Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Hvar and the great trek to Dubrovnik

The next morning we took our time getting out and ready. The only ferry leaving directly to Split that day was a speed boat in the early afternoon and we had lots of time to enjoy the gorgeous city of Hvar before then, especially since German K had kept to her anxious word and woken up at 6am to buy the tickets for us.

First order of business for me? Raiding the exceptional free breakfast buffet that our nicest hotel had to offer. It was an incredible spread of hot food (scrambled eggs (again, amazing), sausages, hot dogs, bacon), grilled veggies, a cold cereal bar, fresh fruit, yogurt, rice puddings, breads of all kinds and sizes, cakes, cold cuts and cheeses and juices of all varieties (including a very excellent homemade sweetened mint drink that I became rather fond of).

Needless to say I ate a gargantuan amount of grilled veggies, fresh veggies, this weird but delicious herbed cheese concoction, and some of the hot meat selection. I had two plates' worth.



After our wonderfully filling and free breakfast, we checked out and left our luggage at the hotel. Amazingly after we told them our plans to take the speedboat ferry later that day they said that they would transport our luggage via electric cart to the dock 15 minutes before our boat was to depart. We said okay and decided to explore the island for the rest of our time.

(Btw please forgive the blueness of my photos, I've had many comments about them already on FB - I figured out a better setting for my camera later in the trip that dealt with the bright sunlight...in the meantime I have slightly blue photos).




At the furthest point in our walk we came across a rather secluded resort. We stopped to get drinks and refresh ourselves when we noticed these amazing shore-side platform beds. Yes, these really do exist in real life and are rentable by real people. We quickly discussed how all of us are used to seeing this kind of beautiful travel glory in travel magazines but had only rarely in real life seen such beauty. Yes they exist! Ah, one of these days I will experience something as grand as this! We watched as the lucky lucky people already renting them dived off their platform beds into the crisp water. Ahh...

Before we were ready it was time to go again and onto the high speed boat we went. I fell asleep (as is my wont nowadays, it seems) and we landed in Split. Unfortunately we only had a few hours before it was time to say goodbye and we watched German K board her bus to the airport.

Our bus to Dubrovnik was supposed to take off only 15 minutes after German K's airport bus but as we waited and waited...it never came. After half an hour of delay and shenanigans we went into the ticket office and found out that naturally, it was running late...as were all of the buses. No one could give us any good explanations but from what I understand there was a road jam or something. Anyway, it was supposedly going to get there in another 10-15 minutes.

It arrived basically an hour late. But it did arrive, so I guess no reason to complain. We had plenty of time to eat the snacks we had bought for the trip (it's a 4-5 hour busride from Split to Dubrovnik) and talk about various girly things again.

We finally left and the journey was smooth. We got window seats near the front so we could enjoy the views of the coast which were visible for basically the whole ride, since we were leaving around 5pm. Gorgeous.

Along the way we were stopped at a guard station and asked for our passports. We thought this was odd since we weren't expecting to be leaving the country or be crossing any borders. As we got our passports back and our bus started moving again I saw the sign, "Welcome to Bosnia/Herzegovina!"

Holy crap! I had entered into an entirely different country and had had no idea. We quickly turned on data on our phones to check out the action.

It was true. To go around Bosnia would be ridiculous - Croatia actually has all the coastline except for this little tiny stretch that belongs to Bosnia. It's the silliest thing I've ever seen. But it did make sense now why our passports were being checked, though unfortunately we got no stamps.

We got really excited. Another country to check off the list! Though technically it didn't count (since we weren't really in the country except on a bus) we were still entering new territory.

...and then our bus did stop. At a rest stop. We were given 20 minutes to explore around, buy food, use the bathrooms, etc. We definitely did.

Here is a picture I snapped while looking off the cliff near the rest stop:


This, is Bosnia. Admittedly I have weird associations with Bosnia. As a small child I remember my neighbor's son going to Bosnia with the armed forces. Bombs were dropped. It was a very uncomfortable time. Granted this was 20 years ago but I was worried after they checked my passport that they wouldn't let me through, being an American. They didn't seem to care. I guess time can heal all wounds. At least these wounds.

Anyway, since we were stopped for a bit of time we decided to check out the supermarket that was there. They accepted kunas and euros, which Hong Kong P and I thought a bit strange since they were neither Croatia nor part of the EU. According to my google search the currency of Bosnia is the convertible mark (which is divisible into 100 fenings). They definitely had no prices for their own currency at this rest stop. Maybe it was just understood that this was a crossing for Croatia and that was it. Interesting.

I decided to buy some snacks - I bought myself some jumbo golden raisins (these made me squee with delight because jumbo raisins are so hard to find outside of the US and I love them so much) and rice cracker mix. After I brought them back to the bus with me and was eating them (especially the rice crackers), the bus driver and his assistant were laughing at me. I definitely said to them, "yeah, leave it to the Asian girl to find the only Asian snack in all of Bosnia to buy, right?" They didn't speak English, but they definitely laughed harder.

So now it's official - I've definitely peed and bought food (and even eaten a little food) in Bosnia. I think it sort of counts as being more official now that I've been there. And we crossed over on our way back as well (where I bought more food, and peed again). Kind of like I was really there. And I got a stamp on the way back. But I'll discuss that for the trip back.

We arrived in Dubrovnik at 10pm. Totally different vibe than all of the coastal cities we'd been to so far, though we'd get to experience that to the full over the next 2+ days. Hilariously our apartment was up some pretty steep stairs (there was great comedic commentary about that at 10:30pm that first night), but we made it with all of our luggage and checked in to great comfort.

And thus ended our journey to Dubrovnik.

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