Saturday 29 September 2018

Best foot forward

We were going to get up really early. We really didn't.

We'd been told on arrival that we could buy bread from a van in the village and that it would arrive around 9:30. The hungry one scampered off to fetch bread, eventually returning with a sad face, it turned out the van had arrived much earlier it being out of season and clearly the memo hadn't been read by our lovely hosts. But fear not, she twinkled at the people in the restaurant which meant we managed to get bread and our delicious continental breakfast was on!

We'd need it to power us through the day ahead. Or something like that. The vague plan was a walk round the lake then a simple afternoon writing.

You know how much we like sticking to plans.

Today I would break out the walking boots I'd brought with me, given I'd already test walked the paths in ballet pumps this seemed like a sensible idea. I also elected to go with jeggings as I really didn't want to be scratched to death. That was a rare sensible face.

It was almost 10am by the time we rolled out, me looking looking like Lara Crofts older fatter sister, the dainty one looking, well, dainty. We were ready for a serious stomp.

Which lasted all of 20 yards. We both had a bad case of newplaceitis, a fatal condition that leads to inevitable wows, squeals and gazing upon new sights. Hopeless. I was particularly taken with the way that locals used ingenuity and a keen eye to make use of whatever materials were to be found laying about, I'd seen this the day before with small tree trunks, or very straight branches, being used to provide tying points for boats. Today though it was resting places for boats made with just a few trunks to minimise resistance whilst making sure they didn't sit in water, but my favourite was the fencing made with carefully chosen branches. Perfect.

What was less perfect was my knees, I realised quite quickly that as I was falling apart I needed a walking stick to allow me to control ascent and descent. Simple, we were surrounded by sticks, how hard can this be? After a number of regular stops to find something good enough the helpful one asked what I was looking for. A stick I said, but nothing so far that's suitable. Oh, like this one?

I can really go off people.

I was also pleased, yes it was just the right length, had a wee fork at the end and wouldn't take too much effort to remove small branches. Ace. Needless to say we didn't ask Twitter to name it and instead saved time by declaring it Sticky McStickface.

Now able to move with more ease we marched on. The seemingly endless green and blue
accompanied by the sun twinkling at us with the water was so lovely. But progress really wasn't great, not that this mattered, it wasn't a race. If we'd wanted to go quickly go could have made our way up the bank a little to a narrow road and scampered along. But where's the fun in that?

Every now and then I would see red markings on rocks that seemed to indicate we were on the Central Line. It just didn't smell quite like it. This belief was reinforced as we reached an interchange with the Circle Line. We might have been hooting with laughter at the thought.

As we approached the perfect little bridge that crossed the channel at the end of the lake we made a decision, we'd go for coffee in Soline. And when I say coffee I meant pivo. Obvs.  Soline is a bit of an interesting place. Sure it's tiny and has a bar which is in itself usually enough to make anywhere interesting. Actually, large and bar is interesting too. Maybe I just like bars.

I digress.

Monk studying the bible. Maybe
Apparently the Benedictines first waltzed in to the place around 1151 in search of somewhere to build a monastery, more on this later. They also filled the natural (read rocky as everything here is rocky) pools which of course would evaporate leaving salt, perfect for y'actual chips guvvnor. Mind you, I don't think they had chips then. Dark ages, dark, dark, dark. Probably better for the diet.

I digress again.

Hence the name. Running past the place in to Veliko Jezero (remember, Big Lake) is the Solinski Kanal, again more on this later. One of the most obvious things is that there is one hell of a water flow as the tides turn because it's really not very wide at all and the Big Lake is, well, big. Engineering 101, wide area in to small equals high pressure. Just the thing for driving mills and oddly enough there was a mill there at one point.

I was slightly disappointed to observe that a tidal generator hadn't been put in as this is the perfect location for placing one, but, to be fair, it would look a bit poo on the tourists brochures. The last thing of note, other than the fact that the Pivo was suitably cold and the wasps were unsuitably bastardly, was that until 1825 the place was uninhabited. Seems unlikely, it was now 12:08 and we were definitely in residence.

After a natter and swatting a few wasps we headed off once more we were off again. We ambled down the road a little heading towards the bridge and stopped for a moment to ponder just why there was a basketball hoop on the side of the road. Or maybe it was netball. Either way, they key thing here is: Side. Of. The. Road. Admittedly we hadn't seen many cars so I imagine it was a little like playing in the streets in the 70's.

It has to be said, this was nothing like the street of my youth. Pretty didn't cover it and the colours were endlessly fabulous.

As we crossed the perfectly arched bridge I managed to resist a game of Pooh Sticks. It just didn't seem right to drop a twig in the clear glinting waters below. We continued marching on.

To our right the Monastery of St Mary become increasingly obvious. As did the seemingly endless chug of boats chugging across the lake towards it laden down with tourists. I'm sure that Crkva Sv. Marije is worth seeing but my inner aversion to people complaining about *old things being so old was kicking in.

The place was certainly within easy swimming distance so one could sneak over, but I'm not sure whether my dripping swimsuit would be considered suitable attire.

Actually, for that matter, I wasn't sure whether this was a working monastery or if it had merely become a tourist trap. More research needed.

Take a fleg.
A little further round and we came across something that made me change my mind. I saw a small boat and two people were climbing in. As we got closer we could see that it was a thing, if you take a fleg and wave it then you get a boat. What's not to like? Fleg. Boat. Food. Not sure we would be able to fit it in but it sounds like a giggle.

On the subject of linguistic awkwardness. I did learn from the polyglot one that when pizza first arrived in Croatia it made people blush. Because it sounds like pićka... Let's just say my former flatmate would be shocked that I used such language in a blog post.

As we marched on it became increasingly difficult to remain furkling in the undergrowth so we largely stuck with the road, which is a little less interesting, but an awful lot faster. We were now strolling along at almost full London speed of somewhere over 4mph.

This might have been helped by the idea of the culinary one taking the leftovers from the previous night's meal, adding a few croutons made with olive oil and the remains of the hard-to-get bread from breakfast.

Sounded like a plan.

And then... We would swim! Obviously after we'd sat around for an hour or so. We'd found a couple of fairly perfect looking spots on our earlier walk, both of which within maybe ten minutes of our apartment. The water was glorious. The breeze light with occasional gusts of brrrrrrr. The delicate one was the first to break, I was fine, I just had to keep an eye out for any passing whaling ships.

For normal people the return to base after a long walk and cold swim would be a cheeky nap. We had a cup of tea and as we needed supplies we decided to head over the hill to Studenac in Polače. Now the dainty one kept laughing at me as I passed occasional comment on how much my body was now objecting. Yes I appreciate the "old way" wasn't over a mountain, but it was still very steep, we went from sea level to about 216' and back again in 2.4km. Not horrendous, but it is if you're seriously out of shape because you weren't allowed to exercise on medical grounds. And it was rocky. To be fair, everywhere is rocky. Even the **water is rocky. This apparently is what gives it the distinct whitish colour.

Bura clearly still meant it. My hair was telling me this so I didn't see much. But were were both aware of the smell of smoke presumably emanating from Pelješac. There was a Bura driven wild fire there and judging by the thickness of the smoke in the air it was quite devasting.

Still, the remains of the Roman villa were suitably impressive and as we meandered down the middle of the island main road (the 120, there aren't any others with numbers) we pondered about the difference between Pomena, Babine Kuće and Polače. All quite different. This felt more touristy. More out of season even. Great Yarmouth but with fewer amusements, more bike higher and a glorious sunset. Not Great Yarmouth then. You get the idea though.

The good news was not only did we find the Studenac, we also found a pekara! Huzzah. We didn't realised how important this would be at this point. Anyhoo, along we wandered, and then we wandered back. The highlight was passing a slightly dilapidated Ford Taunus TC, quite the thing in it's day and just that little more glamorous than a Cortina.

Not that this takes much.

We decided we should have a quick drink before heading back over the mountain so it after careful consideration (read: the first place that looked open) we sat outside the Calypso. A fine establishment. With beer supplied we proceeded to natter, look at videos of the fires and generally enjoy the craziness of a bar next to the main road. At one point there where TWO CARS going in opposite directions. It was quite mad. At some point the ***sensible one scampered off to check when the Studenac closed.

Of course as we are of a certain age we eventually moved inside to continue cackling. Inevitably as we went to pay up and leave we confused the hell out of everyone. But that's okay. It has to be said, the Studenac in Polače isn't great. Or at least not as good as the one in Pomena. But the ***sensible one managed to find good things to eat whilst I avoided looking at everything that was more than just vaguely dirty. Which is a win.

Walking back was interesting. Not only had my 51 year old hips decided that they'd rather be sat in a bar not moving, but my 51 year old muscles were definitely not singing the popular song by The Proclaimers. And we still had to go over the hill. In the dark. On rocky paths

I almost never complained.

On the plus side there was dirty sausage and cheesy snacks. Oh and winez. So all in all it wasn't a bad deal. And whilst it really is quite a steep hill it did mean I'd burned off my food before I had it. Maybe.

The evening ended, rather inevitably, in Mali Raj. Which to honest is about the best place to end and evening. Especially as we ordered dinner for the following evening... Poor baby goat!

* I was writing this in our usual drinking hole in Babine Kuće, the wandering one turned up and proceeded to tell me about a group of English tourists that she overheard saying "it's not as charming as in the brochures". I rest my case.
** Apparently, according the same group, the water was brackish. It so was not. The water evaporates which means it's decidedly more saline than the sea. It's a thing. You should see the state of my swimming costume after coming out of the water and it drying, Monica Lewinski would have been shocked.
*** Terms and conditions apply

No comments:

Post a Comment