We talk of God and Poetry. Then I have to change trains.
Previous experience of Croatia: men with Cheekbones and unattractive accents who for some reason feel impelled to punch out Serbians at football matches in Melbourne.
But that’s all behind me now. On the train from Slovenia to Split in Croatia, I meet a dreamy young poet (who runs a boarding house for tourists – even poets have got to live!). He says I look like a woman who believes in miracles. I say that’s funny, because I don’t (believe in them, that is).
If I’d played my cards right (ie, got off the train early) I’m pretty sure I would’ve been in for a night of passion and romance in Belgrade ….
Split is a gorgeous, white-marbled town with a grand seaside esplanade, Roman facades, steep cobbled streets and a ‘white Russian resort town’ feel.
Of course, when I got there it was pouring, and looked more like an upmarket bathroom. Here is Diocletian, just padding out from the ensuite.
I would’ve liked to stay there longer, but I was only there for two hours – the time it took to wait for the ferry to Korcula, pronounced Korchula, an island in the Adriatic halfway between Split and Dubrovnik.
Here is the ferry. It is very CHEAP, as you can see. Buy one. Buy two! What the hell, buy the whole line!
Goodbye, Split! Now that I’ve left, the sun’s shining.
The ferry, for some reason, deposits people at the boring end of Korcula, so everybody hops on a bus to the main city of the island. Even in autumn, the British islanders are out in force, all socks and sandals, long shorts, floppy hats and butch haircuts – no wonder the French (are said to) roll their eyes at the idea of British fashion (of course, if they lived across a narrow channel from Australian fashionistas, they’d probably all go kill themselves).
But Korcula town is just..ummph!
It’s sort of built like a sloppy wedding cake, with the glittering blue sea sloshing gently against stone walls on three sides, and then tiers of ancient stone houses, battlements and towers spiralling up towards a jumble of mediaeval icing at the top. They SAY Marco Polo was born here. It makes a good story. Personally, I don’t believe it.
Can you see America from here?
In my little guesthouse, I have a whole room and balcony to myself, which is bliss after sharing with millions of noisy backpackers for weeks. In the garden, there are two little tortoises making sweet, sweet love, squeaking and sighing their little hearts out. If there’s anything more romantic than tortoises making out in a vege patch, I’ve yet to find it.
Expecting a picture, were you? Don’t be crass!
A couple of days later, on my last evening, I’m sitting on my balcony gazing contentedly seawards when I hear ‘Rose! Rose!’.
I can hardly believe my ears. It’s my American friend from Slovenia (an excitable San Franciscan, and the only woman I’ve ever met who has less sense of direction than I do) come to look for me, with two overweight sweaty Croatian artists in tow.
Unfortunately I couldn’t get the gun into position fast enough. So we go off to their bachelor pad and she tries to persuade them to publish ‘our’ book series – romances for the twenty-something tourist market, about vampires in Venice and so on. Eventually one of them explains that he isn’t exactly a publisher, more of a printer of sturdy Croatian text books. No nooky for YOU then!
In Korcula you can hire a boat and go out exploring the islands that cluster thickly round about in the wine dark sea. It sounds like a really good idea – which is why I’m going back this year, with Ms M, to do just that. My American friend says she will be there. Maybe we can think of a better use for scantily-dressed Croatian males, this time.