Why I lost my heart in Rab

From Rovinj we drove the meandering coastal roads back to Rijeka. On the way we decided to spend some time exploring Velebit (the largest, but not the highest mountains in Croatia). We took a stunning drive as high as we could go and then proceeded to hike to the top. The view from the top is absolutely breathtaking! and you can actually see the islands off the coast of Croatia in the distance.

From Velebit we proceeded to take the ferry across the Adriatic Sea to the island of Rab, where the Gypsy’s mother and Grandmother live. The main town is beautiful and old and charming. Most of the town is not accessible by car, the homes are ancient and most of the town is protected by the National Heritage Council (i.e. if you want to do any home renovations or maintenance you have to get their permission first).

The island is mostly known for the old town of the same name, encircled by ancient walls. The town’s 4 church bell towers include the tower at the Cathedral Svete Marije (St. Mary) and the tower at the ruins of Sveti Ivan Church (St. John the Evangelist). The monastery at the 16th-century Church of St. Justine (Crkva Svete Justine) is now a museum of sacral objects.

The Adriatic sea does not have beaches like the ones we know in SA. There is no sand, but rather a variety of rocks and cement walkways. There are no waves and it’s much like swimming in a gigantic pool for the most part:) I also found the water to be extremely salty and as a result you can quite literally just kinda float around without even trying. It’s quite heavenly really and honestly I prefer this to our sandy beaches and brain scrambling waves when it comes to swimming.

 

While on Rab we explored several other areas on the island including Frkanj, which was probably my favourite. The area is marked by small, private beaches, beautiful rock formations and forests. We spent a good few days of our time on Rab exploring different areas along Frankj.

The Gypsy had been visiting nearly every year and shyly took me to a tree where he had carved our initials the previous year, shortly after we had started dating. He already knew at that point that it was forever….this guy though <3.

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We also visited Lopar, which actually has sandy beaches. To my knowledge these are however man-made.

On one of the days we decided to cycle through the reserve on Rab. We rented bicycles from the hotel in Rab and cycled a total of 25km (12.5 each way). It was probably one of the most beautiful cycling trips in my entire life and we were rewarded with incredible views and a swim in the sea at the halfway mark.

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I was also introduced to a lovely old man called Bogdan, who doesn’t speak a word of english, but is loosely related to the Gypsy’s family. This old man honestly put us all to shame. He’s well over 80 years old, still dives to more than 12m without any gear to catch octopus, fish and to collect shells and stones for his artwork and swims at least 5km each morning. He was kind enough to take us out deeper into the sea away from all the people to go swim and relax a few times and gifted us with a beautiful watercolour painting inspired by the island (which is now proudly hanging in our home).

Rab has quite a unique charm and, apart from the fact that our family lives there, we will definitely be returning this year because it’s simply one of the most beautiful places on earth. The people are amazing and friendly, the roman ruins are incredible and there are views for days no matter where you go.

After a stunning week and a half of relaxing, exploring, swimming and sunbathing we hit the road in our trusty little rental back to Belgrade. It was a long drive, but the border post is lovely…it’s quite literally like going through a drive through or a toll gate in SA. You waste the minimum amount of time and the immigration officers are super friendly. Then it was time to fly back to SA and as usual it’s always great to be home:) And who knew that less than 6 months later we’d be engaged and married six months after that?! It’s been a rollercoaster, but it’s been amazing and I look forward going back there with my husband this year:)

Exploring Rovinj

After visiting Fruška Gora we returned to Belgrade for a few days to explore a bit more, do laundry and pack for our trip to Croatia. We then hit the long road traveling through Zagreb and Rijeka until we finally got to Rovinj.

Rovinj is a Croatian fishing port and truly the most charming little town. The old town stands on a headland, with houses tightly crowded down to the seafront. A tangle of cobbled streets leads to the hilltop church of St. Euphemia, whose towering steeple dominates the skyline. It is a breathtaking view (especially at sunset) and you can’t help but feel romantic and sentimental and relaxed and happy all at the same time.

We spent hours exploring the old town and made our way to the hilltop to St. Euphemia at sunset. It was BEAUTIFUL to say the least. There were a number of visitors, but I think my favourite thing was the casual musician entertaining us with soft guitar music as the sun gently set over the water.

We managed to enjoy an amazing dinner in a little restaurant over the water and the food was quite spectacular. As always…fish is served including heads and scales and everything (a new experience on this trip for this little South African) but it was spectacularly prepared and worth the “eeeeuw”-factor. Also…piiiiiizzzzzaaaa and lemon beer were a firm favourite!

During our stay we also ventured a visit to a charming nearby town called Pula. Pula is a seafront city on the tip of Croatia’s Peninsula and is known for its protected harbor, beach-lined coast and Roman ruins. The Roman ruins being one of the main reasons we decided to visit this quiet little town. Did you know that amongst these ruins is a Colosseum?! Much smaller of course than the one in Rome, but impressive nonetheless and definitely worth a visit! And of course we consumed our bodyweight in Burek and Lemon beer to fight the hunger and heat.

2018 in retrospect

As I sit here and stare back over the year that was 2018 I can hardly believe that all of 12 months have passed. It’s been a crazy whirlwind of a year. It’s been an insane mixture of good and bad and crazy moments stitched together. But we made it! We survived! And while I know that most people had a really hard 2018, mine for the most part, has been good.

  • Firstly, and perhaps the most extraordinary part of this year, was the fact that I married the love of my life. On 30 June 2018 on a beautiful Northern Natal guest farm, we promised each other honestly, love, support and to stick by each other even when things got hard. It was the most perfect day. Literally nothing went wrong, and we were super chilled. I did pretty much everything myself with the help of my family (old and new) and even my dress appealed to the sentimental in me…it was made by my mother dearest. It really was the best day in the history of forever!
  • My brother, SIL and my two gorgeous nephews came for a visit (especially for the wedding) and I got to spend a week with them before the wedding. It was so lovely to have them!
  • We spent an amazing two weeks exploring Italy as part of our honeymoon!

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  • I obtained my international certification.
  • I spent the first 5 months of the year traveling up and down between SA and Namibia and planned most of my wedding from my hotel room and the hotel’s skybar.

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  • My husband (yes I still love the sound of that) spent the bulk of the year traveling to Cape Town for a few days each week…let’s just say this got exhausting eventually.
  • After the wedding we moved in together and attempted to merge two completely furnished homes. It was easier than I thought and there were literally no disagreements. We spent ages beforehand discussing which big-ticket items we were keeping and which we will be getting rid of…I honestly believe this helped.
  • Husband attacked a second degree (which he plans to finish in 3 years max despite working full-time) and passed his first year cum laude (ALL THE PRIDE).
  • My parents retired and will be moving away from my hometown early in the new year to start a whole new life as adventurous retirees. So excited for them.

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  • Saying goodbye to my hometown (I will probably never go back there as there really is no reason to) was harder than I thought it would be and it made me a little sad.
  • There were some health scares in the family. I don’t want to go into this in detail, but it’s been a bit scary and plenty sobering. Every single day is a gift by grace…truly.
  • I said goodbye to friends who moved overseas. I find rather than easier this becomes harder every single time.
  • I became godmother for the second time!

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All in all it’s been a crazy beautiful year with some unexpected twists and turns. I am grateful for each moment, each lesson, each adventure, each blessing, each memory and each day we receive as a gift by grace.

Bring on 2019!

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Dear Belgrade, Serbia

As promised, I am finally getting around to writing about our amazing holiday earlier this year. I posted a ton of photos on instagram and twitter (#RAGISAC) and tried to send a message to my family at the end of each day with a little summary of what we did and a few photos to show them.

We traveled from Jozitown to Belgrade, Serbia via Abu Dhabi, explored Serbia and then proceeded to drive to Croatia. We spent the first few days in Rovinj and then took a ferry through to the island of Rab, where The Gypsy’s mother lives. In this post I’ll be focusing on my experience of Belgrade.

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On the plane and on our way! #RAGISAC

We arrived in Belgrade on a Saturday morning and was greeted at the airport by The Gypsy’s parents as a surprise. We were only supposed to meet up with them a bit later in the day, but they took a bus to the airport to surprise us instead. His father awaited me with a bunch of flowers and a big bear hug and his mom wouldn’t let me touch my own suitcase once we showed our faces in arrivals. And this behaviour continued throughout our trip. Whenever we spent any time with them we were spoiled rotten! And it was glorious:)

Belgrade is an incredible city. We spent a day or so exploring before heading off to Fruška Gora (more on this in another post) and then did some more exploring in-between returning from Fruška Gora and heading off to Croatia. It is a city of absolute contradictions. In one block you will see the most beautiful houses right next to a building that looks like something that should be condemned. But even the buildings that are falling apart are beautiful in their own way. It was later explained to me that in some cases the people let the buildings deteriorate on the outside in order to avoid paying property taxes, but i was assured that on the inside they are quite beautiful. In addition, due to the suspicious nature of the people, you may be labelled as an associate of the “mafioso” if you flaunt any sort of money, and not beautifying the homes on the outside is one way of avoiding such flaunting. I have no idea if this is true or one of those “jokes with a hint of truth” or complete fabrication, but honestly it kind of makes sense.

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I’m not sure what I was expecting exactly, considering that they were in civil war like only 20 years ago, but let’s just say Belgrade won my heart. The little shops hidden away in holes in the wall (literally), the friendly (yet slightly suspicious) people and the food was an amazing experience and i would definitely recommend people to visit.

 

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On the bus tour with The Gypsy’s parentals

On the day of our arrival we decided to do a hop-on-hop-off bus tour of the city and then proceeded to explore the forts, city wall and the spot where the Sava and the Danube rivers meet. It is SPECTACULARLY beautiful! Most of the city has recovered from the bombings but there are still a few buildings that carry the scars of a civil war less than two decades ago.

We discovered the cutest little pub, lemon beer (which, let’s face it, is the best thing in that heat) and the most amazing food…seriously…the food! Three of my absolute favourite food related Serbian things are Börek (The cheese one to be specific), kajmak (it’s a cheese) and Cevapi.

It’s hard to only choose a few random shots as there were so many amazing things, but if i had to post ALL my photos this post would be miles long. So instead I’ve picked a few pictures below which I think sums up most of the highlights of this spectacular city:)

A little something about cycling

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I’d like to be able to tell you that I’m a magnificent cyclist. That it’s easy and fun. That I’m fit and fast and fabulous. That I’ve got dreams and aspirations of doing the 94.7 and the Argus with excellent times.

But out of all of the above statements only 2 are completely true. It is FUN and I am definitely FABULOUS 😛

As I mentioned before I started cycling earlier this year. I was beyond nervous to get on the bicycle when I realised it had been 15 years since I had even been on one, let alone done any sort of notable distance on one. Now that I think back I realise I was actually pretty good.  We lived in a very small town and I used to cycle everywhere.  To school…to the shops…to the dam…and on occasion even to a nearby (40km away) farm for a picnic and back (that’s 80km BTW)  I even did time trials and races.  I could cycle without using my hands and miraculously push start and swing onto the bicycle with incredible grace….Please take note that I can do none of this now.

But here I am roughly 5 months down the line and I’m STILL cycling. Let me take a moment to be completely and brutally honest.  I am unfit, I am slow and due to the butchery 2 years ago I also lack a lot of the core strength I used to have. It makes things hard and tough and a constant challenge. But I’m still here.

When we first started I refused to invest any money in cycling until I knew that I enjoyed it and was going to stick with it. So #TheGypsy (who has been an avid and super fit cyclist for YEARS) kindly allowed me to use one of his bicycles. A friend loaned me an old helmet and I managed to purchase a pair of cycling shorts on sale for all of R179. Fast forward 5 months and you’ll see that #TheGypsy bought me a bike of my own, I now have my own (pretty) helmet, I have both winter (pink) and summer (red) cycling gloves, sports glasses, 5 (!!!) cycling shirts and 3 cycling shorts.  And last but not least my darling parentals gifted me with an exercise bike once they realised I was actually genuinely into this cycling thing. The only condition is that I need to use it regularly (which I have been).

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She with the borrowed, old and slightly ugly helmet

The very first time we went we did all of 10km and I WANTED TO DIE. But we pushed on and I steadily went from 10 to 18 to 21 to 28 to 35 and finally to 46 (and I’ve been informed we will be doing a bit more this coming Saturday). My nether regions generally want to stab me by the end of it and my wrists especially have been having a bit of a tough time of it but the most surprising thing is I am really really enjoying it.

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We have our moments…in this case the bike bit me. 

When I started cycling it was because it was something that #TheGypsy really loved and I wanted to show interest in one of his hobbies. He had invited me and I had agreed…never thinking I would actually keep it up. These days we are both super excited about our ride when Saturday rolls around and it is no longer HIS hobby…it is OUR hobby and what we do on a Saturday.

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Yes…we are cheesy on a Saturday morning

I’m going to be brutally honest and admit that I am SLOW. I’d like to say that you have to remember that I cycle on the road with knobbly tyres while 90% of the other riders are on overpriced road bikes (all of which is true)…but the honest to God truth is that I am slow. I’m not particularly strong (which makes going uphill slow) and I’m not particularly fit.  But I’ve also realised that I’m not out there to compete with anyone else. I am out there to have fun, to be healthy and to enjoy myself. This was a major turning point for me. Now I compete only with me and I celebrate every time I manage to improve my time…something which seems to happen every week now, and I’m taking that as a good sign. I celebrate the fact that 5 months ago I could BARELY cycle 10km and I’m now doing 46 quite easily and considering adding more distance. I celebrate the fact that I no longer have to change gears to first the moment I hit an uphill but that I can now manage most of them between 6 and 8 and no longer have to stop and rest when I get to the top. I celebrate the fact that my core muscles are strengthening and I can now grab my bottle and drink water AND replace the bottle while cycling (THIS IS NOT EASY).

#TheGypsy has been an absolute trooper throughout the last 5 months. He has encouraged, given hugs and cheered me on every step of the way. He does almost double the distance I do in the same time on a Saturday morning but loops around me the whole time which means that we are more or less in sight of one another at all times. But it also means that he doesn’t feel short changed in terms of his training at the end of the day.

I have no aspirations of becoming a champion cyclist one day, but I do think that I might just tackle the 94.7 next year and, if I carry on the way I do now, I’ll probably be able to do it in a pretty decent time tooJ

Everyone keeps asking if I’ve seen significant weight loss.  Truth be told I haven’t. I have however noticed a change in terms of toning. I’m sleeping better. I feel healthier and I’ve been focusing hard on eating healthier and more regularly. So no…I haven’t lost a ton of weight (which would have been awesome). But I am healthy and I am happy….and to me those are the most important things.

2016…..

2016 has been a rather interest year for many reasons. Work has been crazy…although to be fair I suppose my work/life balance always goes just a tad out of whack in terms of the work craziness. I am a workaholic and while I don’t measure my success on how busy I am and how little time I have outside of work, the facts are that I love being busy, I love my job and for the most part I don’t mind the extra hours.
2016 has however taught me to focus on the rest and relaxation and on the “life” part of work/life balance too. To invest in quality, happy time with the people I care about more often.

If all goes according to plan, 2016 will also be the first time in 10 years that my little family gets to spend Christmas all together….My parentals, my bro, my SIL, my two beautiful nephews and myself all together for a crazy cold and *hopefully* white Christmas. I CAN’T WAIT!

2016 has also been the year where (hold on to your horses) I started cycling. It’s a crazy thought…me on a bicycle…but it is true. I got dragged along earlier this year on a cycle and since then I’ve actually grown to love my Saturday mornings in the saddle. I’ve grown to appreciate the tender nether regions after 2.5 hours in the saddle, grown to appreciate the stiff muscles and the aching wrists. Because once I get to the end of my ride I feel like I’ve accomplished something. And not only that…I’ve been afforded the opportunity to be healthy, to completely zone out from everyone and everything for the time that I was on the bike and to be grateful for what I am able to do.

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And last but not least 2016 has been the year where my romantic journey with The Gypsy began. I’ve been alluding to his existence on twitter for a while and if you follow me on Instagram you would have seen his face creeping into my timeline. There isn’t much to the story really. Fact is I’ve known him for a few years but I’ve never even considered a romantic relationship because I’ve always had someone else. And I am one of those people who never even consider or think about the possibility with anyone else when I’m with another.

But somewhere between breaking up with the Guy Person and grabbing 2016 by the horns, The Gypsy once again popped into my story….and this time he appeared to play the role of the potential leading man. Once he became aware of my newly single status he simply asked that once I am ready to move on I give him a chance. And due to the circumstances around the breakup and the 6 months preceding it I was ready a hell of a lot sooner than I had anticipated. And somewhere in between the cycling and laughing and late night chats and dinners and random whatsapp conversations he became more than just a friend.


He’s weird…I’m weird…and we are completely and perfectly weird together. My relationship with him is so different from every other relationship I’ve ever had and his European frankness is refreshing and in stark contrast with most other guys I know, let alone guys I’ve dated. A spade is a spade is a spade and no topic is too awkward…apparently.

I love how we can passionately and heatedly debate on different sides of an issue the one minute and laugh and hold hands the next, not allowing a difference of opinion to cause anger and irritation. I love how he appreciates the fact that I am opinionated and independent and how he isn’t threatened or intimidated by my personality, independence or my sometimes scary and hectic job. I love how he respects my faith, beliefs and choices. I love how he is constantly encouraging me to grow and do new things and how he not only welcomes but insists that I always speak my mind. I love how he chooses the moment I probably look at my worst to stare at me in wonder and tell me how beautiful I am…it’s all really lame and really corny and really awesome.

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And while I have absolutely no idea what the rest of 2016 will hold I know that this year I have chosen to live in the moment and that so far, despite the fact that it hasn’t always been moonlight and roses, 2016 has been good. It has been filled with new beginnings and adventure and challenges and it has presented me with a million ways to make new memories.

P.S. So subsequent to this blog post 2016 got even better when a LOT of hard work, all nighters and mentorship resulted in a promotion announcement on Thursday *grin*.

Weekend roundup

I found this on Instagram over the weekend and it made me laugh. It is exactly how life should be:

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So my weekend was filled with a lot of awkward, some mucking about, a lot of awesome and even a lot of chilling.

It all started off with a last minute visit to my hairdresser on friday afternoon for a trim. SO….in November (and I still blame this on the crazy emotional time I was going through) I decided to completely change my hair. Essentially I gave my hairdresser free reign to do what every she wanted within 3 simple rules:

  • Remember I work in a very corporate environment;
  • You can play with the length all you want but please make sure i can still tie it up; and
  • Just show me a picture of your plan before you actually go ahead and do it.

She was super excited and I ended up with an angular long bob and a balayage. And I love it! The reason I had to go for a trim is because my hair grows SUPER fast and it had grown too long for the style and no longer hung nicely.  She ended up taking a bit more off too…so it’s still the same style just quite a bit shorter…which is taking me some time to get used to…but I love it none the less.

The chop was followed by drinks and snacks with my colleagues at the Slug & Lettuce.  We had a ton of fun and we ended up only leaving around 19:30 only. I proceeded to go and watch a movie at a friend’s house there after.   By this time I was in agony. (Let’s just travel back to 10am when i went for 5 difference vaccines shots for an upcoming work trip into Africa…Yellow fever, typhoid, tetanus, polio, Hep A&B, etc etc, etc). I was unable to lift my arms and by then i was unable to touch my arms and they were throbbing. By the time i got home i was in tears and my attempt to rub them with arnica oil (as advised by the nurse) ended in disaster as they were too painful to touch. Thankfully painkillers helped a lot!

Saturday morning was spent at a baby shower for a very special little boy who will be making his appearance in March. But this is where the awkward comes in. It was my ex’s sister’s baby shower. I know I know…you’re all thinking i’m completely mad for going….but here’s the thing. After the breakup his sister kindly contacted me to let me know that I’ve been her friend for so long that she desperately wants me to attend despite not dating her brother anymore. HOW COULD I SAY NO TO THAT?

His family has always been amazing….and I love them all dearly. I couldn’t say no…so I went. Her entire family (including my ex) was there. This i hadn’t quite expected. The family was super excited to see me and i was showered with hugs and chats and stories….heartwarming stuff really. Until i ran into my ex and we exchanged a really super awkward greeting. It was at this point that I decided that we weren’t 5. We weren’t angry. We didn’t hate each other and therefore I refuse to let the awkwardness rule whatever form of relationship we choose to have post breakup (i.e. whether we choose to ignore each other completely or eventually become friends). So I put on my big girl panties and went to have a chat to him. It was slightly awkward at first but as we started catching up the awkwardness faded completely.

But I realised one very important thing as I stood there. I don’t regret my decision to step away one bit. In fact…it served as confirmation that I absolutely, 100% made the right choice. And even more surprising was realising that there was absolutely no tug a my heartstrings while I spoke to him. I have moved on completely and I was in a much better place. It was as if my closure process had come full circle…and it’s amazing.

The baby shower was followed by mucking about with a mate taking silly, lame and completely chop like photos (See exhibit 1 below) and a movie marathon. It was awesome.

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EXHIBIT 1

Sunday was spent with family. I visited my aunt, uncle, cousins and godson and swapped stories (since I haven’t seen them since like October).  We’ve also come to realise that my godson LOVES the taste of my hands. He whines if i dare take my hands away and refuses to accept anybody else’s even when i’m not the one holding him. It was highly amusing really. Silly little boy…stolen my heart and now shares it with my two beautiful nephews.

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Speaking of which…how adorable are these two dashing lads in the epic snow they had last weekend?  There is no way to explain the love i feel for these two little boys who live so far away. There is NOTHING  i wouldn’t do to keep them safe and happy. I can’t even begin to imagine how much more insane it is when you’re a mother!

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