Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Makarska to Dubrovnik

Croatia... Part 2:

It’s already becoming a bit of a blur.

Our first night was spent in the coastal town of Makarska. The girls in the group headed straight for the markets (this was to become a trend in our stay), and the boys trawled behind reluctantly.

I opted for a large plate of mussels, which I ploughed through with relish… until one of our fellow travellers stopped past our table to point out that she had also had mussels and did mine look okay, because hers didn’t – but she ate them anyway. Dodgy mussels are not something to mess around with – as Lizzie was soon to learn. Seasickness, food poisoning and a hangover are not fun.

After tasting some of the local drinks of choice (couldn’t tell you the name, but when in Croatia just ask for the Petrol mixed with Diesel Fumes), we hit the local diksco – The Cave Bar. Situated in a cave (duh), this bar/dance floor is literally a hole cut into the Adriatic coastline. Quite a surreal experience dancing to old-time remixed classics, being watched by curious fish below. Hmmm, were we watching the fish or were they watching us?

Another surreal experience was watching Michael Flatley the Older take to the dance floor. Seventy in the shade, complete with open-collared shirt and gold chain, this dude was showing no signs of hip replacements. In fact, he showed no signs of knee joints. Bouncing all over the place, he was flicking his legs out in elaborate dance moves that left Corporate Whore looking like bewildered three-year-old at the circus.
Back to the boat. At 7am we were woken up by the choking fumes of petrol as the boat set ‘sail’ through the Peljesac Penisula and on to the isolated island of Mljet.

More stopping to swim in beautiful turquoise waters. When I say ‘swim’, I of course mean, ‘paddling around on a floating tube/crocodile/shark-shaped lilo’. Of course.

I made the mistake of trying to swim to a sand bank with the other more ambitious swimmers only once. On the way back, swimming against the current, without my trusty floatation aid and with a thunderstorm threatening over head, I decided to face facts: Water baby, I am not.
While others were jumping off the top of the boat, I was delicately lowering my tush off the ladder hanging from the boat, directly into or onto a floatation device. I would then kick my legs and splash my hands a little bit, maybe put my head under the water once. Consider me, swum. I stuck to documenting the shark-bait frolicking in the water.


Hot. The weather, not necessarily us. Seeing as we were now anchored in a bay, where I could see and possibly touch the bottom, even I was enticed into the water. “Hey, guys… you can stand here!” I shouted with enthusiasm as I put my foot down on what I thought was a rock. Crunch. It turned out to be a spiky sea urchin.

Closer investigation showed that most of the wall and floor was dotted with these critters… which helped to explain the allocated swimming area (which we were not swimming in, of course). They itch and there’s nothing you can do about it, other than wait for the broken spikes to work their way out of your body. Bastards.

On to Dubrovnik:

More heat. Goddamn, it was hot. I spent a large part of our time on the boat trying to find any available piece of shade (while at the same time avoiding the cramped and increasingly smelly cabins below deck). When shade wasn’t to be found, I created a sarong tee-pee, occasionally popping my head out to look at yet another remote island floating in yet more beautiful ocean.

On land, the old city of Dubrovnik is exquisite. It turns out that the city used to be made up of a coastal town of Croats and an island of Greeks, separated by a narrow sea strait. Over time, the strait gathered more and more silt, until eventually the locals filled it in, paved it over and built a wall around the whole lot – combining the two groups and resulting in the widest street within the city.

Dubrovnik was the city that introduced me to Cuttlefish Risotto. On a whim and out of curiosity, I decided to try this foreign dish – and was served a plate that looked like it had been fished directly out of an oil slick.

It turns out that Cuttlefish risotto, or Black Squid risotto, is so called because one of the main ingredients is the squid’s ink. You know that black cloud of gunge you see spurting out of the startled octopus on National Geographic documentaries? Yup. That.

It was surprisingly good, once I got over the fact that my gums, teeth, tongue and internal organs were being washed in midnight black dye. (Incidentally, what goes in black also exits black…)

Stopping for nothing but ice cream, picture opportunities and sea food, we eventually found our way back to the boat and crashed into bed sun-drained and exhausted.

Still to come: Trstenik, Korcula, Hvar and Split.

Pic1: Eel/Monkey Boy chilling on the boat in Mljet
Pic2: Sunset on Makarska
Pic3: The Cave Bar Diksco
Pic4: One of the many islands that I didn't swim to..
Pic5: Sea urchins. Spiky.
Pic6: Dubrovnik - Croats to the left; Greeks to the right
Pic7: Dubrovnik wall


Heddles said...

Oh just stop it. Did the same tour as you last year Koeks. Insane isn't it ... and also funnelled some cuttlefish risotto. Puts hairs on your chest. Your pics are BEAUTIFUL!


Peaches said...

I think that Lord-of-the-dance-geriatric sounds h.o.t.t. Hot Koeks!

I would have tapped that. Errr, or, atleast, persuaded/bribed/corrupted somebody else to for entertainment value. Kindof like the year end dinner bet about the runner with the pony tail mullet. Hot.

kop said...

Well I see the book you bought on the Dalmatian coast is coming in handy for your blog!

Although I will be printing all this out for the family because my booze saturated mind can't remember it all!

Thanks chronicler