22.10.2011 - 25.10.2011
We got up and headed to the train station to catch the early (7:50) train from Zagreb to Split. It was a nice enough train, but fairly tight, and they reserved us 2nd class seats (watch for this if you have a Eurail pass- be specific). It winds its way through Croatia, and is a bit rough compared to the other trains we’ve been on, despite the modern style of the train. Nearly 6 hours later, we got into Split with 20 minutes before the Jadrolinija catamaran was to leave for Hvar. Luckily, we found tickets quickly and got onto the boat. Unfortunately, it was Saturday, and the boat was fairly full. With no one to manage the seating on the boat it was chaotic- people with bags on seats, multiple spaces between people, teenagers sitting backwards to flirt with the girl behind him, her seat reclined all the way (sitting in my lap), she then started to push her feet onto his chair, banging her seatback into my knees... there was no standardized spacing between seat rows, and ours was very tight to their row. I was feeling a bit seasick, and couldn’t handle the annoyance. I soon moved to an open space on the floor for the hour trip to Hvar. We arrived in Hvar town just after 3. I called the apartment host’s daughter (who lives in Zagreb, but speaks English), and she got her father to pick us up. He showed us to our small apartment, brought fresh grapes from their trees, as well as a couple of drinks; which we enjoyed on the terrace, with a view of the sea. I took a short walk into town, and stopped at a grocery store on the way back for some snacks and drinks. We watched the sun set over the ocean, and being tired from the long day of travel, ate a light supper in our room.
After following the AllBlacks victory in the Rugby World Cup (online), we headed into town for lunch and a bit of touring. Unfortunately, although there were trip advisor restaurants listed, none had prices, and there was no definitively “great” place to eat. We settled on a pizzeria on the main square – Pizzeria Kogo. It was a bit overpriced, so we got small beers, pizza to share and a salad. The pizza (“Kogo Special”) had canned mushrooms... a lot of canned mushrooms. The salad was made with half cabbage. The complimentary bread was white, and dry. Needless to say we wouldn’t be back. We grabbed groceries for that night’s supper, and headed back to our flat. After a short siesta, I walked down to the water, around the bank where the sunset view is best—and it was amazing. It had become overcast in the afternoon, but there was a low break in the clouds, resulting in an indescribably gorgeous sunset that lasted for what felt like a half an hour.
We woke around 8 to sounds of construction happening above us... pounding/ chipping right above us. Finally, around 9 I gave up, got up, and started making noise. Annoyingly, the construction noises subsided- did they forget we were there, or was it just coincidence? No one mentioned anything. After a light breakfast in our flat I toured into town to buy some lavender oil (grown and made in Hvar) and post cards. By the time I came back up the hill I had broken a bit more than a sweat, and decided a swim was in order. Jeremy and I walked down the steps to our nearest swimming area, and ventured in. It was pretty cold, but very clear. We swam around and floated for a little while, but the water was a bit too cool to spend much time in there. In the late afternoon we headed into town to pick up our catamaran passes back to Split for the next day (7:30, with Krilo this time), and had a (mediocre, overpriced) cappuccino at one of the seaside/ sunny cafes. Then we ventured up to the fortress to get some beautiful views of the city and surrounding islands, and sunset. Unfortunately, the cloud was lower lying that evening, and most of the sunset colors came through the higher clouds, but it was still beautiful... we had to laugh at a group on an art tour (mostly Aussies) who just kept saying “it looks like the mountains are on fire”. After that we stopped for supper. We were trying to decide where to go, looking at the menus, and the hostess at Paladini told us what they offered (mostly fresh fish, some other meat dishes), and proceeded to stand there as we looked through the menu- feeling a bit pressured, we decided to stay. It was a decent meal; complimentary fish pate and toast to start, I had a salmon pasta dish (ok, drunk salmon, but the cognac was just enough to ensure no fishy taste), and Jer had chicken with rice, and we shared a salad. At the end they gave us each an aperitif, a nice gesture, but a bit strong for our taste (don’t breathe in while you sip it, or you’ll never get it down!)
The apartment owner offered to take us to the ferry dock, which was very nice of him. Unfortunately, it was raining quite hard, and passenger cars aren’t allowed through the main square and on towards the ferry docs. He has a friend who is a cab driver, and he tried, unsuccessfully, to get ahold of him as we got to the taxi/ delivery truck only area. He was, however, able to get us a lift with a local who had access. He wasn’t going to take our money, until Jeremy said “it’s my Kuna- help me get rid of my Kuna change!” – he laughed and took the coins. The sea was rough, but luckily the catamaran was fairly smooth, and far less busy than the one we’d taken Saturday. We rushed off the boat to the train station to reserve seats for the train to Zagreb. We’ve decided this is a scam as the train is maybe 20% full, and they still couldn’t reserve us first class seats (even though we have Eurail passes which are first class). The train at this time of year doesn’t go the whole way, so at one point we had to get off, transfer to a bus for 30minutes (though they’ll try to tell you it’s only 10), and then onto another train to go the rest of the way. On the bus we sat near a family from Regina- the first North American’s we’d come across on our travels. We got onto the second train, which had a first class section, so we sat there despite some initial questioning from the workers. The detour added an hour to the trip, and we arrived in Zagreb around 4pm. We checked into our hotel (Hotel Central, right across from the train station) and vegged in the hotel for a while. We embarked out for supper, and headed towards Agave- a relatively inexpensive restaurant with decent reviews. After looking at the outdoor menu, we decided to head back to Pingvin instead- as we could get 2 sandwiches and 2 drinks for the price of 1 entree at Agave. We headed back to our hotel and prepared for our next day Aeroflot flight to Moscow.