Our visit to Croatia coincides with the UEFA Europe 2012. Here football is not just a sport but a national religion and Croatia's recent win against Ireland and Thurday night's draw with Italy has the whole nation in a flurry of patriotism. The Croatian flag looks like that of the Netherlands; red, white and blue, but with a red and white checkerboard shield stuck in the middle. Since the Europe 2012 started, every man and his dog, from babies in buggies to car bonnets, is decked out in red and white checks, the entire nation resemble one big Italian Trettoria minus the obligatory chianti bottle covered in melted candle wax.
We departed Dubrovnik on Monday, via the car rental agency where we picked up a car and were reunited with our driver's licences, courtesy of our very helpful son, Guy and Australia post; (Some genius, namely "yours truly" had left them in the scanner back home).
We spent three perfect, sunny days on the island of Korcula at the recommendation of our much travelled son, Eddy.
Our accommodation there was a pleasant surprise when we eventually found it; not an easy task given there are few road names and the laneway it was on did not even register on our GPS. It was indeed spacious; room enough to swing two cats simultaneously and there was the added bonus of free croissants and cappuccino for breakfast.
During our time there we traversed the island east to west, north to south and discovered many delightful coves of brilliant aqua and small fishing villages nestled along the coast line. I went snorkelling at Lombarda and in the absence of changing booths or public toilets, in order to change into my swimsuit, performed a manouevre akin to the famous Mr Been skit where he skilfully removes his under garments without first taking off his outer garments. Quite a performance.
I floated blissfully; satisfied with my decision to bring my mask and snorkel with me but could only presume that, over here, they have not been watching enough Bear Grylls so as to discovered a recipe for sea urchins or sea cucumber as they were the only sea life in abundance apart from a few schools of tiny fish too small to constitute a meal by anyone's standard.
On Thursday we departed Korcula early to give ourselves time to meander slowly up the coast to Split, our next destination. Unfortunately our plans flew out the window when the clutch went through the floor (metaphorically speaking). As we approached the ferry to Orebic the clutch gave out and left us stranded at the wharf on Korcula. A quick phone call to the car rental agency in Dubrovnik brought a mechanic from the local village zooming along on his motorbike. He proclaimed the clutch "stuffed". The rental agency promised us a replacement car in 1.5 to 2 hours if we could get to ourselves and the car onto the car ferry and over to Orebic. Having already missed one we sweet talked our ways onto the same ferry on it's return journey. Once in Orebic our car was unceremoniously push off the ferry and onto the stone wharf and we found a cafe where we sat drinking coffee while we waited, and waited, and waited. Eventually the truck piggy backing our replacement car eventually arrived four hours later.
Our plans had to change as time was quickly slipping away so we opted for plan B; the motorway to Split. Unfortunately the motor way is still a work in progress and for nearly half the way we meandered through fertile valleys and winding mountain roads and quaint rural villages. We stopped at fruit stalls that dotted the road side and bought peaches and cherries.
Had a coffee at a tiny cafe where we were seated on the narrow strip of pavement abutting the road right at a sharp bend where cars and trucks alike thundered along at break-neck speeds, barely slowing to take the sharp curve...I saw my life pass before my eyes on more than one occasion. Eventually the motorway appeared. Here the speed limit skyrocketed to warp speed; 130 kph. However no matter how far hubby pushed the pedal to the metal we barely reached 100kph let alone 130. Cars, far inferior to ours, overtook us as if we were at a stand still. It may have had something to do with the half a tonne of baggage in the boot, but was more likely due to the two tonnes of lard in the front seats.
Eventually we found our way to the narrow laneway that housed our accommodation in Split. The landlady, Merica, met us in the lane and directed us into an even narrower passage that lead to the parking area. Phew, hubby was holding his breath as he navigated the tiny passageway; it was very tight but his skilful driving saved any dents or dints. The accommodation here at Apartment Merica is perhaps the nicest so far. A genuinely spacious apartment with a well appointed modern kitchen, 12 English channels on cable, a large, SOFT bed and an operational washing machine...whoopee! We enjoyed a glass of wine on the little terrace overlooking the ancient stone buildings that encompass the tiny courtyard where our car is parked as the sun set on a yet another very eventful day.