Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Part 11

Monday, July 18

Wow! I must have been tired. I slept til 1000.

After a bit of breakfast, we got our beach stuff ready and began walking towards the town centre.

Although there are beaches not far from here, I'd read that the better "beach" experience is had by taking a water taxis to to one of the adjacent islands ... with the warning that they can be pretty deserted/desolate places. Our plan today was to visit Marinkovac Island.

As we walked towards the town centre, we stopped in at a small grocery store to pick up some things for lunch; bread, cheese, meat. Spoiler Alert: we should also have picked up more water.

We got to the dock and quickly found a boat heading out. We passed on the first stop at Jerolim and got off at the second stop - Marinkovac. there was a big "beach club" called Carpe Diem that had chairs, umbrellas and food. We stopped for a coffee and went off to explore the island.

To me, a beach is the sandy meeting between land and water. Here in Hvar, "beach" has nothing to do with sand ... although it is the meeting place between land and water. I'm pretty sure that land-based life did not crawl from the primordial ooze onto the shore of some Croatian island. If it did, it would have probably been smashed against the rocks. The Croatians could learn a lot from Canadians on the concept of "beach".

But, with a pair of sneakers and some good timing of the waves, it was possible to get into the crystal-clear water. Well, maybe more like aquamarine-crystal-clear. The sun was hot, the water refreshing ... come to think of it, maybe we Canadians could learn a thing or two about the concept of "beach" from Croatians.

We sunned, we swam, we ate our lunch, we swam some more ... and when we got bored, we packed up and explored the island a bit more. Remember earlier when I said that we should have picked up more water? Well, at one point, we found ourselves quite a way from the "beach club" under the broiling sun with less than a half-litre of water to share. And all of that swimming in the salt water made my mouth feel as though I'd been eating potato chips and pretzels!

The walk back to the "beach club" was OK ... the trail was very narrow and the bushes kept scratching our legs. We made a point of stopping for a break whenever we found ourselves on shady spots of the trail; we managed to get back to the "beach club" without having tom resort to drinking the condensation from the odd discarded plastic bottle we saw along the way.

After the boat ride back, we hiked our way backup to the apartment, stopping again at the store along way to re-stock our drink supply ... and making sure to buy extra for tomorrow.

After a snooze and showers, we headed back down into the centre for supper. We went up to an area just north of St. Steven's Square. There was a narrow lane way along which we found several restaurants. In the end, we settled for a place called Lucullus.

We thought we would have to sit indoors, but there was an open-to-the-sky area behind the front wall of the restaurant; a "courtyard" if you will. We took our table and the waiter brought menus. He described two of their specials for the evening - a shellfish/pasta combo and a baked fish ... I asked him to bring us those.

The food was fabulous! And the atmosphere was indescribable. There was a large group that came after us ... Marg thought that maybe they were the Croatian Mafia. Based on the champagne starters (opened with a small sword!) and money they kept tipping the musicians (two guitar platers), she may not have been too far wrong.

We wound up spending the entire evening at the restaurant. The service was't rushed ... it was simply understood that that was to be our table for the evening. Sometimes, the musicians played (obviously) Croatian songs that many of the other people in the restaurant sang along to, sometimes they played more familiar (at least to our ears) North American songs by Bob Dylan and Simon & Garfunkel. They would move from table to table; play a couple of songs and move along. They came by our table, played one song, and then asked "English?". Well, yes, but also "Slovensku". That sent one of them off to chase down their songbook. After leafing through, they found one ... and started into John Denver's "Country Roads" with Slovenian lyrics. After they were done, we thanked them ... but Margaret thought she heard the "mafia" group in the back grumbling about getting back to playing "our songs". The musicians quickly headed back that direction and started back into the Croatian songs.

Even though the Slovenes and Croats have - as far as both Marg and I know - had good relations through the years, my guess is that there may be a bit of lingering resentment on the part of the Croats (towards the Slovenes). Twenty years after the breakup of Yugoslavia began, the Slovenes are "in" the EU and moving forward; the Croats are still waiting.

One piece of advice we read "if you encounter any political-type disturbances, just leave". It seemed like a good time to heed that advice; and in any event, our supper was long over and since it was going on midnight, it was time to head back to the apartment. We walked through a still-crowded main square and waterfront, back up to the apartment for another good night's sleep.

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