Croatia 21, Rab, living on another island , islands in the stream, Island of dreams, Rab was quiet

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May 4th 2016
Published: May 5th 2016
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Do you know anything about arm pump? I didn’t until I started watched MoTo GP and Little Danny Pedroza the Spanish rider who gets arm pump riding his huge bike. He is shorter than me and that is saying something and weighs less than me. That is beside the point though . What is the point of this then? Glenn driving Suzy along mountainous roads which hugged the coast of Croatia with the stormy sea to the side of us. The mountains touch the road and then drop away to the sea. The wind – what can you say about it? It howls up the coast and Glenn trying to handle Suzy in it is an art form. My thoughts if this carries on he will get arm pump. It never stops. There is no respite due to the nature of the coast. The only time it drops is as we drop to the ferry for our boat to another island. It has been another of those squeaky bum moments where I hold on to the seat. Just one gust and we could be pinned against the rock face. One gust and we could just as easily be blown into the way of the oncoming traffic and deposited into the sea. The sea though is deceiving . It is a wonderful shade of cobalt blue. It is almost as still as a mill pond. The wind has dropped and we pay our 194 kuna to transport us, Suzy and the sheep to Rab. Cheaper than the last ferry to Cres by a few kuna. This ferry is run by another company. As we do we talk while we wait for the ferry. Both of us thought straight away about the Herald of Free Enterprise another Roll on Roll off ferry that capsized in the 1980's off Zeebrugge. We pause for thought as we wait.

We cannot see Rab nor the ferry port we will arrive at. The roll on roll off ferry cannot be far away as the crossing only takes 18 minutes. Less than from the mainland to Cres. We wonder what the trip will be like . The boat comes in. It’s human cargo disengorged. We are loaded on like sardines in sardine cans next to a small ambulance and a load of lorries. Suzy looks lost amongst the big boys. We watch the coastline slipping away and we round the corner and in front of a hillside very craggy with a cross built out of stone walling on its sides and the harbour . Such as it is. By the time we settle down it is time to head back to Suzy and comfort out of the slight wind. The ferry port on Rab is little more than a ticket office and a few parking spots.

Rab is different to the other islands we have visited. On first reflection it is barren. Unlike Krk which is heavily forested. Perhaps it was those pesky Venetians the Croatians try to ignore who cut down all the trees for boats. The rocks don’t look as pink as those of Cres although they are still limestone. More grey everywhere. The road into Rab town is a pretty good one. Wider than the one from the ferry into Cres but the drivers are no less suicidal. They overtake on blind bends with double white lines. They must have a death wish.

Our first stop a Konzum as supplies are running low especially fresh bread and real milk. UHT never tastes quite right. We find the supermarket easily and for once it is a joy to shop in. Not huge but things are in the same place. The chicken counter is manned and I get served with a smile. No nice roasties though sadly. Still the chicken will be nice with a green salad and washed down with a rose wine. Strawberries for pudding plus a treat of some strange Croatian sweets . Crossed between a marzipan sweet and a cake they are odd but very nice. Some have nuts in, others covered in chocolate vermicelli or coconut. We needed a chocolate fix. I will need to hit the gym when I get home after munching my way through all the wrong food and too much of the falling over juice.

The sun is shining as we head into Padova III a huge sprawling complex made up of permanent campings, a hotel , grills, bars and us stopovers. Reception was friendly , it was an ACSI site so the cost was going to be reasonable. WiFi was free and all over the site. I never got chance to try the washing machines despite the fact that we are running out of essentials. There are only so many socks and knickers you bring with you and our washing basket which is a big plastic bag is overflowing. I really should have gone rather than sitting out in the sun watching the sea lapping gently on the shoreline . I should have put my book A clash of Kings , the second Game of Thrones book down and gone and put them in but instead I read on and did some cryptic crossword puzzles. Tomorrow – tomorrow is another day. The washing can wait. Another day , another campsite .

We were on plot 35 a huge one but one step back from the sea. We were surrounded by Germans with one Austrian motorhome and one Swiss. The Germans talked to each other as they congregated in groups. The Austrian and the swiss kept to themselves . We did the same. All was quiet until two Germans went out on their bike and left their dog. It did nothing but howl and bark for almost two hours . What posesses someone to bring a dog and leave it in a tent for hours in the hot sunshine . No RSPCA out here it seems. They did come back eventually and the dog quietened down. Peace at last . Peace to sit in the hot baking sun and watch the world go by listening to the gently lapping of the sea.

We walked into Rab at night . 25 minutes along the shoreline. A lovely walk. Rab came into sight just around the headland . All Venetian with belltowers and campaniles. It looked like a mirage in the desert and we both imagined how the sailors must have felt to come to safe harbour. Then it drifted away as we had to walk inland around the headland before it came back into sight again. Only for us to lose it as we walked around the marina. We expected much from Rab town. The blub says that it has fine architecture and traditional buildings . We could see the fine Venetian town houses along the harbour front. Boats dipped up and down in the calm bay. Not one sailor was on them though. The marina felt like a ghost town.

A little lighthouse shone a green light across the water. Rab boasts various styles of architecture and its monuments identify its Mediterranean culture. It sells itself by boasting of its beauty. The town has three streets and is easy to negotiate .There is not much to lose yourself in. Lower Street runs along its waterfront. Along which are the walls in parts , a few squares and cafes . They seemed soulless though. I know it was Tuesday night and back home would seem soulless middle of the week but we expected visitors and life. There wasn’t much . I wondered when the season would start here on Rab. The supermarkets boasted pate that would taste wonderful on your bread and the best salami this side of Christmas. Apparently it has been a treat for Christmas since the 1880’s.

We stopped for a coffee and a cold drink but there was no life to the place. A few people sat at the tables but it was just dead. It may as well have been the middle of winter. Middle Street houses all the shops. Ranging from the tat for the tourists, to shops selling silver tacky handbags and seaside souvenirs. Shiny silver shoes and handbags. Not a scarf in sight for me to purchase. Middle Street also houses the washhouse turned now into a swanky restaurant and more restaurants than you can swing a stick at. Sadly though the waiters stood talking at the doors trying to entice what few visitors there were in to eat. It was the same with the shops. Proprieters came to the door and stood there shouting "Come in to my shop, Welcome, I have many traditional gifts" Once in they pounced and followed us sticking to us like limpets. Urging us all the time to look at what they had. I tried to imagine the same back home. Some poor soul of a shopgirl standing in the rain in a rainy Clay Cross shouting come in and buy my cards or welcome to my betting shop.

Upper Street is where all the belfries and churches are. We saw the outside of all the churches but the insides were firmly shut up. One had grills through which you could see the interior . A sort of look but don’t touch approach. The others were closed . In fact one shut its doors just as I walked up the steps. God wasn’t home in the churches of Rab tonight. All the streets are interconnected by stairs and alleyways. Sadly it all felt closed down for the season.

The beaches are excellent with white sand and the seas emerald coloured. It is another naturist area to which apparently came Edward VIII and Mrs Simpson to have a skinny dip in the sea.

Rab has a relationship with St Christopher and some of his relics are fiercely guarded here. Due to shut churches we saw none of these. It is the home of St Marinus who apparently founded San Marino – a huge claim to fame. The Romans were here Octavian Augustus to name drop. The islanders remember the Romans and there is an old church on the Upper Street with an unusual shape which goes back to early Christian times but they forget their Venetian heritage at the drop of a hat. Having said that we saw no St Marks Lion nor did we see any that had been hacked to pieces.

Did we like Rab? Well it had charm but sadly it needed life . Perhaps it was too early in the season and it would come to life in another month. We compared islands – Krk came out the best with its greenery and its life , Cres and Rab came out equal second.

We still have Pag and Hvar but I think we have had enough island hopping for one trip. It was a pizza for tea. A shared margarita , the cheese delicious, the pastry base not too thick , the tomatoes just right and just a hint of basil . Had four olives for the green . They were quickly discarded – we don’t do olives. Heathens that we are.

Tomorrow we have a choice. We can move to plot 50 . In a corner nearer the sea or move on again . I think the mainland beckons as we start to head towards home. Porec tomorrow . I wonder if we will ever stop Sion saying he is going to Porridge .

Where to after that depends. We still have almost two weeks to get back to Calais. Normally we feel the first fortnight flies but this trip it has gone slowly. Perhaps it has been the poor weather. We have to keep reviewing the situation . Once we have seen Porec and depending on the campsite we can head for Venice . Again - you are going again to Venice I hear you say. What is there not to like about Venice? How many times can you go back? As many as you like. I don’t mind having my dinner there in the same restaurant as I always do. I don’t mind walking the same old streets nor do I mind drinking a coffee on St Marks Square. Oh yes and there is the cemetery. Always wanted to see it. Nows my chance .


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