I have been to Croatia before, and I liked it, so I thought I should take Dasha there for her to enjoy it also. We had a great reason to go too, Oatesy’s birthday! Big Jimmy was also on board for the occasion.
We flew into Split and found ourselves a private apartment for the lot of us, right amongst the locals and the beautiful but slightly crumbling old buildings, just 2 minutes walk from the walled old city. And this old city, is an absolutely stunning old city. It’s a lot of fun wandering down the little streets and alleys admiring the big old stone structures and paving, but finding a quieter place away from all of the tourists (and there is a LOT) which is half in ruins gives it a very unique atmosphere.
Still, Oatesy’s birthday is Oatesy’s birthday, and when it’s Oatesy’s birthday you go drinking… a LOT. We made our way to the nightclubs by the beach. The music was terrible (little did we know that this terrible music was about to be repeated thrice daily for the next week or so) but the good time and fun levels were through the roof. Was a big night, which caused decent hangovers, which were not ideal in the 39 degree heat. That next evening was a quiet one and is when we managed to take most of the beautiful photos you can see. My hand was getting itchy.
Saturday, all aboard! We set off on our 7 day boat cruise. Well, to be a little more accurate, 7 day booze cruise, with a whole heap of other Aussies, the occasional Kiwi, 2 Saffas and 1 Latvian. A total of 10 boats, about 300 people in all. The water in Croatia is arguably the clearest salt water in the world, brilliant for jumping off the boat every time it stops. We pulled into port that night in Hvar. Kicked off the evening at a seafood restaurant, where Dasha and I enjoyed a octopus salad entrée, an absolutely awesome seafood platter (mackerel gets the 2 thumbs up), plus a few beers for a grand total of 50 bucks. Excellent. Then the night really started, and kept going for quite a while. Nautica and Riva were the 2 main bars. In the latter, you could purchase a ‘helmet shot’, which meant you had to put on a helmet, get bashed around the head for a bit, then drink your shot. Gives it that bit of extra kick to really get your money’s worth. It didn’t stop my hand itching though. When I awoke the next morning (maybe it was morning) on the boat I found out that Jimmy and Oatesy were not aboard. It wasn’t long until we pulled up for a dip about 200 metres away from another boat and heard the shout ‘HEY, CURLY!’ After boozing on with a French Curly and his mates aboard a private yacht, they had to catch one of the other boats in our fleet, because we had departed at 6.00 as promised.
Trsenik. It was official – the disease was back. I was instantly diagnosed by our cruise manager as having contracted FHS (Fat Hand Syndrome). The symptoms are that you have one hand fatter than the other. The only known cure is to go scuba diving. This was my first wreck dive. It was a war boat that sank about 50 or 60 years ago. It looked like a war boat that had sunk about 50 or 60 years ago. The big torpedoes were pretty cool, the water was absolutely freezing (really), but other than that it was not particularly memorable, especially with the poor visibility, which we were assured was a one off. So much of a one off that the dive leader offered to take us for a spin in tubes behind his speed boat, 3 at a time. That was fun. It did get cut a little short though, when one of the girls did the biggest backflip stack ever, smashing her jaw on my head as she went over the top. She lived. A romantic dinner for two right by the water was the perfect finish for the day. Almost perfect, my FHS hadn’t got any better.
We arrived at Dubrovnik. This is another sensational city. It’s not a largely populated city, but has a VERY large wall around it. This is because back throughout history it actually was a very important and large city for those times. Due to different trade routes setting up elsewhere it never developed into a massive city. The wall has been well maintained, as have the buildings, despite being bombed halfway to the heavens in the 90’s. You can walk around the top of the wall for a hefty fee, or double it and get a guided tour.
Dubrovnik is also famous for it s cliff diving, so Oatesy and I got amongst it. Someone out there has a photo of us jumping, please send it to me. After some more delicious food, the skies opened up and chucked it down for about half an hour. The city became like an ice skating rink for me in my flip flops. Found an Irish bar with some live music, including a kazoo, and then to the Sky bar to finish the night.
Next morning, bloody kiwi wasn’t on the boat, and for some silly reason the captain chose to wait 3 hours before leaving. Turns out he was on another boat. We were late getting to Mljet national park, so hired some bikes so that we could explore a bit further. Jimmy had trouble figuring out that the brakes were on the opposite side and instead of doing a skid like the rest of us went straight over the handle bars and onto the paved road. Poor fella, but hilarious for the rest of us. The island has two nice salt lakes with lots of fish and shellfish, good for snorkelling. There’s also an ancient Benedictine monastery and a church dating from 12th century on an island in one of the lakes. After working up an appetite Jimmy and Oatesy ate a main meal each, shared a massive pizza and then finished off with a plate of pancakes each. Too much for any normal person. We had a quiet evening playing cards back on the boat.
Next stop was Korcula, the birthplace of Marco Polo, and the Marco Polo restaurant. It’s a very beautiful small town, very Croatian built compactly on the hilly coast with tight streets and alleyways twisting up and down. The trusty travel guidebook recommended an awesome little cocktail bar, on top of a tower of the old town wall, for one of the, and I don’t quote, “World’s best sunset”. It was hilarious! So many people cram in there, drink two cocktails, take 73 photos of a not so impressive sunset and then leave. Following that we sheepishly (and I don’t mean shyly) went to Dos Locos for one litre cocktails and then to some other nightclub which was full of smoke and broken glass, also very Croatian.
Not sure what time we got home that night, I mean, morning, but we slept pretty much all of the next day, to wake up to a beer as we were arriving in to Makarska. A few beers on the boat turned into a well known drinking game called Kings, with some of the funniest rules I’ve come across so far, including gecko and never ever. We finally left the boat to go to a nightclub inside a cave, filled with smoke and broken glass, but most disappointingly, a mostly man made cave. We got out of there pretty quickly.
Back to Split. We spent the evening in the most perfect way after a week of boozing – chilling out in the old square, chatting and listening to live music, imagining that this is how people would have been socialising for 1700 years, in the same setting, although today somewhat weathered, still standing strong.
For more photos click here.