Monday morning, J and I left Podgora for the short drive down the rest of the Croatian coast to Dubrovnik.
The high coastal mountains mellowed out, and we even passed through some pretty, flat farmland with irrigation channels and lakes.
A large bee flew into the window and whacked J in the neck. We stopped next to a honey stand and let it out.
Fertile valley near the bee attack.
At Klek, we stopped at the border control to Bosnia. I didn’t realize there were two windows at the same stop: the first for exiting Croatia and the second for entering Bosnia. I almost drove by the second window, when the agent yelled out and approached my car with annoyance. Oopsie.
The small piece of Bosnia that touched the coast looked identical to its neighbor. The town of Neum was the focal point for a lot of tourist busses. A variety of aquaculture was in the water below. I wished I had stopped to take some photos.
In 22km, we were back in Croatia. In less than an hour, we entered Dubrovnik.
Before returning the car, we dropped off our bags at the apartment in the new city. The key master was missing, so a neighbor went into the upstairs apartment to get us the keys.
We returned the rental car at a city location with no parking. I pulled the car onto the sidewalk in front of an apartment until someone ran in to tell me to move the car for a bus that couldn’t get by on the one lane street. The sole employee seemed worn out from having to shuttle cars around to the five spaces scattered nearby, but he had a genuinely pleasant attitude. And he didn’t seem to care about the scraped up state of the car.
Free from our bags and vehicle, we went for a long, sweaty walk to the old town.
I bought a bag of cat food that I could portion out to friendly or hungry stray cats.
See M Y, ‘K?
Old house in the jungle.
Built like a fort.
The private stairs.
Nearly ripe grapes.
Much needed shade.
This gnome has seen some shit.
Ramp and blocked door.
Kittens on guard.
Rector? I hardly know her.
People on the city wall by the harbor.
Croatian fashion is weird.
Old estate, new car.
Somewhere in this park, a weird man in green was wandering around.
Old and new town.
Tuesday, we took the bus to old town and walked the city wall. The views were wonderful: lots of blue sea and terra-cotta rooftops.
It was hot and sunny, and I felt unashamed to make my own shade with an umbrella.
After the walk, we ate lunch at a garden terrace restaurant on the high side of town. We ordered a lot of beverages, grilled chicken, and grilled squid.
Looking down Stradun.
A view below to kayaking bay.
View from above.
A board man.
The royal court.
The narrow city wall.
Looks like a Stooges’ moment.
Cat ruled ruins.
Packed fishing nets.
View of the old marina.
City wall between buildings.
Looking down from the shade of a high tower.
The Sea Hobbit’s Shire.
J in the fort.
Bikini lady is running out of sun.
Old man on the sea.
In the afternoon, we sat in the shade by the old marina and watched the constant movement of people and boats.
The sun set and even greater amounts of swallows left their nests to shriek through the skies and poop on people.
Dubrovnik at night is beautiful.
After a bus ride back, we spotted a young white kitten on the sidewalk. I fed it some food in a driveway. When I looked up, I noticed a concerned home owner and her dog glaring at me in the distance. Time to move on.
I found my new shirt!
On Wednesday, we rested in the air conditioned apartment. At lunch, we walked to a highly rated restaurant nearby called Pantarul.
It was nearly empty.
We had an apple and arugula salad, bread, and spring rolls for appetizers. I ordered a steak with mashed potatoes and truffle sauce. J had a tall burger.
On Thursday, J and I walked back to the old town along the pedestrian streets. I boosted her so that we could pick some tart cherries from an overloaded tree.
We walked down to the bay by the Pile Gate and checked in for a sea kayaking trip (230HRK/$34 each).
I changed into shorts in a ditch by the city wall while listening to the other paddlers arrive.
Our group was eight boats or so, populated by British, Australian, Swiss, and Korean travelers. Since everyone was already in pairs, no one really bothered to make conversation.
Our boats were open topped and waterproof containers were provided for personal items. I wish that I had brought my camera, as it would have been fine in the smaller container.
We departed through the obstacle course of shallow water and rocks. Apparently two Korean girls never made it past the rocks, so they were deemed unfit for the rest of the trip.
Our three hour route took us along the edge of town and the ocean side of Lokrum Island. The guide stopped at various points to talk about the historical scenery.
From Lokrum, we crossed back to the mainland and stopped for a lunch of ham and cheese sandwiches in a private cave. First, I jumped into the clear water with a face mask to cool off and look at the numerous fish. I ate lunch with salty hands, then went into the water again.
Our return passed by the busy entrance to the marina and back along the city wall.
J and I walked back to the apartment to shower and massage our sore arms.
That evening, we walked to a nearby restaurant and ate pizza on the rooftop patio while the sun set.
We walked to Uvala Lapad Beach, then up the pedestrian road to get a drink.
On the road, I patted a friendly cat. A women approached and pulled some cat food out of her bag. I pulled out my bag of food and dumped a bunch for the cat. I had the same agenda, and I also trumped the amount of food she had given. I won that cat feeding battle.
We ordered two reasonably priced mojitos at an outdoor bar. We watched people stroll by and wrangle their kids while they socialized. We ordered two piña coladas, paid our tab, and meandered home in a celebratory mood.
We didn’t see the kitten.
Friday was scorching hot. We walked to Bellevue Beach under the assumption that we could rent chairs and a beach umbrella. But contrary to what the man at reception said, the amenities were for hotel guests only.
We hiked up the hill, across the lounge area of the Rixos Libertas Hotel, and found an unshaded spot on the rocks outside the roped off swimming area.
Getting into the water was hard without stepping on seaweed and other mysterious textures. The water was clear, but choppy and I couldn’t see the bottom. We swam a few times, then sunbathed until the sun started going behind the hill.
Our rocky beach view.
A little path along the cliffs.
Everyone has brick grills.
Sunset outside our apartment.
Saturday, we walked from the the cruise terminal marina through residential neighborhoods to the old town for lunch. It was a long, sweaty walk.
Red busted buggy bumpers.
Old boat house.
A hidden house on a dirt road.
An old marina mansion.
Galleon of booze.
Crosswalk and stairs.
We call this store “Tommy Appleface”.
No matter what, it’s occupied.
A woman and her dogs.
Sunday was another day of rest.
We went out for another fancy lunch at Pantarul, I bought a new pair of shoes to replace my beloved clogs (I had worn through the soles), and we took portrait photos in the perfect lighting of the apartment entryway.
Saying goodbye to my old clogs.
That evening, we tidied the apartment, packed our bags and tried to go to sleep at a reasonable hour. We were unsuccessful.
Our alarms beeped at 4AM, and we were inside the airport shuttle van at 4:30.
The young driver hurled the vehicle along the coastal road to the airport as the sun rose.
Before our trip, I was excited most about visiting Dubrovnik. Since then, many more Croatian places have trumped it.
The past month here has been wonderful, almost a vacation within a vacation. The few people we’ve met have been friendly, and even strangers seem happy.
The scenery has been absolutely beautiful. Inland, we enjoyed the fertile farmland and small towns. The three national parks we saw were magical places, full of water, wildlife, and satisfying hikes. We’ve seen a few islands and a lot of the coast. We’ve enjoyed well-maintained and new winding roads. We’ve swam in the cold, blue water and baked in the warm sun. We’ve bonded with sheep and cats, spotted dolphins, and lots of fish and dragonflies. We’ve enjoyed looking at everyone’s personal fruit/vegetable gardens and exploring historic town centers. We’ve eaten a lot of seafood, domestic wine and beer, and chicken. So much grilled chicken.
I’m going to miss Croatia.