Now… where was I? Oh yes. We had just driven down the coast of Croatia, from Istria to Senj, and on to Stinica. And we were about to board the “windee ferry” (as Cee put it in her comment) to Misnjak on the island of Rab. Since the winds were strong enough for the police to close the coast road for an hour or so, we were kind of surprised that the ferry to Rab even ran that day. But we were glad it did.
In Stinica, we pulled our car into the line-up for the ferry, and I hopped out to go purchase tickets. I opened the car door and then hung on for dear life… I thought the wind would blow the door off. Tickets in hand, and back in the car, with a half hour to wait for the next boat, I ruefully admitted that I needed the bathroom. And no I couldn’t wait. So we both got out and made our way to the little cafe on the far side of the ferry ramp, where it transpired that the “bathroom” was in fact the two wobbling, portable toilets behind the cafe. Okay. I’ve gone to the bathroom in the woods enough times for this not to deter me.
But trust me, folks, you haven’t really experienced high winds if you haven’t done so from the inside of a “port-a-pottie.” Hubby held the door closed from outside, and I did my business. A ginormous chunk of concrete took up most of the floor inside and presumably kept the toilet from blowing away. And when a vicious gust dented the wall behind me with a loud boom, I think I may have shrieked an epithet or three. Or maybe the same epithet three times in a row, as I am wont to do. I remember a colleague asking me years ago, “Sue, why do you always swear in threes?” Ha. I have no idea. Anyway, Hubby was in stitches when I emerged. And, you know, it WAS pretty funny. Maybe I should write a book on places where I’ve had to use the toilet, and wish I hadn’t.
The passage to Rab was a bit fraught. A bit scary. But, obviously, we made it safely. And the next morning the weather had changed. Calm seas and blue skies reigned the entire three days we were on lovely Rab.
We drove the island, walked its beaches, explored historic Rab Town, and were generally very pleased with our decision to stay on Rab instead of one of the larger, more popular Croatian islands.
Rab Town is lovely. With seriously beautiful, old, well-kept buildings, winding streets, and lots of places to sit with a coffee and watch the people and the boats come and go. Clearly tourist season here was almost over, and that suited us down to the ground.
Our last night we drove up the road to a pizza restaurant, the first pizza restaurant in Croatia according to the owner. Established by his father fifty years ago. And we brought home the best pizza I have ever tasted. Even the wonderful pizza we had in Italy last year could not compare. We sipped our wine and ate our meal on the balcony of our apartment, watching the sunset. Now, I ask you… does it get any better than this?
The next morning we were off, headed down the coast to Trogir, just outside of Split. Good thing we’d been warned by our host that finding his hotel might be a trifle tricky. We turned around at least once, looped back on ourselves, and eventually made it to Villa Segetski Dvori. What a treasure this place is. Fifteen immaculate rooms, a wonderful family run establishment, with a great breakfast, and free homemade treats set out each afternoon. The apple strudel was delicious. We ate breakfast, and supper on two nights, on their terrace. Right on the water. The hotel has its own little stretch of beach with free loungers, and beach towels. We swam in the Adriatic. That sounds so cool. The water was gorgeous, soft, almost silky, and as Hubby said, “Wa-ay warmer than Booth Lake in July.”
We spent three nights and two beautiful, sunny days in Trogir. We organized a boat to go into Split our first day. But since tourist traffic was down, the boat did not go. So the guy who sold us the tickets refunded our deposit, and organized a driver to take us into Split. Luca dropped us off and picked us up in the afternoon. And he and Hubby discussed the state of sport enroute. Seems that Luca is a big basketball fan. When we said we were from Canada, he grinned broadly, turned right around in his seat (ackkk … mind the traffic, Luca!) and said: “Canada! Toronto Raptors!”
This arrangement worked perfectly. We ambled through the city, and didn’t have to worry about traffic or parking. Of course, we toured the Diocletian’s Palace, built at the beginning of the fourth century AD as a retirement residence for the Roman Emperor Diocletian. It seems he didn’t get to enjoy it for long. How many times does history (and literature) tell us of the the perils of holding positions of great power? Does anyone get out unscathed, I wonder?
When we’d seen as much of the palace as we wanted, we moved on to the “green market” just outside the walls of the palace. And then strolled through the nearby park, and surrounding streets. I loved the shopping street that ran straight down to the harbour. We ate lunch at Split’s version of an open-air “greasy spoon” in the market, opting for fried sardines (not bad) and pomme frites (I know… not healthy… but so good.) By 2:00 pm, when we were to meet Luca, we’d had enough of the crowded city. Split was not crowded by Split standards, apparently. There were only a couple of cruise ships in port at the time. But, nevertheless, we were definitely ready to return to peaceful Trogir.
The next day we borrowed the free bikes available at our hotel, and cycled in the October sunshine into old Trogir. Down the beachfront walkway, eventually wending our way through the streets and over the bridge onto the island. The old town was lovely, but not as nice as Rab Town we thought.
And since the traffic and construction on the small streets had me a bit flustered, especially on a borrowed bike, especially since my seat was too low for my long legs, and my knees were in danger of banging my chin with every pedal rotation, we opted to take the water taxi back home. The operator hefted our bikes on board without turning a hair. We’d worried he might think they took up too much room. And in the busy season maybe he would have protested. But on this day, for twenty kunas each, less that four Canadian dollars, we avoided the busy streets, and had the boat ride we’d missed the day before.
Our last night on the Adriatic, we strolled down the beach, found a restaurant we liked, and had a great meal. The wind had picked up again. Nothing like the bura we experienced on our way to Rab. Just enough to require a sweater. Then after dinner we walked home in the dark. What is it about walking along the ocean at night? Or walking anywhere new and foreign at night?
I already mentioned this idea in an earlier post. And afterward, Hubby and I talked about memorable places we’ve been where we walked at night. Like along the beach in Gisborne, New Zealand. The town was not much to speak of, but our motel room had one door that opened onto the parking lot and another onto the beach. I’ll never forget our after-dinner stroll along that beach on Poverty Bay. Walking in the shallows, under the moon, with the whole beach to ourselves.
But I think my favourite midnight stroll was on our first big trip. We were in Tasmania, staying in a wonderful cottage, with laundry facilities in a separate little building. And I clearly recall walking back to our cabin in the dark, clutching a pile of freshly dried laundry, trying not to stumble on the gravelled path, all caught up in the drama of being there. And as if I were describing some character in a book, I remember thinking, “She hurries through the Tasmanian darkness.” Ha. Hubby rolled his eyes when I told him this. My mother always said I walked around in a dream. And of course I was a bit of a drama queen. But, you know, I’d never dreamed of ever being in Tasmania before Hubby suggested that trip.
After dinner our last night in Trogir, we had coffee back at our hotel and fell into conversation with a lively bunch of Germans, three families who were travelling together. I told them that I’d been in Germany in 1988, and had learned a bit of German to get me through the trip. I knew how to say breakfast, room, key, and shower. And the most important phrase, I told them, was “Ein weiss wein trockener, bitte.” One glass of dry white wine, please. At least that’s how I think you say it. They laughed. They were a pretty jolly bunch.
Later, we headed to our room, and since it looked as if the Germans were set to party a while longer, we said good-night. One of the men, reeled off a string of sentences in German, gesturing, smiling at us, nodding at me. You know, in the way that people have of forgetting you don’t know their language, of assuming you know what they’re saying when you don’t; you only know four words and one sentence. Clearly he was asking me a question. So I paused, and said, “Uh…. ein weiss wein trockener, bitte?” Gad. He almost fell off his chair laughing.
And Hubby and I are still laughing. “That was one of your best lines ever, Suz,” Hubby said today.
That whole evening kind of sums up what has been so special about this trip. We’ve had so many days (and nights) where we just strolled, and looked, and appreciated where we were. Felt how privileged we were to be there. Thinking how much we love staying in small hotels like Villa Svetski Dvori. Or quirky apartments, or houses where you need to drive through three tunnels to get to. Stay tuned… I haven’t told you about that one yet. And how great it is to chat with people we meet (waitresses and waiters, hotel owners, other guests, new friends) about Canada, about our lives, and about their homes and their lives. Storing up these encounters, the funny stories, the good lines for later.
And, I have to say that it is pretty darned awesome to make a joke that someone actually gets a laugh from when you don’t even speak the same language.
The next day we bid farewell to Trogir, and continued our journey down the coast. We had many more sights to see before we were done with Croatia. But I know that you know that I’ll tell you all about those later.
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