With Slobo and Mel having to leave to return north (the delay in getting here had eaten too big a chunk of time to be able to reorganise things), i took the boat south for the 4 hour trip to Dubrovnik. Played cards very badly with Aussie girls (if i remember correctly, Kristy, Gina, Sam and Tash, all Sth London based), happy i hadn't staked my life savings on it.
In Dubrovnik, was picked up by wonderfully cheery landlord Mladen (pre booked - and both his wife and 2 next door neighbours had arms in slings) who spoke at best, limited English, and went to his place in the hills. A lovely old house, where his family live, but which had also been converted into a number of flats, housing a good 30 or so backpackers.
After a wander around town (i never once went the same way through the alleys between Mladens and the old Town, and by the end i was actively trying to!), returned to shower and then went out into town with a cherry Melbourner, Scott. Melbourne seems to be the centre of the earth at the moment, with scores of people i meet either from there or going there, yet i havent met a single Sydneysider.
We went hunting the inside of the fort perimiter walls for one of the outside bars (i.e. you walk through the wall to a perched bar on the outside) which we found with relative ease - a nice place and idea, but dark with no moon, and kind of more romantic than either of us was ion the mood for - and remarked that the lack of a Chinese restaurant combined with the sheer number of cats in the Old Town really could not be coincidence. Moved on to the inevitable Irish bar - within the old town, there are no western fast food chains etc (in fact, there is no Maccy D's at all in Dubrovnik, which is great), and most shops are locally owned as well, although there were both Irish and English bars within - and met up with a couple of Irish girls and their cousin who Scott had met the night before.
Managed to collect an extra dozen or so Irish folk, and after discovering the club outside the walls was closed, went to a terrace bar nearby where we talked utter sh1t until being moved by the police around 6, on what was, strangely considering over 2 weeks had past, my first real night out.
The next day was spent mostly doing the touristy things in the old town, and also exploring the areas outside of the walls in teh rest of the city, which offered a strange contrast in teh most part. Dubrovnik's old town really is amazing, and they are rightly proud. A vast fortress, still entirely intact (or in allot of cases rebuilt after a year long and mostly spiteful seige by the Yugoslavs in the early 90's war), and not taken over at all by Western retailers or signs, so that it still looks authentic, at least in the main. Guessing it will be horrible with the numbers of tourists in the height of summer and heat, but in late May, it was still more than bearable. Only real point of note was that nature started her revenge for the fly by having 2 seperate pigeons cr*p on me barely an hour apart.
On the following day, took a wander into town with Joanne, a kiwi-canuk girl and up onto the walls. From above, they are even more impressive. A full circuit was a good 2km, with a height difference of over 50metres between the tallest of (i think) 14 towers and the lowest point on the wall, and the battelements in the main were surprisingly wide as well. The view from above showed that the city was downset into the ground more than expected - i always expect the insides of forts to be flat - and also highlighted what an amazing job of repairing the extensive war damage they had done.
Had a great plate of the local speciality, Cevapicci (a kind of small kebab meat sausage), and then in the 35degree heat did the one thing i really shouldn't have, and made the walk to the top of the hill behind. Up a barren cliff on a zigzag road in the midday sun. Again it was worth it, although i again perfected my drowned rat look, and also wasn't overly impressed that within 3 minutes of reaching the bottom, it clouded over a bit, cooled down, and even rained a little. Bah! Met up with the Irish girls and Rada - a nice if slightly scary Serbian girl staying in the same small dorm - and passed out on the beach after my walking exertions.
That evening started talking to the guys in the other connected dorm (2x 3bed rooms plus kitchen, bathroom and balcony in our enclosed flat) and proved yet again what a small world it was, by discovering that they were from UKHO, and one of whom, Alex was likley to be showing (probably) Sten and the other T-Kartor guys around the Taunton facility the following week when they went over for tender discussions.
Showing a complete disregard for my own feelings, and thinking only of the interests of T-Kartor, i forced myself to go out with them and Rada that evening, and have a few beers. Again we went to the outside bar, and then found a true local place out near the old town harbour, where officially (or not) some locals had set up some music and a fridge of drinks and were selling to whoever as they set on the rocks watching the harbour, although it was only locals appart from us. Note to anybody reading this involved in the process of deciding payrises - even on holiday, i am the model employee, thinking only of the good of T-Kartor. Yes, i know. I know.
And that will have to do now. I know it is not in my normal style, but i'm suffering acute diahorrea whilst writing it (not connected) so just slapping it down as it comes out. Still several weeks behind, and still no pictures, but i will catch up and put lots of pretty images in soon, i promise. Doubtful that i'll learn how to type though!