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Oysters & Homemade Wine in the Adriatic Sea

Right after publishing this post, I looked over at my roommate and said “it reads a bit anticlimactic - I claimed it was practically the best day of my life but all that really happened was that I almost peed my pants and then went to 3 wineries.”


Oyster-tasting in the Adriatic was what really gave this day a solid spot on the Best Day spectrum, so that first post should not be read without also reading this one (perhaps a little too late for that but oh well, guess there’s just going to be a few folks out there who will always think the greatest day of my life was spent concentrating on willing my bladder to behave).

Shortly after our blue-eyed tour guide Stjepan picked us up from Ston, the town in Croatia known for its salt flats and Great Wall, we arrived at our next destination: the neighboring Mali Ston.

Now, a Croatian lesson. Mali = little. Ston itself was already tiny, and now we're at Little(r) Ston.
We followed Stjepan along the path to the water's edge where we all collectively gasped because this view was legitimately unbelievable. My eyes and brain frantically tried to process the sight before me but all it could really muster was

"oh wow."

As we dumbly stared out into the peaceful Adriatic, Stjepan was chatting away in Croatian with Mario, our Oyster Hero Of The Day. They led us to Mario's boat which was bobbing away in the water, and then gave each of us a hand to step into it:
... and off we went!
As our boat pulled away from shore, Mario directed our gazes towards the (extra) little village of Mali Ston, and the Great Wall of the neighboring little (but slightly bigger) town of Ston in the distance. 

We admired the terracotta roofs and the pretty pastel buildings appreciatively from our vantage point for a few minutes, and then Mario decided that it was time to put his foot down.


On the gas.

Suddenly, our accelerating had the waves lightly splashing us, and the wind whipping our hair every which way. Some of us couldn't help but to test the water for ourselves:
We passed by this pint-sized private island: it couldn't have been too much bigger than a basketball court, but we deemed it the most precious piece of land in this entire world and started dreaming up ways of getting rich fast so that we could claim it as our own.

Unless someone had already claimed it; our top guesses were Johnny Depp and George Clooney although my guess is that Clooney would think was the outhouse to his REAL island which is maybe the entire peninsula?

Anyway, I'm sure he wouldn't mind lending it to us for a few weeks here and there!
Then, Mario steered us towards the gold mine:

The oyster beds!

Before showing us the treasure, he gave us a brief lecture on his process of farming oysters, translated bit by bit by Stjepan. I retained a grand total of zero information because - confession - I was hungrily awaiting the next part of this experience. Cassandra, however, sent this over when I texted her just now with "what did Mario teach us" -

The condition for the oysters is perfect because of the unique mixing of the very salty Adriatic water and the fresh water coming in from (I want to say the Neretva river? Fact check that).

*rolls eyes*

teacher's pet.
And you guys.

These are the best oysters I've ever tasted, and quite unlike any other oyster I've tried, including ones that I picked myself from Puget Sound and the ones we feasted on while in Tomales Bay last year.
For the next twenty minutes, we existed in a state of pure bliss.

It's a very short span of time that has become nearly sacred to us, one that we refer to now with complete reverence and a deep longing (to be back in that moment).

The engine cut out and the boat stilled.

Mario told us to close our eyes and listen to the silence. I'll be honest here and say that once again, I don't remember much but Cassandra assures me you could hear cars off in the distance and when there was a break in traffic, you could hear only the wind and nothing more. I could only hear: oystersoystersoystersoysters soon.

Mario plucked oysters straight from the sea, and then shucked them one by one for us:
then, with a squeeze of lemon and a quick "cheers!" of the shells for good fortune, we slurped the plump little guys down with glee.

They tasted just like the Adriatic sea: salty, briny, magical.

I'm literally drooling right now.

And as if that wasn't exquisite enough, Mario pulled out a large water bottle filled with homemade white wine from his mother-in-law. It's the only white wine I've ever loved (I say that all other white wine is trash water, just give me all the reds please), and it was absolute perfection.

The happiest hour twenty minutes! (Truly. These were happy hour prices at $1 per oyster!)
Happily bursting at the seams and a little high on life, we set back for shore. On the way back, we kept on eye out for Mario's dolphin friend. Yes, you heard that right. He's befriended a dolphin who comes by regularly to say hello when he takes the boat out, but alas it seemed like she was not in a partying mood that day. (Who could blame her? I'd certainly flake out if I were her too.)

After a final "živeli!" and knocking back one last glass of that precious wine, of course!

(Now you're getting some context into why I had to pee so badly at our next stop.)
Back on the shores of Mali Ston, we insisted on a picture with both Stjepan and Mario to document our lovely day.

"Kamenice!" We cried obediently, as Cassandra snapped the picture.

(That's Croatian for oyster, second language lesson of the day!)
Then, we went and got wasted.

(Read Part 1 to hear about the wineries we hit up post-oyster feast.)

I mentioned this in Part 1, but we would give the tour company that Stjepan works for all the stars in the world for the incredible day (not sponsored!). I highly recommend them for day trips and tours around Dubrovnik. You can also visit Mario on your own, although I don't have a lot of helpful info for you there - he doesn't speak very much English and I'm not sure how far in advance you have to book (but I would totally try this myself next time I'm there, so let me know if you guys have any luck).

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xx Caroline