The latest journey saga for 2 Bags and a Pack. I was amped last night in anticipation of my move to Vodice (still can’t pronounce it but I’ll get it eventually). Finally got to sleep about midnight but woke at 5. When the church bells went off at 6 figured I might as well get my stuff together. Had shown a note in Croatian to my landlord the day before that I was leaving and could he call a taxi for me for 10 in the morning. He said he would take me to the bus station for 50 kunas ($10). Fair enough.
Had enough time for a small breakfast of hard-boiled eggs and seared chicken breast, and some Internet work, before stuffing everything into my bags and hauling them downstairs. The landlord was waiting for me and helped load everything into his Mazda 626. He waved off my 50 kunas, so the ride was free. Not only that, when we got to the bus station he rolled one of bags into the station for me before we said our good-byes. Nice man.
I found the ticket counter and managed to get them to understand my bad pronunciation of Vodice. Ticket was 52 kunas ($10.40). I was expecting a bus going to Sibenik, stopping along the way at Vodice, but they put me on a bus headed to Split, which is slightly further than Sibenik. The bus turned out to be a “local,” stopping several times to drop people off. We went into one town, Billgrad, which looked kind of cool. The ride took only an hour, even with all the short stops, much of it right along the Adriatic. It was a chilly, windy day, with lots of gray clouds. You first know you’re nearing Vodice when you see this hill coming out of a flat area, with a modern church on the top.
Caught a taxi at the station and the driver knew English. Turns out he had been a merchant marine and visited a number of U.S. ports, including Mobile and Houston. He had some trouble finding the place and stopped the meter at 35 kunas (OK, this is the last time I do the math for you – $7). We finally found it and when I got out I asked where I could get a map of the town like the one he was using. He gave me his. “A present for your visit to Vodice,” he said. Nice.
The landlady, Visjne Mosko, was waiting at the front gate. She’s early 40’s, speaks pretty
good English and was a perfect host. She even carried one of my very heavy bags up two flights of stairs and wouldn’t let me stop her. Turns out she and her husband spent a year in Toronto and another year in New Jersey. Her husband, Zdravko, is some sort of computer engineer or something, which explains the Internet hard-wire setup in the apartment.
Visjne said that once I put my stuff away to get her and she would show me around town. The apartment is awesome, as you can see by the photos. Very modern, clean and fully equipped. I won’t even have to buy a coffeemaker. I’m on the second floor and cannot quite see the sea (but I can see the island across the strait), but otherwise this looks like home until December.
Once my bags were unpacked, I went downstairs to take Visjne up on her offer of a tour. So we went for a walk, just what I like. The house is in what is called the new part of town, which looks to me like mostly houses built with apartments for the tourists. We walked into a local supermarket, Tommy’s, which was modern and clean. There was a mescina (butcher) across the street but Tommy’s has meat selections already packaged like in an American store.
We then went down to the water, not a bad walk, through the complex of one of the major
hotels on the shoreline, the Imperial, I think. You can walk right through the property to get to the shoreline. A short walk along the beach and we arrived in the center, where all the shops and restaurants are. The bus station where I came in, too. Many of the shops and restaurants are closed or will be closing soon due to lack of business in the off-season, and she showed me a couple of restaurants I want to try before they shutter. We stopped at one where a guy was grilling mackerel. The aroma was wonderful.
You can get two of the small fish, potatoes and spinach for $12. They also sell pit-roasted pig. Gotta try that before they close.
By this time, we were in the old part of town. It had the same look and feel of Old Town in Zadar – cobblestone walkways, stone houses, an old church, pastels everywhere. I took some pictures but another walk with my camera is necessary. We circled back and stopped at the Kosmun (?) supermarket. Looked like a small Publix inside. I had told Visjne I needed to shop for food when we got back to the house and she decided that we were going to do it right now and that she was going to help – so she handed me a basket to load up and told me she would help carry everything back. I needed almost everything and ended up spending $60. She carried one heavy bag back and I carted the other. She would not have it any other way. On the way back, we ran into her friend, Babba (?) who invited me for coffee in the morning. When Visjne needs to go to the even bigger supermarket a few miles away, she goes with Babba in Babba’s car. I was invited on the next trip.Before we started on our walk, I got a whiff of something cooking in Visjne’s apartment and commented on how good it smelled. When we got back, she invited me to dinner. I felt that was pushing the hospitality a bit but she insisted. She was cooking a vegetable soup to go along with hot dogs. Then, shortly after I got back in my apartment, she came up to give me a plate of prosciutto and cheese, and a bowl of bread. Man, am I ever home!
About the only negative so far is I can’t receive e-mail. The storm yesterday knocked out their Internet service, although I am able to go on the Web and am currently loading photos for this blog. Tonight, I’ll try the TV. And tomorrow morning, a long walk in my new temporary home. Definitely a good decision.
Fishing: There are numerous jetties to fish from in the harbor. The walk’s not bad and mostly flat. I’ll test that out shortly. And I want to get one or two restaurant reports for anyone who’s interested. I saw some interesting items on the menu of one place, Asaus, that Visjne recommended. It’s definitely Croatian-style eating.
The airline conundrum (you can’t live with them and …)
Learned a valuable lesson yesterday when trying to cancel my return trip to the U.S. from Croatia. In order to get into the country, I had to have a round-trip ticket, but I don’t need the return part now. Thought I could get a refund on the return part, minus some sort of charge. Turned out it was a non-refundable ticket, but if I book my eventual return trip to the U.S. next year on Delta, a portion of the current return ticket would be credited to the new ticket. Unfortunately, Delta charges $300 for cancellation, which comes out of that credit.
I had hoped I could get refunds on all the “return” parts of tickets to Greece, Turkey and Italy, but that may not be possible (I believe I will have to have round-trip tickets in each case.). Delta did give me a $100 coupon in Cincinnati when my flight was delayed five hours, which I can use on the return flight to the U.S.