19th September 2012

To Zadar and Split!

Reading back on my last blog entry, I note that there was one major omission, namely my accommodation for the night. That afternoon I had been blasting down the easy, scenic coastal road southbound, grooving along to such retro delights as Snap!’s classic “rhythm is a dancer” when I suddenly realised that the beginnings of dusk were upon me and I hadn’t yet found anywhere to sleep. It’s sods law I guess that the moment you decide to look for somewhere, all the previously ubiquitous signs for rooms magically disappear.

The long and short is that I ended up at a hotel near Karlobag (a place that only the night before had been dubbed “carrier bag” by a British couple who had failed to be enraptured by its charms). While the hotel could fairly be described as “cheap”, it failed pretty robustly in the “cheerful” camp. This was a place where vast coachloads of tour groups and school trips would pull up and disappear into the cavernous bowels of the hotel, only to resurface at the allocated bun-fight style meal-times to practically wrestle each other to the floor in the race for a chair and table and a plate of luke-warm buffet style food. Delightful.

Naturally enough then, at the earliest possible moment on Tuesday morning I hit the road, jack, with definitely no plan to come back no more. After an hour or so of incredible lunar landscapes I arrived at the lovely old walled city of zadar and stopped for some lunch and a bit of a pootle before setting off once again for Split. I’ve been to Zadar once before so I didn’t hang around long this time, keen as I was to get on the road to Split. However reading Patrick Leigh Fermor’s “a time of gifts” tonight, I do wonder if that was a mistake. If you don’t know this book, it’s an autobiographical account of a journey all the way on foot from holland to Constantinople which began in 1933. Fermor describes his journey through
Rotterdam and writes “except for this church, the beautiful city was to be bombed to fragments a few years later. I would have lingered, had I known”. I should try a bit harder to remember how important it is to savour what it is that I’m experiencing and see the beauty, particularly as i do have time, rather than rushing around on self- imposed timescales I think. Lesson noted!

Anyway onwards to split and after a fruitless and stiflingly hot search for a room including a slightly dicey incident with an incredibly fierce pitbull who failed to check my passport (his owner told me he hated Americans, oddly enough), I bailed and headed off to the city campsite located right on a beautiful beach.

In the spirit of savouring the moment I decided to stay here 2 nights. I’ve taken the opportunity not only to catch up on some necessary points of motorcycle and personal maintenance (if I hadn’t taken my bundle of laundry to the washing machine, I know my jeans could have led the procession on their own), but also in honour of Mr Fermor’s observation, I took an hour to just sit on the harbour rocks earlier, listen to
the waves breaking against them and watch the marine life in the bay. Perfect.

This evening I treated myself to dinner in the campsite restaurant. While I was waiting for my prawn risotto to arrive, I spread out my European map and planned my next moves. Despite the restaurant’s soundsystem blaring Cher’s dreadful “life after love” at nightmarishly high decibels, I managed to muster
sufficient zest for
life to decide that Bosnia beckons tomorrow, then Serbia, Macedonia, Greece then Turkey. What fun….that is if I survive the night. The next track on after Cher was someone or other banging on about “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. At that inauspicous moment my risotto was served. Chef must have added his own body-weight in onions to my risotto, hopefully not in an effort to mask dodgy prawns. So if I haven’t been asphyxiated in the night by the overwhelming pong of my own breath, it’ll be Bosnia tomorrow for me!