Posušje, Hercegovina – 18 September. Our cast: Jelena, shyest woman in Canada; Ante, shyest man in Hercegovina; Jelena’s cousin, the bride and Ante’s friend, the groom. On a last-minute decision, Jelena travels to Hercegovina for her cousin’s wedding. She’s excited. Although she’s attended about 176,876,657 friends weddings in Canada, this would finally be a proper family affair celebration. The wedding doesn’t disappoint with everyone on the dance floor – it’s essentially a sweaty mess. Around midnight, Jelena’s cousin pushes her into a man on the dance floor and says, “You two should dance.” The man looks confused with a drink in hand but puts it down and says, “Ok.” You would expect this to be a ‘that awkward moment when…’ moment, but nope, none of that. The two dance and talk like old friends. All night. Literally. Until 6 am. Story goes that they danced even when there was no music; while taking a break, they talked at a nearby table, dismissing all those who would approach them. They finally listen when the newlyweds approach and tell them it’s time to go. They look at each other and shake hands. No numbers exchanged – but Jelena knows that this can’t be it.
The next day at her cousin’s house for lunch, no one is concerned with the bride and groom – everyone wants to know who was Jelena dancing with all night, including the newlyweds. Uncomfortable with all the attention, Jelena remains quiet. Throughout the lunch as one would expect, the newlyweds’ cell phones are ringing off the hook and when the groom’s phone rings once more, he pauses and hands the phone to Jelena. It’s Ante. He apologizes for not asking for her number and has been debating all morning on how long to wait before calling the newlyweds to find her. Now that has the potential to be awkward. Unfortunately, Jelena leaves Posušje the next day for Zagreb but the two text night and day. With her departure fast approaching, they decide to meet half way – somewhere around Zadar for coffee. With obstacles of various kinds in her way, Jelena is convinced that she won’t be able to make it and maybe it’s not meant to be – until her grandmother tells her to stop being silly and uživaj u kavi! Well, everyone knows you can’t say no to your grandmother so Jelena leaves but Ante is already close by. On a whim, they decide to meet in Ogulin, a small quiet town only 60 km from Zagreb. Here, in a café with no patrons and one lonely server, the two go on the world’s longest date.
Turkish coffee, Istanbul, Turkey
Yes, George. What else?, Munich, Germany
Ante’s route (Image provided by Google Maps)