Yep, as you might have guessed it, we woke up to more [email protected]#$! weather that morning. However, we were very pretty hopeful that this would be the last. Perhaps, we would soon be complaining about the sunny skies instead, we hoped…
After checking out of the hotel, we headed over to the terminal building where the ferry was docked. My brother went inside to pay for the tickets while I stood guard outside. About ten minutes later he walked out with tickets in hand. He said that it was a good thing that we had called the day before and made reservations. There were quite a few people who didn’t do so and were quite upset because there wasn’t any cabins left.
As the rain tapered off, we left the port to get something to eat. After wondering around a bit in light rain we managed to find a hole in the wall pizzeria. As usual the pizza was quite good. We managed to kill some more time around downtown area before heading back to the terminal. Ferry was schedule to leave port at 6:00 pm and would arrive into Dubrovnik the next day around the same time.
When we got there we found several lines of vehicles waiting to board the ferry. We parked the bikes against the terminal wall and waited for the boarding to begin. A few minutes later a female duo on bicycles showed up. We had noticed them earlier but didn’t get a chance to chat. As they approached us we said hello and the conversation resumed with the customary questions: where are you from, where are you heading, where have you been…etc. The more pleasant one of the two didn’t talk much. The other did the most of the talking. From our short conversation, we learnt that they were from Germany and that they were in Trieste the day before just as we were. When I complained about the climb and the traffic out of Trieste, she asked us what route we took. I pointed out the route on the map and she smirked and said that the route we took was “not gut”. They have taken the southerly route that wrapped around the coast. She said that they didn’t run into any traffic and the road was quite peaceful. The reason I decided against that route was twofold: one it looked much longer and two it cut across several mountain ranges. Neither my brother nor I wanted to go up and down through a series of mountain ranges. At the time, we didn’t think that we would make to Rijeka in one day and we did not want to camp because of the rain and cold. Anyways, it was becoming clear to both of us that the duo didn’t want to be bothered no more. There wasn’t much talking after that and we didn’t get to see them again until we reached Dubrovnik the net day. By then they had started boarding the ferry. Although, they told us that we would be the last ones to board the boat that didn’t stop her from annoying the dock workers every so often and asking them if it was our turn yet. When it was finally our turn to board, just like they did in the train from Austria to Italy, they stacked our bikes against one of the walls and tied them together. Once the bikes were secure, we grabbed our panniers and head upstairs to reception area where we checked in. After the checking a pretty young lady took us to our cabin and showed us few things and left.
The cabin was not a luxury one by any means, but a perfectly functional one. It had a bathroom with a working hot shower, a desk with couple of drawers and a chair set against a mirror. There was a relatively large window next to the desk which provided ample light during the day. The lack of decor and the simplicity of the cabin did remind me once again that not too long ago this country was under a communist regime.
My cold had gotten worst by that afternoon, I had a runny nose and an ache all over my body. I was looking forward to kicking back and doing nothing for the next 23 hours. I took couple of pain killers and we headed to top deck to watched the city as the ferry left the port. I am sure we might have had a different feeling about Rijeka if the weather was pleasant, but on this miserable evening we were glad to see it disappear on the horizon.
We grabbed couple of cups of tea from the restaurant and headed back to the cabin. Neither of us had much of an appetite. We snacked on the pastries we bought from Rijeka. After several cups of tea and a hot shower I went to bed.
The next morning I was up by 8 AM. I did wake up a few times during the night to the rocking of the boat. Nevertheless, it was a good night’s sleep and I was already feeling much better. I sat next to the window and watched the scattered homes on the near by hills for a while. I assume they were vacation homes because of their remoteness. It reminded me of some of the vacation homes that sat on the hilltops of a coastal town near Adana in Southern Turkey, right on the Mediterranean coast. We had spent a few summer vacations camping right on the beach. Besides all the painful sunburns, they constitute some of the most memorable moments from of childhood. At night around the card table, I would hear adults talk about the well to do residents of these home. Some called them privileged and some called them thieves. One of the homes was even rumored to belong the the daughter of the president of Turkey at the time. This was in the late 70s, before coup d’état of 1980. Just as I was diving even deeper, my brother’s voice pulled me out of the abyss. “I am hungry!” he said, “me too” said I. We went down to the restaurant for breakfast; I was pleased to see that we both had our appetite back.
Overall the boat ride was quite comfortable. We did have some worries the day before about getting sea sick but our fears didn’t materialize. The ferry followed a route on the calm waters in between the mainland the numerous islands that dotted across the Adriatic Sea. We would feel the full effects of the open seas every time the ferry left the cover of an island. That is when it got a bit uncomfortable for both of us I think. The ship would rock from side to side quite heavily.
The ferry made four stops in total before we reached Dubrovnik. First stop was at Split, followed by Stari Grad, Korcula and finally Mljet. Each stop was a nice break from the otherwise uneventful ride. Everyone would rush to the top deck to watch people and vehicles get on and off the boat. By the afternoon the skies had started to clear and offering us delightful views of the mountains on the mainland,a and by the time we arrived in Dubrovkin sometime in the late afternoon, we were extremely excited to see cloud free skies.
As we got off the port in Dubrovnik we were surrounded by an army of property owners offering us a place to stay. Some of them were really pushy. We tried to ignore them, but there was an old lady that was quite persistent. She didn’t have much English, but there was an older guy that was helping with translation. She could offer us a room for 30 Euros. The place had a hot shower and a garden where we can put our bikes. In hindsight, I think it was a mistake. I don’t know why, but we agreed to follow her on foot to look at her place.
The building was a few blocks from the main drag in a quite neighborhood on the hillside . She lived on the ground floor of three story building set on a good size lot with several fruit trees and a good size produce garden. We entered the garden through an iron gate which led to a large concrete porch with few chairs and a table. She showed us one of the bedrooms where we would be staying for the night. The room was of good size and clean with a queen size bad. There was a large window that overlooked the concrete porch and out to garden. She said that we can leave the bikes there and she would lock the iron gate to the garden. We were both tired and still recovering from a cold and it was starting to get dark.After confirming the availability of a hot shower, we reluctantly decided to stay the night there.
I said reluctantly because it seemed like she was complaining about one thing or another the whole time we were there. She reminded me of my one grandmothers. You were never sure whether you were the cause of her complaints and she just needed someone to listen. We just didn’t have a welcome feeling. I am sure some of it was lost in translation. When we asked whether we can use her washing machine for laundry she complained about the cost of water, detergent, electricity…etc. Mind you, we were prepared and expected to pay for the use of her machine, but not the 15 Euros she initially asked. When we stated that it was half of the room rate, she stated that electricity and detergent was “very expensive”. I said we would give her 5 Euros for one load. She murmured something in Croatian and paused for a response. We decided to ignore her and proceeded to unload our gear. After a few minutes she must have come to her senses that she said “OK…machine 5 Euros”. For us it wasn’t about the actual amount. If she had a better attitude we would have given her much more than that. It was about the principle; nobody likes to be taken as a fool.
Around dinner time we headed down to water front. I don’t quite remember what we had for dinner but I do remember what happened on the way back. We stopped in front of a jewelry store for reasons I can’t precisely remember, perhaps to take a picture. The store was closed at the time. My brother used the side stand on his bike to park his his bike right in front of the glass the door. Just as he did that a chubby older guy came running out of a car that was parked across the street. He screamed “move you fucking bike, you are going to break my door” to my brother. We were quite surprised by his reaction. My brother told him the relax and tried to explain to him that the bike was standing on its side stand and not against his store. He wasn’t having any of that. He was furious. He said “move your fucking bike or I will throw it in the middle of the street”. My brother said “OK, calm down” as he moved bike another 5 feet away from his store. After few more angry words he got into his car and left. We stood there for a moment in awe, trying to process what had just taken place. This surely didn’t feel like Europe, we were in a different world.
When we got back from dinner we were surprised to find our clothes hanging to dry in the backyard. Before we left, we placed a load next to the machine with the intent of washing it after the dinner. That was nice of her we thought. It goes to show you that somethings do get lost in translation especially when dealing with unfamiliar cultures. She asked us we like some tea. We said “no thank you kindly”. In a suggestive manner she asked whether we will be staying another night. The cynic in me said “a-ha, that is why she is very nice all of a sudden”. Unfortunate for her we had no such plans.