Last day

Today we are packing and organizing our way to the airport. We are deep in the city and need to leave here at 5am for a taxi to the airport 30 min south. It’s a feat. The other issue we are having is we don’t have any clean clothes for the plane. What we are piecing together is not that hot but we have no choice. Better to smell good right? I think today we will hang around the old city and walk the walls. It’s rainy and cloudy today so we don’t feel much like the beach.

I am very anxious to be back home and work and on my bike. The trip was fantastic and over the top. I really didn’t have many expectations as I didn’t know much about eastern Europe. A few things we have learned from this trip are that we don’t need to be in the bigger cities when traveling. Even just staying in a town outside would be better. Then we choose to go to the city or not. That will offer us more local experiences and keep us out of the crowd. We also would like to do a trip without booking it so we have more flexibility. A rental car is expensive but a must. It provides safety and flexibility. We will never let anyone drive us again or we we have to I will be adamant to tell the driver how we want him to drive or we are not hiring. We need to bring rain jackets next time. That’s all I can think of for now.

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You can take my sunglasses but you can’t take my wine!

Dubrovnik is only a city of 25,000 and we are acting like its freaking new York city. We keep leaving for the country for solitude. We certainly found it today. After our morning ritual of coffee and Internet we took the rental car south. The plan was to go to a beach with less people and sand. We did arrive at the beach and found hotels and tour buses and no sand. We asked a local guy who looked inviting where do you go to the beach? He explained, not here but I will show you on a piece of paper. So we get the directions and keep driving south close to the border of Montenegro. The town is called Popovici. It’s a handful of properties made of stone and gardens and old people. No signage or stores of any sort. We drive in carefully and pull over to ask a guy who came out of his house. He only speaks Croatian and French so that was tough but he was able to point to where the beach was down this narrow wooded road behind his house. Before we could leave he had us come up to the porch for coffee. Out comes his family that is visiting and his two sons. At the table was Croatian, Argentina, Italy, and the Americans! It was quite funny when we had to speak Spanish to the argentines to communicate to the Croatians. They loved it. We showed the owner our bottle of Istrian wine we brought and he laughed and took us next door to his cellar/ tasting room to show us his award winning bottles! He is so proud. In there was also many pictures of his family as kids, the same family that was having coffee with us. They all showed us their baby pics on the wall, it was amazing. Then he shows us his family tree that starts in 1553. That is 3,000 years ago and he has it all hand written on this large poster board.

Then it gets better when he makes us follow him outside to show me his “family” of 80 turtles in this walled area in the yard. What!? You have turtles? He just fed them lettuce so they were all eating together in a big pile just chowing down. You could just hear their shells clanking and the lettuce being chewed.

So after chatting, or trying to chat, about stuff rosie and I leave to find some lunch. They pointed to a town but we couldn’t find it so we kept driving and ran into a cove that had this random little restaurant that just opened. We enjoyed some beer and sausage before heading to this beach we are supposed to be at.

We drive back to the town and by the house we had coffee at and headed down the small road that was paved oddly enough but actually most roads are paved here. We come to a stop and see something we could have never imaged ever. A freaking cement path along the cliff overlooking the Adriatic sea! This path goes about 8 minutes down the cliff and thru a little tunnel, gate and some steps to the beach. Really? Who does that. I don’t understand. Someone did it and paved it and it’s just crazy. Along the path are a few paddle boats that may be used in the summer and a lift to lower them down. It’s all rusty and surreal looking. So the beach is maybe 50 yards or so and absolutely gorgeous. Behind us is a cliff wall and in front is the Adriatic as far as we can see. There were a few people, characters, in and out but all local people. One woman came down and disappeared into the wall. Never saw her again. Then another guy came down in a speedo and gave me his tanning oil to use. I only used it cause he was so proud of it. He called it “super”. He said some other stuff too but I’m not sure what. He was harmless.

The sun goes over the cliff and we head back up, straight up this pathway. As we’re driving back there is a soccer field off the side of the road and a match happening. All the locals are sitting on rocks around the field that is quite nice and were watching. We ran into the owner we had coffee with and he invited us back tomorrow, I think, we have quite a language barrier but we may try to visit again.

Driving in these towns is always a two way road the width of your car. You just drive and when you are head on with another then one of you backs up to find a wider space or a driveway. When you are coming around a sharp curve you honk to announce your existence. It’s aggressive and something to get used to. Especially the buses on the highway, when they turn a sharp narrow turn and take of both lanes they have to honk and you just hope your not on the other side or you may get crushed.

Today was my favorite kind of day. An adventure. As for the blog title, the sea tried to steal our bottle of wine that we were chilling on a rock in the sea.

To top it all off, we had the most amazing dinner tonight with very special friends from U.S.!!! Loved it all !

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Path to the secluded beach

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Wine chiller

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Our stuff. No towels or beach chairs. It’s like we were washed up with our carry on luggage. Only rosie would lay on her leather jacket and cashmere blanket.

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First dip in the Adriatic. Sooooo cold.

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Dingac wine road

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We found the only sandy beach around!

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Town of Ston. Read about it. They have this elaborate stone wall going straight up and around the mountain to protect their salt in the mountain.

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Piece of paradise

Yesterday was one of our favorite days on the trip. We got a day car rental which is around $35, great price. We drove up the coast, had coffee in a small town off the highway, and caught a ferry over to the island of Korcula. We were thinking we would miss that visit on this trip but saw that we could make it happen within a few hours so we did it. Off the ferry was a similar looking town to Hvar. Old medieval port town surrounded by a wall and sea water. We had pizza along the sea and cruised the town for a couple hours. This group of 4 invited us on there small taxi ferry back to the mainland and we obliged. The taxi boats are these little 20 person boats with grumpy old drivers that don’t care if you get in or not. We had a more lively driver that played his music loud and felt like smoking in the cabin…

Anyway, we got to chatting with this 4 person group that are all American and hit it off. The main girl works for the embassy in Bosnia! Wow. She was great and she spoke Croatian along with dozens of other languages. She was with her dad from NY. We were going to take the main road back to Dubrovnik when she mentioned taking the coastal road that is unmarked and we would never find without following her so we did. They split off for some wineries and we kept moving. She pointed us thru an old tunnel and it opened up to the most beautiful coastline FULL of vineyards. Everywhere. All along the hillsides where you don’t understand how they can get to them without a rope or something. The red wine is called Dingac. It gets twice the sun because of the water reflection and also holds enhancing minerals from the ground. Amazing drive. And the roads were perfectly paved. All the grape trees were set up along these rock walls they built everywhere to keep the soil in. Terraced walls. There were walking paths everywhere too, made of stone. So much work. We came up to this town we couldn’t find the name of and had a glass of wine by the sea. We kept moving on and wanted to go to Ston for oysters for dinner. We had heard they are the best oysters around. Of course they are not served with anything but lemon so they were the real deal. We went to this restaurant our embassy friend was staying at and raved about their owners and food. As we were sitting with Ante, the owner, and chatting with him about everything our new friends walk in and were so excited to see us. They got nervous later about sending us on the small unmarked coastal road and were happy we made it out! So Ante was a boat captain for major a major shipping container company. He has been in every port in the world plus a hole lot of other places. Interesting guy. And now he has a restauarant, 3 kids, wife and stress free life. He mentioned his 18 year old daughter being in Dubrovnik the day before which was also the day the crazy drunk kids where everywhere but I didn’t want to mention that she may be hungover today.

Anyway, we had a great dinner with the group and Ante. He makes his own wine, liquor, olive oil, and so many other things. We indulged in all of them. Late that night we drove the short ride back to Dubrovnik.

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Car ferry we took to Korcula

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Amazing water. “Croatian blue”

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Guy who was bigger than his boat. Not sure how he was steering either.

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Fishermen having BBQ on boat

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Fresh catch!

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Korcula

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Wish it were warm enough to get it

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Walls of Korcula

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Rosie in for a freezing dip

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Around Dubrovnik

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Anything goes

There are no rules here. You can drink and drive, go twice the speed limit, pass on the solid line, honk at whoever you want, sit outside your car window with beer while driving and kids can drink at 18. Oh, and the smoking is out of control. They freaking smoke everywhere. The best is when it’s a waiter asking you to come in and eat while he smoking a cigarette. Um…no thanks I’m not hungry. Today in Dubrovnik it was the senior high schools last day which apparently wasn’t spent in school. Hundreds of just over 18ers were running around the streets in and out of bars and dozens of cars packed with kids drinking and hanging out the windows chanting. There was a dj in this outdoor park where they all were smoking and drinking. It was freaking crazy. This place is nuts. Oh, but there is a law you have to wear a helmet on the scooters or you are fined. So don’t get too drunk and then forget to put it on. You know what should be illegal…this picture below. Who told them its ok to wear nylon underwear in public space. Im trying to take a picture! And to top it off, what the hell is he doing???

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Scooter #2

Our apartment here is in the old part of Dubrovnik, within the medieval castle walls. It is a pedestrian only zone…which…is fine except there are thousands during the day. I’m over people watching at this point. The apartment is up about 40 steps on a hillside, along with so much other housing. It’s just up from the main drag. I feel like we have been walking up steps since we got here. We need to work off the bread and cheese anyway. Even the apartment up three levels up steps, but it’s nice and has space.

Today we cruised around the city getting a grip on our surroundings. At around 2 we decided on taking a scooter around the whole city in search of some beaches. We found a couple but it was difficult and they are not so nice and really cheesy. We found this one and hung out for a bit. It’s still a bit windy and cold which is a drag but also is the trade off of being here before their busy season. We have actually been cold most of this trip. I made rosie take us up to this place on the mountain next to the city. There is a gondola that goes up but we took a winding road on the scooter. She is such a good driver!!! The top was amazing. There was a cool cafe outside with killer views. Really special place and made us happy to be alive! Tonight we are staying in and drinking a bottle of Tehran red wine we brought from Istria.

Tomorrow we have rented a car for the day and will drive north to catch a ferry to Korcula. It is an amazing island like Hvar that we really want to visit. Should be back late tomorrow night.

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Does my helmet make my ass look small?

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Dubrovnik from the mountain top. We are staying inside.

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This one is for Don LaPorte

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