And a good evening to you from across the Pond after another GREAT DAY in the Mother Country. And whilst Sammy is now sick and vocally sounds like the fog horn that let's you know when the Golden Gate Bridge is shut down, I'm feeling okay. There's some sinus pressure in there, but hopefully I'll be better tomorrow. And hey, I at least got 45 minutes on the bike (27 km), so that's worth something.
First off - announcement - Happy Birthday, T-Rowe! That's right, folks. Today the hairless wonder officially hits the big "Larry Bird," which means he now has more years on this earth than hairs on his body (I can't take credit for that - that was his). T-Rowe - make sure you drink at least 47 Fat Tires on my behalf tonight.
And so, whilst Muffin Puffin grinds out laps in the pool, let's transport you back to Dalmatia, for the next installment of Croatia.
Day 6 - Transport doesn't come any better than this...
So we popped up early (even by normal standards - 6:45) and caught the bus down to the big Terminal. We didn't get a farewell burek, but I was fairly certain that, after 5 straight days of them (including 2 on the Montenegro day), I had enough spare calories to carry me the extra hour required before breakfast.
We stopped at the Terminal office and picked up our tickets for the "Marko Polo" (said to be from the Croatian island of Korcula, for the record), which boarded at 9 but didn't sail until 10. Consequently, we had time to grab a cup of coffee at a local shop prior to boarding.
At 9 AM we hustled on board and were among the first on the ship. Having booked only deck seats, we were keen to grab a spot to stretch out. Luckily the top deck had NOT been claimed yet, and by 9:05 we were sitting in the shade on the top deck, coffee and brekkie in hand. I figured that we'd get some heat for staying there after our coffee was done, but oh no - Team Taylor camped out for SEVEN HOURS in that spot, alternating who got up to look at the scenery. And speaking of scenery, it was just MIND-BLOWING.
The sail was 6 hours long, calling at Korcula before stopping at our ultimate destination, the island of Hvar. Along the way we passed countless islands (there are 1244 of them in Croatia, 67 of which are inhabited - you're welcome for that. Brisson, I'm pretty sure this reminds you of the time you told me you went to Phoenix Park in Dublin and I said "Good call - that's the largest walled park in Europe") on one side and GORGEOUS mountains (all off white) to the other. It really was a STUNNING trip, and the time just flew.
It also gave me a chance to finish an absolute DONKEY TRASH novel called "Londonstani." It was 342 pages, and I can say that there were TWO paragraphs worth reading in the entire thing. That being said, it means that I now have JUST ONE book left in the "brown bag" pile (a book called "The Shack"), and I will finish it. Incidentally, the "brown bag" pile was a stack of books wedged into an old brown paper bag that was sitting on my desk the day I arrived. Slightly curious, I picked up a book called "At Risk" (which was ALSO TERRIBLE, by the way) and started to read. Jenny's worked through the girl one's ("Emily Ever After" and some other stuff), but we're almost done. I actually thought this book would be good. In retrospect, I would rather gargle battery acid than read it again.
We arrived at the island of Hvar just after 3, but it took us 90 minutes to circle the island and come into the car ferry terminal (which means we saw the city we were going to but COULDN'T GET OFF). Even worse, we had to drop SIXTY BUCKS for the 9 mile cab ride from Stari Grad to Hvar town. We were NOT happy, but since taxi's were pretty much the only way to the ferry terminal, we didn't have many options. All the same, I found out later we were rooked out of $20. Normally this would bother me, but since this guy looked like ZZ Top and BLASTED Lynrd Skynrd during the entire drive, I couldn't bring myself to get too upset.
We checked into our room (which had an AMAZING view of the harbor and the old town - GREAT balcony) before heading down to the town center with 1 goal in mind - FIND A REPLACEMENT CAMERA. This, ladies and gentlemen, was an adventure (imagine that).
For starters, we had NO IDEA where to look. It was already 5:30, and the time was ticking. We knew that a GORGEOUS sunset was brewing, and we wanted to capture it. However, after 20 minutes of wandering the old town, we hadn't seen hide nor hair of an electronics store.
Puffin then had the great idea of hitting up the tourism office, who sure enough was able to point us to the ONE photo shop in Hvar - AWESOME - cause that means these prices won't be jacked up at all...
So we roll into the store, and the fella greets us. He's a nice guy, and we tell him we're looking for digital cameras and would like to see what else (other than the THREE CASIOS) he has in stock. He just shakes his head. Apparently Casio is the ONLY DIGITAL CAMERA COMPANY LICENSED TO SELL IN CROATIA. If you want a Canon, hope the boat and go over to Italy.
Jenny did NOT look happy about this, as she had certainly wanted to keep the photography "in the family." And when she saw the price tag (it's about double what you'd get the same model for in the states), she went to a very dark place. At that moment, we weren't on an island in the midst of a second honeymoon - we were in frumpytown, population Jenny. It didn't help that the guy said, "We'll need to delete all of your photos on the memory card as well, but I can back them up onto a CD - just be careful." Consequently, we took a walk.
At the end of the day, we agreed that it was just money and that if even 1 photo was a keeper it was worth the cost. 15 minutes later, we rolled back into the store, Jenny picked the hot pink one (because it's the new black), and I whipped out my credit card. The look on his face told me everything.
Camera Dude (CD): "I am sorry, sir - we only accept cash."
Sammy: "But I'm buying a digital camera. That thing isn't cheap."
CD: "No, it isn't. There is an ATM around the corner."
Sammy: "You really won't take plastic?"
CD: "No, but I will burn your photos while you wait. I won't even charge you." (which, to be fair, was nice of him, as we would have paid whatever...)
So we roll to the ATM only to find that the maximum you can get out for the day is EXACTLY the amount of the camera. And so, writing off that $5 transaction fee (thanks, Bank of America), we get out the $$$ and go back to the store a THIRD time.
However, all's well that ends well, as we got all the pics backed up (and they are now safe and sound on our portable drives, knock on wood), the guy charged the camera so we could take photos of the sunset, and he even threw in these RIDICULOUS umbrella hats. Seriously - these things could only have been crazier if they'd taken a page out of Lady Gaga's wardrobe and wrapped them in raw meat (what WAS that all about anyway? And Fizzy - you know you LOVED it).
New camera in hand, we scampered to do what anyone should do after dropping a small fortune - HAVE A GLASS OF WINE. In our case, a glass wouldn't cut it - we opted for a liter. The chosen restaurant was Alga, and we sat on this AMAZING rooftop terrace, enjoying a GREAT tuna steak and (of course) Black Risotto, baby!!!! We saw an amazing sunset, and Jenny came to realize that she actually loved her new acquisition.
We hit the bed early that night, as we'd booked a day trip for the following morning, and we had to be back down at the harbor by 8:45. All in all, another perfect day in paradise.
Day 7 - This water is supposed to be WARM, right?
So we rolled down to the harbor at 8:45 THRILLED about the planned day trip. We were headed to Vis, an island that Yazz had just RAVED. We didn't think we'd get to go, but we'd noticed the sign before grabbing food at Alga, and so we booked and were REALLY looking forward to it. However, when we showed up 15 minutes before departure, we noticed that our boat wasn't there.
The guy we'd bought the tickets from was there, however, and he explained that the tour had been canceled due to "wind." Seriously? YOU LIVE ON THE OCEAN. I was NOT happy and thought they just hadn't found enough folks to turn a profit. However, as I was later to find out, YOU REALLY DON'T WANT A WINDY DAY FOR THIS TRIP. The guy assured us it was back on for tomorrow and the weather was supposed to be better. Consequently, we wandered over to a cafe by the water and formulated our next plan.
We decided to keep the party going, and so we hopped a water taxi to Pamizana, voted one of the best beaches in Croatia. We knew we were in for a fun day when we got on the boat and sat down across from 3 Longhorns who looked like they'd been shot out of a canon. Come to find out, these jokers had JUST LANDED from Greece, didn't bother booking a room, but instead went to an all night dance club that went until 5:30 AM! They were going to Pamizana just to SLEEP and figure out if their livers were still intact. They seemed like a fun bunch, but they gal beside me was a TOTAL quadruple negative donkey.
Here's pretty much how the convo with her and the Longhorns went:
UBER-LOUD American Masshole Donkey (ULAMD): "Oh, more Americans! Hey, where are you guys from?"
Nice guys from Texas (NGFT): "Texas, ma'am. We're from Texas."
ULAMD: "Well the ma'am was a dead giveaway. I used to want to visit Texas until a certain President. Now I will NEVER go down there."
Sammy: "Texas is still a pretty great state."
NGFT: "Yes, it is."
ULAMD: "Well, I would never go down there. Not after a certain President." (I really wanted to say? Which one? Hoover? I'm confused...)
Sammy: "Well, you know, they have a lot of other things there." (points at Longhorn ball cap) "There are a couple of solid football teams, I think." (smiles)
ULAMD: "What? There are teams other than the Patriots or the Red Sox? If so, they don't really count." (Really? REALLY? Ray - THESE ARE YOUR PEOPLE.)
ULAMD: (unprompted) "I'm from California. We don't like Texas because you won't invest in solar energy."
NGFT: "I actually work for an energy company."
ULAMD: "But do you only do solar? See, we just do solar in California."
NGFT: "You only do solar?"
ULAMD: "Yes, just solar." (WOW, that's AMAZING! I had NO IDEA everyone was driving an electric car now and that you'd gotten rid of generators after all those black outs! You guys really ARE cutting edge!) "You guys need to save the planet. When there are no fish left in the ocean, you'll wish you'd saved mankind. Chemicals are bad for you."
NGFT: "I think solar is a great concept, but it has to be financially viable for it to be adopted. That's just the way it is."
ULAMD: "It's not about money. It's about saving mankind. You'll see." (Abrupt silence ensues)
She tried to chat with me again, but I flat refused. That's right Hitman and Big Cat - I STONEWALLED A DEMOCRAT. All the same, I still blame you guys for everything...
Anyhoo, we eventually made it to Pamizana (only 20 min by ferry), hopped out, and claimed deck chairs ($8 for a chair for the day!). I then went for a swim and WOOOOOO!!!!!! SHRINKAGE!!!!!!! HOLY MOLY that water was freezing. It was EASILY the coldest water we'd been in, and we did NOT swim that day. That being said, check out the GUN SHOW!!!! FIAH POWAH!!!!!! Anyway, moving on...also, we did get a nice hike around the island and up to a hill (GREAT view of the surrounding islands, Hvar town, and Vis), had a beer at the local tiki bar, and got some sun.
Muffin then used her psychic powers to divine EXACTLY when the boat was coming back, and we literally jumped on with about .0001 seconds to spare. That was nice, and it got us back at a reasonable hour.
We had dinner at Marinero, where I killed some more (you guessed it) black risotto, alon with some guuuuuuuuuuuuuud tuna. JT had mussels, but they were less than impressive. However, we did spend the evening chatting with a great little British gal named Kay who told us all about her travels abroad over the past year and pretty much convinced Jenny to leave me and bounce around the globe. It was a great dinner (we chatted with her for about 3 hours), and we left the restaurant about 10:15 to hit the sack. After all, we had another crack at Vis tomorrow!
That, however, is the subject of another blog. :-) That's enough news for a night, so I'll bid farewell. Chat tomorrow!
Sam and Jenny