Angela has been doing a great job of updating the blog so far (and I've been rather lazy about it), so now that we are sufficiently relaxed and bronzed I thought I should give it a go. It's amazing what a change of pace Croatia is from the hustle and bustle, awkward staring, and piles of trash in the street Dubrovnik is. Although we've only been here for slightly more than 24 hours, our first impressions of the city are great: friendly and helpful people, fondness of tourists, clean and sunny.
We have been so lucky on this trip - no major problems, despite a deliberate lack of planning ahead. We had to leave our hotel room in Bari at 10am on Sunday (... or was it Saturday? - one of my favourite parts of this trip so far is having no idea what day it is and not really caring). We discovered that the ferry to Dubrovnik didn't leave until 10pm! What to do with our bags for 12 hours?? We hardly wanted to carry them all the way to the beach, so Angela had the idea to head to the ferry terminal in the hopes of finding a locker. She was right! So we checked our bags at the terminal and went in search of ferry tickets. Contrary to logic, the tickets are sold quite a far ways away from the actual terminal. After much hand signalling and miming (and our clever discovery of the word "Billeteria" ("Ticket Booth"), we found out that we had to take the free shuttle to another building at the opposite end of the port. So we finally made our way there and... the ticket booth didn't open until 6pm. We felt a bit annoyed that none of the 10 people we had asked about it happened to mention that, but there we were. So we made our way back to the original port and attempted to locate the beach.
Since we are such smart girls, we figured out where the beach was. (I'm exaggerating a bit here because obviously it could have been only right or left from the port, but we were going on very little sleep and feeling increasingly harassed by the blatant staring and cat calling that seems to be part of the Italian culture for men).
I have never seen such a crowded and trashy strip of beach in my life. I think all of Bari came out to catch some rays that day. Angela had a little nap (and got a bit pink), and my sun blisters got even worse. Who knew that someone who has never had to wear sunscreen would turn out to be allergic to the sun, but I'm starting to believe that's the case. Either that or the bed bugs only want me, and leave Angela completely alone. But it was our first dip in the Mediterranean and we savoured the coolness of the water.
4pm rolled around and we had to work our way back to the port - only about a 30 minute walk from the beach. At this point we realized that swimming in the filthy, salty water may have been a mistake as there was nowhere to change or have a shower and we still had about 5 hours to wait until the ferry disembarked. How to fix this problem??? A couple of cold ones on the terrace of the ferry terminal, watching the setting sun over the Mediterranean and we forgot all about our sweaty, sticky skin. I'm not bragging here, but Angela and I were pretty popular in Italy and at some point we met someone who worked at the ferry terminal. Although we were not interested in getting to no this stranger, he chatted with us for quite a while and we decided he was okay to talk to (while still keeping a firm grip on our handbags and luggage - TRUST NO ONE). He offered to get us an upgrade for the ride over to Dubrovnik from airplane seats to a private cabin. We were overjoyed at this prospect because as I mentioned, we were tired, hot and sticky, and no had had a couple of beers and ready for a good night's sleep.
After a lot of wheeling and dealing in Italian, he gave us a name on the ship and a hand written note. All very hush hush. Finally, at long last it was time to get on the boat. But, no big surprise here, the hookup didn't turn out and we were stuck with awkward airplane seats for th 10 hour voyage across the Adriatic to Dubrovnik. Fortunately, we were able to doze slightly on the trip, after they turned off the soccer game that was blaring from the speakers when we first got on. You might know, but the Italians take soccer very seriously and watching them watch a game is a show unto itself.
We woke in the morning as we were pulling into the beautiful port of Dubrovnik. As has become our style on this trip, we hadn't booked a place to stay so at 7am after clearing customs in the port, we headed to the closest cafe with Wifi and booked the first hotel that came up on the list. We decided to walk since we had no plans and stiff legs after the long voyage. Ironically, even though we've picked up a few souvenirs along the way, our packs feel markedly ligher than when we first hoisted them onto our backs at YVR. Maybe all that pizza in Italy gave us extra strength
We finally found the hotel on the opposite side of the port with the help of a little girl who was nice enough to show us the way. We lucked out again: this hotel is a series of apartments, all with private bathroom, kitchenette, veranda overlooking the bay, and even a swimming pool. After the best showers of our lives, a glass of wine, and a cheese platter with pickles, olives, and fresh veggies, we were in heavan.
Dubrovnik - we love you. Rest of Croatia - we dare you to be even more beautiful.
~With love, Sonja.