Friday, October 9, 2015

Whatever Floats Your Boat....Sailing the Adriatic with Busabout

I really enjoyed my first experience with Busabout, which was a four-day bus trip through the Balkans. This left me in Split, perfectly timed to board my Busabout Croatia Island Hopper experience. This was probably the part of my solo travel that I was most excited about, and here's what has been happening.

We sailed from Split, Croatia, about 1 pm on Saturday. There are 16 people on my boat, plus our guide Naomi (AKA Nomes), our captain (often found at the table with a glass of wine in hand... hmmm), our bartender and waiter Tony, a sailor named Luka, and our chef, Frenki. There are four couples from Australia, a girl from England, a guy from England, a guy from Australia, four girls from Australia, and me. I was really fortunate to get my own room as they are super tiny! I am using the top bunk for all my stuff, the bottom bunk is a single bed, the floor space isn't even big enough for a yoga mat, and the entire tiny bathroom is also a shower. But it's adequate and I feel pretty fortunate to have my own space above deck.
 Home sweet cabin on the Ika
It's a toilet, it's a shower, all in one. WOW! Not...

The food is also reasonably good, with a continental breakfast (I've only made it there once as it's from 8-9 am) and three-course lunches. All alcohol is extra, but the drinks are pretty reasonably priced and you run a tab for the week. Our boat has a lower level, the main deck level where we eat and socialize, an upper deck where there are more cabins and a seating area, then a very top level with a little guard rail. This is where I do yoga and we jump off the boat into the Adriatic Sea.
The view from my mat is pretty spectacular... when it's not raining!
English A and Aussie G swimming in the Adriatic
Aussie C faces her fear and jumps off the top deck!
How beautiful is this water?

So far we've docked in the following ports:
Hvar: had a great meal in an Italian restaurant where we were joined by a couple of other boats on the same route as us. Then we partied at a bar called Kiva. Everywhere we go, we're treated to free welcome shots and sometimes free drinks. The highlight of my time in Hvar? I met another Canadian couple from Thunder Bay, and they were newlyweds on their honeymoon. I started chatting with them, and the guy is big into snowmobile racing. He mentioned that he races in Beausejour, Manitoba, every year, so I asked him if he knew my cousin's husband from Beausejour who is also very involved in snowmobile racing. Yes he did! Everyone was amazed, but this is actual a pretty typical occurrence when you're from Canada. You can always find a common connection it seems.
 Free shots for the Busabout crew
People party in the bar, they party in the street outside the bar. Liquor laws? What are those?

So I really enjoyed hanging out with these Canadians and they joined our Busabout group for the night. Things went well until they got extremely drunk. The girl broke the heel off her shoe, so her husband decided the best plan was to take the other shoe and smash the heel off against the stone wall of the bar. It caused quite a scene. Then the girl spilled her entire mojito down her top, and then scooped handfuls of ice and mint out of her bra and threw them on the Busabout group. At this point I distanced myself and denied they were Canadian!

Korcula: Birthplace of Marco Polo and known as mini-Dubrovnik with a charming walled city... probably my favourite stop so far. We toured the old town then had sunset cocktails on top of a medieval tower... wow! After happy hour on our boat, we visited Billy's Bar, home of the 90 Kuna cocktail bucket (that's less than $20 Canadian). The bartender free pours all kinds of alcohol into a child's sand pail and it's a tremendous value! I decided on Long Island Iced Tea which was EXTREMELY potent... more like a ginormous martini in a pail. But I impressed everyone with my bucket prowess, drinking 3/4 of the pail, interspersed with bottles of water, and still keeping it together. The night ended with a bit of boat hopping in the harbour, as all the Busabout boats park one after another, and you have to walk through a bunch of boats to get to yours. The middle boat was the liveliest, so I had a drink or two there before calling it a night.
Entrance to the walled old town of Korcula, known as mini-Dubrovnik. It's charming!
Sunset cocktails on top of this old tower! Wow!
Saw my fellow Canadian girl A from Vancouver!
Beautiful views of the church's bell tower
Another yummy meal on the street
My first bucket experience with Aussie J, English A, and Aussie M

Dubrovnik: This was my second visit to Dubrovnik (I was there last Friday with my other tour). And thank goodness I visited on Friday as it was absolutely POURING rain. Most of my group decided to walk the walls of the old city which I had already done in the beautiful sunshine, so Aussie M and I visited the Game of Thrones store (it's filmed in Dubrovnik) and M posed for pics on the throne as she is a huge fan. Next stop was gelato, then I spent the afternoon the afternoon sipping a cider in an Irish bar doing "life maintenance". Life maintenance is a great term I learned from my friend Aussie Z that describes when you have to take a break from the fun of travelling to deal with responsibilities from home.
Aussie M is a big fan of Game of Thrones
Mythical Monsters and Wine
Aussie M headed back to the boat, and I decided to treat myself to a wine tasting in one of the posh little wine bars off the main street. I chose one that was highly rated on Trip Advisor and sat at a table by myself to order a flight of wine. I wasn't alone for long, as two nice men from England heard my accent and asked me to join them...I hope you're reading this Blair and Jerry! Blair tried to tell me that there was a mythical monster in the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro (ha ha), while Jerry gave me a crash course in wine tasting (I didn't have the heart to tell him that I was pretty rock solid in this area, but I did learn some new things). An hour flew by over wine, cheese, and olives as they told me all about their work as professional sports gamblers! They each specialize in different sports, and it was fascinating to visit with them! Thanks for adopting me!
 Great little wine bar with fantastic wines
Professional sports gamblers Jerry and Blair... an entertaining duo!
Our night in Dubrovnik included a delicious meal at Ragusa II and more cocktail buckets at two different bars!

Mljet: We sleep on our boat every night, and it usually starts to sail about 5 am. We have a swim stop around noon, a later lunch, then we dock somewhere. Naomi our guide always does an orientation tour, then sets us free. Mljet is a small island that is 90% national park. Everyone did their own thing--kayaking, biking, and swimming. There are two inland salt water lakes on the island, and on the largest lake there is a little island with a medieval Benedictine monastery. I met up with some nice girls from New Zealand, and walked with them to the nearest boat dock, and took the boat over to the monastery. I had a great afternoon exploring and taking pictures. There's a beautiful little chapel there, and I was able to light two candles... one for my Papa and one for a family friend that left us too soon.
Benedictine monastery on a little island on the large salt lake

So beautiful and tranquil in Mljet
Since Mljet is not very happening, we had a barbecue on the boat and played a few wild rounds of Sociables or King's Cup. It was lots of fun, and at one point I got knocked off the bench when the person beside me fell over backwards. Thanks English A!

Makarska: Today we're docked in Makarska and it's pouring rain again. I had a failed attempt to wash my hair in my tiny bathroom/shower thing--no hot water and I just couldn't do it. So I decided enough was enough, I've been roughing it for long enough! I booked a pedicure at a nearby hotel and shampoo and blowout at the salon. As I write this post, I'm getting a beautiful shade of pink shellac on my piggies and my hair is clean, straight, and shiny! Yay! My blowout only cost $20 Canadian and included a deep conditioning and bang trim.

Makarska is known as the Croatian Mediterranean and it's a charming little city with palm trees, beaches, nice restaurants, clubs, and a market. Despite the rain I've had a great afternoon exploring here and getting back in touch with my inner princess!
Beautiful town square in Makarska

Famous statue dedicated to tourists on the waterfront. Supposedly if you rub the woman's breast, you'll get lucky in Makarska!

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