Let's Split

Trip Start Aug 01, 2006
Trip End Dec 29, 2006

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Flag of Croatia  ,
Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Who would ever think that a bus, ferry, ferry, bus combo in twenty-four hours would be difficult? I obviously didn't but was soon corrected.

We left Bol in the afternoon in order to better to enjoy the sunshine and one last ice cream. The bus winded through the typical Croatian countryside until we entered a small harbor town. There about twenty to thirty college aged kids entered the bus. Most were wearing scarves and t-shirts with either the soccer teams colors or its mascot, a donkey. It quickly dawned on us that there was a big soccer match happening on the main land in Split and that they were going to be with us for the bus and the first ferry. I think that the opposite of the word "discreet" is soccer fan. The crowd was overflowing with angst, exuberance, and body odor. What should have turned out to be a relaxing bus ride now had people standing in the aisle, flirting, yelling, and an occasional outbreak of song to help their team to victory, well at least help them get ready for victory because the game was still a good five hours from starting.

The bus finally stopped at the harbor and Christy shoved her way into procuring our ferry tickets. She said she got them and complained about something and someone and we headed for the dock. As we passed the bars in the harbor we heard and saw the fans drinking and chanting. Hopefully as their coordination decreased that of their teams increased.

We boarded the large ferry and heard the metal planks popping as the cars drove on. Collette was more wound up than the soccer fans and we were worried she would launch herself off the side. Eighty three "no's" and thirty "come here right now" didn't do the trick but on old candy bar Christy dug out of her purse, that we guessed was from Budapest, did pretty well. She was also the only sober passenger to be entertained by the huge soccer flag that was whipping in the wind on the upper level.

The older couple sitting next to us was chatting happily in what appeared to be another language. On closely listening it was a weird form of English and later we found out that they were from " Outside of Sydney, just north". After observing Collette's ability to listen to directions the gentlemen discreetly put his foot in front of the railing to make sure Collette wouldn't hurtle off the side. Cheers mate.

As our large ship entered into the industrial city of Split we made quite a raucous. With game time quickly approaching, maybe in the next six hours, the fans started chanting and throwing streaming rolls of paper off the side. One of the large ships watching us gave a large baritone blast of a whistle to broadcasts its support of the team and our behavior. The stairs leading down off the upper deck were formable and with Collette down right impossible. The Aussie couple kindly offered to help us with our luggage train and we had no choice but to accept. That's another one we owe the Aussies.

We hurried off and then made a bathroom check and to talk of an effective strategy for the rest of the day. We decided to check our bags, get something to eat, and then find our overnight ferry. To leave this building we passed down a long corridor. As we came nearer to the end we could hear feet stomping and the chants of the fans as they assured their teams victory by getting really drunk. Collette loved the behavior.

As we approached the old town of Split I caught Soccer fever and got caught up in the general excitement so I had to buy a sweatshirt supporting the local team. I still can't pronounce the name but it has a cool logo and typical Euro stripes on the sleeves.

The old town of Split was interesting and full of the usual assortment of clothing, sunglasses, and shoe stores. Stores that have no relevance to day-to-day living but are typical tourists fare. As we walked the narrow salleys we could hear roving bands of soccer fans chanting and marching up and down the streets. These sounds would grow louder or fainter depending on the direction the fans were moving in, like groups of ghosts haunting a mansion. At one point, about thirty of them emerged from a side street leading a donkey who had a sheet draped over him with the teams logo crudely spray painted on it. They stopped in front of a group of tourists long enough to get their picture taken and then lifted the donkey three times with corresponding rousing cheers. I am sure it was the donkey's worst day of his life. I liked Split for its large sea front promenade and ample pedestrian streets that wind through old town. However, we never did find out when the game started or if the team won.

About six we retrieved our luggage from grumpy but efficient old lady and found our overnight ferry. Our cabin was near the bottom of the boat, small, and lacking in air movement but comfortable. I did bang my head on the upper bunk to stagger myself and leave a nasty scab that I received little sympathy for. We went up to the upper decks and to an outside balcony to watch Split disappear into the darkness. Collette was on her worst behavior and our upper deck escapes where kept to a minimum. We retired to our cabin after she rolled down an aisle by the cafeteria to do her rendition of a Gandhi nonviolent protest to us asking her to walk. It was entertaining to the lady she almost rolled into but mortifying to us.

Breakfast was at six and we thought we were early at 5:45 but it was already stuffed with white haired Germans. We cringe when we see these old ladies. They have a huge footprint and they are constantly pushing us aside, pushing in front of us, cutting, and then mysteriously stopping to fill doorways and gangplanks. Their preferred weapon is elbows. They are fine one there is just one or two but any more than things start to break down. Our society just can't support them in large numbers. We just don't have the infrastructure or the patience. They are like the Rhino or bear, and each needs a lot of territory to live in so the land is not over taxed and they don't fight too much. Anyway when we were leaving a mass of them blocked my way and Collette and I couldn't leave the ferry until they had passed and now I can vent on them in my leisure. However, I did feel slightly guilty when I accidentally hit one with my backpack when she suddenly stopped on a narrow ramp leading off of the ferry. Who or what she was waiting for I can never know and I hope it was worth it.

The streets of the large city of Reijeka were slick with a recent rain and we had no idea on how or where to find the next bus to Loran. It was early morning and the busses were packed with school children and the morning business commutes. A large city starting the day. We eventually asked three businessmen standing at a café stand. They argued amongst themselves but eventually reached a consensus. We should march 500 meters down the street and catch bus 32. A Hvala (thank you) later and we were on the right bus and thankfully it wasn't too crowded.

This is always a major concern when we have all of our luggage. The only way I can explain our helplessness or lack of mobility when we are moving with Collette and all our luggage is to liken it to scuba diving. Underwater you are free to move freely and comfortably but once you get on land the eighty pounds of equipment becomes a handicap and you're often down graded to crawling out of the water. Crawling is only efficient and non-humiliating to babies. With our luggage and Collette terrestrial travel is both limiting and humiliating. If we only could find the perfect environment, preferably one lacking in gravity, like Uranus, then we could travel in ease and grace.

The rest of the bus ride took us along the coast with relatively Step Mountains to our right and small coastal towns to our left. The vegetation was lusher with trees than we had been used to and the towns had more hotels which evoked more of an atmosphere of resort towns than we had encountered. As we approached what we thought was our stop everybody else on the bus had previously gotten off and we were the only ones left. In traveling terms this is a major warning signal, like an animal barring its fangs, or a red frog. Of course we went to the end of the line where nothing existed but few parking spots for buses. We talked to the driver, watched him smoke a cigarette and exchanged a few "we don't have a common language" smiles and then rode back into town and got off the bus. Finding a room was not difficult and we could see the lady waving to us from down the street long before we could see the building. Exhausted but excited we had entered the town of Lovran.

Who would ever think that a bus, ferry, ferry, bus combo in twenty-four hours would be difficult? I obviously didn't but was now corrected.
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