Up at 4am to fly to Croatia on Tuesday 😰
This meant we got treated to the sight of some very pissed people staggering about near our hotel 🙈 We got a good look at the Puerta de Alcala on our way to the airport in Madrid. It is the oldest triumphal arch in Europe, even older than the Arc de Triomphe in Paris or the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.
I got a bit bored on the flight. I realised my iPad has a bit of my Dad’s classical music collection loaded onto it so I listened to some of that, between bits of Joy Division. I actually quite enjoyed the Wagner, some of it me feel weepy (certain types of music and films have this effect on me, more than sad real life situations in some ways). Sort of worried this means I must have some subconscious fascist tendencies 😰😳
Well anyway, we got a glimpse of the islands near Dubrovnik from the plane as we descended. Exciting!
Given my fondness for languages, I been trying to learn a few Croatian phrases. Some of them aren’t too hard to get my head around as they are close to Russian – most obviously the word ‘da’ for yes, ‘ne’ for no being somewhat similar to ‘niet’.
Some are random, like ‘dobar dan’ for hello, ‘hvala’ for thank you and ‘zovem se’ for my name is. And others seem to make Dan laugh.
He keeps referring to the Croatian currency as ‘kuna Matata’. He finds the word ‘bok’ (hello) very amusing and has been singing ‘bee ba ba bada BOK’ to the tune of Scatman. And he enjoyed the word ‘oprostite’, meaning excuse me, pronouncing it as ‘oh prostitute’. What else 🙄
We landed at 10am on Tuesday and got a taxi to our Airbnb flat, can’t have been more than 30 minutes in all. The driver was really friendly, waxing lyrical about the local food and sights the whole way. He recommended visiting his village and some islands by boat. Thanks are quite a few to choose from: over 1,000 in total off the coast of Croatia. The closest to us is called Lokrum. It is ‘very beautiful for relax your head’ as the driver endearingly put it. It’s an (admittedly not easy) swim away or short boat ride. There is a rudey nudey beach there apparently 😏 😂 The driver recommended an island called Korčula which the Croats say is where Marco Polo was born. This pisses the Italians off a lot because they say it was Venice (this is what most scholars think too to be fair). He also had a lot of good things to say about a local dish of lamb and potatoes called Peka, which is cooked under a dome.
Lovely guy. He even understood my attempts to speak Croatian. I think.
We were greeted at our apartment by Mrs Dangradovic, a friendly elderly lady (everyone here seems to be friendly, you will see) who do the cleaning and hosting. Her husband does the gardening and repairs. I suppose Theresa May would call this boy jobs and girl jobs 😷. The Dangradovices are very sweet. They don’t speak much English but we can figure each other out okay.
We got into our new home, did a ton of clothes washing and unpacking then set off to explore round the city. The flat is just a bedroom and bathroom really, but it has a little kitchen section plus dining areas inside and outside.
There’s also air conditioning and a TV you can watch from bed. Now I’m describing it, it’s better than a fancy hotel.
First impression is just: wow. It’s utterly utterly beautiful here. Such a gorgeous medieval city.
The best part, besides the buildings and weather, is being close to the sea at all times.
We got lunch at Konoba Lanterna (konoba means taverna – local restaurant, basically). Had a Greek style salad with a nice cold beer.
Then we had some Croatian coffee, which they call ‘cooked coffee’. It’s similar to Turkish coffee but a tiny bit sweeter. Then I tried a little ‘tulumba’. It’s something between churros and baklava. Very sweet but tasty!
We got the bill (‘račun molim’). Cue trying to figure out the local currency, kuna, which makes you feel like you’re spending tons of money (£1 gets you 8.35 kuna).
In the afternoon we discovered our new neighbours, a very friendly middle aged couple from rural Northern Ireland. Cue lots of jokes about politics. They find it amusing that the DUP can extract lots of demands from May now. They are very generous too, offering us drinks and a ‘slice’ as they call bread and jam. Our neighbours on the other side are Canadians, both engineers in the army based in Kansas. They seem nice too, though very jet lagged unsurprisingly, so less keen to socialise.
In the evening we got a quick bite to eat – pasta with seafood for me which is very popular here. It makes sense given Italy is so close.
Then we went to check out some of the local nightlife. We ended up in a bar which seemed to have some sort of David Bowie theme. The music was great: Madness, Rolling Stones, Blondie, the Clash, the Ramones, Boney M (and some Bowie, of course). We spoke to some British people who were travelling and also a pair of Indian couples, one of whom is a lawyer who went to UCL (exactly what Gandhi did, funnily enough). Dan got a white russian. Channelling the Dude in The Big Lebowski perhaps. It was yummy.
Turns out it looks as amazing here at night time.
Today we had a lie in, then I went off to explore the city. There was an open air market where I bought cherries, and I also got myself a light, long Indian top for the beach.
I went to the tourist office and got lots of leaflets. They listed out all the famous people who have filmed here. This one caught my eye(!)
I went to a bakery to get some bread for lunch but managed to get tempted by a local thing, I’m yet to learn the name but it is like borek: very thin filo pastry with cheese and spinach. Utterly delicious.
I then noticed there is a fancy beach club (think ‘luxury Essex, the closest of you will know what I mean’), so went down to see how pricey it would be to rent a sun lounger. They also have beds and VIP tents, somewhat ridiculously. Looks tempting though doesn’t it.
A lounger didn’t cost much at all, so I abandoned homeward plans, set up my lounger and relaxed there for a few hours. Dan came and joined me and got himself a lovely lunch at the club.
Once we’d had our fill of relaxing, reading and swimming we went home, at about 6pm that evening. We went to a restaurant called Taj Mahal (not Indian but Bosnian) and shared some meat and veg. Incredible. The food here is lovely, it’s a mix of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern to my mind.
We ambled home after, past that gorgeous beach again.
Getting an early night as we are up tomorrow for an all day boat trip. Can’t wait.