Dubrovnik to Hvar

Trip Start Nov 09, 2007
Trip End Feb 03, 2008

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Another travel day, and one that I was initially a bit disappointed about. I had planned that we would do this leg by ferry, taking the Jadrolinija line direct from Dubrovnik to Hvar, but I messed up the dates and so we had to travel by bus to Split and then catch a ferry to Hvar.
Far from being disappointing though, the drive from Dubrovnik to Split, especially the part after Opuzen, must surely rate as one of the classic drives of the world. With views to rival the Amalfi Coast, this drive allowed us to visit quaint seaside villages then climb up the sides of mountains to gain spectacular ocean views. We could see many Dalmatian islands dotted among the blue Adriatic. We were literally gasping at times.
We had to make an early start because the promised 10:15 bus turned out not to exist when I had checked the day before, so we had to get the 9am bus. Lucky I had checked! We trundled our cases along the marble streets of Dubrovnik as we bade farewell to this marvellous city. I realised that there is actually quite a steep climb to get through the Ploce Gate. We had calculated the day before that this was the route with the fewest steps to get outside of the city walls and there is a taxi rank right there.
We made the bus with heaps of time to spare. I bought the tickets from the ticket kiosk only to be berated by the driver. His main concern was that I had paid for a ticket for Maggie. 'Piccolo' he said, pointing to Maggie. 'No ticket. No ticket!' He shook his head and looked at me as if I was stupid, which was exactly what I was feeling right about then. The fact is that legally Maggie requires a ticket but in practice everyone understates their children's ages so that no one would normally pay for a child that is Maggie's size. Oh well. Her ticket was only 80 kuna ($18).
Despite the fact that the bus ride was five hours, about 30 minutes longer than normal due to some roadwork, I had enjoyed the trip immensely. Another benefit of travelling first to Split was that we got to meet up with our two eldest children, Cameron and Jean who were due to arrive at Split to catch the 4pm ferry - the same one we would now be on.
The bus station is right beside the ferry terminal so this was most convenient. On leaving the bus at Split we searched around for where to buy ferry tickets. I did the right thing and asked at the information desk. 'The red building across the road' I was told. I dutifully crossed the road, and went into the big red building. I was smart enough to pop Jess and the girls and all of the luggage in a sunny spot because I had suspected it would not be all that easy. Sure enough when I got into the building and wandered around until I found some signs of human life I enquired about the tickets I needed and was sent back out of the building and a hundred yards down the road, not far from where I had asked my first question.
I bought tickets for the Krilo Express, a fast catamaran service that does the run from Split to Hvar in just 50 minutes. From there it goes on to Korcula. The total price for 4 adults and 2 children was just 132 kuna (about $28).  Incredible value!

Cameron and Jean had taken a journey to Croatia via Auckland, Los Angeles and Frankfurt. Thankfully their connections all worked and shortly after 2pm Cameron rang to tell me that they had landed safely in Split. But it was not all good news. That fate a seasoned traveller dreads had befallen Cameron. His bag had not turned up. Having waited for the bag and then waiting in a queue to report the bag missing, it wasn't until nearly 3.30 that they were able to jump into a cab. Given that the journey from the airport to the ferry terminal normally takes around 30 minutes, things were going to be cut very fine indeed. At 3.30 we were able to put our bags on the ferry so Jess, the kids and I walked down to the large catamaran to load up our luggage and grab a seat out of the cold gusting wind. I told Jess to sit tight while I went back to the street to wait for the cab. At 3:53 I rang Cameron 'Where are you at?' I asked. The driver advised Cameron that they were about 5 minutes away. I had already sussed that the cab could drive down the dock right to the gangway. I rang Jess and told her to go to the ferry door and stall the deckhands telling them that we were almost there. At 3:58 there was still no sign of the taxi and I was getting a bit stressed. I rang Cameron again and just as he picked up I noticed a cab in the distance round the corner. 'Is that you?' I asked Cameron. I waved at the cab and heard over the phone. 'Stop near that man waving there.' I jumped into the cab and told him to drive down the wharf.
Whew! We made it with one minute to spare. I paid the driver the fare (a whopping 300 kuna - $65) and thanked him for his valiant efforts. Jean later told me that he had been weaving in and out of traffic to get them there on time.
 We climbed onto the boat as it was just ready to lift the gangplank and get underway. Only now did I have a chance to give Cameron and Jean a hug and say g'day. Cameron was still a bit shaken by the missing suitcase but I am confident it will turn up. They usually do. In the meantime I had to lend him some of my warmer things to tide him over. I could only sympathise with him - it's a completely frustrating experience. Here's hoping the morning brings good news.
The ferry ride was pretty good considering the choppy conditions, and it passed amazingly quickly with all the chatting catching up with news from home. I rang our Hvar host from the ferry when it was about 10 minutes from arrival and the woman I spoke to (her name turned out to be Olga) said she would meet us at the ferry. Sure enough she was there and led us to our apartment. The apartment is pretty basic and doesn't actually have a lounge room, but it will be fine for our needs. We dumped our bags and then headed out to get something for dinner. I was keen for Cameron and Jean to eat and then go to bed as if it was a normal night. They were both pretty exhausted so sleep wasn't going to be a problem, I could tell.
Jean took us to a restaurant that she had been to on her previous trip to Hvar and we had a great meal. I ordered something called 'Steak cuttles' which sounded intriguing but turned out to be better than that! It was fillet steak served with rocket and parmesan. Simply superb. We chatted and drank and ate and chatted some more, then headed back to our apartment where Cameron was ready to crash. Jean was pushing the boundaries of her fatigue, sitting up with us until after 10pm.
I turned on my computer to start typing up this blog entry when to my delight I was able to hook into someone's unsecured wireless network. I do love these serendipitous moments!
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