This will be our second night in Rastoke, an amazing little village. Just a couple of closing comments about Avignon, then I am going to write about here, and eventually backtrack to Paris.
I just wanted to mention that all the events I attended at the Avignon festival are part of what is called the "Off" I never even came across the On or figured out what it is. I imagine the On is, or partly is, the events that take place within the Palace of the Popes, the impressive building that was once the Pope's summer residence. (medieval times, if I remember right.) That is where I saw the Bejart Ballet company's incredible performance of Stravinsky's Rites of Spring, which stays with me still, 50 years later. I have seen several other performances of that piece, but nothing that compares to that. The program for the Off festival is like a telephone book, well, one for a small town, anyway. Performances, which start at 9 am and go to about midnight, are listed by venue, alphabetically, then crossed referenced by time, type - theatre, circus, music,dance, mime, comedy, humor(not sure about the difference between the last two), appropriateness for children (by ages), appropriate for people with limited French, etc. They also list by country of group, altho the vast majority are French, and probably a few other categories. I looked mostly at the music and dance ones, and even so, there were many more than I could have seen in a few days, or even if I had more time.
Well, that's enough about Avignon, although there's more to tell. As I said, I will now write about where I actually am, for a change. And if I ever catch up, can't think of a better place to do it than right where I am.
We are in a room in a woman's house, Bea, in the tiny village of Rastoke. As far as I understand, Rastoke is a section of the larger village of Slunj, which is a short hike above us. The major attraction in this part of Croatia is not far from us, the famous lakes and waterfalls of Plivice, which are I think about a half hour away, at least without traffic. But from what I have read, they are mobbed with visitors, especially in the summer, and you have to wait in lines even inside the park, and hike with constant traffic, and we assume the car traffic getting there. So we have decided not to go, although from what we have seen in pictures, and been told by friends who have been here, they are spectacular. So we chose here instead, in our trek through Croatia, into Bosnia-Herzevovina, and back to Croatia for our last few days. We didn't even realize it was this close to Plivice when we booked it. Bea said to us, in her limited English, yesterday, "tomorrow, Plivice?" She seemed a little surprised, but perhaps pleased, when we said no, we were staying here. She is warm and welcoming. She showed us her garden, but not until towards evening, because there were snakes and she doesn't like them. We did see a posting later about venomous snakes, so I guess it's a good thing. But we are sitting here in her garden nonetheless, in the middle of the day today. I am sitting at a picnic bench, with the falls all around me. At least if I see a snake I can lift my feet up or stand on the bench!
This place is enchanting. I picked it well. You are never sure until you reach your destination if the place will live up to your expectations. I pictured Bea's garden as a patch of vegetables and perhaps flowers. It is more a meandering path through foliage interspersed with streams and falls, everwhere, and little wooden bridges over some of them. Bea's garden is a series of little patches intermingled with the water, lettuce, cabbage, zucchini, strawberries. Across one of the streams is a private park, with an admission fee. I think we have the better spot. In fact, I think we may have the best spot in town, although there are several little islands that I think belong to residents, and maybe a few other gardens that we can't see, like ours can' t be seen. There are, though, a lot of visitors who walk down the path to our house (it took us a little while to find it) because it's so picturesque. Until they see the private sign and the log across the driveway. We even have a parking spot inside Bea's garage, and parking seems to be at a premium. There are cars parked all along the road up to Sludj.
The place is so small that pretty much everything is on the map, the few restaurants, all the places with rooms to rent, the museum ( have yet to check that out but will) the swimming place, the souvenir shop (which is just a small cart.) Yesterday, we went to one of the three restaurants for a drink, sat in a swing seat for a beer, and a grapefruit beer. Then decided we were hungry and decided to order an appetizer to share. Smoked trout seemed the specialty, there was a smokehouse and also a pen with numerous fish waiting to be called for dinner. We were puzzled by the price of the smoked trout meal, it was something like $100 a kilo, but we didn't know how much a typical dinner weighs.) The smoked trout appetizer, though, was reasonable, and we ordered that. It was delicous, came garnished with lettuce and tomato and served with what seemed like an entire loaf of bread, sliced, and one shared serving almost satisfied our hunger. We ended with an also shared apple strudel, also wonderful.