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Croatian Adventure “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do... Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain

Lickety Split

CROATIA | Friday, 17 October 2008 | Views [866]

Final group hug

Final group hug

We were greeted in Braç by the welcoming arms of not one, not two but three St Kilda families! The Bodycombs, the Nankovic’s and the Foulis-Lanes were all settled into Duboka Bay in a sumptious villa on the south side of the island near Milna. We quickly found an apartment for 5 in Milna and then deposited the children with their friends out at Duboka Bay for the next 6 days!  Murray & I got a chance to have some ‘alone’ time while the children got maximum ‘friends’ time. Our heartfelt thanks to the Foulis-Lanes and Nankovic families for their hospitality and wonderful company over the past week. The great time shared and memories will sustain us all over the next two months of volunteering and as winter deepens in the Balkans.

Duboka Bay was in all its glory when we arrived. Warm and sunny with the entire bay to ourselves. The kids immediately got into the flow with swimming in the crystal clear sea, kayaking, ‘beanies’ and the occasional dvd. We hardly saw them over the next week except for dinner and the occasional foray into Milna for a shower and change of clothes. Meanwhile Murray and I explored the island – a visit to the stone cutting school in Puçisçe, Braç is reknowned for its white stone including the ‘White’ house in Washington; the ‘beach’ at Bol which appears on most tourist marketing for Croatia exciting because it IS a beach and not just rocks; Vidova Gora, the highest point in the Croatian archipelago with incredible views and memorable to us because of the café/bar which reminded us of the old days at Mt Buller and the rustic chalets; and the Blaca Monastery which we were determined to explore never mind the 6.5km of literal goat track we drove to get there only to find there was a 2.5km walk down to the monastery which meant a 2.5km UP to get back! BUT we were committed. The monks settled here in the 15th century and lived in caves while they built the monastery on the side of a cliff miles from anywhere. Well worth it - but were we both knackered that night!

We also enjoyed 2 fabulous day trips, to Hvar & Split with all the gang. Split was a fun
‘girlie’ day with lots of shopping, internet surfing and a little sightseeing. To get to Hvar Town we chartered a boat from Captain Leo and cruised across the Adriatic spotting a pair of dolphins and stopping in a sheltered cove for a much anticipated ‘swim off the boat’ by those brave enough on the way back. Hvar was fantastic and we all climbed up to the old Fort above the town before a sumptuous lunch of squid, pasta and schnitzels. The AFL followers amongst us (mainly just Col) enjoyed a brief moment of hero-worshipping when ‘the pav’ (Pavlovic from Fremantle Dockers for those like myself who wouldn’t have a clue) was spotted (by Col) in the main square of Hvar having a quiet spot of lunch himself.

We spent the last day on Braç in charge of all the children while the grown-ups packed and got ready to catch the 3.30pm ferry to Split. We piled all 9 of us into our little 7-seater Picasso and drove into town to feed & water the hoards then off to a swimming platform in Milna. Due to drainage works the road was ‘diverted’ and after 15 minutes of stony goat tracks and a couple of wrong turns we arrived at the beach for a swim. The way back got a bit hairy when we tried to make our own detour into town. After one wrong turn where we all piled out so Murray could reverse back up a steep track which led down to steps we tried another route and ended up jammed into a tight corner. With only pedestrian steps in front of us on what turned out to be actually a footpath not a road and too narrow to open the doors and pile out, the kids were deathly silent in the back while Murray forced our little car to reverse up the footpath while trying to avoid the front door steps, open windows and even a little tractor parked on the side of the path! We emerged unscathed and returned the children to their parents unharmed and without even the chance to tell about our exciting adventure as the day had marched on and it was time for them all to leave. Farewell hugs and kisses, a group photo and we waved them all goodbye – the last contact with dear friends until we return home.
We spent one more night in Milna before our departure. Our landlord, Nikola, gave us the key to the apartment block and asked us to lock up when we left in the morning as he was off to Zagreb for the weekend. All our Croatian hosts have been very warm and welcoming. Not the least Elder in Split. She greeted us all like family and made us very welcome even though her accommodation was a bit weird, but great location and hey we only need to put our heads down. After our first day trip we felt Split warranted at least another day. We explored Marijan Rt – a hugh park just 10 minutes drive from the old town with swimming, cycling, hiking, tennis etc. Sharing the same name as our dear Murray we had to check it out. Well worth the effort and then back to the old town for more shopping, dinner and one more stroll Diocletians Palace which is even more spectacular at night when it is floodlit. Nearly forgot to mention the market in Split which is fabulous – every thing from heads of beef! to dried figs and all things in between.

From Split we drove to Dubrovnik along the coast – more spectacular scenery and at Maraska we discovered a ginormous Konzum (like Coles). Mostly you just find little Konzums like a mini-mart in every little neighbourhood. This one was huge which made us all excited as we had been unable to find what we consider staples – soy sauce, decent tea etc. It had it all and we came away with sweet chilli sauce, soy sauce and twinings English breakfast tea, (Croatians seem only to drink herbal teas – guess they have to do something to counteract all the salt and cigarettes, not to mention alcohol. Have I mentioned that beer and wine is usually cheaper than coke or lemonade!) a decent sized tea mug AND their last copy of Trojan Warrior! Can you believe it?? We were all quite excited by this!

Next stop Dubrovnik and Montenegro and some serious beach weather!


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