Thursday, 10 March 2016

Contrary Baggage

I'm writing this on the bus to Zagreb. Of course, for the end of this week I'd planned to do some study, and enjoy a small weekend trip to Šibenic to see the cathedral, but we all know what happens to plans. Yesterday -Wednesday I was expecting a visitor who was making her way back to London via Split so it was a perfect opportunity to be contrary. 

Turns out she is PhD level, to rival the flirty PhDitz in fact. She hadn't booked a way back to Zagreb. As you all know, direct flights to London from Split don't start until April so you have to change. You have a choice; you can fly, train, or bus it to Zagreb. So after sitting in the sun on the Riva with a beer, we discussed options and whether I fancied a trip up north. She had an apartment booked for a couple of nights and it has two rooms. 

Easy. After the bloggage of the other two, I wasn't going to pass up an opportunity to see more of the mountainous hinterland, nor a taster of the capital city. So here we are on a Promet Markarska bus for 5 hours with chocolate croissants and Croatian radio for company. 

I'm getting ahead of myself as usual. Yesterday was too entertaining not to write about. Class had once again proved a challenge and I have a tonne of homework, but that is something to which I can look forward - given it's work on the future tense, apt! The waiter at the posh Luxor cafe high-fived me as I walked through Peristil and the blue sky did its celestial equivalent, both of which left me massively contented. 

I had until 2pm before she arrived so I scampered home to have a snack, tidy up, and to change my footwear into something more sun appropriate. It was truly lovely out. I ambled out towards to bus station, via the man fruit and veg market, exchanged pleasantries with the usual bus station types 'ne hvala i ne razumijem' and very quickly, there was my friend. It's quite something when you think that a short time ago we were strangers in a classroom, but we've been brought together a thousand miles away by a love of a country and its language. 

After dumping a wayward suitcase, which took delight in skittering across the marble, we went for a wander around town to find food. An odd lack of choice left us faced with the sunny vistas of the Adriana on the Riva. We dazzled our first waiter of the day with our stunning Croatian efforts. Well, she did. I fell apart as usual. He was helpful and patient as we failed to make a food choice - my current favourite is njoki. Just because of the way it's spelt. Obviously. 

So sustenance provided by two massive plates of njoki with ham and rocket sauce, two beers, and a sample of the local walnut liqueur, and a definite flirty twinkle from the pleasant waiting guy, we were ready to face the bus station for Zagreb tickets, as well as a trip to City Centre One. 

What's City Centre One? Despite the name it's an out of town shopping centre which looks like it could be in any suburb in any part of the world. My friend's friend had asked her to get a refund on an item of clothing from a shop there. 

But first there was a giggly moment with an extremely hot bus ticket man at the station. I'm still at the 'needing to look up and write out what I want to say' stage, but Lou assuredly walked up to the counter, and was away with a vaguely comprehensible request for a single and a return (for me) to Zagreb. Unlike the usual surly ticket counter employee, he was really impressed and, with a wink at me, replied in Croatian to let her bravely continue. 

There was a hitch. The bus we had seen on the timetable didn't exist. 

Reverting to English they had a discussion about the relative benefits of all the different routes and buses. I let them thrash it out as she was the one with friends there, and time commitments. There was no queue and the chap was really happy to talk to her. As it was progressing to the date stage, sadly we paid for our tickets and headed out into the evening. 

Next stop. Another bus. It's so good being with someone who knew which bus we should be getting on - and more importantly, which stop we were getting off at. As we crammed on to the local yellow bendy bus, I had a flashback to London. Someone asked me yesterday whether I was missing the tube, and was, right up until I got on this bus with what felt like the entire population of Split. For the princely sum of 11kuna we went to the edge of town. 

It was just like Brent Cross. Or Westfield. Only less shiny, less busy, and with fewer shops. Can you imagine, it was 7.30ish on a Wednesday evening and it was a pleasure to stroll round, in a bland musak kind of way. There was a large Spar and a C&A. Oh and more knicker shops than even the flatmate could go through. Does this mean I need to up my underwear game whilst I'm here?!

Speaking of which...Calzedonia to get a refund. Not possible, only exchanges. This let to a protracted long distant discussion about legless feet, tightless bottoms...and a very confused shop assistant. Queue more giggles. It didn't help that that the price on the packets of tights were in euros. So thinking she had 300kuna, she wondered how many packets of 5.99 tights she could get. Confused?! Turns out about three. 

Anyway I have an exceptionally short skirt which requires leg coverage, so I got some too. Business transacted, we departed, only to return to retrieve the bottles of water that had been forgotten. We are truly special. Apparently it was the assistant's turn to laugh. 

We had a meander around, and we chortled at the 'wild horses', made rude comments about the fashion in C&A. There was also another clothes shop, where should I need an electric blue lace fishtail confection, I know where to find one. We found some shoes each - she has currently got a toe issue so bought something comfy; and I got a beautiful pair of platform sandals to strut down the Riva in. 

Back outside and on the bus into town, it had turned slightly chilly, and the njoki had been burned off ages ago. So we thought we'd take our bags back home and then go find another restaurant. As we were heading up to my place, we walked past Trattoria Tril, a neighbour to the excellent Konobar Marjan. During the day this place is a haven for the local guys to discuss important world events, then put money on them in the betting shop opposite. Perfect. 

We went in and the restaurant's two pet spider crabs waved at us cheerily. They know they are safe despite being tasty...the waiter was happy to reassure us they weren't on the menu. Once again we entertained another guy with our witty repartee and mangling of his language. He was extremely happy to help, and by the end of the evening, a bottle of Postup down, he taught us some really rude Split words and made a couple of locals blush. We've been invited back for classes whenever we like! The food was also excellent and ridiculously cheap. I'm starting to like my part of town very much.  

Enough for this blogpost, I need to write about what feels like Roadtrip part 2, or is it 3. Talk about wayward, contrary baggage!!


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