It was getting dark by the time we drove into Labin, Croatia. It had been a long day of touring Venice and dodging the Slovenian authorities, so we were ready to get out of the car and relax. We had an address for our rental, but the car’s navigation system wouldn’t recognize it. To complicate matters, Croatia isn’t included in our international cell phone plan, so a quick call for directions wasn’t an option. We finally stopped at a restaurant and asked to use the phone. The very friendly bartender helped us out and just a few minutes later, Cornelje arrived to escort us to the house.
The whole host family was there to greet us. The owners of the property, Zdravko and Jele Ilover, live in the main part of the house. Their son, Cornelje, who helps manage the renting of the apartment, lives in the nearby city of Pula with his wife, Ana, and their baby girl. When we rolled up the driveway, we were greeted with smiles and introductions. Zdravko brought us wine and brandy that the family makes themselves, and Jele gave us a huge bowl of deliciousness – little donut-like cakes with fruit baked into them. This was a fantastic end to the day.
As we chatted with them, enjoyed local food, and walked through the apartment I breathed a sigh of relief. When it comes to finding a rental home in a foreign country, a picture really isn’t worth a thousand words. I had no idea if this place would suit our needs, if we would like the location, how easy it would be for Brian to work and the girls to do their homeschooling. It had looked good online, but I was driving in with my fingers and toes crossed.
As it turns out, the place is perfect for us. We have a patio overlooking a big backyard full of fruit trees, grapevines and a garden. Beyond the yard is a meadow and vineyard. It feels very rural and yet we’re only a two-minute drive from the main street of Labin.
The apartment is a little two-bedroom with a single room serving as the kitchen, dining room, and living room all rolled into one.
The girls room is pretty much taken up by the beds and closets, and yet they play in there so well together. Forts have been made and many a game played in that little space.
We’ve settled into a routine here in our temporary Croatian home. Mornings are consumed with homeschooling and work. Then mid-afternoon we head out to explore a new beach or nearby town. We’ve found Croatia to be safe, inexpensive and very easy on the eyes. It’s a beautiful place with a lot of history and we’re looking forward to learning more about it in the coming weeks. More photos and posts to come….