15th May, 2006 // Croatia
well FAAARK me
It's fair to say that I have not written in a while, yes, this is true. Why?? I guess I've been living for a bit instead!!!! I lie, I really have had time to write, but I've never had the time to write EVERYTHING, so I've written nothing. Now the whole purpose of this site was to avoid group e-mails, which I have reverted to for my family's sake of knowing where I am, but it's probably a great time to write a few quick fire entries, this time from Brac, Croatia (it's in EUROPE for all those fucking Americans who had "never heard of it"!!!! there's a few war vets here who evidently don't like the Yanks too much, let me tell you!!!! I don't speak Croatian but I know a handful of swear words, and the mere MENTION of the USA near a war vet evokes that handful of swear words as an introduction to a whole lot more, and the hand gestures and spitting and animated facial cues and non verbals definitely are not consistent with "a FUCKING great bunch of peole"). Anyway, enough swearing, I know ma, and here's some banter.
I never wrote about the Grand Traverse (see "links") but my good friend Dave and I survived and made the finish line in about fourteen and a half hours. Dave was evidently a fair bit fitter than I was, to which I will feel eternally guilty, but such is life in a teams event, and yep, I was the weakest link. I think I may have gotten a little altitude sick as I can put it down to nothing else, but I wasn't in the best form from about the six hour mark. Sorry again Dave, if we race together next year hopefully I'll keep up. Ha, we did find 2 chicks half way through though who could match it with Dave when I couldn't, needless to say I didn't see Dave for a bit!!!!!
End of season was a blurry blast. Not from alcohol or anything of the sort, just went like a spinning top. Lots happening, great skiing til the end, packing up for another season, good byes to those not coming back, all that jazz. Oh yeah, and kegs of beer at the park over a game of touch after skiing all day, beat that for a day of fun?? Ha, will insert real quick that Dave's brother came over from Oz for the last week of the season and was my honourary removalist guy when I had to shift my stuff. First week into the States for him, so he's all excited about the weapons side of things, namely BB guns for dirt cheap at Wal Mart. So, ofcourse, we got one, and we are probably pretty lucky not be in jail for the well rounded indentation of a ball bearing on EVERY sign between that Walmart and my place. I was driving while he was out the window aiming up the sight on a device that is of course not very dissimilar to a RIFLE!!!! He's a good shot, I'll give him that.
Then, after a big bash for the lifties involving lots of crawfish (big thing in the south, like a crayfich, they boil them by the thousand with potatoes and corn then you stand around making a big old mess to get out of each one what is about the same amount of meet as you'd find in a VEGETARIAN SALAD, give me a surf'n'turf of steak and prawns ANY day!!!) and the end of season all mountain party involving a relay race with tubes up the hill about 100m (starting at 10,000 feet above sea level) and down via a manmade pond (leaving at least one young man in HOSPITAL) it was time to flee the States and land at my bro's place in England. I have spent ZERO time there with his wife and 2 kids (6 and 3) so the goal was to share time with them for four weeks. We got a camping trip in there for three nights with the maternal grandparents in their combie (epic) and I had a very relaxed time. My bro wanted to get away climbing and all the bit but I already felt a bit guilty for stealing him from his wife when he came to the States so it was just time around home. He was kind enough to let me work in his garden for a few days too, he's a great bloke, really!!!! Oh, and he organised for me to accompany him on a business trip also to Poland, where I was paid for to just travel around and enjoy life for 2 days. Funny stories out of that one if you ever ask.
And now I'm about a week into Croatia. Started in the South East (Dubrovnik) and have so far Island hopped to Brac where I'm developing a love of windsurfing!!!!! Can't believe I've never done it when it's so accessible in Brisbane, but I'm starting a fund and currently accepting donations for the "lets get a Robb a windsurfer to show him what a great bloke he is" campaign. Admittedly, I suck, but I've had only about four hours out there and have fallen for it.
A yacht trip would be the best way to see the Adriatic Coast, there's no question, and biking on the Islands in FANTASTIC!!!!!!! Put them together, and you have a yacht trip for bike riders where you sail between the Islands with your bikes and ride around a different Island each day, taking whatever route you want, and meeting back at the boat for dinner. Breakfast would be provided on the boat while sailing in the morning. Good business idea?? Seems to be at least 100 companies already doing it, but I DID think of it by myself, REALLY!!!! Those boats have given me a few rides when I've tried to "hitch a boat", so they're a good bunch of people, been with Dutch and Czechs so far.
I'm up early most days and after being in the USA for 5 months, where there are no decent bakeries and the bread sucks, I am now pretty much in pastry HEAVEN. I never knew the Croatians had a reputation for their baking, I thought it was a French and Italian thing, but WOW!!!! I kept noticing kids in the street on their way to school or work just biting away at a breadstick or small loaf of bread, and I was a bit confused at the bland taste they must be into. Then I tried it, and, just WOW; it melts in your mouth, it's sweet but salty, just like eating......well, really good bread? And then there's the croissants, filled with ham and cheese or olives and spices or, my daily staple, chocolate. The bakeries here could feed me 3 meals a day forever, they are unbelievale!!!! Needless to say that yeah, I'm up early each day to the markets for a few fresh bits of fruit (no stupid preserving hormones in this stuff so you gotta eat it fresh) and then to the bakery for my $AU2 worth of dough based orgasm. I try eat out at a nice place at night when I have the money and the confidence, and the food is ridiculously perfect at the reastaurants too. Ha, my girlfriend has waited patiently for 7 months for me to come back home, and now she'll probably dump me as soon as she sees me for the extra 20Kg my stomach acquiring here!
Anybody doing this part of the world in travels can note the following highlights, all of which have been great:
Dubrovnik: old town, it's, well, pretty!!!
Sveti Ilije: peak in Orebic on the Croatian mainland. Take the path to the 961m summit, I took a, ah, "direct route" up a steep face of loose rock (was probably more climbing than hiking) and was then made aware of a kid who went missing last year taking a similar route, body never found. Mysterious story, could have fallen or been bitten by one of the 2 deadly types of snakes that are endemic up there, but was then probably eaten by birds of prey or goats. I'd rather go in my sleep, thanks. He was Australian too, so imagine the trials and tribulations of the search party of family from Oz!!! The locals tell the story but I have found no info on the net unfortunately, I would like to know more.
Mljet Island: see the national park and 2 lakes by bike. Reminds me of scenes from the De Caprio movie "The Beach"; a small ocean inlet to a large inland lake that mouths very narrowly into another smaller mass of water as surreal and pristine as anything you'll see.
Korcula Island: if you're into Roman architecture see Korcula town, else go diving out of Vela Luka at the other end of the 47Km Island. Vela Luka is just an amazing port.
Hvar Island: the Roman architecture is still beatiful, but getting old. So I went to Jelsa, smaller town on the island where the local soccer team had just won the island comp, it seemed more like the world cup. Like all the islands this one is defined by its idxllic ports and farming of olives and grapes, but noted for its lavender, so it smells kinda nice here.
>>>> the coolest thing I have observed so far is the innate fishing culture the folk in this part of Croatia live by. It holds the community together and makes for a very relaxed lifestyle. Despite the long days and minimal pay, fishing ain't to bad of a thing to do all day every day, not with the traditional methods these guys use anyway, and not with the postcard surrounds every waking hour!!! and now I know why they always burn flares at the soccer games, it's a celebratory act of FISHERMAN!!!!!!! took me a bit.
Brac Island: arrived in Bol, beautiful small village, have accomodation for $AU10 a night, getting around on a mountain bike, learning how to windsurf, and RELAXING. I had one of Europe's biggest tourist attractions, the "Zlatni Rat Beach", to MYSELF today!!!!!!! It's on a lot of postcards, a small headland of just pebbles jutting into the Adriatic, usually COVERED with sunbathers and swimmers and kite boarders and winsurfers, but today it was just me. PERECT weather, and just me. Ha, joys of travelling in the offseason. I got my girlfriend an air ticket to come here, she leaves tomorrow, and we'll be here FOREVER if you ever wanna come vist.
Keep the peace in the world,
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