THE HOME STRETCH

Trip Start Sep 14, 2012
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Trip End Oct 15, 2012


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Where I stayed
Villa Dubrovnik Garden
What I did
The old town

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Friday, October 12, 2012

A better sleep, needing Arjan's alarm to get up at 0600. Blog uploaded from yesterday so all current.

Did we not shower? First the girls sat at another table, then the Aussie boys joined them and finally Ian and Jill joined them. That left Mr and Mrs Geek for us but fortunately they sat elsewhere. The bacon and eggs were nice [once one trimmed off some excess bacon fat].

It is raining in Kotor and the outlook for Dubrovnik for the next 48 hours is not good. 0730 departure delayed by Bozo Ben who cannot seem to tell time. We have a private transfer today.

It is a steady, hard rain, dampening [no pun intended] everyone's spirts. It dawned on me, Monica, that Bozo Ben is this trip's Motormouth: he just never shuts up, babbling most of the time about the most mundane and ridiculous things.

Our driver is probably driving too fast for some but he knows the roads. 23k from Kotor we headed off toward Herceg Novi on a road that took us even closer to the coast. We passed near Perast where we had a boat break two days ago. Got to see the Lady of the Rock Church from both sides as we rounded the bay.

At Kamenari, ferries were in port, some readying to leave. There were inevitable bottlenecks, just clearing one to hit another but that's travel life on a two lane highway. There was some water ponding on the road, including one very short stint of sliding to add spice to the drive.

At the Montenegro border at 0838 and we effectively waived through. At Croation immigration at 0844, stupid Ben not figuring our how to move the one seat when the driver came along and just pushed it forward.

0855 off and running again in Croatia but on gravel roads for 5M. Single lane segments slowed things down a few times. We were in the home stretch.

Zsolt pointed out the Dubrovnik airport at 0916, the town still some 17 or more kilometres away. It has stopped raining but there is no sun.

The part of the highway where we first saw the old city had construction so fortunately able to get some good shots from above not otherwise available. By 0945, the driver let us off at the side of the road and we walked the final bit. Zsolt signalled me down a flight of stairs. Instead of following, dumb Justine asked 'is this the way?'

The owner seems a funny chap. Our room was a bit small and it seemed to disappoint Arjan that we did not get one of the better ones. I presume I am in the same room tomorrow.

Zsolt had said 20M to get ready. Bozo Ben is on his balcony looking down at those assembled: hey, dickhead, you coming or not? The boring hangovers were AWOL and I went to find them. When I saw Rachel I was blurted out 'Christ!' and turned around. There's only one golden rule on group trips: don't hold up the group.

To the nearby travel agency seemingly connected with Intrepid to arrange for airport transportation. I will be picked up at 1230 on Sunday.

Turning points somewhat noted on our walk to the old town. Stopping in front of the Hilton Grand Hotel Imperial, Zsolt kidded that he tried to books rooms there but it was full. Most people got some extra Croatian kunas for the next 24-48 hours.

Stepped inside the old town of Dubrovnik. Zsolt went to get us tickets to climb the exterior walls [whenever we wanted]. A quick sampling of some sweets in the market: mmm!

Went to the Buza Bar, Roddy, for a beer. It is indeed isolated but its location was excellent. The seas were choppy, something Zsolt said he had never seen here before. Had an Ozujsko beer which I had tried earlier in Croatia. Sticker shock with beer at 5 E or c $6.50 US a bottle, enough to scare Arjan off a 4 E orange juice. Gavin pulled 'a Nathalie', trying to pay in the wrong currency [with Serbian dinars].

Went off with Arjan in search of a repast, his town benchmark was a main at 10 E. There were options in that area, finally opting for a broccoli lasagna at the Pizzeria Domenica along with a Lasko beer. I may have had one earlier on the trip but it was pretty comparable to many recent quaffs. It could use a bit more body.

Lunch was done around 1300 and entered the wall walk where we came into the old city. I think I liked it more than Arjan: such places are newer to me than a European and he was getting more fed up than me with the Korean tourists and their photo happy existence. It started to drizzle about three-quarters of the way through, expediting things.

We went outside the old town for a break where I had a cappuccino with chocolate, the waitress' poor service meriting zero tip 15 CK. Boredom seemed to be creeping into Arjan as he was almost Rachelesque. I was also a bit tired from the two beers.

Arjan seemed more intent on doing what I wanted to do but I said he is the one on the shorter schedule. I think he would have been happy to arrive in town in the early afternoon ie not rush things re Kotor this morning, do the wall walk later and call it a day re Dubrovnik. He is not interested in touring these old towns with a photographer's eye. I of course would have got lost coming home on my own.

Downloaded the pix and took a shower. Suggested 'for excitement' we got back and get a Coke since I had brought the plastic cups for our rums and cokes 14.5 CK. That meant another trip up the stairs but good exercise.

Shot the shit over a couple of rums and cokes, chowing down on some saltless pretzels. Did the diary as Arjan went for a shower. A cheeky third rum and coke before readying to leave.

Group assembled near the old town, heading toward Fort Lawrence to go to the Restaurant Orhan. Tip organized for Zsolt. I had not earlier been able to find my euros so left him $10 US and 50 CK, certainly less than Peter got but that is not a reflection on Zsolt.

We sat outside but the flaps were down re wind protection, the other impact being a hotter eating area. After drinks and dinner sorted, Zsolt gave his farewell address, twice interrupted by Bozo Ben with trivialities. John responded for the group, forgetting to give Zsolt his tip. Zsolt then asked the group to describe favourites moments, places, food and drink, Mohammed in Sarajevo and the late lunch in Osijek getting many mentions.

Had a Tomislar dark beer. It was not bad but not the best dark beer I've had on the trip. My entree was pepper steak Paris style, essentially a bournaise sauce. It was very good, the peppercorns fresh.

Arjan did not want to attend any bar re possible karaoke and/or dancing so I think his order of a dessert was an attempt to stay behind. Ultimately others ordered wine and we did not leave the restaurant until after 2200 200 CK. The dinner did not have the edge of last night's affair in Kotor.
Over to the Gorbachev Bar [pix of him with the birthmark and one where it is air brushed out].

Rachel and Natalie left immediately, saying goodbye to nobody [poor form]. The music was good. Zsolt was in a good mood, dancing up a storm. We wound up being the largest group in the place, selecting almost all of the music [hostess would get selections off of Youtube]. Sweat poured from the dancers. The pseudo-karaoke was fun, everybody hamming it up. Jill seemed to enjoy herself the most. Even Ian got up for a number or two.

Somebody asked 'where's Zsolt?'. Like a ghost, he was gone in the night, good memories about him remaining.

It was after 0230 before I left, having first to straighten out some overcharing 115 CK. Got lost going home. Quick shower and bed. Too bad such a night was not early in the trip.

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