Sleepy Vis

Trip Start Jul 23, 2007
Trip End Aug 23, 2007

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Flag of Croatia  ,
Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Star had told me quite a lot about Vis and how idlyllic it was, so I was quite excited as the ferry made it's way into Vis Town. It looked quiet and peaceful (before the hundreds of cars poured off the ferry) with ocassional coffee drinkers sitting sipping their caffiene fix overlooking the harbour. But we had no time to explore- the bus to Komiza, on the other side of the island, meets the ferries, leaves when full, and has no other scheduled departures. (There are 3 or 4 ferries a day in the summer). The 10 minute drive took us diagonally across the length of the island, through deep green hills. Komiza appears almost magically, as you reach the crest of the top of the island and start to wind your way down, through a series of hairpin turns, ensuring you get maximum exposure to the beauty of the tiny harbour town. The town consists of one long row of cafes and restaurants around a harbour, with a few pebble beaches scattered about, and the rest is all residential accommodation. This is where there Croatians come on holiday to escape the summer crowds, and even in the first 2 weeks of August, it was still pleasently uncrowded. Since Star and I had phoned ahead before we got here, I think we'd probably got one of the cheapest places in town: 220KN a night (22 pounds) between the 2 of us. The room was perfect, a short walk from the harbour, and had it's own balcony which I made full use of the next day.

We went down to the harbour for dinner in one of the restaurants, looking over the bobbing boats (becoming a bit of a regular scene now), and Star took me to 2 of the wine shops afterwards. She was on Vis earlier in the week, but wanted to return before flying home to Toronto, so knew where to go etc. Vis is apparently famous for its grk grapes and produces a lot of fine wine. I didn't think I could pass on the opportunity, but didn't want to buy a whole bottle (as I haven't the foggiest about choosing a good wine!) So I'd heard if you take your own plastic bottle, they fill it up with the house wine for next to nothing. We went on a bit of a wine tasting tour of the 2 shops, and I ended up buying a litre and a half of white wine for 19KN, less than 2 pounds. Not sure of the quality, and of course am now having to cart it around for a week, but it was a bargain! After dinner, I bought a crepe and we sat listening to one of the many free jazz bands they had playing during August- a perfect end to the evening.

I had heard that the diving off Vis was meant to be great, so booked a dive for the following morning. I got my equipment sorted, and got on the boat, when my instructor told me to check the regulator, pressure etc. Now last time I dived, I didn't have a problem, but that was in Australia over a year and a half ago, so couldn't quite remember what to do, which was a pattern for the whole dive really. I started by accidentally letting some air out of the tank, and had to get the skipper to show me what to do, much to the alarm of the experienced divers who would be diving alongside me. I felt like a complete idiot, but they turned out to be nice guys- one living in Vis, and the other on holiday from the capital, Zagreb. I followed Star's example and made conversation with them, discovering that the only dives he had ever done NOT on Vis were with the same company I was planning on going to later in the week.

I had really wanted to dive the Blue Cave, where at certain times of day the light enters this cave in a funny way and fills it with bright blue light (from what I could tell) but they had been there yesterday, so today we were diving an old WW2 wreck. It was just a 15 minute boat journey, and it's so shallow you'd probably just about be able to see it if you're snorkelling. If you have your own boat, look to the right of the harbour to the end of the mainland. There are some islands on the left, and the wreck is just to the right of the farthest left island- there's a post of some kind on it in case you're trying to find it. Anyway it took me a while to get my buoyancy right, I think maybe I needed another weight on my belt. The whole time I was panicking that I was using too much air- I wanted to get as much diving as possible for my money. I didn't really feel comfortable, I would have preferred to be above than below water. All of which was a new experience for me- last time I dived, I loved it! I'm hoping its a case of just being out of practice rather than not wanting to dive any more, but I decided not to go ahead with the Advanced Scuba course I was planning to do later in the week. An hour and a half and 300KN(!) later, I was back on dry land, feeling a bit disappointed and wondering what to do with myself for the rest of the day. I had wanted to rent a scooter, as the coastal roads looked amazing, winding in and out of the hills and overlooking the coast, but realised I didn't have my driving license with me.

So I did what I do best: read. First I sat on a bench on the main promenade overlooking the harbour and ate my picnic (budgeting here) then I went back to the apartment to plan where on earth to go next. It's definitely better travelling without a plan, you can change your mind as and when you feel like it, depending on how things are going. I decided I'd had enough of the coast, as I knew the crowds were going to be everywhere, so figured I'd head North instead.

Star came back from the beach a bit later, and said she'd heard about an old fort built into the rocks about an hour and a half hike from where we were staying. I felt like going out and about, so joined her. The walk was really scenic- just along the roads, I could imagine how great it would have been on a scooter. We came to the dirt track we had been told to look out for, and headed down it, past the pre-warned dump. It was such a paradox to be surrounded by huge piles of rubbish and literally millions of flies (most things looked black because of them), and then to look past it and see such beautiful scenery of the coastline.

Well we kept walking until we had been going for about an hour and a half, and finally came across a bit tunnel going through the hill, with 2 bunkers or buildings on top. Star had been warned not to go in them as it was easy to get lost, but I couldn't help having a quick look, and saw that the exit was only about 250m away, so thought I'd walk through. It was fine on the main route we took, but there were tunnels leading off to the left and right that were absolutely pitch black. Literally couldn't see a thing, and I wondered how many people had got lost there in the past... Well we made it to the other side, and walked up on top of them to see what these strange buildings were. As we left the path, Star asked 'Aren't there still mines around here?' but I was fairly sure that Croatia was safe, so I went first. The stone buildings turned out to be covers for ladders leading down into the tunnels below, and I wondered how deep the actually went.

On the way down, a car had passed us, and since the track didn't go anywhere else, we figured they were going to the fort too, and therefore we could get a lift back- it was now gone 7pm and the sun was setting: the prospect of another hour's walk wasn't too inviting. We didn't see them at the tunnel, but they drove past just before we had to walk through the dump again, and graciously stopped and let us hitch a lift back to Komiza. Apparently there are 3 more parts to the fort, further down the hill (we couldn't really have walked much further), which are actually built into the cliffside. The fort itself is now abandoned, and partly ruined. Unfortunately there is no guide or anything, so we don't know whether it was damaged during the war or just deserted after lack of use. We arrived back in Komiza, starving, so quickly got dinner, before I went back to the room to plan further about where to go. At the moment, Bosnia and Hecegovina is looking good...
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