The night before heading on vacation I stayed at my buddy Alex’s apartment. We stayed up entirely too late playing Resident Evil 4 (or 5…can’t remember). Basically I was unbelievably smart and booked a 6:10AM flight and there’s no transportation to the airport from my place early enough. Alex lives in South London so I was able to catch the 4AM train to the airport, which got be there just before 5. Yup – you read that correctly. I went to sleep at 1:30 and got up at 3:30 to stumble to the train and then get to the airport.
As I was preparing to board I met another American guy who was enroute to Dubrovnik for the start of his travels before his semester in Spain starts. Was a pretty nice kid. We chatted a bit and fell asleep on the short (2 1/2 hour) flight to Croatia. Now some may think that’s a long flight, but after my 6 hour journeys across the Atlantic (which by the way are still practically NOTHING) it didn’t seem much to me. As soon as we got off the plane I had to take off my sweatshirt. It was about 20 degrees warmer than it had been in London, and it was only about 9:30am. Made it through customs, at which I was disappointed because they didn’t stamp my passport, then boarded the bus to Old Town with Keith, my American counterpart from Sacramento.
We arrived outside the gates of the Old Town and I had directions to my hostel, but Keith had no idea where his was. We found a tourist info center, got a map and ended up settling at an internet cafe so he could find the phone number and call the place. After a bit of finagling he was on his way. We planned to meet up later on, but never did.
Dubrovnik’s Old Town is basically all stone. And stairs to the heavens, or so it seemed. When I finally reached my hostel I felt like I had climbed Mount Everest. To be fair I’m terribly out of shape, but in my defense those stairs were death-defying. I got to the hostel a little over an hour before I could check-in, but I didn’t care. I was exhausted from lack of sleep and the stairway to heaven. I finally checked in, got my stuff laid out over my bed, unpacked a bit and headed out into town. I had not eaten yet and by this time it was about 2pm.
I found a little pizza joint on a side alley that looked much like this and decided I’d go for it. I was close enough to Italy that it should be good, right? ABSOLUTELY. This pizza was great and I was served a HUGE mug of Ozujsko, which is a Croatian Lager. It was all great, and unbelievably cheap. After eating lunch and relaxing in a random alley I headed out to see some sights. I basically just walked around within the Old Town up and down the streets and more killer stairways. I eventually found myself outside the gates looking over the ocean eating an ice cream. It was here that I formally met Phil, a fellow Spurs fan from Birmingham. We had met briefly in the hostel during check-in. After seeing each other 2 or 3 times in our travels that day he decided the final time that it was time to have a conversation. We then spent the next 4 days together. You’ll be seeing a lot about him in my Croatian adventures.
After our introductions and little bit of getting to know each other we went for a beer, then eventually back to the hostel. We were staying at a place called Fresh Sheets, a really fantastic hostel at the top of the Old Town on the ocean side. Now I say ocean side, but there are giant stone walls that prevent you from seeing it. Anyway, we decided to hit up the happy hour at the hostel. 10 Kuna (less than $2 and just over 1 pound for a beer)…you can’t really beat that. We met some cool folks that night, some of which went to bed and 2 others decided to come out with Phil and I.
On our way down the stairs I managed to slip, fall and get a sweet bruise on my left arm. Mind you this was one of my more sober moments of my vacation. I had maybe 2 beers so this was just a matter of me not knowing how to walk. The stones were slippery…but I was the only one who managed to fall. Oh well…We made it out to some Irish Pub (yup, they’re everywhere) and I watched a Packers/49ers game. Never thought I’d watch American Football in an Irish pub in Croatia…guess I can check that off the list.