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Adventures of a short vet

Old Towns and Islands

ITALY | Thursday, 28 April 2011 | Views [614]

Dr Nick checking out the view

Dr Nick checking out the view

Croatia! We arrived just after 7am and I was met at the terminal by the lovely hostel owner from the Dubrovnic Backpackers Club. On the way to the hostel he stopped at the ATM for me and even gave me a little tour of the town on the way to the Lapad area. His wife welcomed me with a coffee while he got a map out and gave me a talk about the town and bus system. They’re just like a mum and dad, even arguing about things in Croatian while getting breakfast ready for everyone in the hostel.

I left my gear in the hostel and met Bec in Lapad for a coffee before heading into the historic Old Town. Lapad is a nice area away from the touristy Old Town, with a lot of hotels along the waterfront, but nice coffee shops and a few small beach areas along the coast. The Old Town is beautiful, consisting of tiled streets enclosed by the old defensive walls and overlooking the harbour BUT it is PACKED with tourists, especially when the tour buses arrive after lunch, and everything is overpriced accordingly. We had a lovely lunch in a little restaurant a couple of streets off the main drag, where the friendly waitress recommended a Serbian dish of pork/beef sausages and gave us a few tips about the town. Always good to have local knowledge. A popular stall item is dried sugared figs, which are GREAT. But be careful not to eat too much at one time or suffer the consequences! After lunch we climbed the fortified walls for great views of the city and surrounding islands. From up there you can understand how the city remained safe from invasion for over 500 years. We headed back to our respective accommodation for a quiet arvo and then met up again in Lapad for a flash seafood dinner on the waterfront. The scampi linguini was amazing and in the end 25euro for dinner and a glass of wine is pretty bloody cheap!

The following day I organized a kayaking trip through Adriatic Kayak Tours (www.adriatickayaktours.com) before fighting my way through the crazy crowds in Old Town back to Lapad to spend the afternoon on Copacabana Beach, followed by a beer with Bec while enjoying the view of the islands and listening to the ocean lapping at the rocks below the café. Nice!

On the day of my trip I miscalculated the time it would take to walk to the ferry terminal and ended up running in my jandals, earning some nice blisters but luckily making it on time. There I met our guide, Marco, who looked so much like an Aussie surfer with his tan and salt-chapped lips that it was strange to hear a Croatian accent when he spoke! Our group of eight caught the ferry out to Lopud Island, where we picked up our kayaks and prepared to paddle across the channel to Sipan Island. Unfortunately I was the only experienced sea kayaker in the group so had to waste about an hour of valuable kayaking time while we all learnt how to paddle and get in and out of the kayaks. Finally we headed off, stopping in on a little cave on the way and paddling through the already increasing swell to the next island. Since it was already midday, late in kayaking terms when you are used to heading out at 6am for the calm weather, I asked Marco what we would do if it was too choppy to return that afternoon. “I make a plan,” he said ambiguously as I eyed the increasing cloud cover and slowly mounting swell. Oh well, not my problem.

On Sipan Island we dropped off our kayaks and picked up our bikes, which were surprisingly new mountain bikes in good condition (could have used these in Morocco!). A nice easy 5km bike ride through vineyards and farmland led us to the other end of the island and a peaceful harbour where we had lunch at a lovely little restaurant. It remains quiet even in the high season as the ferry only arrives twice a day a the main harbour and only private yachts enter the second harbour. The bike ride back was a bit more difficult with our full bellies and the paddle back was more tiring as we had to rush against the choppy swell and head wind & tide. Our safety talk of “stay in a group” soon went out the window as Marco had me lead the faster paddlers back while he towed a couple of slow people back in the rush to make it in time for the ferry. We got back with 10 minutes to pack the boats up and made it just before the rain set in. I had been thinking that being a tour guide looked like fun until I watched Marco paddling back and forth towing people in and stressing about the couple that had strayed away from the group. I think I will stick to my day job! The rain continued to pour down as we huddled exhausted in the ferry, and Marco was good enough to have his mate pick us up and drop us off closer to our hostels and a welcoming hot shower.

Tags: cycling, dubrovnic, kayaking, lapad, lopud, old town, sipan

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