May 2011

May Day holiday is followed, once again by the slava of our landlord’s family. As before, this takes place in our house, and we spend several days cleaning and clearing the main living room. We correspond with Elisabeth, as well as with Prof Dr Dušan Vuksanović, who has agreed to put the Montenegrin team together, over the division of work between Austria and Montenegro. James also has to produce the final version of the poster for the Passivhaus Tagung in Innsbruck at the end of the month.

In between all this, we have to go to Emden unexpectedly for a family funeral; while lovely to see family there, the circumstances are of course not what anyone would want. Complicated flights from Dubrovnik via Frankfurt and Bremen, but at least possible.

Inevitably, this being Montenegro, there is a last minute panic over the printing of the poster, which James had entrusted to a usually very competent girl who designed our ‘roll-up’ for the GTZ exhibition last year. She had passed the job on to a printer capable of producing that A1 format, but had neglected to give precise instructions, or indeed to do any design work on the material. Upshot was that on the day before we were due to leave for Austria, he spends a couple of hours sitting alongside the printer trying to adjust text and images to fit in a coherent and reasonably attractive way onto the sheet, and collecting the finished product as we drive past there the next day. An adequate job but not as good as James (as a former Master Printer) would have liked.

The Passivhaus Tagung is as good value as ever, despite appalling weather (snow the first evening, and rain most of the rest of the time). We are getting known, and meet up with people whom we met over the previous 2 years. Encouragingly, we also make more good contacts for possible suppliers, including a Croatian firm,
Troha-dil, who make windows to PH standards. A short weekend with the grandchildren in München, and we make our way back to Risan. En route north, we break the journey in Split, instead of driving 12 hours non-stop to Gersdorf on the SI-AT border. Anke’s first time in Split, and we manage to see something of Diocletian’s palace. The rest of the town is not so inspiring, though the road system has improved dramatically since James was last there in the late 1990s. In Gersdorf, we meet up with Elisabeth and her husband Michael who take us to a ‘Buschenschank‘ in the ‘Weingebiet’ on the border for a delicious meal. These establishments are licensed to sell only cold meals to accompany their wines, the food being also ‘hausgemacht’ – ie meats, chutney, cheeses which are produced on the premises. We had had no idea before that the area was such a well-known (in Austria) producer of wine. Of course, we return there for a meal on the return journey. Instead of Split, we overnight in Trogir – much more to our liking than Split. James had trawled the internet and found a delightful small hotel in the Old Town, Palace Derossi, which suited us admirably – will definitely stay there on future trips.