I say Rob you say Rab...
05.06.2009 - 06.06.2009
After Plitvice we headed to the Island and city of Rab (pronounced ROB) of the coast of Croatia - the Dalmatian coast. Passing through more beautiful countryside punctuated by reminders of the recent war, we climb up a continual grade that doesn't seem that steep. Then we make a turn and the road seemingly drops off the edge of the world. From the top of the mountain you can see all the way to the Adriatic. The bus somehow doesn't high center on this razor edge of a mountain road pass and we start our decent which involved numerous switchbacks and a dramatic change in flora. Starting at the top with almost jungle like lushness as we make our way down the mountain we are graduated into rocky scrub. Rocks being bright gray/tan and the scrub being dark green.
Even overcast the coast is beautiful. Deep blue waters, white bald islands with random patches of vegetation. Winds and salt water keep vegetation down on the wind sides of most of the islands.
The island of Rab is no exception.
The old town of Rab is beautiful. White rock buildings with red roofs 3 main streets on a sort of peninsula. The stones of the streets polished shiny by the century's of wear. On our way there the guide was describing the place and he said "it's a beautiful town with streets paved with shiny stones" I thought it was a translation error - it wasn't the streets really are paved with slick shiny stones. Our group was to eat dinner together that first night. We met in the lobby of the hotel and caterpillared our way to the restaurant. It was an upstairs place and our group was extended down the stairs - those of us on the bottom not knowing what was going on at the top. Then the caterpillar seems to turn backward on itself - those at the front coming back? Well this causes no end of confusion. Somehow the caterpillar manages to reverse itself down the stairs on to the street and we who were on the stairs find out the Restaurant somehow didn't have our reservation and our guide got the Croatian shrug when he protested. The Croatian shrug is what you get when a shopkeeper, restaurateur or anyone else hears your situation and either can't do anything about it or doesn't care about your situation. This is what our guide got. This caused some concern in the caterpillar...27 people spreading out all exactly at the same time into a small town to find a place to eat - ALL WITH THE SAME GUIDEBOOK - can cause serious restaurant bottlenecks. Instantly the caterpillar separated into it's various and predictable segments - much like a marching band in formation. The groups all speed walking to be the first to the recommended restaurants.
There are about 4 churches several with tall bell towers. I manage to not go into the churches (refer back to previous posts about my super-saturation of viewing the sacred innards of churches) but I do venture into the top of one of the bell towers - all of which are external to the churches in this town. It was my first morning. It was overcast and there was a warm Adriatic breeze. Okay there was an Adriatic gale. BUT after nearly freezing to death in Krakow and wearing every layer I brought with me in Plitvice the warm, moist, salty 800mph winds were welcome. Did I mention It was windy? VERY windy. I wanted to kick the vantage points on the island before the bulk of the travellers so I went right to the highest of the bell towers first thing (or was it the oldest - I forget). I was the only soul moving around it seemed. Streets were dead. I found the tower easily and went up the rickety, creaky unstable stairs to the top of the tower which happened to be on the highest point in the city - or so it seemed. The stairs swayed and at one point one of the steps was half gone and the half that remained was about to go. The handrail often laying on the floor of the various levels as you went up through the access holes. At the top the wind was so strong I thought I was going to get sucked out of the top - it seriously crossed my mind "Tourist dies getting blown out of a bell tower. Somehow the tourist slipped through the narrow windows and ended up on the roman cobble below..." I didn't get sucked out, obviously a the vew was magnificent. I had difficulty holding my camera steady the wind was blowing so strong, tears forming in my eyes from the rapid evaporation of my existing mucus layer. Any scrap of cloth attached to a pole was sticking straight out and straining every fiber as it whipped and snapped to be free from it's anchor. It's a very clean island. No trash laying around.
The ocean was gorgeous deep blue graduating to greens as it approached the seawall. The island at the city edge has made sea walls that the ocean was doing everything in it's power to knock down. Waves shot up like schizophrenic geysers making pedestrian passage along the seawall a roulette game of dry/not dry. Since the sea wall binds the city there was no beach to speak of and the tide was up.
Continuing the cold saga. My Hungarian cold medicine - though may be working for my congestion, which the efficacy is questionable, was definitely not working for my "I have a cold" rotten feeling. So I went to the Croatian Apothecary. She spoke some English and with some basic words and sign language al la "Guestures" she gave me some stuff that worked great. It has patenol in it which is the Euro equivalent of Tylenol but it works really well with my body chemistry and makes me feel like I have been reborn.Who cares if the decongestant isn't working. I think I mentioned they don't give you much, maybe 3 days supply. I was hoping to be better in 3 days but I made a comment to my companions "I think I should go buy some more" they were like "Naw, you'll be better in 3 days." So I didn't make a return visit to stock up.
We had a free day on the Island of Rab. I spent a couple hours of that sitting on a bench, feeling the breeze, watching and listening to the waves crash and shoot 6-8 feet high against the sea wall. I was near the point of the Island and maybe 2 people walked by that whole time. It was great. Saw more lizards than people.
China has ruined the souvenir trade - that or tourists incredibly bad taste. The stuff that was passing for souvenir was questionable. Most was junk. I like to get stuff that was actually made by someone from where I am visiting. Something hand crafted. Not bulk churned chachki. So from Rab, Croatia I take only memories, photos and cold medicine.
Check them out in the gallery. I don't link to all my photos in the blog text. You can sort on the left by location (Croatia, Budapest etc)