It feels like the dramas of leaving Gatwick airport tainted the rest of my month of travel! Here’s to Spain and Croatia…
In Spain, a bug I picked up in Morocco came back to wreak havoc, requiring some stiff antibiotics. This of course, made me more susceptible to the sun, so on my final day of sightseeing in Barcelona, I turned to a red crisp. My favourite part was the Park of Gruell, with Gaudi’s architectural work that looked like candy homes from Hansel and Gretle. We also went to his unfinished cathedral, which was spectacular, and I am impressed he finished as much as he did in his lifetime!
On our way to Croatia, we had a night stop over at Milan airport. Kate thought it would be fun. It wasn’t. We didn’t even make it first in line to check in, despite ‘sleeping’ in the line overnight! Fail.
We arrived at the Split in Croatia. Wow. If Croatia was a man, I would marry him. I absolutely loved Croatia, and would go back in a heart beat. We met out boat (25 in total – 14 were from our group!) and set sail on our 8 day voyage to Dubrovnik (takes only 3 hours to drive, but we were stopping off at little islands along the way). The landscape is characterised by high, sparse mountains, fringed in an aqua coastline, and deep blue (clean!) water…. The sun was hot, and we lay on deck sunbaking and reading, and jumping from the roof when the boat stopped.
Unfortunately for me, what I originally thought to be sunstroke from Barcelona, took a more serious turn, and I was confined to my cabin bed for the first 2 days of the sail. I literally didn’t even have the energy to raise my head to eat, so I lay there, honestly believing I was dying, and writhing in pain. Dad diagnosed me over the phone with the flu. Lying in bed isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but my bed, was infested in bed bugs. The first 2 days on board, I suffered more bites than I could count, and they were horrendously itchy, and bled from the incessant scratching. By a complete miracle, I was healed from the flu on the 3rd night, and saw the sun again!
But the bed bugs continued to bite. By the 4th night, I refused to sleep in my bed, and begged my guide to take me to the nearest hospital and amputate my feet and legs. I attempted to sleep on top deck, but it was wet from wash down. So I set up camp in the dining hall. Around midnight, our whole boat woke to murderous yelling in Croatian and banging. It was our crew. I drifted back to sleep, before becoming increasingly aware someone was looking at me. I opened my eyes to see a Croatian crew member standing over me. He put his finger on his lips, motioning for me to be quiet (seriously, how loud was my sleeping?!). I started to get scared about his intentions, as I was the only person above deck. Then he disappeared into the night, and I heard more yelling and fighting. By this stage, I was terrified, and freed my legs from my sleeping bag, shoved it under my arm, and bolted back to safety of my bed bugs. In the morning we learnt that the chef had been drunk, and violent, bashing up the captain. The crew stepped in and bashed the chef up. The chef pulled a knife, the police were called, and as a result, we were now sailing chefless! (ironically, the food improved dramatically).
We stopped off at some great little coastal towns, with fascinating pirate histories. The building walls are still peppered in bullet holes from recent wars. We felt like the first tourists to many of the places we went.
My favourite towns were the party island of Hvar with its spectacular harbour views from the Fortress; Korcula, and it’s super cool tower turret bar that had a pulley system for hoisting up drinks (we watched an amazing sunset from up there), Mararska and its long, white pebble beaches, fringed in palm trees and great seafood cafes, and of course, Dubrovnik, the pearl of the Adriatic, complete with a set of fortified city walls.
I absolutely loved Dubrovnik. I did the near 2km walk along the city walls, soaking in the beautiful coastal scenery. The old town has amazingly polished stone walkways from frequent use. The food in Croatia is good too. 50cm pizzas, local seafood, black risotto dyed in squid’s ink, fresh mussels…
Unfortunately for me, this is where my trip ends. I start work this week!! I found my house at 7pm, although no one was there to let me in, so I snuggled my bags until 11pm. It got cold, and I was getting worried… so I got my real fox scarf out to keep me warm. Then would you believe it, here in the centre of London, a giant fox comes running out of the darkness towards me!