There’s nothing political in this one, except an admission that I’m well aware of how privileged I am to be able to take a two+-week vacation in a nice country and do next to nothing.

Note also that these notes get a little repetitive. Apologies in advance.

Holiday – 25 August – 10 September 2017
25/8 – Flew to Split, taxi to our AirBnB – probably got ripped off a little by the cab driver, but not enough to sweat. Airport is very small – saw JayWay Travel’s man on the ground, but he was gone by the time I thought to say hi. Had lunch in the centre near (in?) the palace at one of Charlie’s recommendations. R had a really nice tuna salad and I had a tasty steak sandwich. We wandered the old centre for a little while – identified the location of the old synagogue, but it was not open (not surprisingly). Had supper at Apetit, another recommended joint where I had beef and R had fish. Aside from the astounding quality of the mains, the olives were divine. Saw a band play some cool rock and roll by the waterfront for a little bit. Also nice.

26/8 – Explored the palace some more, got my hair cut. Breakfast at Galerija – R had shakshuka and I had a really nice chia pudding with mango. Visited a church and the underground part of the palace (part of which was used as a Game of Thrones location – lots of those in Croatia). Supper at Mazzoon – we both ate ratatouille. Nice. Window shopped a little, but didn’t buy anything.

27/8 – Breakfast at Banana Split, just a bit downhill from our apartment and then packed our stuff and got the hire car. Two stops on our drive to Starigrad – Klis fortress which was another GoT location (and a good hike up a hill) and to some lovely waterfalls just south of Zadar in Krka National Park. Getting to the waterfall involved a nice hike, but then we could bathe just in front of the falls. Very cool. Arrived at the hotel in Starigrad at about 7, dropped our gear, and walked across the street to Degenija, a restaurant owned by the family of one of my colleagues. I had the mixed grill and R had fish. Well pleased. (We went back four times, I think.) Josip’s aunt, who runs the place, and his cousins had already returned to Zagreb, so I didn’t get to meet them. By the time we got back to the hotel, several coach loads of English people had arrived to share the holiday with us.

28/8 – Got up early and ran 4.4km up the road before 9:30 orientation. Mostly relaxed after checking out the things on offer. R did some sailing theory and then we had cocktails at the sky bar at sunset.

29/8 – 5km run at 7AM with other folks on the holiday. This run was led by Tom, one of the staff, three days a week. I ran it all six times over the course of our stay. One thing about Nielson staff – they are always smiling. And way fit. Not surprising for a company whose current tag line is ‘Relax as hard as you like’. Also did some personal fitness in the small gym, some time by the pool, a quick shop at the market around the corner. Two beers for our fridge that we didn’t end up drinking. (Happy to drink at the beach and sky bars, but not so much away from them.) R did some solo sailing – the wind had been variable but was good on this day. More cocktails before supper. Was a group next to us in which a woman pointed at some flashing red lights in the distance and said it looked like a disco. Rachel told her that the lights were on windmills to alert airplanes approaching the local airport. (To be fair, we had driven past the windmills on our way to the hotel, and we live in a country with lots of the things.)

30/8 – 8AM Tabata, 8:30 yoga, 9:45 intro to sailing. And then sat by the pool. The sailing intro was interesting, but I didn’t follow up on the experience. There was almost no wind on this particular day, which made some of the learning theoretical rather than practical. Drove out to Zadar in the afternoon. Wandered a little and enjoyed the old town. Odd combo of tourist tat and genuinely cool stuff like the old Roman forum. City was heavily damaged in the 1991 wars and a plaque at the old town’s entrance makes reference to the aggressions of Bosnia and other former Yugoslav states against Croatia. Enjoyed the sea organ and the sunset. Back about 9 for excellent pizza at Degenija.

31/8 – 7AM run, 8AM HIIT, 9:45 yoga. The combo quite did me in for the afternoon. I thought I’d do more fitness, but relaxed by the beach, had lunch, and napped. R did sailing in the afternoon and I went to the shop for large bottles of water and some new beach shoes for Rachel. Sunset cocktails in the sky bar and called it an early night. This was not uncommon.

1/9 – Yoga, 10×60 and a lot of relaxation. (10×60, later 10×80 is a series of 10 exercises that require 100 reps each by the time I get back to my personal trainer in Leiden. Push-ups, squats, bicep, tricep, wrist, and calf extensions, seated row, and a couple of others. Killer stuff. Finished reading The King In Yellow and Trio for Blunt Instruments (the latter being Nero Wolfe stories loaned by my friend Jeff – I would like to get some more of those). Rachel wasn’t feeling too well, possibly due to weird weather. A storm didn’t quite happen but there was weird low pressure. She was going to participate in the regatta, but took the time in bed. She did the regatta the following week and had a good time. There was very little wind and the reports were that it was quite boring. Dinner (after two pints of beer and a packet of crisps at the beach bar) at Dinko, another local recommendation from Josip. R had fish and I had cevapi. Dinko’s cevapi was not as good as Degenija’s but the fish got a good review.

2/9 – Up early for the run. Ate nothing before and felt generally much better for it. I initially wrote in my notes that my breakfast on this particular morning was light and then I listed the cereal, fruit, yogurt, fried egg, and coffee. It was lighter than most of my breakfasts on this holiday, but not a Slimming World meal by any stretch. Yoga, and some planning for the second week. R looked at weather and sailing forecasts – the second week promised better sailing, which came through mostly. There are very few clocks around the resort which makes a certain kind of sense, but it’s a little weird, because many activities are tightly scheduled.Did a 10×70 and then relaxed in the afternoon. Played cribbage at the beach bar until a crazy mad storm came up. We hung out there as the hatches were battened down. Lots of kids there, some of whom were quite scared, but it was alright.

3/9 – I slept quite poorly – I was cold and there were storms most of the night. We had a good breakfast and drove out to Plitvitce lakes. Lots and lots and lots of waterfalls connected by boardwalks. The weather was looking to be lousy, but the rain let up about 10 minutes after we started. The route we took came to about 8km which we walked (and boated at one point) over about 4 hours. The sun came out towards the end of our adventure which was nice, but the clouds meant that Rachel didn’t get quite the photos she would have ordered. Drove back by way of the mall outside Zadar where we bought warmer pyjamas and some sporting goods. I bought two more fitness tops – one for tennis and one for the other stuff. Supper at Degenija where I had grilled chicken and chips and fish for Rachel. (Yeah, she ordered a lot of fish because I’m not that fond of the stuff and we make only some plain dishes with it at home.)

4/9 – A new week at the resort – R had more sailing and I arranged to join the beginners’ tennis class. But first: walking in Paklenice park. This is a massive national park around two gorges. It’s most famous as a rock-climbing venue. We saw a lot of rock climbers as we concluded our walk. Having started before 9, we exited the park around 1:15. We walked almost 10km up to a cave and back. We didn’t think when we got to the cave that we’d be able to get in, because we’d not bought our tickets at the park entrance, but they were set up to sell tickets at the top of the mountain. The cave’s lighting was powered by a small solar array set up in the hillside. The tour was about 30 minutes and we enjoyed our sandwiches there as well. The walk down was a lot more populous than the walk up. When we got to the entrance, many were just starting out, some in terribly inappropriate footwear. (I thank Rachel with great regularity for teaching me how to buy proper walking boots.) Had my first tennis lesson after lunch. There were about 25 people signed up, but the two teachers handled it well. Good fun. We did Stretch and Relax before dinner, which we shared with Janet and Mike, a couple Rachel met doing standup paddling. (We’d also run into them while hiking.)

5/9 – 7AM running. There’s an old piece of fortress on our run that I only got a photo of on our last or second to last day when Rachel and I walked up to it on our own. I never wanted to break my stride to get the photo. Walter Becker of Steely Dan died the previous day and I listened to Countdown to Ecstasy while running. Yoga after breakfast and tennis. Only about 12 people showed up for this lesson. Relaxed by the pool in the afternoon and listened to Can’t Buy A Thrill. Everything at the resort is much calmer in the second week as all the school-age kids had to be back to school. Played cribbage at the beach bar before supper and went to bed pretty early.

6/9 – Started the day with yoga and then 10×80 and tennis. After lunch had a kip. Tennis was backhand practice. I’m not as interested as I should be in the extra tennis experience I could be getting with other lessons and practice, so there wasn’t really much improvement. Woke up at 14:45. Rachel had a sailing adventure from 15:00. I tried to get some photos of her, but they weren’t very good – all the wrong settings on the camera, but she did well with the sailing – out on a single-handed boat for over an hour after which she did Stretch and Relax. Had supper at a really excellent steakhouse in Starigrad called Ante with three other couples. James, a gent who was in a couple of my tennis lessons, his partner Nyla, Ian and his wife and Matt and his wife and neither Rachel nor I could remember the wives’ names. Nice group, good food. Ice cream after and sleep by about 10:30.

7/9 – We woke early due to door noises from our hall or upstairs or something. I ran the usual 5km. Soundtrack was Can’s singles collection (RIP Holger Czukay). Yoga was indoors due to rain (which also delayed us leaving breakfast). Tennis happened though. Joined the blue group for a few minutes at the end of their lesson and then green as usual. Good fun – my rally was okay. Put it all together the next day. R went to the spa in the afternoon for a massage. Lunched at the usual buffet and napped in the afternoon. (We were mostly well-rested on this holiday!) R wasn’t feeling well and the weather was quite stormy. In the evening we walked through Starigrad for a little while – not much there, to be honest, and then had pizza at Degenija. I had the 4-cheese which was probably a little too much cheese, but so tasty. I feel I have to make up for Rachel who no longer eats cheese. The staff at the restaurant referred to hers as ‘the strange pizza’.

8/9 – Yoga in the morning and tennis. Walked to the fortress and had to run up to tennis to be there on time. I was warmed up, that’s for sure. Practiced doubles which was good fun – learned a little about scoring and placement and managed a couple of good returns. My serve needs lots of work. Rachel got me out on a large paddle board with her for a little while – very nice and calm out on the water – a very different kind of view from out there. Lunch and napping and resting by the pool in the afternoon. We went up to the pub near the entrance to the park for supper and played Scrabble. I had the chicken cordon bleu which I totally forgot was a deep fried goodie. Couple of calories there. We had to eat inside as we hadn’t booked in advance. This was fine. It was not smokey and the staff were very nice. Walked home via the petrol station to make sure we had some snacks to start the day with. To sleep a bit after 10.

9/9 – Last full day on holiday. Started with my last 5k (More Specials for part of it and chatting with Erin and another runner for part of it). Followed that with HIIT at 8 and breakfast and then the tennis tournament at 10:15. By 1pm, I was totally done in. Lunch and a two-hour nap and then sat by the pool while Rachel went sailing. My right hand was very sore after the tournament. It let up the next day.

10/9 – Got on the road for Split relatively early. Did some shopping for some wine for Mary and Arjen and some biscuits for me to bring to the office. Car hire return is a little strange right now at the airport – parked across from the terminal on a dirt track and then talked to the rental person inside the terminal who sent someone out to find the car and verify it was in good nick. It was. Check in was fine, a little time in the business lounge and then back to the Netherlands, well relaxed.