Exploding Engines & Old People - Croatia Part 2: Hvar
As we sat on the boat, I thought about the inevitable Ryan Air flight home. Mr Cheques seemed to have some personal vendetta against the company. Every time it was mentioned, there’d be another joke about how their planes were made of cardboard, and the seats of used syringes.
‘The air conditioning gives you Ebola. I can’t believe you booked them.’
Well, that body suit looks silly.
‘Shut up. You said it’s funny.’
In fairness to him, he had me there. I did say it was funny.
I don’t know why the flight home was in my head at that point. Maybe I was worried we wouldn’t fit everything into the adventure before leaving?
Maybe I was scared we wouldn’t leave at all?
We’d stayed another night in Split, and it was relatively uneventful. We’d gone to another part of the harbour, where the locals had set up a huge outdoor screen for people to watch the Croatia game.
And now, with less than eight days left, we were moving away from Zadar – on a boat to a completely separate island.
(Although, granted, it's still part of Croatia.)
Like Croatia’s version of how the USA has Hawaii.
Or, how we have… I’m not going to say it…
But it rhymes with Gordon Spireland.
We were on our way to the legendary Hvar.
I say legendary, because any super-geeks out there (like me) will know it’s where King’s Landing from Game of Thrones was filmed.
There’s a few historical things there, yeah sure.
But, you know…
Game of Thrones…
(Don’t forget, this was back before we got that… *ahem*… ending…)
The ferry approached the harbour, and as the engines fired into reverse, water churned up into white froth around the sides of the boat.
We’d been standing the whole time. All the seats were taken by screaming kids or old people.
We’d had no choice but to drink some beers at the bar. Terrible, I know.
So, anyway, the ferry pulls up and docks itself. The ramp descended and we stumbled onto the concrete among the crowds and families.
Had we planned what to do next?
Of course not.
Don’t be bloody stupid.
We’d heard that on most islands, when a ferry pulls up, independent accommodation owners flock to try and convince tourists to give them business.
This technically wasn’t wrong. But it wasn’t really a flock. It was more like one dodgy-looking elderly couple with a sign – in Croatian – that could have said literally anything.
The wife approached us, and (almost) whispered,
‘Room? You want room to stay?’
The crowds dispersed, and there was no one else left. We didn’t really have a choice.
Reluctantly, three of us climbed into the couple’s car, leaving the other two at the docks.
The car ride was like nothing I’d ever experienced.
I swear to god, this woman didn't know of the brake pedal's existence.
Thundering across dusty dirt roads and Croatian countryside, I realised my fear of not making it home might become a reality.
What made it worse, the couple started arguing. And I don’t just mean a small bicker. I mean shouting.
The husband looked back at us and gave a gummy grin, then turned the radio on to such an ear-splitting volume that it almost drowned out the car’s screaming engine.
(Which by the way, probably wasn’t far off from exploding.)
They carried on arguing.
I was somewhat envious of the chaps we’d left at the harbour. At least they’d have chance to prepare themselves before riding the Indiana Jones mine-cart.
Despite the dodgy first impression and the hideous journey, the elderly couple’s room-for-rent was actually quite nice.
A double bed, a single bed, and a separate kitchen/living area with a pull-out sofa.
There was even a balcony overlooking the hills.
What baffled me though is that their establishment seemed to be right next to Hvar city. So why on Earth they felt the need to zoom around the countryside – I’ll never know.
Once our landlords delivered the last two members of our party, we unpacked and decided what to do first.
The answer: walk to town and randomly amble round the streets until we found something interesting.
Very exciting, I know.
Hvar’s resemblance to the fictional King’s Landing is uncanny. Besides making the city a lot bigger in the show, the actual buildings and streets haven’t been changed at all.
Part of me wants to go back, strip naked, and commence a public walk of shame.
(I’ll stop making nerdy references now, I promise…)
‘Should we see the castle?’ Oxford said to me. He pointed to the mountainside, towering over the city, and the grand Venetian fortress sat right at the top like a white stone beacon.
Yeah, sure. Sounds great.
We’d end up spending a few days on Hvar. The island chewed up a considerable chunk of our venture.
But it was worth it. So, so worth it.
I’ll get into what else happened, don’t worry. But there's far more than could fit into one Minimal Effort sized article.
For now, I’ll leave you with this image. One of us ended up so drunk that he fell down a hill and smashed straight into a car.
Continued in part 3…