(Note: The following post describes details from a previous trip, NOT a current trip.)
Saturday, September 1st.
The long voyage is finally over. I’ve made it to Dubrovnik!
Stepping off the plane, I’ve been bracing myself for some searing Croatian heat. But there’s a bit of a breeze, which makes it more bearable than expected. I glance at the rocky, hilly landscape as I cross the tarmac towards the main terminal.
The driver who picks me up in the departures lounge turns out to be the guy who runs the budget apartment complex I (and the tour group I’m meeting) happen to be staying at for the next couple of nights.
I have read in previous online reviews that he can be gruff; from our initial meeting, he seems pretty civil to me.
What isn’t cool is the fact the airline – in transit – has destroyed one of the arms of my backpack, making it impossible to evenly bare my load as we walk towards the hotel owner’s car.
Sitting in the back seat of the four-door sedan, I simply try to take in the scenery as we zip down the road – the cypress trees, the rugged hillside, and the red, clay roofs of homes and other buildings. The most breathtaking view, though, is of the Adriatic Sea below.
The hotel owner mentions it’s a bit misty today, which apparently isn’t common for Dubrovnik at this time of year. I don’t mind in the least.
When we arrive, I’m met by the owner’s daughter, Magdelena – a skinny, leggy girl, probably no more than 18 or 19, if that. She walks me to my accommodation, points out the tour group’s meeting spot with a languid, I-don’t-really-care gesture, lets me into the apartment, hands me the keys, points out the beds, and leaves.
While taking a pre-dinner shower, I hear my roommate-to-be’s voice greeting me through the bathroom door. When I do meet her face-to-face, I find out she’s Jennifer from Austin, Texas. I also meet some other fellow travellers, before finding out they’re with another tour group that’s headed for Albania.
Dang. False start. Take two.
I meet 12 more people who are actually part of my tour group. There’s a contingent from Australia (a brother-sister duo, a couple named Jackie and Julia, and two women probably a bit younger than me, travelling solo), a lone New Zealander who’s been travelling on her own for a number of weeks, and a couple – Rob and Richard – from Toronto! (Proof the world is, in some ways, smaller than we think.)
The last member of our group to arrive is a fellow from Bristol named Sanj, who’s just spent the better part of the day in transit. Travelling hell aside, he seems pretty easygoing and good to speak with. Finally, we meet our trip leader, Livia, who’s from Hungary.
After our introductory group meeting, we head down to dinner – except for my fellow Torontonians, who have gone ahead of us to find their own restaurant.
We pick a place in the Old City, where I have a seafood risotto, and prošek, a sweet dessert wine (very sweet, indeed). The dish itself is very tasty, but the portion’s huge; the prawns arrive at our dining table served in their entirety (feelers, eyes, legs and all). I don’t usually have prawns, period, never mind whole prawns. It doesn’t disturb me. It’s just … different.
After the meal – and some good introductory conversation – most folks turn in for the night. Livia, Jennifer, Sanj and I walk about for a look around, trying to find Jennifer something to eat (turns out she doesn’t eat seafood), and enjoying the remainder of our evening.
It’s a pretty laid-back start to our trip (which is just as well). Let’s see what the next day brings.
(Photo courtesy of Bed and Breakfast World.com.)