Although people may plan vacations meticulously, it is often the unplanned moment that can make a trip memorable. That's exactly what happened on my recent trip to beautiful Dubrovnik, on the Adriatic Sea in Croatia.
One of the delights of the area is the Elafiti Islands. My boyfriend and I spent a full day seeing three of the islands, with lunch, plus time for a swim on the last island.
And quite a last island Lopud was - full of lush greenery and, on the other side from where the boat docked, a splendid lagoon for swimming. We could take the 30-minute walk to the other side, or, for a very fair fee, take a modified golf cart. We took the cart.
After enjoying several hours of swimming in the glorious lagoon, it was time to return to the boat. On the way back, we rode in a smaller cart - only large enough for the driver and the two of us.
All of a sudden, as we were twisting up and over the island, I looked to my right and blurted out, "Grapes!" As soon as I said it, our driver, an older man, turned to me with the biggest, proudest smile and said, "Mine." I was so excited that I asked him whether he made wine from the grapes, and even though his English was very basic, he made it clear how important these grapes, and his wine, were to him.
He motioned over the hill to where his "two homes" were, and where we could find his wife. Then he handed me his business card, which showed the address of his pansion, or inn, close to where we had to catch our boat.
As we walked along the promenade toward the harbor, we found the address of his pansion, up quite a few flights of stone stairs, with a simple sign that said "vino." When we arrived at the top, two older women were sitting at a stone table shaded by trees. I showed them the card and explained that I would like to buy a bottle of their wine.
After a few minutes, one of the women returned with generous glasses of red and white wines. Oh, if only we had had the time to sit and sip the wines and enjoy the surroundings and the company. Although we were obviously tourists, these women were in no hurry to sell the wine, only to sit and have us enjoy it with them.
But our boat was getting ready to sail, so when the owner asked whether I wanted ein liter, I nodded yes and specified crno vino (red wine). Her companion quickly filled an empty one-liter Coca-Cola bottle, and we were on our way.
Back in our hotel room, with the beautiful view of the Adriatic, I opened my Coca-Cola bottle just as I might a 1997 Brunello di Montalcino and savored a delicious glass of homemade Croatian wine from the Island of Lopud. And as I savored the wine, I also savored a memory that I knew would stay with me forever.