Sunday, 6 March 2016

By hook or by Krk

Dong, dong, dong, dong, ding, ding, ding, dong. Oh do f**k off bells.

I looked at my phone. 7am. SEVEN AM. Gits. This made the Italians look reasonable. To make matters worse Clare and I may have sat talking until 2am. I know this because my Jawbone wristband tells me these things. Snitch. But oh god, what a conversation, it will be a while before we have another so we had a *lot* of subjects to cover. 

Actually, it will be sooner than expected as in a state of mild intoxication I might have booked flights in later April for the princely sum of €132, I imagine I will have my bag packed with essential stuff, like more Yorkshire Tea. But still, when you are used to seeing someone every day and you discuss *everything* with them then that person not being around leaves a bloody big hole in your life.

At about eight I crept to the loo hoping not to disturb anyone. Obviously I failed miserably so the kettle was put on and we sat under a duvet for one last natter. And then another cup of tea. And more chatting. You get the picture. By 10am it seemed I’d better make some vague attempt to shower, pack bags and head off.

It was likely that the first part of the route would stay as planned as we learned that there had been 50cm of snow in the Alps. Not ideal. After much faffing the bags were finally packed, Monty was in my bag and it was time to haul ourselves up the hill once more to the Contrary Clio. I could feel the tears welling. The car was loaded quickly, somewhat less luggage than when we arrived of course. It was time to say goodbye. Well not goodbye, au revoir, I would be back and it wouldn’t be that long, but it is so very, very hard to leave your best friend behind. There might have been tears. Lots. Hmmm, there are tears now just thinking about it.

I sent her packing, frankly I needed time to compose myself before the trip the the island of Krk, so off she padded with the duvet we’d carried all across Europe now would love in Split because it didn’t make sense taking the spare duvet back when it was actually needed there!


Well would have been if it hadn’t been carried all the way up the hill first… Finally, tears cleared and destination set we rolled off towards the big roads and the trip north to Krk near the Slovenian border. The hardest part of the journey thus far if only because of the emotions.

We’d elected to take the toll road as it was something like an hour and a half quicker than the little roads and the reality would probably be more. Along the way Croatia revealed itself in all it’s aggressive mountainous glory. We climbed, we cut though hill sides, shot through tunnels and saw epic vistas that would give Italy a run for its money. On the second rest stop at the ubiquitous
Crodux service stations I came out of the loos and realised why it was so cold. Snow. Oops, I hadn’t noticed.

Needless to say I was in an inappropriate dress as it had been lovely when we left Split! Idiot. It wasn’t that long before we had to leave the toll road which was a mere 117kn for what was an awful lot of miles. Lots. I have not idea how they calculate the cost but it was roughly 10lp to the mile. Which is unlikely as they do things in KM in Croatia.


Still it saved a lot of time, was fast, easy and a very nice empty road. I was quite impressed. We left the road and immediately descended in to the interesting roads. With twists and turns, hairpins and stunning vistas, rocks rising as ravines crashed. It was scenery set to 11. Possibly 12 in places. We stopped quite a few times in a feeble attempt top capture a feel of what we were seeing, it was truly epic. As quickly as we rose to 2000ft we careered down twisting roads and out on to the coast road of a very cross sea. Very cross. Furious even. Blackened with racing white horses it vent its fury on the rocky shore and blasted watery pyrotechnics to impress even the most hardened cynic.

It was very cool.

We stopped several times again. Over the sea lay Krk. Goodness it looked big, it was teeny on the map. All we had to do is find the bridge… “Find it?” I hear you say. Yes, owing to contrariness the bridge, which had been built quite some time ago - though 1980 seems like yesterday to me - wasn’t showing as open on Tom so we picked a place close and then resorted to old fashioned looking at route signs. At least once we found the bridge. How can you miss something so big?!

Oh, wait, there it is. Crikey. It wasn’t messing about. 1430m long, 67m clearance at the big bit and the longer of the bridges arches is the second longest concrete such in the world. And the Contrary Clio shot across it. But goodness was it windy. As it turns out not just because of it being a bridge but because a storm was brewing that had been forecast.

Once over the bridge Tom decided to stop being silly and actually took us to Pinezići. It was a surprisingly long way. It was clear that the island was all but deserted as we were so out of season. As we rolled along we talked about how a place full of holiday homes was worse than a dormitory towm. There was little once the tourists went and the businesses went in to hibernation.

It was clear though that whilst everywhere would be shut - hence we’d decided against trying to find a restaurant to eat in - there were some larger supermarkets that could deal with the fury of the tourist season as well as supply the indigenous population and occasional lunatic english women who drove all across Europe to be in this stark landscape.

Finally we reached the apartment we’d booked, I found my coat, pulled my hat firmly down and went out to try and find out how we got in. And then phone the people. 

Hello we booked an apartment with you!
Err, when?
Oh, I get my husband, hold.
He come, you wait, he be ten minutes.

I doubled the time and got back in the car already plotting plan B. After about 22 minutes he turned up, I always forget to add 10% to the total, and explained that he hadn’t received the booking… *calm face*. He then explained that they hadn’t got the place ready and that there was another that I should follow him to. At this point I thought I’d better confirm that this was a two bedroom apartment we were talking about as this was running away fast. And I’m not known for my sense of humour when wanting a good sleep.

There was a worried look in his eyes.

Apparently I have this look where I stand very erect, slightly purse my lips and look straight in to someone’s soul with the clear intent of ripping out said soul if they get the next bit wrong. Luckily for him he said there was a bed settee in the living room and it would be made up. Right answer.

So we followed around impossibly narrow roads to endless newish buildings clearly built for holiday use. It was almost a ghost town with us being the hapless fools that had stumbled in to it. Oh goody.

On the bright side it did mean I was now convinced there would be bugger all open and it would be a supermarket based eating option. Finally we arrived where we met his aunt and by mixed languages we got the gist of how things worked, agreed what to do about the keys in the morning, paid - minus a discount owing to issues - and finally said goodnight.

By this point the really strong wind had decided that it was not happy. All we could hear was it howling and blasting and shaking everything. There may have been hysterical laughter at the idea of being stuck on a deserted island with no food in a massive storm.

So we went foraging for ham, eggs and lashings of ginger beer.

I’d seen that there was a supermarket indicated nearby in Google, however I didn’t put to much faith in this as it seemed to be in the part of the island marked “dragons be here”. So we asked Tom for his opinion. He reckoned there was another a few miles away, as it turned out next to the main town of Krk. I used the term “main” loosely. That’ll do.

Off we toddled along very black unlit roads with the howling tempest trying to rip what was left of the landscape from the land. Clearly it hadn’t read the tale of the three little pigs, this was clearly an island of rock and no huffing and puffing would change that.

Along the way we feebly attempted the pronunciation of Krk (think bad Sean Connery accent saying Kirk) we ending with an insane rendition of The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond.

Suddenly in the distance we could see a sign, it was as if the angel Gabriel had descended upon the simple *Irish peasants and said here is a supermarket, one so great that it sells garden furniture, plastic pots and frozen pizza.

Like the three wise men, well, two wise women. Okay one then and me driving, we followed the light to yonder lit up sign and… The Krk Plodine. This is nothing like a Lidl but as the nearest was in the mainland it would have to do. The thing is it sold what we needed, some bits for breakfast, frozen pizza, winez and dirty crisps to nibble on. Perfect.

By now we have worked out that we must open but one door at a time as otherwise the cross blast makes it impossible to close the doors, awkward. Once in we trundled back, having had the sense to mark the exact position of where we were as we didn’t actually have an address, and after dancing with the wind on the twisting black narrow roads with no lights we made it back to the apartment grabbed the food and ran straight in.

The oven was started, the wine opened and blogging began. Only interrupted by the ping of the timer to say the pizza was ready and the banshee howling of the **wind. As a side note it’s amazing how long a bottle of wine lasts if you are drinking it from thimbles, one to note for times when I wish to be relatively abstemious. For added entertainment the winds were shaking the power lines so the lights are flickering and adding to the ambience of, to paraphrase Enid Blyton’s first Famous Five title, Two on a treasure island. It was a dark and stormy night…

O ye’ll tak’ the high road, and I’ll tak’ the low road,
And I’ll be in ***Scotland afore ye…

  • no offence meant, this is an in joke between me, Missy and one other. And no, you can’t find out what it means.
** according to missy it’s called the Jugo and comes from the south as opposed to the Bora that comes from the north

*** Italy, via Slovenia

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