The bus is cleaner and more modern. The drivers are in smart uniforms and do not smoke on board. But the border crossings are the same. Slow and disorganised. The only difference is that this time the Croatian guard comes on board and calls out our names as he hands our passports back. It is the only light relief after an hour of bumper to bumper traffic as we inched toward the checkpoint.
Almost immediately the Croatian Adriatic coastline came into view. Dazzling deep blue waters (ok – I was wearing polaroid sunglasses). Dotted with houses in good repair, symmetrical design and orange roofs, sparsely wooded rolling hills in the background, the grey of local rock showing through. It was just the same as how every romantic movie of the sixties portrayed the south coast of Italy.
It should have been a three hour trip, and we were expecting to be collected at the bus station. We rolled in well over an hour late. Women clustered around the bus, touting rooms to rent. As we pulled out of the melee, a rotund, swarthy, gangster looking middle-age man lounging on a nearby bench asked if we needed a taxi. I tried to brush him off by saying we should be met by someone. It was obvious we could not see who, so then he surprised me by offering his mobile phone to call our lift. So there. Never judge a book by its cover. Within moments our lift arrived, and the gangster turned Good Samaritan would not accept any money for the call.
Waddy researched all our accommodation, and he has not let us down to date. We have a brand new two bedroom apartment in the Lapad area of Dubrovnik, a supermarket downstairs, bus stop across the road, and a ten-fifteen minute bus ride into the old town. Not to mention the beach at the end of the street.
One of first priorities was to buy beach towels, and a water shoe that protects the feet from pebbles and finely ground sand. The promenade is one stall after another selling beachwear. Dubrovnik is a drawcard for European holidaymakers seeking the sun in an exotic location.
By six o’clock we were taking our first swim in the Adriatic. Bill and Waddy, both ex surfers, dived straight in, but I did the girly thing and tried to go in a bit at a time. Eventually I had to give up and get the head wet. The landlady indicated a water temperature of twenty-five degrees. I am here to tell you she was wrong, wrong, wrong, She had forgotten to allow that recent winds had cooled the sea. But it was warm -enough. I was ready for a warm shower back at the apartment though!
Wednesday 26th June 2013, Garrulous Gwendoline, Dubrovnik, Croatia