The jewel of the Adriatic

Trip Start Oct 18, 2006
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Trip End Oct 19, 2007


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Friday, May 18, 2007

DUBROVNIK
Our bus arrived and we were wisked away by Milo our host for the next evening up to our little garden apartment, in which we shared a garden and courtyard with two old women who were so sweet and who bought us juice and wafer biscuits when we arrived which we quickly gauged down as we were starving after our early morning bus ride from Korcula. Our host was lovely, our little apartment had the most modern and confusing shower l have ever been in....let me tell you appearances can be very deceiving when it comes to showers! Some of the best showers l have ever had in hostel are often the ones that don't look the best. This one looked amazing and Sarz and l oooed and ahhhed over it when we arrived. It had a built in radio, fan, light, mirror and three different types of jets which surrounded you and you could choose from. But it was so modern that me and Sarz couldn't even figure out how to turn it on, let alone work out how tontrol the water temperature which was BOILING hot! Was another funny shower moment of which l have had many on this trip. We checked out our apartment- which contained a very hard double bed, little kitchen with stove top and fridge which we again put to good use that evening and the following day- though no microwave as it appears no Croatian apartment contain- and l had been carrying microwave popcorn with me the whole trip and really wanted to use it! We then did some major catching up on emails on the free net and checked out the amazing terrace view at the main house overlooking the pool, red roofs and Adriatic sea. Villa Klaic is definitely a great place to stay and Milo even let us check as late as we wanted the following day which meant that we could go back to our apartment, shower and eat our left over gnocchi and chocolate cake from the night before! It was the latest and best checkout l have ever had!! Definitely stay here (we had to book through Lonely Planets Haystack as there was no bookings left on other major hostel booking websites and he doesn't answer his email very often so best to book through here l think). The only downside was the 20 minute walk up hill and mostly stairs when coming back from sightseeing in the main town but it was worth it for the view from the main house as well as working of the carbs we had been eating the past week as we had been living on pasta the last 6 nights in a row! In fact all l have eater on the entire trip is really gelato, pizza, pasta pastries and fruit. There is not much food variety in Croatia as there is a heavy Italian cuisine influence.
 
Due to the climb home we decided to try and stay out as long as possible on Friday and set off down the hill and stairs to the Old Town of Dubrovnik. I used my charm- more like pleading skills to get us the student discount (as l had left my ISIC back at the apartment) into the Old Town walls (20 Kuna instead of 30Kuna). Sarz and l almost skipped the walls due to such a tight budget. But thanks to the Lonely Planet recommending it as the must do thing in Dubrovnik and you would regret it if you didn't we decided we had better do it and it was definitely a highlight of the trip walking around the wall! The view was simply spectacular which ever way you looked, with the Old town steep streets and alleyway houses below adorned with red roofs as far as the eye could see, domed Church's stretching out to your left and then the port and Adriatic sea and its brilliant colours and yachts on your right. (Just a tip if you are climbing the wall begin by going to the left when you reach the top of the stairs from the main entrance by fountain this way you will get the best views at the end and will avoid a lot of uphill stairs). Dubrovnik instantly became one of my favourite cities l have ever visited- l think its even more beautiful then Prague! Add Charles Bridge and it would be perfect! It took us a good two hours to walk around the wall as every step and lookout was more beautiful than the next. The only problem was that we hadn't eaten since 9:00am that morning and it was already 3:00pm and we were tired, hot and hungry. We gave up on the idea of eating off the walls and settled for the less windy spot we could find and sat against the wall and ate our vegemite/marmite cheese sandwiches for about the 4th day in a row and fruit overlooking the gorgeous old city laid out before our eyes. It was amazing to walk around there and see Dubrovnik's amazing beauty and to know that it was all bombed and destroyed in 1991 and they have totally restored it to its former self is quite simply amazing.
 
Everywhere we had been in Croatia felt like brand-new, the remains of the freshly painted houses and apartments were always splattered everywhere, construction was always going on around us- the country seemed to be rebuilding itself and we had arrived just before the rest of the world also discovered this hidden gem in the Adriatic that for so long has been closed off to visitors and tourists. Having finished our lunch and finally getting down from the wall we decided to walk through the Old Town without a map and for once just get lost in a place. Somehow though we always seemed to end up at a major tourists site as Dubrovnik Old Town is not that big and we ended up walking through the Palace and its museum for free, an Italian Baroque inspired Church and around most of the Old Town wishing that we had more money like all the rich cruise boat passengers that surrounded us and who were only there for a day and were spending up big time! But we had to face facts we were poor- but still having an amazing time! I had majorly run out of my budget money by this stage of the trip (lucky Rome had been mostly free!) so we dismissed the idea of going out for dinner and l decided to cook again this time gnocchi with zucchini, pizza topping base and tomato and parmesan. We discovered the wonderful invention of 3in1 coffee sachets and bought cheap chocolate cake and spent our final night in Dubrovnik eating too much and watching too much TV again on our bed! It was great being poor!!
 
On our final day in Croatia we slept in, checked our emails again and then went and bought local raspberry pastries we had grown to love here and ate them on the sea wall overlooking the Old Town. We climbed the rocks around the coastal wall in pursuit of the lovely Brela Brela pebbly beach. Here we laid basking in the sun, our towels and bodies laid out over the rough big pebbles. The water was crystal clear and the sun when it wasn't hiding behind a cloud was sizzling. I stood with my feet in the water and the ocean gently lapping my ankles as l read my book which seemed to be describing the exact opposite of the paradise l was experiencing around me. I was reading about Shanghai during the time of Pearl Harbour and the Japanese invasions and at that moment about a raid and peoples arms being blown off etc! Never again will l take such a heavy read on a beach holiday! Yet it definitely had me engrossed for the rest of the morning and early afternoon we spent on the beach as did the amazing scenery surrounding me- with the beautiful island in front of me and one of the most gorgeous old city's to my right and stretches of emerald coastline and rugged mountains to my left- it was a moment l wish never to forget.
 
We had to leave Dubrovnik at 3:30pm, after having returned to our apartment and eating our left over and trying to decipherer the shower once again and getting BADLY burnt in the process while having the radio on full blast and singing YMCA! Our wonderful host drove us back to the bus depot where we bought our tickets for our bus trip from Dubrovnik to Split (100 Kuna). The bus trip was supposed to take four and a half hours, but we arrived well over an hour early due to the crazy Croatian bus drivers speeding! Never, never, never in my life have l been in a bus that goes around a coastal road (reminiscent of the Great Ocean Road) s fast!! We hanged onto our seats and the window the whole way! No joke! But it was probably one of the most stunning bus rides l have ever been on. It hugged the emerald coast and huge mountains the whole way, and every couple of minutes we would pass another beautiful red roofed sea village with stunning Church locations, beautiful sandy beach coves and out on the oceans horizon we were greeted with countless islands glimmering and beckoning us to them. Every cove we passed looked like paradise on earth and all l wanted to do was yell out stop to the driver so that l could go explore it and so that Sarah could also use the toilet- she had to hold on for three hours despite the bus driver saying at the start to her that there would be a toilet stop- we soon worked out that he was not stopping for anything!! Poor Sarah we were laughing so hard holding onto our seats that it made it ten times worse for her as well as the bumpy ride! She couldn't stop laughing at me trying to take photos of the amazing scenery we were passing as l hanged onto dear life trying to take a photo. We finally arrived in Split and felt a little giddy as we landed on solid ground again. It felt as though we had survived a hurricane for the past three hours! I definitely recommend taking this coastal route- but perhaps if you can afford it skip the bus and hire and car and explore the coves and villages at your pleasure along the way- there are some lovely resort towns to stay in overnight as well. I know l definitely would like to one day return and explore that part of Croatia's coast.
 
We found our accommodation in Split with the help of some of the old women who try and get you to stay at their apartments when you come off the ferry and boat. Once they realise you have accommodation you can ask them anything- they are all really nice and friendly, great with directions and give great advice on where to go and eat etc. We definitely made the most of their local knowledge. We checked into our hostel- the one and only one we stayed in Croatia and we loved it. We met a really lovely and helpful British couple who showed us on a 10 minute walk to the bus depot where we caught the bus to the airport in the morning. You can catch the bus from the main port to the airport  but it only leaves an hour and a half l think before scheduled Croatian airways flights so can be difficult to work out bus schedules etc so we decided to it would be easier to catch the normal bus. Sarah and l walked to and around the Old Town in Split which was beautifully illuminated at night as we ate our kinder buneo gelato and then ended up sharing our microwave popcorn (yes l finally got to cook it at the hostel!) with the British couple who we chatted with until the early hours of the night.
 
The next day- the one on which lam writing this on is not worth mentioning- its been hell with a 5:00am wake-up, German wings flight to Stuttgart Germany and then discovering my train ticket had been stolen their were HUGE problems at the DBahn train station in Germany and on the train. Two months later they have finally dropped all charges that they made on the train that day (all 200 Euro worth!!!) but it was a HUGE process and a terrible end to an amazing trip! Thank goodness l bumped into Cat at the Zurich train station that evening....she was my saving grace!!!! But l can safety say that l loved Croatia and Roma and had a wonderful weeks vacation and at least one good think happened through the mess of today- l got to speak to and sit next to the most gorgeous German boy ever who has been helping me on the train trip with the inspector while l help him study for his up and coming anatomy exam for the next three hours! Ohhh the joys of the travelling life!!!!
 
 
(Just a word of warning about DBahn (German train company)- if you have booked online your ticket then they cannot access your booking or give you a new ticket (ie. replace your old one) if it has been lost or stolen as the online tickets and counters at train station are separate! You must always print out your online ticket or get it sent to you in the mail....otherwise you will be faced huge charges on the train like me and it took over two months for charges to be dropped and many phone calls and letters. They are a cheap company if you book early, but always make sure that the ticket has all the stations and stops (ie. vias) that you require as once they also misprinted my ticket and l had too pay extra on the train even though it was their fault and they never refunded me.)
 
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