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Published: June 24th 2006
The town was built by the Venetians, so is like a little Venice in the building style
Today is our last day in Croatia before heading out to Hungary and a week’s bike riding in a national park up North of Hungary, then back to Budapest before heading back to real life and the big smoke (literally) of London.
Croatia has been great, though we both agree it has been quite strange going from travelling to holidaying and back again as a lot of the areas we have been in are really tourist resorts and not set up for serious travelling, however this has not been a bad thing.
The last week has been spent in Korcula, an island off the coast of southern Dalmatia, with about 16,000 people and here the tale begins...
Having decided that lying on the beach and swimming and eating was a bit too much relaxing even for us we decided to hire bikes for the day to see a bit of the island. We were told that the island lent itself to riding a bit more than the last island we tried it on, so having assured ourselves that it was possible and likely to be more enjoyable than the last attempt we hired two mountain bikes, I say
Paul onthe GOOD bike
mountain bikes in the loosest sense as they did have the benefit of shocks where the last bikes had not (for those not familiar with biking terminology these are suspension on the front forks of bike that help the bum have a better experience and allow you to do silly things with greater effect). However, 2kms down the road my bike (of course it would be mine) was making terrible grinding noises, not changing gears and being a general pain in the ass. However, not any old husband do I have and with twitching fingers, a gleeful look and a hand quicker than lightening he produced the ever trusty Swiss army knife (with screwdriver attachment) and soon my bike was singing if not sweetly then at least had gone from strangled cat to plain bagpipes. And so in the heat we rode, along the country lanes, under the mulberry trees dropping their sweet smelling fruit, through vineyards and along the shore of the azure seas. We stopped and swam and generally had a fine old time.
After an afternoon of pleasantness we decided to make our way back. Along the road with me leading the charge (hahhaha) I spotted
something on the road, much to our fascination it was a snake (albeit a very squashed one). We had heard that snakes did occupy this part of the world but that their mortal enemy the mongoose, which had been introduced to the area by St Paul, did a good job of reducing their numbers. So we were of course quite excited to see one. However, no sooner that had I pointed out the squashed snake then Paul saw me swerve, yell and scream and drop my bike in the middle of the road and hope around screeching my head off. Now of course the poor boy leapt to the conclusion that as we had just been looking at a dead snake that I had been bitten by the live one lurking the bushes for a likely looking victim. Fortunately (or unfortunately) it was only a stray wasp had flown into my face, got stuck under my hat and stung me on the eyebrow.
So after I had made a terrible fuss, and Paul had done all the right things and I had ridden the bloody bike home, and got the hugest swollen eye which was quite impressive (see photo),
Inland town on Korcula Island
I had some time to reflect on whether this incident had some deeper life lesson in it. Perhaps it was “spend time dwelling on others misfortunes and you are likely to suffer your own misfortune when you are least expecting it”? Or perhaps it was “mother nature can be a b****”, or just perhaps it is just simply that “biking is a hazardous activity and one should not wear hats, sunglasses and other such accessories that can trap insects”. This last I think was confirmed as the most likely when the next day we hired scooters in an attempt to rid ourselves of poor bike karma and Paul got a bee sting on the neck when a bee was trapped under his helmet. Might I say he made a lot less fuss that I did and was very gallant about it when I looked sheepish saying wasp stings on the face were much more painful!
Well... the rest of the week in Korcula passed more nicely, the temperature rose with every day and we are now in an average daily of about 35 or so. Croatia was tipped out of the world cup while we were there (by Australia
Paul in his element
no less) and it was quite fun to be part of the build up, which we note involves a lot of horn honking, motorbike reving, and babies and cats wearing Croatia’s colours. Paul observed that “the Croatians, I have decided, are a nation of car and bike hoons“. We discovered a shop that did the most amazing Croatian cakes, almond and spice and citrus peel amaretto thingys- but soft not like the Italian ones and discovered the joys of Croatian dessert wine prosečk and a carob flavoured liqueur- needless to say my alcohol tolerance has crept up!
We came back to Split yesterday and spent the day out at an archaeological site called Solina. This is the ruins of a huge old city built by the Romans in around 2BC, and occupied till the marauding Germanic tribes destroyed it; later the rest was destroyed by the Venetians in an attempt to stop the Turks using it as a fortified base. It is by far one of the best things we have seen, and would totally recommend it, and as it is not properly maintained (read no money from the state) you can just climb all over the old walls,
Ampitheatre in Solina
Built to hold 17,000 spectators, was at one stage 3 stories high and had an underground tunnel to take away the unfortunate gladiators bodies
and walk through he ruins of the baths . Searing heat, white dust and the atmospheric ruins of a city that once housed 60,000 people over 2000 years ago-we have definitely decided old stuff outside is the kind of sightseeing we love. Enduring memories of Croatia will probably be wandering along the top of the old wall city walls of Solina eating a warm ripe fig picked from a tree along the side of the road, and wandering along the cliff tops on the Adriatic coast through the beautiful gardens of a renaissance abourtorium designed and planted 500 years before.
So… bring on Hungary and the last week of our adventures.
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