Another attempt at catching up on the blog if you have missed some days, please scroll down.
Tuesday, June 13, 2017 Post by Rich
A couple of overly large pillows didn’t hinder our blissful sleep last night here in Luka. We’re awakened to plenty of racket outside, though, roars from heavy machinery and the scraping of metal on asphalt. They’re working on the road outside.
Coffees from Linda and packing up are parallel morning activities. When we emerge, Nina is immediately present to bid us goodbye in the kindest of ways, with smiles and hugs. She and Davor and all their friends are truly special people, the best of the best with good hearts and a special life in this lake. We will always remember them.
Hmmm…next task is to negotiate our exit. A heavy truck plus a steamroller fully occupy the one lane road outta here. A small work crew sits nearby playing with a toy-sized dog. I wave to them, give a steering wheel motion, and point up the hill. They smile and jump to attention immediately, as if we’ve given them something fun to do. The friendly temperament of Croatia exists everywhere it seems.
We travel back to Ston seeking more coffee and delectables but decide to detour the tourist scene and continue on to Mali Ston (mali means small in Croatian). Canvassing the tiny town’s streets reveals no bakery proper, just a hotel veranda that doesn’t seem to be serving. Onward.
We try the tiny nearby berg of Zaton Doli. No, the goofy reference to Duke Ellington is not lost on us. “P” points us to a parking lot, but when we pull in an elderly gentleman scolds us away. I think he tells us where to park, but it was all in Croatian, so he might well have been telling us some “other” place to go. We crawl through the tiny town streets but find absolutely zero places to park. Seems to be a common problem in Croatia. Oh well, onward.
Down the road we try Slano, which looks like a better bet, beings lightly larger. The road on the waterfront is slow going single-lane-two-way but a few possible coffee spots are evident. However, try as we might, we can again find zero opportunities to park the car. Our route circles back behind the town where the road becomes extremely narrow and decayed, but still allowing 2-way traffic. Not so comfortable, especially considering our need for calories and caffeine, but we will persevere.
We halt at one point to see a turtle on the road. We’ve got to save him (and photo him) of course.
Again, onward down the coast road. Janel has already commented on it, but we just can’t get over the MILES and MILES of stunning coastline. Impossibly turquoise waters, elevated views, islands in the distance. I want to seriously study the history of the 1990s Balkan wars, but it would seem no wonder the Croatians fought hard for this land.
A short 5 km goes by, and a sign emerges proclaiming a beach grill. There is even a highway-level parking lot. Sweet. We’ve reached Velika Žali. We park and hike down to investigate.
Yet another idyllic spot, how lucky can you get? Blues, indigos, greens, white pebble beach. Isolated and gorgeous. Tourist prices, yeah, but really, just what we’re looking for. The girls order lattes. Since it’s nearly noon, I ask if I’m allowed to simultaneously order an espresso and a beer. Not quite a Four Loko, but I’m meekly after the same effect.
Linda scores two luscious pork chops plus fries. Janel and me? The grilled fish course. Whole fresh sea bass, grilled to perfection with olive oil and salt. We decide we just can’t get enough of it.
Fully fueled, our next target is Dubrovnik. No one is especially looking forward to the traffic madness (thinking it’ll be like Split), but it turns out palatable. We easily fill up the rental car tank one last time and soon find our parking garage. Apartment owner Sonja soon arrives to provide a parking pass and show us our digs for the night.
It’s a great little place perched on a steep hill just outside the old city of Dubrovnik. Lots of steps are involved. Outside is a stone patio draped with green leafy vines and an inviting outdoor shower. I ask if it is OK to shower there without swim suit and she looks at me like I as a crazy American. Of course!
Linda is a little sleep-starved and also in a bit of a blogsweat. Janel and I instead set out on an afternoon errand. Remember that ugly black scrape our parked car sustained back in Split? We decide we might be able to remove all or most of it ourselves – seems a lot easier than haggling with the rental car company. The closest hardware store is 1.5 km away, but Janel and I like to walk so off we go.
The heat is fierce but the walk pleasant, and we finally find MalinKolor on the modern waterfront, well off the tourist beat. We purchase 120 and 240 sandpaper and then hike back to the parking garage for repairs.
They go pretty well. The lion’s share of the blemish – black paint from the other guy – are slowly removed. Unfortunately, one central black streak remains where our own white paint has been removed. Dammit – why didn’t we think to buy some white paint? I’m guessing our actions might have saved us at least half the charge, but I still expect to get slapped with a few hundred for the scrape. We shall see.
We hike up at least 100 steps back to our flat. Janel attacks the outdoor shower, comes out raving, and Linda and I soon follow. What is it about an outdoor shower that is so so great? Every time Linda and I use one, we love it, and figure maybe we should build one back in AZ.
Time for exploration in old city Dobrovnik. We immediately get the feeling of medieval Italian towns we’ve visited – think Rome or Montepulciano or Venice without the canals. Heavy stone walls, plazas, well worn narrow streets and tourists everywhere. Differentiated by lots of steps.
We’re still seeking out white paint to finish our repairs, and in a creative coup visit a nail salon. They even have white nail polish but they won’t sell us any to go. Thus offically endeth the repairs.
Janel seeks out a shady little wine spot, then expertly snags us a table outside so we can people watch. A craft beer place across the street catches my eye – my tasty John Lemon beer sports a likeness of the Beatle on front. Janel hits up another Croatian white while Linda experiments with a Croatian sparkling.
With my beer finished, I go in seeking a glass of dry rose. They recommend, of all things, Korta Katalina, the same one we had yesterday up near Orebić. Feigning expertise, I advise that that one is good and unusally made from both Plavic Mali and zinfandel grapes, impressing even myself.
The place (what was the name of that place?) has a mirror inside proclaiming,” CHEERS BITCHES! – TIM MINCHIN”. When our server Anita comes out, we ask if Tim Minchin has visited the place, and she literally lights up like a Christmas tree. She talks excitedly about his multiple late night visits while filming a Robin Hood movie – says he is playing Friar Tuck. She then runs inside, retrieves her cell phone, and excitedly shows us photos of his visit, including a great one where Tim is giving Anita a hug. She said Tim decided that if he was going to play a drunkard on set, he might as well get into the character.
Time for dinner. Linda has selected a well-rated place way off the beaten path for tonight, and has even pre-ordered a dish for us. We save the wear and tear tonight by snagging a taxi and are soon slinging through and away from town at breakneck speed.
Destination Konoba Veranda. It’s a great little family-run place snuggled into a cove north of Dubrovnik. We take the best table in the house (of course) and are immediately bowled over by the ultra attentive service, which we soon learn is from both son and son-in-law of the family. A marvelous nearby white is recommended along with tempura frog legs.
What steals the show is a “poor man’s” dish consisting of a fried creamy white bread. What goes on top is a cream product that is churned into butter, but is allowed to ferment a few days. The result is a simply but fantastic middle ground between butter and cheese.
The white runs out, and our server smartly brings out a red to seal the deal. Our Very Special Chicken arrives, a deboned bird stuffed with proscuitto, cheese, and paprika, rolled and baked with potatoes. When the feeding flurry subsides, we celebrate with chocolate torte and the remaining wine.
The son even escorts us out to his car and drives us back to Dubrovnik. It’s all part of the experience here, and I think they’re grateful that diners will make the trip out. It’s certainly a wonderful experience for us.