Tuesday 17 May 2016

Dancing with tears in my eyes

Day three in Split...


Which idiot decided this was a good idea? The plan today had been set as visit the market, have breakfast, go for a walk around the coast heading South to see how far we could get, nap, swim, cook and finally go out for a little dancing.

What could possibly go wrong?

As it turned out… Nothing! Dull I know. As we are a little rubbish at leaving the house on time owing to endless nattering we decided to omit the usual shower and head straight to the market, after all we were then going for a long walk on a hot day which would negate any vague cleanliness. It was worth getting up early just to see the town so alive with locals bustling around the get their fish - Catholicism being the predominant religion - and vegetables. We were only really visiting the fish market to get a feel for it, but at the veg market we actually wanted to buy something, basil plants so Clare could grow them and eventually make pesto. I was happy just wandering along seeing the sights though it perhaps wasn’t smart having gone out on an empty stomach as it meant I kept smelling things delicious to eat. Never a good thing.

Plants bought it was time to head home for a little something to eat before we marched South along the coast. We elected to take the swimming things just in case we found a suitable place to dip and once ready we set off back towards the Riva and hugged the coast for the next three miles or so.

What a scorcher.

I was glad that I’d been sensible enough to cover up, in fact I was even more glad that I kept a couple of size 18 white cotton shirts from pre-diet as they gave the perfect loose cover though they weren’t exactly what you might call flattering and next to the shapely one I felt decidedly elephantine. Not that this would ever change but I was unsettlingly aware of it. After about three miles we found a suitable place to stop for coffee, water and to water the waves lap on the shore. Unsurprisingly as this was very much out of season it was not as easy as you might think, the free shoots of activity were showing as various business owners lethargically got their premises ready for the coming assault of sun seekers but at this time of year it was predominantly locals and the odd lunatic brit. Let’s face it I am quite odd.

Still the view from the Barracuda Caffe Bar was quite agreeable and other than a chap to our right reading the local rag it was pleasantly peaceful. We consulted maps and briefly considered wandering still further along the coast to Stobreč but in the end decided to be vaguely sensible as a nap would be good in preparation of drinks and dancing later that evening. Wandering back the most suitable looking place for a dip turned out to be simply not that suitable as nowhere to change! There were changing rooms but the ominous looking padlocks indicated that maybe we were a little too early in the year. Oh well.

We decided that unless something better came along we would head back to where we had swum the day before. After a nap. See, sensible!

According to Google Maps the nap was best part of three hours, or at least that’s how long we were in Chez Clare and that was mostly snoozing. So at just after 5pm we emerged, swimming costumes on and scampered round the coast for a dip. We’d also brought bags as we decided it might be worth trying out the supermarket we’d noticed the day before. So the plan: saunter, squeal, swim, shop, cook, eat, drink, dance.


What we didn’t expect was that the waiter the twinkly one was twinkling at the night before would also be on the beach with a friend. If nothing else this guaranteed that the water baby would go in without too many squeals…

Well maybe not.

But it was lovely, refreshing and certainly washed the sleep out of the eyes. Rather shockingly she didn’t swim too close to the boys…  Wonders will never cease to amaze. Anyway, we stayed in for a suitable amount of time before eventually heading for dry land and the walk back. The supermarket was an interesting one, a huge range and clearly aimed at feeding visitors rather than perhaps locals as plenty of international brands. And it was certainly a lot quieter than the Lidl on the other side of the hill. If nothing else it would be handy for getting the things that you couldn’t get elsewhere. But one of those things wasn’t Yorkshire Tea. But with food and wine bought we trudged back to shower, cook, eat and natter.

As Clare cooked I sat and looked to see what flights looked like to Dubrovnik as it was likely that the next time I would come back it would be when she moved to Šipan. The best days as it turns out were Wednesday to Wednesday and I casually asked whether she’d like a visitor for the week of her birthday in July… I’m sure my ears will stop ringing from the squeeeeees eventually. That decided I booked, twitched at the time I would have to be at Gatwick and had another sip of wine.

Actually it turned out this wasn’t so bad. Whilst it’s a 05:35 flight and I have to be there at, say 03:35 because I now live where I do I just need to catch a night bus from Limehouse Station, head to Blackfriars and catch the Thameslink train down to Gatwick. No taxi worries and a bargain at the cost of a bus ticket and a train journey. Although it does mean I have to be a bit organised!


Anyway. That’s for later and there is a follow-up tale to this which I’ll save for another blog post. We ate, we drank, we giggled. There was a pattern forming here. We also waited for Clare’s lovely friend Ives who was going to join us for the evening. Eventually. It was reasonably late when she arrived and we left Clare’s poor Austrian friend waiting in the bar I imagine shaking his head in disgust at the lack of precise timing on our parts.

You may recall that I mentioned things were fairly quiet it being off season? Certainly the bar we went in to the night before was empty with barely a couple of handfuls of people. Not so with To Je To Caffe Bar. It turns out this is thee place to go at the moment in Split, happening central and it was packed. And the Karaoke had started. As usual there was a stream of admiring gentlemen saying hello to Missy and I did my wallflower thing as I was feeling slightly uncomfortable as I was pretty sober and surrounded by people I didn’t know plus it was difficult to have actual conversation without shouting. Cue rabbit in headlights.

Fortunately the rounds were cheap though in hipsteresque jam jars, admittedly the atmosphere was nicer than what you might find in Shoreditch. Of course that might just be me. Talking of atmosphere…


Quite a lot actually, jeez Croatians can smoke! It’s been a long time since I was last in a really smokey place and it took some getting used to, though later in the evening it did become a little more of a problem. Anyway. Drinks were drunk and the hour grew late so it was time to move on to the next place.

For a dance.

Clare had shown me the place the day before, I think, then it was a scruffy looking locked door looking suitably innocuous. Now though it was… Different.

And very, very, very eighties. I mean not just the music, but the atmosphere, decor and general hidden awayness. It reminded my actually of a small club on South Shields sea front, I can’t remember exactly what it was called. During the day it had exactly the same hidden look yet at night it appeared as a gasping grubby butterfly from its nicotine and beer soaked chrysalis, a place for sweaty bodies to rub against each other and outrageous dancing. Perfect.

It really took me back.

Anyway, we danced, Clare got attention and I got hot. Not in a good way. This became a bit of a problem, at one point it got so hot I became a bit sweaty and this mixed with the smoke to produce a heady acidic mix guaranteed to hurt eyes. Which was where the mix went. There was nothing for it, I had to stand there like a chimp delicately trying to dry the area and wait for tears to rinse out the pain. I would have gone to the loo if a) I had any idea of where it was and b) I thought I could actually get to it though the solid mass of bodies or c) get back again.

At around 2pm the music changed, not slow music, no, Croatian music, a totally different feel and this lead to a change in the attitudes of the local men. Ah yes, the local men. I’m fairly tall but there I was a midget, did I mention this place was attached to the rugby club? I was in a valley surrounded by mountain ranges of blokes. All I can say is it was fortunate that there was a group of maybe ten young - defined as anyone under thirty - girls who took some of the attention flak.

By maybe 2:30 it was becoming a meat market. The persistence of some of them was impressive, mostly Missy could put them off with a not interested, one though wouldn’t take no for an answer and we had to half pull the lesbian card to try to get it through his booze addled brain. And it kept getting worse. By the time we got to around 4am and even I was getting felt up by passing drunks it was time to go. The trouble was we were missing someone. I felt we should go looking but the sensible one pointed out it was unlikely we’d find her here and as she was very much a local she would be fine, it was after all out of season so this was predominantly locals.

We escaped through a hidden door in to the club reception bypassing the problem of pushing our way through a heaving throng and fell out in to the cool night giggling at the bonkersness of it all. Utterly crazy. Inevitably we fell in to conversation with a chap who had earlier made a play for Missy, it transpired that he was a professor of French at her university and that he and everything was, and I quote, fucked. We asked why, it turned out his brother had got married the day before and presumably he had gone out to drown his sorrows at his lost sibling. Fortunately we managed to lose him as he stopped to engage with some shouty lads…

…Only for us to meet a maritime student who was also studying at madame’s university. She really does have the gift for attracting people to talk. We parted ways and we wandered on to the Riva where we sat and watched the twinkling lights and a boatman putter out of the harbour in the dark… His day just beginning as ours ended.

It was time to sleep.

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