A Travellerspoint blog

This blog is published chronologically. Go straight to the most recent post.

A.I.S.

Alfeo, Patricia and Maureen missed the flight. We all had our A.I.S. with T.I.P. on time at 5:30 a.m. (ass-in-seat, ticket-in-hand) when we left Ripa, but once we hit Rome in two different cars, things started to unfold. Add to the chaos, Fumiciani is a mess of an airport. We took people movers, stairs, escalators, elevators, and a shuttle bus to get to the plane. We made it, they did not.

Split is hot. We were tired. Julie, Matthew and I met Antonia to exchange the keys to our apartment for pictures of our passports. Having the afternoon, we tried to do a Rick walking tour through Diocletian's Palace. We realized we were trying too hard so we bought gelato and went home to nap. We went to the market to buy reinforcements for our abandoned troops: wine, cheese, crusty bread, grapes and peaches.

They arrived seven hours after we did. With road-sodas in hand, we strolled the Riva with the locals and the tourists alike. When the sun went down, the air was more manageable.

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We bought a pizza slice and went home.

Posted by LaurendeMatt 17:00 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

We may have lost Alfeo to the deck

The climb was worth it for the view. Our air-bnb apartment is high up the mountain (we took a cab) with three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a deck, where we spent a lot of out time. It was Alfeo's favorite seat in the house.

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We came in to Dubrovnik from Split on a 4 hour ferry along the Dalmatian Coast. It's pretty.
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Maria, "the aunt-of-our-host", recommended the restaurant "of her sister's son". Dundo Maroje was down in the Old Town, so we hoofed the 40 minutes down to the walled city. Our dinner was 6 hours before the locals' dinner time, so we had the outdoor seating to ourselves. The seafood was scrumptious. John Dory is delicious when you cook him up in some lemon. It's the name of an ugly fish.

With take-away mojitos in hand, we strolled the Stradun, the main promenade in traffic-free Old Town.
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Posted by LaurendeMatt 17:00 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

This is not Spot Pond!

"We must go now, or we will die." our guide said matter-of-factly.

Sea kayaking, what a great idea! We paired up, two/per divorce-kayak. Since there were five of us, one had to go it alone. Matthew stepped up. He soon regretted that. Maureen and Patricia confidently paired up, having much experience kayaking together on Spot Pond back in Stoneham. Julie and I paired up.

The sea was angry that day. Dado (Dah-do or Darien, whichever you prefer) and Antonio were our guides for the Dubrovnik Adventures Sunset Sea-kayaking tour. It was to be a three-hour tour. Three of us made it back, two Rosie-Ruiz-ed it.

We all made it to the first pause point. "Everyone okay? Anyone need speed boat?" Dahdo asked as we bobbed up and down. The sea swells could be nausea-inducing, but all were okay.

The second pause point was near the Old Port. As glass-bottom boats and speed boats sped past us, Dado told us a bit of history about the quarantine building and Bano Beach. Dubrovnik survived the Black Plague by quarantining all new arrivals for 40 days, 8 days per the 5 sections. Where fashionable people crowded the beach to be seen today was where they hosed off the sick then. That is why it is called, essentially, Bathroom Beach now. "I don't like," Dado said.

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The third pause point was in front of a swanky hotel. It could be yours for the low-low price of 7,000 Euros a night. Just hurry, they book 3 years in advance.

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The fourth point was a stop at a sandy beach nook in a cave, overcrowded with dozens of fellow kayakers. Julie and I snorkeled for three minutes, and then returned to the beach to see a sea gull steal a whole sandwich, plastic and all. We weren't hungry anyway.

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"Okay, now I talk about the War" Dado told us Dubrovnik is a UNESCO site and cannot have an military arms, so that's why the men defended their city with hunting rifles and they weren't expecting it. Also, that the country borders now were the ones pre-Yugoslavia. The war accomplished nothing.

In between the fifth point and the six was when The Drama happened. Facing in the wrong direction, Maureen and Patricia tried to turn around. Somehow they ended up what seemed like miles away, still facing in the wrong direction. And they continued in that direction. "Where are they going?"
Antonio paddled after them. "You told us you kayak before. I don't believe you."
"We have kayaked SEVEN times on Spot Pond!" Patricia informed him as the speed boat appeared. Hasselhof reached out and said, "you want a tow?"
I wish we were closer to hear their cackles and giggles and see their waves as they were towed back. They were released 100 meters before the end-point, so they could finish strong. Just like Rosie Ruiz.

Meanwhile, with increasing winds (not at our backs), open-sea swells, tired arms and a setting sun, we dug deep to finish. Left, right, left, right. But with every paddle, it seemed we were standing still. "Are we going anywhere Julie?!"

At pause six Dado said something about something and then he said, "we must go now or we will die. Please follow me."

Julie cheerleaded, "Home-stretch!" That homestretch stretched on and on and on and on.

When we did make it back, our ladies were reclining on the beach with a plastic cup of wine in hand. Patricia explained, "We were doing fine until we started going the wrong way."

Posted by LaurendeMatt 17:00 Archived in Croatia Tagged sea-kayaking Comments (0)

rickommendation

We didn't leave the house until 4 in the afternoon. We had a leisurely day, waiting for our sore muscles to set in, and conveniently avoiding the sweltering heat hours. We waited for 5:00 so it wouldn't be scorching to walk the City Wall. Julie's Fitbit counted the 2176 steps to the Pile Gate of Old Town. From the top we could see the sea and the all the red-tile roofs.

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We met up with Patricia and Alfeo and followed the "Rickommendation" to Buza #2 for some sunset cocktails along the outer-wall. We had dinner on the market square. Tomorrow we fly to Roma and go our separate ways: Patricia and Maureen to Venice, Alfeo back to Ripa, Julie and I to Amsterdam, and Matthew back to Boston and back to work. (Insert Debbie Downer sound here).

Away from the lights of town, the stars are many and bright. Matthew and I saw a shooting star as if in slow-motion.

Posted by LaurendeMatt 17:00 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

Alle bagage is gelost

Julie picked up her suitcase from the baggage claim belt. We were talking about how guttural the Dutch language sounds. The women are pretty and it sounds like they are hawking a loogey when they speak Dutch (I am not making fun, they speak at least 2 languages - and they have a better command of English than I). The men are tall. The baggage claim belt came to a halt, and on the screen it read: "Rome 1602 Alle bagage is gelost". Don't tell me my suitcase is gelost! How could it be? It boarded along with Julie's. Alas, my zebra-print suitcase was gefound.

Dutch word of the day - gelost - means unloaded.

We took the Sprinter train two stops to Amsterdam RAI and switched to a tram and took that 9 stops to Stadhouderskade. We were careful to validate getting on and off the trains. We met Marielle at Hutspot to give us the apartment key. When she saw our luggage, she said, "do you know about Dutch staircases? They can be quite narrow and you are on the top floor. It will be a challenge."

And a challenge it was, but we did it. The apartment itself has two sets of stairs, one to the office/ second bedroom, the living space and kitchen and another to the roofdeck, which is spectacular. We hope to use it once it warms up and stops raining. On the table was a bottle of wine, some brochures and a envelope "Julie and friend". In it was the apartment address, wifi info, ear plugs (what could this be for?), ER numbers and the house rules with a plea: "please leave the house on Monday the 20th of July before 11 a.m. and if you could find it in your heart to water our plants than we would be very grateful".

We went grocery shopping just around the corner at AH (Albert Heijn) Supermarkets. We bought Senseo coffee (keurig equivalent), bread, eggs, water and juice. The biggest decision was whether to buy "coffeemilk" which was warm in the coffee aisle or "halfvolle melk" which was safely in the refrigerator. We played it safe.

For dinner we went to Bazar, which is just across the street from our apt. It is a transformed Dutch Reformed Church serving Middle-Eastern style food. Really cool space, good food and drink, and conversation. L: couscous (meat and vegetables kebab) J: Dolme (lamb and chicpeas stuffed peppers).

Posted by LaurendeMatt 17:00 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

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