Sweet Dreams are Made of Cheese

Tuesday afternoon found me back in Split just in time to host a PI fundraiser – The Grilled Cheese Invitational!  Because sweet dreams are made of cheese… (thanks to John for the awesome tag line!)

The cook-off consisted of 6 contestants who each had 20 minutes to deliver their best creation made solely of 5 ingredients of their choosing.  No meat allowed – that would make it a melt!  Contestants were scored across five categories:

  1. Presentation
  2. Texture
  3. Originality
  4. Taste
  5. Name

Disclaimer: prep time was allowed.

First up was Travis, coming in hot with Captain Cheese of the Ajvar Seas, to show us how it was done.  It was a delicious creation, making good use of a traditional red pepper based condiment found regularly in this part of the world.  Up next was our resident baker turned tech guy, Ahi, with a wonderful, traditional take on the cheesy classic entitled Siri.  Then it was time for foodie Phu to present his take, La Phu. We had a mixture of fancy cheeses and our first glimpse of a vegetable!  Fourth in line was Ms. Carol, quite literally spicing it up with a LIT presentation!  She brought her creativity & passion to both the samples and delivery.  Sharon gave us heavenly flavor in her more dessert-like version of The Berry Best. With some fancy cheese, berry jam and a touch of lemon zest, she surprised us all with her concoction.  To round out the competition, Tara brought her Tower of Terror, complete with a tower of samples in the shape of a T.

We saw some fierce competition from our challengers, and I knew it would be a close race.  Colin kept us hydrated throughout the competition with his cocktail creations, helping us cleanse our palates between each tasting. After collecting everyone’s final scorecards, we called it a night and I went off to tally up the scores and earnings on the evening!

Despite the tough competition, Sharon pulled out the win with her dessert deliciousness, beating out Carol by a mere 0.3 points!  For anyone looking for a fundraising idea, I would call this a delightful success.

Wednesday called for a final breakfast in Old Town with Erica & Sharon before visiting one of the odder museums in Split – Froggyland!  Apparently some people enjoy stuffing hundreds of frogs in order to pose them in human-like scenes.  Unfortunately, no photos were allowed but this was one of the most entertaining hours of my month!

We were back in time to catch our group town hall, closing out our first month of RY Kairos.  We gave each other shout outs, and assessed how the month had gone for each of us.  We had a quick two-minute teaching on the correct way to pour beer – we were headed to Prague after all – and announced our final grilled cheese winner.

Then, having completed all of my mule-ing deliveries, it was time to surprise my roommates with a good ‘ole American classic!  We dined in style that night…

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Nicole, Deb & Erica enjoying some classic Kraft Mac’n’Cheese

Thursday was my final chance to hit the one must-see recommendation from Helen – Plitvice lakes.  I didn’t make it.  At least I have a good reason to go back to Croatia!  Instead, Ahi and I left bright and early for a day trip to Krka lakes. We found our tour bus and settled in for the ride, excited to see the waterfalls and explore the town of Skradin.

The falls did not disappoint! Upon arriving in Skradin, we boarded a boat that took us down the river to the entrance of the national park. From there, we began our little nature hike, stopping regularly for photo opps.  Apparently I take too many photos, as Ahi began walking in slow motion while I stopped every two seconds. At least it kept us moving at the same speed! It also provided a good deal of entertainment as others shuffled past us and kept us laughing throughout the day.

After dipping our feet in the chilly waters, we decided the best photos would be from under the waterfall. So we stripped down to our suits and braved the cold, dodging other tourists in an attempt to get the winning shot. Needless to say, it’s taken me a while to sort through all the photos.

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From there, we headed back to Skradin for some shopping (check out Ahi’s fancy hat!), lunch and a hike to the old fortress. We may have taken a few wrong turns, and flip flops probably weren’t the best choice for shoes, but we made it to the top for an amazingly scenic view.

But we were starving! So we marched on down the loose rocks and found a cute restaurant tucked away from the tourist action. It was family owned, and the wait-staff was incredibly nice & helpful in giving recommendations for lunch.  The tomato soup was absolutely delicious while I watched Ahi play with his food. After finishing up our main courses we were back to the bus for the trip home.  We needed to make it back in time for our final farewell party!

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After grabbing some sleepyheads shots of Ahi on the bus back, we ran to our apartments to get ready for our night out.  I couldn’t believe our first month was already coming to an end as we met the rest of the Kairos crew and kicked off the evening with a surprise celebration!

Heather had spent the month working hard not only at her job, but also finishing up her Master’s program! While she may have missed her actual graduation, we put on a pretty good event complete with cap, gown and diploma. It was tough keeping it all secret, but it turned out to be a wonderful surprise and great success (and her cap made it through our full trip!)

Special thanks to: Kirsten & ME for the design & creation of the graduation cap; Travis for lending his house dress as the graduation gown; John for diploma design & Tarun for providing the champagne!

After a few other shout outs, we walked over to our sunset cruise.  The drinks were flowing and the music kept us dancing all evening. Erica, as her ever entertaining self, kept the bubbles flying and we all reminisced on the good times from the past month. We admired the sunset before getting dropped off in Old Town to continue our celebration.

From there, we met up with Helena and Mate, our city team, at Ghetto bar where we had a private room with some much-needed snacks! We continued the party, with Trav’s house dress being passed from person to person. It is a rare sight – we had to take advantage! After a quick stop back at Sanctuary, it was time for me to head home and get some sleep. It had been a long, eventful day and I was ready to see my pillow.

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Friday meant packing up and any final stops in Split. Christian, Erica & I ran a few quick errands in Old Town – okay we really just wanted a ride in Christian’s fancy rental car – and grabbed some cevapi for lunch. Not really sure how it took me an entire month to test out this classic!

As you all know by now, I like to climb to the top of stuff, so I set off on my own for a trip to the top of the bell tower.  I’ve climbed a lot of towers in Europe and I have to say, this was probably the most rickety! But my climb was worth it with the views of the palace, town and Adriatic sea. After a few selfies, I began my rickety descent and headed home to pack.

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Once I was done and almost positive my bag would be under the weight limit, I met up with the group for a final night of cliff jumping and sunsets. I’d never really cliff jumped before so after a few minutes of psyching myself up, it was time to take the leap!

SO WORTH IT!

We jumped, we swam, we climbed, we synchronized photos…then we headed down to Joe’s Beach Bar for our final sunset views where I had a lovely conversation over some tasty food with Kim. As the evening came to a close, we enjoyed the sunset surrounded by our new tramily.

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