CROATIA

Ice, Ice Baby

Just me and my crutch as the sun peeked out ever so briefly!

Just me and my crutch as the sun peeked out ever so briefly!

I’ve been injured enough times before to know about R.I.C.E and how important the ice component is to get the swelling in check.  As I hobbled my way through the National Park, we came up with a plan that I would ice my ankle and keep it elevated on the dashboard for the duration of our drive to Zagreb so I wouldn’t be gimpy for too long.  The big question was where the hell do you get ice when trapped in a national park?  See the thing was, we had parked right next to a cafe so all I would need to do was pop in and grab a coke and ask for my ice in a bag.  Easy right?  It’s me so obviously not!  My plan was an epic fail as I wound up with a coke but no ice.  The cafe staff looked at me like I was an alien since they couldn’t comprehend why the hell I would ever want ice.  Just for the record, neither the frozen bag of peas question nor the charade gestures I was using to explain my predicament helped me look any better in their eyes.  So that was that – I was sans ice with an ankle that was double the size and stuck up super awkwardly on the dash.  We resorted to Plan B – get ice on the way or once in Zagreb.  Sadly, it turns out this was going to be even harder than trying to get ice while in Plitvice Lakes!

The thing was that we were heading to Zagreb on a national holiday and as such – everything was closed.  There was no ice…no food…no nothing.  At this stage, I was hopelessly dependent on My Aussie Mate who now had to deal with my backpack as well as hers on top of me still attempting to use her as a crutch.  Thankfully, the receptionist at the hostel took pity on us and advised My Aussie Mate that she could head into the city centre as there might be one pharmacy open there that could give me something for the swelling.  She looked at me and smiled as she said something along the lines of it might be a 10 minute walk but she suspected it could take me longer and thus, close before I could actually get there.  Oh vey!

Not adhering to her warning of my slowness – I decided to tag along behind (way behind) My Aussie Mate on this Pharmacy mission which could quickly be followed by some sightseeing (when in Rome right?).  After about 20 minutes or so of damn hard hobbling, we finally found one near the main square that was opened.  The pharmacist checked out my ankle and provided me with an ointment and a tensor bandage.  She said that I needed to take it easy for about a week and it should be back to normal and the ointment would help with the swelling.  Again, I asked about ice and got nowhere so it looked as though I was going to be 100% dependent on this ointment which really didn’t seem to be doing much of anything to be honest.  Regardless, we took care of business and then attempted to check out Zagreb which proved rather difficult for me in my state.  Instead, there was some sort of performance going on in the main square (probably had something to do with the holiday) and so we decided to take a break and people watch before I had to do the painful hobble back to the hostel.  Hopefully, my luck would turn around by the time we hit our next stop – Budapest.

Categories: CROATIA, croatia: zagreb | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

And Pop Goes My Ankle!

When I woke up and looked outside, my friend, pesky rain, was back and haunting me once again.  Basically, there was a general mist in the air that would seem okay at first but before you knew it, you would be soaking to the bone.  Oh the joy of water bits!  Unfortunately, we were on somewhat of a schedule since My Aussie Mate needed to get back to work and so we were left with 2 choices.  We either had to brave the elements and head out to Plitvice Lakes National Parks as intended or skip the National Park altogether.  Since neither one of us was made out of sugar, we decided to go with the first option with a few alternations.

This photo was taken minutes before I was kissing the earth!

This photo was taken within the first 10 minutes of the walk!

The alternation to the plan was going to be to pay to take the train and then walk downhill for the next 5 hours.  Yes we were going to get a wee bit wet but dressed the best we could for the weather.  Worse case scenario, we could back out half way through the walk and miss out on the lower lakes.  Sadly, neither one of us factored in my 2 left feet into the equation and approximately 10 minutes in, I was on the ground eating dirt.  I would like to say it was because I was going downhill on stairs or there was a big rock that got in my way or that the damn rain made everything super slippery but that would be a lie.  The truth was that my left foot got in the way of my right foot on a flat even surface and I fell hard.  My Aussie Mate kept bursting into fits of laughter while asking how the hell I could have possibly tripped as I lied there with my left leg bleeding and my right ankle swelling out of control.  To make matters worse, I was pretty sure that a girl wearing the equivalent of heels on the trail stepped over me and kept on going.  THE HORROR…THE SHAME!

Still pretty in the rain

Still pretty in the rain

As My Aussie Mate helped me over to a nearby bench, it became apparent that I had a nasty sprain to deal with and no idea how the hell the two of us were going to make it out of the woods (the mind instantly wanders to Blair Witch Project…).  The options we could think of were to turn around and walk uphill back to the train or keep going downhill until we could find a way out.  As we opted for downhill but before setting out, I would need to find a way to be slightly more mobile.  All I could think of was to pull out the spare socks in my bag and try to secure my ankle with them while My Aussie Mate hunted around for a stick that I could use as a cane.  In the end, I used My Aussie Mate as my crutch and she used the stick in order to balance herself and we set off on the rest of the 5 hour downhill journey looking as special as ever.

Showing off low hanging clouds...

Showing off low hanging clouds…

Despite the pain, the swelling, and the constant breaks to elevate my ankle, we managed to snap a few photos, do some skillful photobombing, and general keep up with the slower people who set off at the same time as we did.  I’m not going to lie – it hurt and I knew that with every step, I was increasing my recovery time but it wasn’t like I could sit on a park bench and wait for some foreign park ranger to come rescue me so I kept hobbling on.  All in all, I have no regrets opting to go to the park but I’m pretty sure that I didn’t see the full beauty of it either in my condition.  Oh well – maybe they’ll be a next time…

Categories: CROATIA, croatia: plitvice lakes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Real Life Great Expectations?

Without a doubt, I’d say that the old town in Dubrovnik has been the most impressive one that I’ve seen so far but for some odd reason there’s a feel to the one in Split that makes it stick out in my head.  I can’t quite put my finger on it but for some reason strolling around the old town in Split reminded me of the final scene in Great Expectations when Finn decides to visit Ms. Dinsmoor’s house after she’s passed and finds Estella there with her daughter.  It’s a rather strange association but since I couldn’t seem to shake it, I felt that there was nothing else I could do other than share a few photos to see if I was the only one who felt this way.

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Categories: CROATIA, croatia: split | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Rented A Boat Bitch!

The first order of business when we woke up was to check the weather.  Our hearts beat anxiously as we threw the curtains open but we had nothing to fear as there wasn’t a single cloud blocking any of that gorgeous blue sky.  PHEW!  And just like that, we got dressed in a flash and were off to meet our boat, the crew, and the lovely Korean girls who helped us make this all possible.  Turns out My Aussie Mate and I were slightly under prepared for a day long journey on a speedboat.  We had picked up bottles of water to help combat the heat but didn’t think about the necessities such as snacks and booze but thankfully, the Korean girls decided to cover us in that department as a thank you for shelling out a little extra for the boat.

Couldn't resist getting myself the Hello Kitty water!

Couldn’t resist getting myself the Hello Kitty water!

As this trip was actually happening, we decided that there was no time like the present to exchange names and get to know each other just a little.  The crew laughed as we told them the story that had brought the 4 of us girls together and how we were fortunate enough to have bumped into each other when we thought all hope was lost.  We laughed off the misery of the day before as the music began pumping and before I knew it, Split was nothing but a teeny tiny little dot behind us.  The first stop of the day was going to be the blue caves and after that, we were going to go to see the green caves, have lunch on Island of Vis, and a lengthy break on Hvar before heading back to Split as the sun was setting.

My Group at the end of a very long day of boating.

My Group hamming it up for the camera.

Random Blue Cave Photo from my iPhone - one of many that I show other travelers.

Random Blue Cave Photo from my iPhone – one of many that I show other travelers.

Getting to the blue caves was not some small ordeal as it felt like the boat was on full throttle for a few hours before we could make out the island where we would transfer boats.  Turns out, the tour takes you to a local boat operator who then takes you out to the caves.  If the weather was warmer, there would be the option to swim into the caves but our skipper didn’t recommend it as the sea was still unseasonable cold.  As this was the case, the 4 of us waited our turn to get into one of the local boats headed for the caves.  Once we hit the entrance, confusion also hit me as it didn’t look big enough to fit our dingy but before I could finish that thought, the guy told us to mind our heads and shoved right on in.  It was at this moment that everyone stopped talking and gasped at the beauty before us.  There are no words that can describe how awesome the caves were in the morning light.  All I knew at that moment was that it didn’t matter what we did for the rest of the day as this moment made paying that extra moolah well worth it.

Random stop the skipper made to show us a beach he likes

Random stop the skipper made to show us a beach he likes

The day coming to an end.

The day coming to an end.

Luckily, the rest of the day wasn’t crap at all and turned out to be just as great as the cave experience itself.  My Aussie Mate and I were on a boat with 5 strangers who quickly felt like old friends a few hours into the journey.  Our skipper was keen on exploring and would constantly ask if we were okay to stray off course cause he knew of a cool spot here or there.  On top of this we were got a few extras on the way such as a random police check (and photos of annoyed policemen on sea) and towing a boat full of male tourists who ran out of gas.  All in all, I couldn’t have been happier that Split Excursions had cancelled the original tour that we booked as I couldn’t have imagined a better day out exploring the islands that surrounded Split.

 

Categories: CROATIA, croatia: split | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When Life Gives You Lemons…

It was images like the above that sold me on this excursion in the first place!

It was images like the above that sold me on this excursion in the first place!

Due to lack of wi-fi, time, and a never-ending battle with illness after injury (more on that later), I’ve essentially stopped entries altogether during my travels this summer.  Fortunately, after several grueling weeks, I’m back and decided to pick up exactly where I left off – in Croatia.  A little over a month ago, I started Croatia on my own but was quickly joined by my Aussie Mate so we could speedboat ourselves over to the blue caves near the Island of Vis.  As this was going to be the highlight to our pit-stop in Split and possibly even Croatia, the trip was booked well before my parting with Dublin became common knowledge.  Unfortunately, we made the dire mistake of booking online with Split Excursions (aka Portal Agency).

The story begins the day before we were supposed to sail out to the blue caves.  Just to make sure all our T’s were crossed and I’s were dotted, we rocked up to Portal to find out exactly where to meet the boat and settle the final payment before grabbing dinner.  Instead of the easy errand we expected, we were hit with the headline that our excursion had been cancelled.  Supposedly they had sent out an email earlier but turns out that neither one of us had received it just yet – SURPRISE!  The reason we were being given was bad weather even though the day in question was being forecast as the best of the week with clear blue skies and sunshine.  Despite presenting them with the weather facts our hostel laid upon us, they said the tour was cancelled and attempted to sell us the Plitvice Lake excursion instead.  REALLY?  Because bad weather in a national park would be better?  Disappointment  isn’t a strong enough word to describe our reaction.  The two of us sat in silence as we tried to figure out how the hell to get ourselves out the blue caves.  Another tour?  Ferry?  Ferry to an island and then some other way to the caves?  We planned and plotted every single possibility before finally admitting defeat as the sun began to set.  Depressed at the events that had transpired, we sulked and strolled through Split’s old town in hopes that something magical would happen in order to get us on a boat to the blue caves.

And just like that we found ourselves directly in front of an open tour office as we were weaving our way through the streets of the old town.  Yes, there was a queue and we were pretty damn sure that the agent probably wanted to go home already but hell, what difference would 2 more girls make right?  So as quickly and quietly as possible, we joined the queue in hopes that no one else would notice the addition of two extra bodies in the room.  As luck would have it, we were queued right behind a Korean trio inquiring about the blue caves.  The agent told them that unfortunately the tour wasn’t going ahead as there wasn’t enough people for the boat.  And by some eavesdropping miracle, my Aussie Mate jumped into the conversation saying we were looking at the same tour too before spinning all the Korean she had hidden under her sleeve in order to befriend the other blue cave tour seekers.

The agent quickly informed us that they needed 7 people to set sail but that just translated to haggling in my Aussie Mate’s mind.  First thing first – there was only 3 of us looking to get over to the blue caves but a few carefully placed YOLO statements was all it took for us to force another member onto team blue cave.  After that, it was trying to convince the agent to quote us on a boat rental instead of selling us a tour package that required a minimum of 7 people.  After some skillful negotiation and a hellish amount of nagging, a phone call was placed to the skipper and he agreed to a lower rate for the overall boat for the day.  After all was said and done, my Aussie Mate and I decided to make up the difference if we couldn’t find anyone at our hostel to dragged along with us at the last-minute and charged the Korean girls the going rate for the tour.  And that was all it took to fix our little problem.  We rented a boat with a crew and forced a few Korean girls to join us for what we were saying was going to be the time of our lives!  All that was left to do was withdrawn a healthy sum of money to make our blue caves tour dreams come true – hopefully the bad weather thing was just a cover for not selling enough seats like most of the locals kept telling us.  At the end of the day, there was nothing we could do other than get a good night’s sleep and keep our fingers crossed that everyone else was right and we weren’t just about to flush a decent amount of cash down the drain to get the fright of our lives due to rough seas.

Categories: CROATIA, croatia: split | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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