Just as my daughter was about to turn 21, the opportunity presented itself to cover a tennis tournament . I also had enough miles for a first class ticket to Europe. It didn't take me long to make the decision.
Smirkva Bowl, a competition in Pula, Croatia, for 10 and under kids. They had teamed up with "Little Mo," a similar organization in the United States founded by the family of Grand Slam champion Maureen Connolly Brinker, to bring four players from the U.S. to Croatia for an exhibition event.
Three weeks before the trip, I developed shingles. If you've seen the television commercials for the shingles vaccine and wonderfed if they were exagerating about the seriousness of it, I can tell you they are not.
I made it to Rome and then to Trieste, Itay. I was picked up and driven through Slovenia and into Croatia. Tournament Director Miodrag Bozovic not only welcomed me into the event, but he and his family welcomed me into their home.
covered this special tournament and got to see some of Pula, but I made relationships that have remained through the years.
Among the players that attended, I have continued to stay in touch with Christina Makarova. I watched her go from a little girl sharing Nutella with me at the dining room table in Pula, to seeing her play as a top junior player at Wimbledon and discussing with her where she wanted to go to college (she's now playing at Duke University).
Earlier this year, Miodrag told me about a contest for writers to come to Istria. Share Istria was about finding the socially connected travel writers to bring in for a trip to visit the Croatia region. I immediately entered.
It's been a busy few months with my daughter's wedding and I had forgotten about the contest until I received a notice that I had won! I was chosen as one of three U.S. journalists (six other countries were being represented).
The fun begins on June 12, 2016. Follow along with @SpiritsTraveler. My tag for all posts is #ShareIstriaUSA1.
Or, google and share #ShareIstriaUSA1