next mountain from the third side. It was very modern and chic, and felt like something you’d see in Oregon or California, maybe in wine country, but infinitely more spectacular. Inside, the tables were gorgeously set, and there was awesome local art throughout. We started out with endless champagne and hors dovres on the patio, then eventually moved to the tables. There was plenty of time between each course, enough there was actually dancing between courses, something I’ve never seen in America. we started with asparagus soup, then had pasta stuffed with ricotta and herbs, followed by a pasta and young asparagus dish for the vegetarian crowd, and fish for the others. I had requested a veggie meal, since i knew I would be using this vacation to either go veg or at least pescetarian.

Bestie & me at the post-wedding reception.

Dancing went on all night, and the reception rolled until at least 4am, though I went home at 2ish. We were given parting gifts of homemade grappa and olive oil, too. So cool. Overall, it was a lovely evening. I was down for part of the evening, just feeling out of sorts for a variety of reasons. It turns out that Bestie just found out she’s pregnant, and now Bride’s married, and there I was at the reception with no one to drink with or dance with. My boyfriend was on the other side of the world, too lame to travel, missing all of this, pissing me off, making me realize how many more times I was going to have to sit out the dance because of him. But eventually I moved on and had great conversations with bride’s brother and cousin, and then the old school friend from London (who’s so cool, so I’m pumped that we got a chance to talk that day and the next).

Near the end of the night, a friend of Bride’s started a food fight that thankfully stayed small. It was a good laugh, though, and several members of the party ended up covered in wedding cake. I wish I had gotten a photo…

Vacation Retrospective – Day #1, Part 2: Lovran, Croatia

I never ended up writing a follow up post about what happened once I finally touched down in Trieste, Italy at the end of almost 22 hours of flight/airport time. However, there were a few interesting bits I want to make sure not to forget or otherwise leave out.

I walked off of the plane in Trieste with the idea that I would get to the lobby and see my friend Katie (Bride) standing there. Instead, I walked out into the lobby and saw a sea of unfamiliar faces. Luckily, one of them was holding up a sign with my name on it. It was written in Katie’s handwriting, and though the guy was a fresh-faced 24 year old, I still felt a flash of pride and allowed myself to pretend that he was my limo driver! I’ve always loved that part in the movies where the limo driver is waiting with a sign, and the young author/artist/newly-minted bigwig gets to pick his own name out of the crowd. *sigh*

I hopped into a small car with two friendly Croatian brothers, friends of the Groom, and started the hour and a half ride through Italy, Slovenia, and into Croatia. We chatted about 80’s music, dancing, what was new on the radio in Croatia, and I learned a few words, like “hvala” (thank you). Once we got to Lovran, the driver, Mario, drove me straight to my apartment house, which is kind of like a bed & breakfast, but without the breakfast. They’re very common in Croatia, and this one cost me 21 Euro a night. I had thought that I would be sharing a room with Bestie and her husband, but instead I had my own private room, with my own bathroom and a cute little balcony. It was very homey and cheery, with a big painting of Marilyn Monroe over the bed. I loved it.


First was a very necessary shower and a very short nap, followed getting all of my things out of the pack and into the closet. While I was unpacking, Bestie knocked on the door. We hugged excitedly, and talked about the plan for the evening, then she told me her big news – she’s pregnant!

I was both happy and a bit crestfallen. This was supposed to be the last big adventure for the three of us, and now she wouldn’t be able to steer the party, like always. I didn’t tell anyone while I was on vacation, but it weighed on me for the next couple of days; my own fault for placing so much emotional power on the thought of this vacation, and also for not giving myself the permission to step up to the plate and just have fun for my own damn self.

One thing I learned over the course of this vacation is that I often feel powerless and unable to change life’s course, and I also always think of all the possible ways that people could dislike what I have to say. I often throw myself off course before even starting just because I come to a decision for other people without giving them a chance to react or respond. I assume people won’t like me, or will think my ideas are stupid, or will want to do better/bigger/more fun things, and ascribe these imagined faults to the people, without any real proof that they’d ever actually be that way. It’s unfair of me, and it’s bigoted in its own way, and what’s weird is that I never just assume that strangers will do or say X, Y, and Z. I trust strangers and often reach out to them in ways I’d never reach out to people I actually know and love. Instead, I assign imaginary roles to the real people in my life, and confine them to these boundaries without much proof that they wouldn’t rise above my assumptions if I just gave them time, space, and opportunity to prove themselves bigger than my judgmental thoughts will allow. It’s weird. But it’s me, and it’s something I’ve got to work with.

Anyway, moving back to vacation notes…that evening Bestie, her husband and I caught a ride with the groom up some very steep mountain roads to the little guest house that Katie and her family were inhabiting for the week leading up to the vacation. Groom’s family owns the house and a large plot of land around it, and they grow grapes, cherries, peaches, chestnuts, and other lovely edible things there. Groom and his brother run a sailing company, and often the tourists that take the sailboat out will stay in the guest house for a few days, too. The house is broken up into two apartments and lots of basement space for storing the wine the family makes with its grapes.

Bestie, her husband, and our friend Karl, brother-of-the-bride. Notice the bowl of cherry pits – this was a tiny fraction of the cherries we ingested over the course of the vacation. They’re just so good!

Bestie, Katie and I spent the evening walking around in the garden, getting reacquainted, eating too many cherries, and playing with Katie’s cute nephew. Then around 9pm, Bestie, her husband and I caught a ride back down the mountain to the center of town, where they had found a great gelato place the night before.

One of the many beautiful villas in Lovran, Croatia.

We walked through this adorable little seaside town, admiring the lovely late 19th century villas that lined the roads, breathing in the incredible salty sea air, then met up with another newly arrived wedding guest at the gelato place. After gelato and coffee, we walked along the promenade, then decided to see if we could find Katie’s extended family at the restaurant they had said they were going to. After a couple of wrong turns, we found the family, then ended up having a late dinner (the second one that evening – we had eaten earlier at the guest house, as well) and more wine with Katie’s parents, her sister’s inlaws, her uncle, and friends of the family. Finally, around midnight we wandered back to the apartment house for a well-deserved slumber. Tomorrow was the big day!


One Week To Go…

A week from now I will be in the air somewhere over the Atlantic, on my way to party with some of my favorite people in the entire world, in a place that I’ve been assured is one of the most beautiful locations in the entire world. I am one lucky dame. I’ll be hanging out with:

Bestie & Me

Bestie & me last month at a wedding – I have no idea what she’s telling me, but it’s obviously disturbing. Let’s hope we take some more attractive pictures next week!

The Bestie: We’re yin and yang. She sees a tree and climbs to the top just to be there; I get nervous just crossing the street at the crosswalk. She walks into a party and chats happily with everyone, even people she’s never met before. I get overwhelmed half way through the party, and hide in the back room, nursing my beer and reading a book. She taught me how to ride a bike (at 19), gave me all the best reasons to go dancing instead of studying, instinctively knew when to prod me into action and when to leave me alone. I don’t know if I’ve been as good of a friend, being the crabby little weirdo that I am, but we’ve shared enough laughter to last a lifetime, and we’re only just beginning. I’m very excited to see her again, even though we just met up at another wedding last month.

Bride & Anna

The Bride & me a few years ago at the New Orleans Jazz Fest. We’ve seen each other since then, but I can’t find any photos. Definitely got to fix that!

The Bride: Seriously one of the most beautiful and intriguing women I’ve ever met. The Bestie and I lived together for two years (sharing first a dorm room, then another room in a house, with no arguments – a rare feat for freshman year roommates from VERY different backgrounds, connected by a computer matching system). We decided it was time to move into our own apartment, with separate rooms, but needed a third person. Bestie introduced me to Bride, and magic happened pretty much immediately. She made, and makes, everything work perfectly for the three of us. She’s both a wild woman and an analyst. A night of drinking can turn into a conversation about string theory, fate, the touch of faerie in the everyday realm, or some controversial new street artist that would never have gotten a second look from me. We’ve shared some great adventures, the three of us, the two of us, the two of them, and somehow no one ends up being the third wheel. The Bride has lived in Europe since she and Bestie graduated architecture school in 2004. It’s been amazing to get to visit her, and this time will be no different, despite change of locale. It’s funny that though time and distance separate us, our relationship has stayed strong. It’s different now, but I’m hoping we’ll all get to be bitchy old ladies together, drinking wine on a topless beach somewhere, scaring young men with our saggy old tits. Except for Bestie. She’s going to have great tits forever, the bitch.

The Bride’s Bestie: I’m so happy she’ll be able to come to the wedding! At first, it seemed as though a pretty intense health scare might keep her in the US, but everything’s looking up and she’s going to make it to hang out with us, after all. I’ve only seen BB a few times, but we keep up through Facebook, and she’s amazing. It’s not often that you meet someone who is devastatingly gorgeous AND devastatingly kind, but BB is that lady. She’s had a pretty crazy life, from modeling in her youth, to being on TV, to selling celebrity real estate, and now she’s finishing up her college degree and doing all kinds of amazing student government work. She and her husband promote the arts in her hometown, and regularly raise funds for the underprivileged in our country and across the world, fighting malaria and for women’s rights. It sounds out of this world, but that’s just BB – amazing. Also, she’s one hell of a party girl, so this wedding just got kicked up another notch!

Partner & Anna

Partner & me, again at Jazz Fest a few years ago.

The Partner: The Bride’s business partner from her old firm in Austria, Partner is a riot. She’s a native German speaker, but speaks English well. Even so, she’s been quiet, even terse, the handful of times I’ve gotten to hang out with her. She’s definitely not a big talker (at least not in English), but when she does, it’s with wit and skill. She says what she thinks, a trait I love in others (this also means that I try not to piss her off!). She’s very sporty, a long, lithe woman with sun-kissed skin, sparkling eyes, and a slightly weathered demeanor that belies her life as an outdoors-person. Not sure if her girlfriend will be coming to the wedding, as well, but I’ve been curious to meet Partner’s other half.

The Mom: I love, love, love The Bride’s mom. She’s amazing in so many ways, and though I adore my own mother, if I had been able to build a perfect mom, this Mom wouldn’t be too far off from the characteristics I’d choose. Like me, she’s crazy about medieval history, and is actually a retired professor of Germanic history with a focus on medieval bits. She recently walked the Camino de Compostela, something I’ve wanted to do for years, and will do one day in the not too distant future. She also writes, and we’ve been buddies for NaNoWriMo for a couple of years now. Plus, she’s also very laid back, digs a glass of red wine, and is a fascinating conversationalist. I’m psyched to be in her presence for a few days.

The Sister: Likewise, I’m happy about hanging out with The Bride’s sister. She’s intimidating, some might say scary in her intense forwardness, but I admire her and look forward to getting to know her better. She’s all grown up with two kids, a husband, and a PhD, but she’s still the girl I’d choose if I was looking for a partner in crime and couldn’t find Bestie or Bride in time. Hell, I might choose her over those two – I think she might have less scruples of hurting someone than they would. I’m picturing us in some kind of Mad Max scenario, running down bad guys on some dusty road in the outback. Luckily, this vacation is all about beaches and gelato, so most likely no crime in my immediate future. It’s going to be great to down some wine and talk trash with Sister.

Bestie, Hubby & Anna

Bestie, Hubby & me at another friend’s wedding last month. This was a field day, held the day before the wedding, 50 degrees, cold and rainy. We were fighting the chill in the best possible way, with shots of Jameson and good conversation.

Bestie’s Hubby: I didn’t dig Hubby when we first met (Bestie and I were once again living together, three years after graduating from undergrad), but he’s grown on me. He’s so very different from the kind of guys I was used to meeting, acting silly in sobering situations, saying the first thing that comes to mind always, generally annoying the shit out of me for much of the first couple of years I knew him. But then they got married, and I had to like him or else. And though at first I was dismayed at trying to find a way to make this happen, all of a sudden it turned out that he was really fun to hang out with when I stopped being so uptight. To be fair, I think Bestie has rubbed off on him, and he’s grown up a bit since they got together. The last couple of times we’ve hung out, we’ve had some nice conversations, and it’s been a pleasure to be around him. He makes Bestie laugh, and now he makes me laugh too. That’s pretty cool in my book.

Of course, there will be many more people. The Bride’s fiance, whom I’ve only met once but liked very much. His entire family, all from this small Croatian town that we’ll be visiting. The rest of The Bride’s family, and more friends from all over the world that I haven’t met yet, but can’t wait to get to know. This is going to be an absolute blast!