Ode to Italia cruise – day 7 (Zadar)

Monday, April 25, 2022

We awoke docked in Zadar, Croatia, and we had a light breakfast since we’d had such a big one yesterday and we had an early morning, and several-hour, excursion today with an hour-long bus ride from the port to the Krka National Park.

Our ship from the pier, Croatia country sign and flag (click to enlarge photo)

Today’s excursion was a welcome change from touring old cities in that it was mostly walking in a beautiful national park and taking a short boat ride from the park to a nearby city to have lunch.

Our tour guide was Anita, and we just loved her. I loved listening to her narration, as her ESL word choices and turns of phrases made her all the more interesting.

And here’s a “sneak preview” of the beauty of this national park, a video of which I took toward the middle of the exursion:

Krka National Park & Cruise (6.5-hour excursion)

Delight in your inspiring visit to superb Krka National Park, a lush, protected area accented with spectacular waterfalls, and relax on a gentle cruise downstream to the quaint fishing village of Skradin. Krka National Park is a wonderland of dense forests, wild rivers and thundering waterfalls, such as Skradinski Buk, the last of seven waterfalls on the glittering Krka River. Discover that Skradinski Buk isn’t actually a single waterfall but rather a long series of gracefully arcing cascades that spill over countless travertine rock formations. Enjoy a guided tour that includes time to wander on your own, staying alert for sleek otters playing in the water, colorful Cleopatra butterflies flitting about and a variety of indigenous and migratory birds, including the regal golden eagle and lightning-fast peregrine falcon.

Hop on a touring boat and travel downstream to 6,000-year-old scenic Skradin, a beautifully preserved town on an inlet wrapped by hills. Admire gleaming yachts in the expansive marina and savor a casual lunch, bursting with authentic regional flavors. On this exploration of the Krka River’s highlights, Croatia’s bounty, both wild and refined, is sure to dazzle you.

Snakes and flowers found naturally in this park

After trekking through the park for a while, we had an hour of free time in a little resting and shopping (of course!) area, before boarding a boat to take us to the town of Skradin (“an overlooked Croatian gem”), where we were to enjoy lunch.

That ice cream looked cool in person in spite of looking like somewhat of a hot mess here. The stuffed Dalmations were an homage to this region of Croatia, which is known as Dalmatia.

We took the 20-minute boat ride to Skradin, and the water was so beautifully green en route. The name of the restaurant was Restoran “Visovac,” with these nearby businesses.

In the restaurant, we sat at a table for 6, which included, in addition to us, one straight couple and a family of 4 comprising two moms and two sons.

The moms, Lauren and Jen, and their sons, Jack (14) & Nick (9), were from near Boston. Lauren worked for Google Research and Jen had her own leather goods business. The straight couple, whose names escape me, were from just outside Austin. All of these folks were on our cruise but not with Seth’s group.

We (Lauren, Jen, Bob, and I) talked about our getting-married experiences, about when we did it and some of the hoops we had to jump through to make it happen. Since they live in Massachusetts, Lauren and Jen had married way back in 2005 with same-sex marriage legal there way before the Supreme Court ruling on June 26, 2015—the very day on which I asked Bob to marry me.

The straight couple did not mention any hoops that they had to jump through to get married.

Our lunch comprised: A chicken-orzo soup, a slaw salad, pork chop and butter-herbed mashed potatoes for the entrée, and a dessert of chocolate cheesecake.

Tonight was our Farewell Cocktail Reception for Seth’s group.

On our way down to the Splendor Lounge for it, we passed one of the “community puzzles,” which had been completed.

In the lounge, there were a few stories, a little bit of singing (here’s Faith Prince doing a number), and a lot of trivia questions for prizes.

Seth and James gave away prizes for the correct answers to their broadway trivia questions, and all of us got a poster signed by them and the 4 stars with us this week. See it there right by my leg on that table? That’s the last we saw of it, too, realizing we accidentally left it there in the excitement of getting Seth and James to sign the Stars in the House card.

I won the card by answering the trivia question, “What were we celebrating on Stars in the House in the episode in which Andréa Burns joined us?” Answer: The 1-year anniversary of the show.

And Bob won this CD answering, “Who was the understudy for Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl?” Answer: Lainie Kazan. (And when Barbra began doing the show in London, she was replaced on Broadway by Mimi Hines. Hence, the CD.)

Restuarant entrance

We ate at the third of the 3 high-end restaurants tonight. This one’s called Pacific Rim and described as: Prepare to be delighted by a perfect balance of delicious flavors and Zen-like ambiance. Amid dimly lit architectural details and lotus-shaped windows, dine on Pan-Asian creations like Korean barbecue lamb chops and lobster tempura. (click photo to enlarge, hover over photo for description)

Champagne welcome drink Breadsticks with hummus and edamame
John's appetizer: Alaskan king crab summer roll Bob's appetizer: Assorted sushi platter
Bob flexing his chopstick skills Bob and John salads: Pacific Rim house salad
John's entrée: Canadian lobster tempura and Japanese mushrooms Bob's entrée: Aromatic duck (not pictured: green beans & white rice
John's dessert: White chocolate green tea ice cream Bob's dessert: Raspberry ice cream

Tonight was the ship’s final show, which featured Seth and Andréa Burns.

It started off with our group being called up on stage to do our Broadway number, Ya Got Trouble from The Music Man, with Jason Graee performing the lead. (Note: I didn’t participate in the group number this trip.)

Bob and I ended the night with a shopping spree in a shipboard “boutique”—which is a synonym for “overpriced.” We each had $200 worth of shipboard credit that we hadn’t used. We were like those people that get to go on a store shopping spree, just throwing stuff in the cart.

We would never buy anything in a place like this with our own money, and it was actually hard to spend $400 in there. Bob bought a $125 shirt, which is inconceiveable to us in any other life situation.

When we were at about $375, I made a comment that we were going to need an extra suitcase to put all this in, and the cashier got all excited—and into our spree—saying, “I know just the thing, and it’s only $19!” and she ran and got a bag that said Regent on it, to which we said, “WHY NOT???”

Here’s our haul: (click to enlarge; you know you want to see it all up close)

(clockwise) A can of Pringles to help us finish up the bottle of Jim Beam in our cabin 🤣; that $19 Regent bag the clerk grabbed for us; a cap for Bob; a “fancy” t-shirt; that infamous $125 dress shirt; two wallets (totally random); 3 t-shirts advertising Regent and in various sizes to cover our buffet-eating this week; 2 key chains, also advertising Regent; a bag of Kleenex, which Bob likes to keep in pockets and which sometimes end up in the washer and dryer; Cadbury and Dove chocolate, and some pens and pencils, also advertising Regent.

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