Linda’s tried and tested formula of lessons and excursions swung into action on Monday, with the first group of her students turning up bright and early for their initial three hour session. Driving rain all night had disrupted communications and left everyone adrift without their internet connections. But undeterred the morning session got underway, broken only by a coffee pausa accompanied by a plateful of Dijana’s delicious homemade pancakes to fortify everyone. The afternoon students came up with some imaginative interpretations to Linda’s instructions, grappling with gerundive constructions and a certain amount of grammatical gender-bending – not always deliberately, it has to be said. In the late afternoon, our minibus whisked us into Zadar, where our guide Marija filled us in on all of the twists and turns of Zadar’s long and eventful history. Poor Zadar does seem to have had more than its fair share of attackers and invasions over the centuries, from its earliest Liburnian days to the Homeland war as recently as the 1990s but it has weathered these storms and become a beautiful and interesting city rich in contrasting styles and buildings. In places history has been piled on top of itself, most notably in the case of the Church of St Donat which in the ninth century unwittingly was built on the site of the old forum. Our tour of the city concluded at the world famous Sea Organ, which took some hearing on account of the lack of wind and the calming of sea that had accompanied the rapid improvement in the weather since early afternoon. What we missed in organic virtuosity was more than made up for by the beautiful sunset, a phenomenon praised by Alfred Hitchcock at the time of his visit to the city way back in 1964. The whole evening was polished off with a tasty and highly enjoyable al fresco meal at one of Zadar’s old town restaurants before we were deposited by our minibus back to our own front door at the end of another highly productive day.
MICHAEL’S MARVELLOUS MEDICINE
After having our noses firmly to the grindstone during the day, this evening saw us setting off for a tour of a local ecological winery in the hopefully named village of Nadin. The evening started off reasonably sedately but it was downhill thereafter! After a brief tour of the actual workings of the winery we settled down to a delicious meal of pršut, local cheese, veal with yummy potatoes and apfelstrudel – or its Croatian equivalent. The highlight of the meal, of course, were the five different wines produced on the estate, which our host Tomislav treated us to as the meal progressed. First came two white wines, one called Bili, which we concluded was a dialect of bijeli meaning white. The other caused me considerable confusion as I thought that I heard that it was called maraschino and I was puzzling how a white wine produced at a vineyard came to be made out of cherries. Further investigation revealed that the name of the grape and thus also the wine was Maraština and it had nothing to do with cherries at all. We then moved on to the red wines. The first, a blended wine, was named after our host Tomislav. After that there followed a velvety Merlot and lastly an equally smooth and delicious Cabernet Sauvignon. We finally piled out of the winery laden with bottles of the varying varieties, which we had purchased in preparation for our farewell dinner on Friday. Amongst our group this year we have students from a wide variety of professions including our retired naval commander Mike and our retired doctor John. There had been much allusion during the day to a special medicine that Dr John had brought with him for Captain Mike. We arrived back at our CLS base in time to watch the second half of the Euro 2016 match between Croatia and Spain. Croatia’s victory had to be toasted with something and the true nature of Michael’s marvellous medicine was thus revealed – some rather fine Navy rum, which finished off the evening with a flourish. After that everyone wandered off happily to their respective accommodation to get in a few hours of sleep before our full day trip tomorrow to the Kornati Islands. Another lovely day of working and playing hard.