Tuesday 31 January 2017

Let's aim for the 8pm ferry then?

Magical nature
Another week, another European capital city. London. Zagreb. Belgrade. Sarajevo. I feel like a fashion carrier bag. As I write I'm heading towards Sarajevo but unlike last time, I'm approaching it from the north through Serbia. A return is making me feel nostalgic for those early summer halcyon days.
 It was May when I made one of my first inter-Balkan forays to the exotic East. Having reviewed what I wrote I was pensive about this city. That was clearly a difficult month. I was unused to being alone, suffering hours of bus travel, was still apprehensive about who and what I'd find waiting for me. This time I'm immured to miles, and confident of a warm welcome. Last weekend I spent a happy family weekend with my old Sarajevo host in Belgrade, and him and his youngest son will be joining me there on Saturday. I'm also excited to catch up with another old friend, and may even catch a rendition of Cabaret in the national theatre. It seems I even have a coffee date courtesy of this bus journey.
Still, although I've a lot to look forward to, it's what I've been doing which is more important. In my last post I got as far as Christmas in Split and was looking forward to the long journey north. My friend was determined to make my last full day there as memorable as possible with an island excursion. Who doesn't love a ferry trip in the fresh, bright sunshine? It was useful to go because at that time I was pondering a move to one of them for January-April. As I've now got into February without a move, it seems less likely. No information is ever wasted though and at least I could consider and discuss options.
I've been to Brač a couple of times but never to its other more beautiful side. It takes a meandering 90 minutes through the most varied landscapes to reach Bol. Given it was still technically Christmas and calories don't count at this time, I scoffed most of a gloriously greasy burek on the way, stuffing remnants into my handbag pocket. We laughed the entire journey as if there was no tomorrow. I got hugely excited as we went through Postira, the village after which my favourite ferry is named. We arrived in Bol and headed towards the famous zlatni rat beach just along the coast. The silent path with its sculpture and views of emerald sea was stunning. Only feral cats seemed to guard the road, though it was clear from the diving schools, clubs and restaurants that summer is a different story.
There were vague plans to meet up with a gentleman to whom my friend had been talking. I had no idea it was to be on the beach which is why I did the logical thing. Apart from us two there was no one around so I stripped. The sea had been serenading me with her blue loveliness and the biting wind had dropped, leaving her glassy and inviting. Left in only my black pants I danced into the sea. I think they heard me in Italy as I immediately ran out again shrieking with laughter. Realising the worst was now over, I went back in and the water took on a calm cool, and paddling around was bliss.
Me on the beach in December
Then I saw a gentleman in shades walking along the beach...great. It was him. I hoped he appreciated the real life birth of Venus as I emerged from the sea. Because Zephrus was blowing a bit, and Flora was being tardy with the cape. Hauling on clothes and stuffing wet knickers into the burek pocket of handbag doom*, I casually strolled up to my friends as if it was perfectly normal to be found in the sea in December.
Accepting things as they happen, we jumped into this stranger's car and headed for a tour of the island. This time to the highest point. I can't tell you how cold it was at the top. In the space of 30 minutes I went from being naked and wet, to cold and shivery with 3 thick layers. Even the sheep looked a bit miserable.
But we stayed to watch the sun set over Vis and Lastovo. One of those truly unexpected magical moments. The cold finally drove us off the mountain and he gave us a lift back to Supertar, given we'd missed the bus. We found a warm bar and I believe there was hot punč. Puno punča. There may also have been banter as only fireman can get away with. And then the free beers from the barman arrived because he knew someone in London. And inevitably we missed the 6pm ferry. 'Let's aim for the 8pm one then?'
Never mind I only had my packing and flat cleaning to do. Did I mention my London-via-Zagreb flight meant a 04.30 start?

*I've since consigned this handbag to the toxic waste bin in the sky

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