Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Crystal Clear

I have always wanted to go in a submarine so I did.

It was parked in Basca harbour, looking like one of the Royal Navy's nuclear subs except smaller and redder and with fewer nukes. I hope. It cost 90 krone per person for a ride, which seemed to me to be a major investment in a bit of transient joy, but what do I know? So in the blink of an eye we were 180 krone poorer but boarding this marvellous vessel.

One of its attractions was that it had glass windows below the surface.  At first all one could see was the blue sea bed. It had sand and the odd bit of detritus but otherwise was curiously uninteresting. So at least initially I would have traded the view for a few torpedoes. However after we had been underway for a few minutes and before we submerged to fifty fathoms deep (*) we found ourselves surrounded by schools of small silvery, golden and black fish. By one of those weird coincidences that make life interesting the man at the tiller had just thrown some fish food in the water. We therefore returned from our mission not having sunk anything nor having destroyed enemy cities but at least having seen some lovely fish in the bay.

After such an adventure I was exhausted. I was planning which bar we could inhabit while we discussed the excitement of our maritime quest.  Colleen suggested going for a walk and, while I was not expecting a pub crawl it did seem to be sensible to sample the delights of the various hostelries along the waterfront.  I could not understand why Colleen had packed two bottles of water in her backpack.  I must have lost concentration for twenty minutes and didn't come to my senses until we were 100 feet up a mountain, about to enter a forest.  The purveyors of food and drink were disappearing into the distance as we trod on pine needles.

We were inclined to visit the church of St Ivan but it was locked. So we continued on our adventure across field and mountain. The ground underfoot was curious; a combination of sand and pebbles which appeared utterly barren but which nonetheless supported a good amount of forestry, until the tree line was reached half way up the mountain and there was no further growth of any sort.

Some time thereafter - the memory is a blur - we returned to civilisation and after a scrub up we did, in fact, promenade along the waterfront. I saw two children lying down on the pier with their heads just over the edge. The great thing about being years old is that I no longer get embarrassed so I decided to emulate the younger generation. I didn't need to. As soon as I looked over edge of the pier it was obvious the water was astonishingly clear.

After our astonishment subsided, we walked on, taking in the free sunset provided. God had been busy with his pastel paints and it would have been rude not to appreciate the result. The submarine sat silently at its mooring. It had seen hundreds of sunsets and was no longer impressed.

(*) sadly, now I think about it, we never did submerge. Odd, that.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

No eyes

We landed in Krk. Vowels are rationed in Croatia. A hangover from The War.  Which war, I forget.

It's Rijeka airport, but it could easily be Bulawayo airport: dry, dusty and almost arid with an unblinking blue sky and a handful of small aircraft on the airport apron, ready to leap off into the sky and enjoy the romance of flight. The drone and cameras stayed at home.

So here we are, at Rijeka airport, walking across the concrete apron and I am simultaneously thinking that I want my delightful Nikon D800 camera with its superb 24-70 lens while remembering Ryanair taking all carry on bags away from their passengers because the flight was full and trying to avoid admitting to myself that the cameras and lenses and drone would probably have not survived the flight or the baggage handlers.


Still, I have my iPhone and it has a rather good camera.

There's a ridiculously small conveyor belt for the luggage and yet it just about manages the plane's luggage. The rental car park is just a bit of scrubby open land. We set off for the south of the island and the bright sun and parched landscape take me back forty or more years to my childhood in Southern Africa and so I feel nostalgia for a place I have never visited before. An hour's drive brings us to the the bay of Baska (there really should be a little arc above the "s", like a devil's horns, but my keyboard won't cooperate).

We check in to our hotel and walk the promenade along the mile-long beach, passing couples whose children have grown up and generation-younger couples with toddlers, skipping along with stiff legs. I try skipping along with stiff legs but it's not as much fun or as easy as it was in the 1950s. It's mid-September and the families with school age children have gone home; the resorts are quieter and the weather is still warm.

Our dinner is inexpensive, delicious and served promptly while we sit looking over the peaceful bay.

I like Croatia and hope the rest of the week will be as good.