As we arrived in Omis the mountain ranges were just behind the town and a single para-glider floated on the air currents along the range above the town.
As we moored at the wharf alongside fishing boats, a wedding celebration was taking place for the captain of a fishing boat moored at the wharf, who was travelling in a stretched limo to the wharf. At the wharf, a group of family and guests marched in singing obviously raucous songs. Then in response to this series of songs, the bridegroom and his best man popped their heads out of the sunroof on the limo, and burst into a rousing song. The girls asked all the questions from the family members, who were all dressed to the nines, and were told that the bride would not appear until the boys festivity was over, they would then have the ceremony and eat and go home.
All of their voices were excellent and it turns out Omis is the host to the Dalmatian Choral competitions and is one of the areas great singing centres.
As we walked to the town the cavalcade of wedding cars and guests passed through the town,
lights on, horns blaring, with much waving and yelling. A man was walking along with a rooster strung by its feet from a pole. There were other things also which we were told were symbols of manhood.
We walked, with Drago to the river and got onboard a little single cylinder diesel “put-put” that took us 45 minutes up the river through the Cetis gorges to Radman’s Mill where we would look around for 45 minutes and then return to Omis.
The little engine putted away, as single engine diesels do, and vibrated the bums of the passengers to remove all cellulite and improve blood supply. Poor François didn’t see the humour of the situation from coming from a luxury yacht to the smallest of boat on the last day and even a handful of biltong didn’t improve his humour. Personally, I thought it was a fun ride.
The river slips through a narrow gorge by the town and we thought it would be similar all the way but it opens out and then re-enters another gorge further upstream. By the riverside the locals had build little fishing sheds. Some with roofs, other looked like little
outhouses, but in each there was either a family or individuals fishing - frequently a granddad and children There was a lot of activity and we saw one large fish lost.
The Gorge is impressive as it first cuts through the town and a few hotels are perched on the mountain tops like monasteries in Meteora. The road running to Radman’s Mill follows the river and they have cuts tunnels though the gorge ridges that jut down to the river.
The road follows the river and, in the area when it flattens out, the grass is green and there, nestled in the trees along the way are small New Zealand style batches. A rough and tumble sleeping place, a large bar-b-q area, a ramp for a boat and place to park a car/s. We also came across two beautiful white swans on the river.
These places represent the simple thing in life and the area is just 20 km away from Split so we guess there will be lots of people with a holiday/fishing place up here.
The river was clear and filled with lush weeds. Rock shelves jutted out into the river and the
old captain steered his way around them. I could see trout in the waters so imagine the bar-b-q would be well used.
We arrived at the mill to see a group of people who had just completed the white water rafting and others who were canoeing. The mill was originally a water powered flour mill and was operating early in the C17th. They had built a water channel from the river so that by the time it got to the mill the channel had a height potential of about 4 meters to the river level to drive the grinding wheels. The large flourmill was still being used and the remains of old grinding wheels were on display. Up stream, the channel was dammed with a stone wall and the slots for the wooden gates were built into the wall.
The place was packed with diners and the restaurant, now run out of the mill, must have had 100 people just finishing last lunches or maybe getting ready for dinners. There was a huge kitchen in which they baked rounded loaves of bread maybe half a meter in diameter.
Then they brought out a lamb on a
spit and it was cooked beautifully brown and crispy on the outside. It was wired to a wooden stake that was feed through his mouth along his spine, with good fencing wire. I was fascinated how they had cooked the lamb without setting fire to the wooden stake which had obviously been used several times - I wouldn't find out until much later.
The lamb was sold for K160/kg with vegetables and bread and a kg could feed a family - that AUD$40. They didn’t slice the meat off the bones as we would do but hacked the whole carcass up with a meat cleaver and served big chunks of meat on the bone.
I had a beer in the gardens and a look at the historic mill and left for the ride home. Di and Petro sat on the front seat of the boat going into the gorge, and, with the sun behind them, it gave them both a good photo opportunity of the gorges. Both are keen photographers. On the way home a couple of Belgium women (without camera) jumped in quickly and said it was their turn to sit in the front. I’d already told
Di to sit in the best back seat so she could photograph behind her instead of into the washed out views shooting into the sun. We sat in the very back of the boat and looked backwards and the old captain would point out thing to see behind him where it was illuminated by the sun. It was a pleasant and interesting trip but the best gorge was close to the township and it would be good to do that in a canoe.
We returned to Omis and walked to the yacht at dusk. The water polo team were still playing and there was one player who was obviously complaining to the ref or coach about the roughness of the game and pointing to scratches on his back, chest and thighs. I was amused by the ref whose body action was saying “That’s life man!”
Walked back into town and there are some beautiful back streets with restaurants hidden away in corners, lining streets, overflowing out of wee shops, bringing wonderful smells of seafood, spit roasts, and bar-b-qs.
We sat in a side street and had our last seafood dinner of the week on the Dalmatian Coast.
Returned home and packed ready for a departure from the boat at 9.00 tomorrow morning.
The boat was away by 7.00 am. We had breakfast as we cruised along the coastline where the impressive range hugs the coast. We could see the Podstrana harbour as we went past and Cookie pointed out his family restaurant in Podstrana, which they only open for special occasions.
The mountains reduce in height but are still 400m close by and 1200 meters high just 8 km from the coast.
We arrived at 9.15am and unloaded. We had heaps of photos taken of us and the crew then farewelled Margaret and Scott Thomson who stay in Split then to Rome before heading home and François and Petro Joubert who jump on another ferry for Rome.
We were all sad to farewell the Atlantica, which was a lovely yacht. We were sorry to farewell Cookie who we would like to have at home and Drago with his wonderful “Oh, I forget!” “Is Good?” and his impish “it’s Coal-i-flau-er”. I think more importantly we were privileged to have travelled together to have shared the exquisite beauty of the Dalmatian coast from Dubrovnik
to Split. There is of course the rest of the Dalmatian coast and island from Split almost to Trieste but, maybe, that will be another day.
Now we look forward to our stay in Split, Maria’s home town, before heading to Ljubjana in Slovenia.
At the Split wharf, we walked to the adjacent taxi rank and tried to get a small bus that had just unloaded passengers to take us to Postrada. The Taxi Union would not allow someone to muscle in on their turf so he was sent on his way and we were required to get two taxies.
They told us that Postrada was miles away and when they saw the map I’d pulled off Google earth, they laughed and said that we would be so far up the hill at this house, that we would be able to see Italy.
I had plotted the position on Google and mapped in the small road that was not listed on the Garmin maps. It turned out the taxis act as touts for the local hotels and apartments and the loud mouthed taxi driver sid he has a lovely place right in town for
Carmen plotted the taxi route to the turn off and to the end of the Garmin maps. The Google map gave us the exact street and number but there was no no 5, and it was only 500 meters from the main coastal highway. We eventually found the house tucked away at the back of no 9 and meet Frank, Christopher’s father, with whom Di had been communicating, who lead us up stairs to a large 4 bedroom apartment with kitchen and lounge/dining area, verandas, clothlines and TV. It was a house with finely finished marble floors and solid oak furniture. More importantly the bathroom was large and we will not miss the pokey bathrooms and toilets on the yacht.
The bedrooms were also large and well appointed and we unpacked and settled in. Frank came up to show us around the house and presented us with a plastic bottle of home made wine. Down below he showed us his vat in which he makes 750 litres in a batch. He said he buys selected white and red grapes to produce a rosé coloured wine using a natural fermentation, which he said gives him interesting years.
Frank said that in the summer it was wise to mixes the wine with mineral water and it’s wonderfully refreshing in this heat. Otherwise, he said you are plastered by the end of the day.
He also offer us a glass of brandy- actually grappa from his own still which produces 35 litres of grappa a year. This sound like a fun hobby.
We got the instructions of the layout of the house from Frank who then drove the girls to the only supermarket that was open, being a Sunday, for lunch and dinner makings for tonight.
We had lunch and walked down to the main road and to the beach. The road from Frank’s wandered through the houses packed with fruit trees, and flowers.
Near the school and their double ash felt soccer field, that was closed for the holidays, we past kids kicking soccer balls and men, on an adjacent pitch, playing boule.
Boule is an interesting game; it looks like a mixture of bocca and bowls. The spherical stainless steel kitty is thrown high or rolled along the hard packed and swept sand cricket-size pitch. This area is bounded by a concrete
wall about half a meter high. Each competitor then under armed his round coloured ball (made of wood?) at the kitty. Occasionally they ricocheted the ball off the wall to achieve their objected of placing their ball as close to the jack or kitty as possible or knocking the opposition out of the way The cunning old men rolled the kitty to see the lie of the sand and for the first ball followed the track to touching distance of the kitty- this I guess is playing the percentage shot. There was a lot of shouting and drinking and the old men where having a lot of fun.
We walked down to the corner store “Tommys” and across to the main road to the beach through road borders of lavender. At the beach there were dozens of families and mobs of kids all splashing about and queuing for ice cream. Croatia is “Ice Cream Central” with all varieties of ice cream on display and for those that are brightly setup or in a prime position, with lots of people queuing. Our favourite flavour is frozen berry yogurt.
There were people on the beach who were being fried to
a bright red and there were some young girls and older girls that were walrus proportions. We bought a few beers and soaked up the place. The 500 ml beers were $1.50 so this was our scene.
Wandered back to the house and meet Frank who was playing Boule and said that he’d left a message for us, saying that he would be back later tonight if we needed anything.
We were planning to invite him to dinner tonight but the boys has fired by the bar-b-q and he said he would be eat there and be back at 20:45 and have a drink with us.
Frank said that this was a man’s game when Di asked where the women were. Just down the road was the large new church and that was being attended by the ladies and the children. The original church was built, so Frank said, some 50 yrs ago, and it is still there, a small stone building that could seat thirty. On a giant elm tree were lovers names carved from 1945 and another name, stretched and distorted with the growth of the tree for over a 100 years looked like 1907.
We walked home and took in the second lot of washing.
We had a simple dinner after being overfed by Cookie for the last week and went to bed. Spain beat Italy so Italy is out of the European cup so we have no-one to support in Venice next week.
Work early and Frank drove us down to the bus station. Frank has a 560 SEC Mercedes Coupe with special wheels and tyres and an Audi 4
Frank’s English is remarkable - he said he learned French and English at school just up the road and then worked for 38 years in Germany when he only spoke German. He said when he has to speak English with people it slowly comes back. He worked for Bosh as an economist.
Just near the bus station in Postrada is the Ivanavich Tennis centre. This was Ivanavich’s home town and there were about 6 clay courts that we could see where people were playing. It was double storied building.
We got the bus to town after a mess up with bus ticket printing machines. Their machine has a large hole and you must not let go of
the ticket otherwise it gets swallowed by the machine and the driver comes and pokes around with another other tickets and when that fails, a screwdriver and when that fails, he issues another ticket.
We jumped out at the old town wall by the Green market with its enormous diversity of wonderful quality fruits that all smelt sooooo good and were ready for eating, but we thought Nick’s Figs of old Italian stock, had deeper purple flesh and were better tasting.
We wandered thought the markets and in though the old city wall into a street lined with great Roman columns, which was part of ancient building that now blend with Venetian and Croatians buildings in a surreal and eclectic blend of architecture. The street and walking pavement were large marble flag stones polished with leather shoes and bare feet for maybe 2000 years. All the white stone had worn at a faster rate than the black stones so here was an undulating texture to the surfaces.
We wandered about the street into the Cathedral which was an enormous pompous building with an open area for about 200 people in a dark area with two small
doors leading to the alter area with sufficient room for about another twenty dignitaries.
The painting on the roof and walls are dark in subject matter and were portraying old testament drama rather then new testament enlightenment.
It seemed to my simple mind that this church structure was the antithesis in design of a Mosque, which is open and is designed to cater for thousands of people to attend and pray especially on Fridays, and especially in India and presumably in the Middle East.
It seemed in some ways that the church design made a statement about the perceived importance of its leaders than a church for its people. The Cathedral in Escupules in Guatemala by contrast was a vibrant peoples’ cathedral.
The streets were busy and it was intently hot so we worked our way around the side street because of the shade and the temperature differentials always seem to draw a breeze in the narrow passeges.
I haven’t been to Rome so cannot judge on how that city has retained and grown around it ancient buildings but I was fasinated by the juxtaposition of past and present; of a heritage Roman, Venetian, Croatian,
and goodness know who else, each still making a statement on the atmosphere of Split.
I thought Split was a vital city and while not as pristine or as classical as Dubrovnic, I thought it a more vital and interesting city. I regret that our time is limited as I would have liked to have spent a few days here just pottering about.
The plaza were so hot and even under umbrellas it was too hot, so we found a neat restaurnt in a side street where the breeze was blowing and cooling.
At the table next to us was a Taswegian, whose parent left Croatia on the communist takeover and came to Australia. Now with the new government and new state titles old titles are being handed back so he is in Croatia for three month to finalise all the transfers to his family.
He was really chuffed as the family now own a ski resort in the mountains.
We looked at the temple of Jupiter which was the original structure with a vaulted roof in carved stones, next to it is the narrowest street in Croatia - it was shoulder width wide.
We grabbed a cab to the airport at 4.30pm and Helen and Jan returned home on the bus to go to the supermarket for dinner and breakfast tomorrow when we head off to Plitvice lakes.
We got a nine seater Renault with room to spare and drove back home.
We all repacked and went to bed early and in the moring farewell Frank and headed up to the Plitvice Lakes.
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