Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Split & Day 1 & 2 on the Lopar

Flight to Zagreb was rather painful, was so exhausted from a build up of lack of sleep over the previous week and a half, the flight was delayed and I had a killer headache. I’ve had the same headache everyday that I was in Istanbul, I never get headaches but one plagued me the whole time that no about of pain killers or water could get rid of.
Once I was finally on the plane, I fell asleep straight away and didn’t wake again till we were about to land in Zagreb, as soon as I woke up though I got a hot flush like the one you get just before you need to spew, I took some deep breaths and pulled myself together, the headache was still there but I was so glad not to have chucked!
Had to sprint to catch my connection to Split, we arrived in Zagreb at the departure time for my next flight, luckily it’s a small airport and customs was pretty quick to get through, got to the gate just in time and got on the 45minute flight to Split.
Unfortunately I didn’t see any of Split from the air cause the guy next to me blocked the window the whole way and when he saw that I was trying to see he seemed to try and block it a bit more.
The first thing you notice when you get off the plane in Split is the mountains behind the town, they are of a white stone which the city has been made out of too, they look really interesting to climb so maybe I’ll give them a go when I return.
Really easy to catch the bus into the town, 40 kuna for a direct bus to the waterfront in split and it goes from just outside the doors of the airport and you cant miss it so that was easy. I really enjoyed driving in a town where there weren’t many cars or people, the houses and properties were really pretty and when we got closer to the water the scenery just continued to get better and better.
Got off the bus in the port where there were two massive cruise ships docked, had to ask a local what direction to walk in to get to my hostel and off I went. My hostel was called Hostel Split Backpackers, I came across a place on the street mine was located called Hostel Split, but there was a sign on the door saying ‘Be back in 15mins’, after a lady from the museum next door came out and tried to tell me something in Croatian I waited and read my Lonely Planet. Eventually a lady turned up and told me I was at the wrong hostel and pointed me in the right direction, found my place and was greeting by a real friendly young guy who looked after the place, his name was Neno, he showed me to my room and as it wasn’t busy that night I had the room to myself.
Chilled out for a while to regain some energy, then headed out for a walk around the town, it’s so stunning here, the water is so blue, the buildings are all white with terracotta coloured roofs, palm trees line the water front and cafes sit behind them, all the locals are drinking beer, wine or coffee and enjoying the glorious weather. Apparently for the past 2 weeks it has been raining here, and the day I arrived was the first clear day and it was a stunner.
Was starving so bought some strawberries from the local market for 10 kuna, then got a slice of pizza for dinner, was so nice to have ham again, not that I ever ate heaps of ham before but when you cant get something somewhere you always crave it and cause they don’t eat pig in Istanbul it was awesome.
I was in bed and asleep by 8pm, slept solidly throughout the night and recovered somewhat from my lack of sleep recently.

Had a chilled out start to the morning, packed everything up, put aside a heap of stuff to send home (yes already I’m trying to empty my pack), said goodbye to Neno and went on my merry way to check in to the boat Lopar and begin my Sail Croatia expedition on the Adriatic Coast from Split to Dubrovnik and back over the next 7 days.
Checked in and dropped my bags off, had an hour to kill before sailing so went for a walk, posted my parcel home and a postcard to Nanna & Grandad, had a lovely coffee on the waterfront and soaked up the atmosphere. Being a Saturday the streets were a lot busier with people shopping and eating out, there were some markets, but I had mission to find sunscreen.
Went into a pharmacy, but the pharmacy was like walking back in time into an olden day chemist, nothing like the chemists we have back home.
At 12.15pm I headed back to the boat and met the people I would be sharing this boat with for the next week, surprise surprise they were all Aussies, well there was one other token kiwi, Lucy, who they put me with in my cabin. Eventually some others arrived, two from Holland, one from Spain and a girl from the States, the rest of the total 26 on board are Australian.
We all got acquainted with each other then all sat in the dining room for our intro speech and lunch, while eating we set sail and we all were so excited. You are not allowed to bring any food or drink on board the boat, even water, you have to buy it from the bar on the boat, but there was an option to buy 1 weeks worth of water, 7 litres, for 100 kunas, so everyone went for that so we didn’t die of dehydration.
Once thing that I have noticed now about both tours is that they can hold you to ransom quite easily, just like on the Turkey tour the boat is having a BBQ dinner tonight and it costs 15 euros, however there are no other options for dinner close by on the mainland so if you don’t pay it you go without, same with water, you have to buy it from them or you go without.
After a couple of hours we stopped and anchored in a small bay on an island off the mainland for a swimming stop, none of us tested the water but from the first guys that jumped in we knew it was going to be fresh. So I climbed to the top level of the boat and leaped off, took my breath away to start with but soon enough you went numb and it was ok.
The group on board are all great, was funny to watch everyone mingling together to start with to suss each other out but within a few hours everyone had developed their own little groups, but even then its real easy to flit between everyone. The youngest on board is 20 and oldest would be around 34ish, most are on holiday for a few weeks or live in England and have come over for this, none are backpacking like I am.
My room mate, Lucy, is 22 and from the Hutt, she’s on the lower double bed and im up on the single top bunk, real easy chick to get along with so that makes things heaps easier. Our cabin is probably the best located on the whole boat, we are on the upper deck and our door opens up onto the main deck of the boat so its real easy to get to.
We docked in a little port town on the island of Hvar, and set out to find dinner, we got discounts in a couple of restaurants and bars being from the boat so we chose a place that did pizza & pasta type foods.
I got Gnocchi with prawns and rocket in a creamy sauce, was so delicious and so great to eat food I’m more familiar with.
Got a bit chilly when the sun went down so we went back and got changed then headed out to the Nautilus Bar where we all got a free shot of Croatian Grapa, was pretty tasty stuff and not offensive at all. Then had a couple of vodkas before Lucy & I headed back to the boat, we were both still wrecked and needed another decent sleep to get me back to normal. Apparently though about 30mins after we left the town kicked off and some people from our boat didn’t get back till 3am.

Woke this morning to the sound of the engines starting up at 5.30am on our way to the next destination, fell asleep again and just took it easy. Breakfast bell went at 8am, so headed downstairs, cornflakes and bread & spreads was on the menu, also frankfurters in buns if we wanted, but after plenty of dodgy meat over the past week I stuck to the cornies.
After brekkie, had a shower and got into my togs to begin the process of getting brown, lathered myself in sunscreen and managed to score The Hunger Games of someone and began chewing through it. Jumped in the water to cool off, the water seemed colder today but was still really nice.
Lunch was served, mackerel with spinach & potatoes and onions, so so nice, the food on board is amazing.
Began cruising again during lunch, stopped for another swim stop, I was too busy with my book that I’ve now nearly finished. Definitely managed to get a good start on my tan this afternoon, I had heaps of sunscreen on which was my saving grace but I still had a tog line by the end of the day. Towards the late afternoon I completely covered up as I think my skin was just over it, but was just so nice not to have to think about anything except my book, I don’t have to go see any sights or look at any old stuff, it’s just me on the boat reading my book.
Eventually we come to Ts… and we had a wine tour booked in for 5pm, cost us 80 kunas to do. We got picked up by taxi and taken to a winery where we sampled 4-5 wines and a grappa, the smell of one of the wines reminded me so much of Dads wine. We then jumped in the taxi again and I was really looking forward to the next vineyard but I guess a wine tour in Croatia is different to a wine tour back home, we only went to the one vineyard and then got taken back to the boat, gutted.
By this point everyone was starving, we all hadn’t eaten anything since 12pm and it was now 7pm, everyone made noises to the staff about bringing snacks or something on board and they gave in and said we could from now on seeing as they cant provide them.
For dinner we had a BBQ, cost us 15 euro and I was so scared it was going to be like the crap 15 euro BBQ in Turkey, but it wasn’t, it was great, salad and 4 kinds of meat it was really yum and heaps of food so it was worth it.
We got onto the beers during dinner and were all looking forward to happy hour that was going to kick off at 9pm, turns out happy hour meant that you could get 1 litre of cocktail for 80 kunas. Unfortunately they didn’t have mojitos but my next favourite was Long Island Iced Tea and that was available, so I got myself 1 litre of that. Now I’ve only ever had glasses of the stuff and usually after 1 glass I’m set for the evening, I was a little unsure of how I was going to tackle 1 litre but then they brought out the straws! Each cocktail had two 1 metre straws out the top of them, so that made drinking them even more fun and was real easy to steal a sip from others. Everyone on the boat got a cocktail, from pina coladas to matais, blue lagoons to cosmopolitans there were cocktails everywhere. We got the music cranking and had a real fun night, I even have the bruises to show for it, as we had it in the dining room there was a lot of climbing between booths to get to different people and in turn a lot of bashed up shins including my own of course.
Most people then went on to their second cocktail but smartly I declined, 1 litre of Long Island Iced Tea was more than enough for me, Lucy gave me shit for not getting a second one but she was the one spewing at the end of the night ha, awesome chick.
We sloped off to bed earlier than some others, we are in Dubrovnik next and it’s a bigger city so a few of us are planning on hitting the town.

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