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    Friday, June 26, 2009

    Croatia Part Two

    Ships Log Sunday
    1st Stop Drvenik
    Before boarding we had a motley crew
    Mr Creosote Geoff (work that out)
    Mr Grumpy Dale
    Ms Elephant Feet and Hands Laurian
    And Ms Le Coff (moi)
    Our time at sea seems to have fixed all these problems, marvelous what sea air and sunshine will do
    The Marina at Kastella Split
    Mr Dale...that sea air works wonders!
     1st Mate Laurian tidying up the fenders
    As I said in the last post, we had good sailing,
    Music by Melodie Gardot singing (Somewhere over the rainbow), Wine in hand.
    6.5 knots nice breeze, engine off.

    The Capitianes are happy
    1st Mate making lunch and the Cabin Boy updating the blog.
    Arrived at Drvenik pretty little town.
    Apparently a nice little restaurant there, but we elected to stay on board and G was on dinner duties, a very nice Spag Bol too.
    Early night. Just as well, in the middle of the night the wind got up and eagle- eared Dale heard new sounds, and looked out his porthole, we had swung around and we were very close to the ferry on the wharf. Instant engine starting and boys on deck. A little re-anchoring and Problem solved.
    Early start, off to Hvar, plain sailing again, then there it is... the lovely town of Hvar, the Ibiza of Croatia I believe, party town.
    Made frittata for lunch, a wee rest and into town.
    Bit surprised at the size of the dinghy, ‘small’… 2 trips were necessary.
    Big slop in the harbour, so bit of a challenge getting in and out of the dinghy.
    A nice man sitting on the bench, helped Laurian and I out, then Dale went back for Geoff…a little interesting for them getting in, as lots of lines were holding boats to shore and a little untangling was needed.

    But we made it. Such a pretty town. L G &D have super posh cameras, they take award winning shots, and I take holiday snaps of them taking photos
    Lots of photo opportunities, lots of camera alleys. Lovely little gardens. The alleys meander, its wonderful. Us from the new world, love these medieval towns, so alien to us.

    We found a nice place to sit…Hotel Parc, and had a quick beer there. Gorgeous waiter, very funny, tried to talk us into dinner but a little out of our budget. 
     Geoff once again, tried to get the discount, 
    its not working! He's a trier our Geoff.

     We promenaded, then sat had dinner, and people watched.
    Bit of a Time warp below
    G and I had schnitzel, D and L seafood risotto. Nice, nothing to write home about but OK.
    We didn’t party, but lots of others did!
    Back to the boat a night cap and to bed.
    Big day tomorrow
    Michael's funeral, very sad

    Wednesday, June 24, 2009

    Croatia Part One

    Yes we have arrived in Croatia

    After the first Grappa

    The Cabana at Domus Maritima
    After the second grappa.

    Trogir across to the Old Town...If you squint it could almost be Gulf Harbour!!!

    After a big last night at La Rochelle, our start to the boat trip was first….a mad dash to Le Mans for Le TGV. (It seemed that we were so slow to get ready) and then poor Annie our fabulous Chauffeur and Hostess, had to drive like the clappers to get us there…it worked, there was plenty of time.
    The French are very efficient and it is very easy to find your coach. The TGV’s are very long and you don’t want to be at the wrong end, as happened to us in Amsterdam.
    So, you find your coach number on the electronic board, and there you stay.
    Sure enough the train pulls up right there. This time it was easy to find room for the luggage and off to CDG Aerogare.
    A few hassles with our tickets but sorted reasonably quickly, and we finally got to our aircraft with only just enough time.
    Forgot how many people have to pass through immigration and then security…first class, or not…too bad.
    Dale, of course, thinks he is special and tries to get to front of queues leaving me to go around the snake. I suppose someone has to do it and it seems to be me. Dale in his haziness had forgotten to empty his water bottle….and there was no receptacle for liquids, so he was getting pretty stressed by the time we found our gate. We made it.
    Flight to Zagreb about 1 hour 50, they served a light meal and wine etc. Not too bad. Off and through Customs and change money. Kuna is the currency there is some Euro use but most like the local dolla!
    Hey found a white elephant… There is a Diners Club Lounge in Zagreb. I didn’t think anyone used Diners anymore. I was going to take a shot, but by the time I had been to the toilet, changed money etc… my travelling companion was getting grumpier by the minute. Not helped I think by the large amount of wine he had consumed with Brian the previous night(more about that in another post).
    So I left that and we went to board.
    It was sunny and warm only a 30 minutes fight to Split and a nice Taxi Driver and finally Domus Maritima, our little hotel in Trogir.
    n.b. had my first stinky garlic breath and BO during this trip, but there has been no more thank God.
    Laurian and Geoff greeted us. She had organised the accommodation and we are much pleased. Right on the waterfront which is a Marina, 100 metre walk to the bridge and straight into the old town. So pretty. Full of restaurants and bars all in meandering streets, just one charming alley after another, you can see how people got lost in the old days. A Maze.
    Our hotel had a lovely Cabana, for the guests to utilize, so we unpacked and joined Geoff & Laurian for a nice cold beer, whilst we set out our plan for the night.
    We wandered into town, most places have their menus outside. Same food everywhere. Italian based.
    Laurian and I had scampi and the boys Spag Bol., all washed down with House rough red. Even though we were stuffed we drank another bottle of red in the cabana before retiring. I was having mad dreams and woke at 1am took a sleeping pill and slept thru till 7.30.Of course now I have Le Coff and it is driving me and everyone else mad.
    Well we may have lost Mr Grumpy as Mary H said “he has smelt the sea and it worked.” Hooray.
    He got early and got us a hire car.
    We had a nice little breakfast, juice, ham cheese and bread, scrambled eggs, coffee, all for 7E each not bad.
    So we drove into Split, like most European cities, great mixture of old and new. In this case very old. Charming. The driving was interesting from mon mari…this developed a very front seat, back street driver (moi). It was scary. I gasped and complained a lot as we narrowly escaped hitting parked vehicles on my side of the car in fact the wing mirror did nab one.
    Poor G & L, would have been rolling their eyes in wonderment at this nagging slattern, if they were able to keep them open, but I think they were tightly closed from sheer fright. But we made it.
    Had lunch, salad, fresh but not brilliant.
    Found the VIP Vodafone shop and got me a pre-paid Vodem stick for local use.
    So back to Hotel, got the emails, changed, then joined the others for a wine in the Cabana, before dining.
    Went to a restaurant that had taken our fancy the night before. Got a sweet little waiter, G always trying the get a discount. Waiter a little confused but laughing. Food was good. I had Pizza, D lasagne. L Risotto and G steak and frites. All enjoyed our food. We finally got a freebie, the staff asked if we would move to fit in some other people and recompensed us with Grappa for the boys and some kinda banana liqueur for the ladies.
    After the 2nd Grappa it was home time. Ladies went straight to bed. Chaps The Cabana. And it is just as well they did. As they sat there, some pissed men arrived and one was having difficulties…he fell. Old Sir Galahad Geoff went to help and picked him up and helped him onto his boat.
    According to Dale the guy was a very pissed German who was obviously gay and was trying to procure G onto the boat, full of other mad, gay, Czech people…their’s was a dastardly plan to sail off with Geoff. But G escaped and then Dale went to bed.
    This is the story I was told by Dale on his very loud return to our room.
    In the morning I gathered, that the only true bit , was the German was pissed and fell over and G assisted.
    But Geoff did stay up and get ensconced with 2 spies 1 UK and 1 French.
    Yeah right!!! They talked till 3am.
    Do we really leave these two together for too long?
    Saturday morning
    Boys unwell - earlyish start, market shopping for girls, and take the baggage to the boat for the boys. We got lots of lovely fruit and vege. Then Supermarche. Interestingly enough Croatia is not part of the EU, so there is not a lot of recognisable products, as you would get in France etc.
    Took us a bit of time to buy the goods we needed. We did well.
    Back to the boat, had a beer, so hot. Meanwhile the storm clouds were gathering, not to be deterred, the boys were releasing the lines when one of the Charter people came down. “Stop you must not go out. Big storm coming.”
    It had been so sunny and hot just 30 minutes previously. So reluctantly
    They tied up again. Just in time. It blew big time.
    Good news, was it gave us time to find out problems on the boat. There were a few. Battery rapidly draining. Shore power not working, couldn’t get electric head to flush…couldn’t get oven to work, no matches, just a few things, but fairly important. The Charter people are very helpful unlike “The Moorings” in Tonga and our problems were all fixed. So it was lucky, we could first, have been stuck in major storm and second, with fairly important parts not operating.
    So gave us time to catch up with Larry, he, with Debbie and Ashley have arrived for their summer sojourn, on their boat kept permanently here, in Split Kastella Marina. It was wine and LK time. Lots of good info.
    Had steak and vege dinner then bed.
    It was really raining hard, we thought we might even be stuck for several days.
    Morning came, rain went, sun came out. It’s gorgeous. We shopped for extras that we had forgotten the day before, and back to boat, stowed and off we went. A great 16 knot breeze, eased sheets, gently sailing off to who knows where, wine in hand.
    Pretty good, so farBy the way Dale has the language sussed.

    Thank you - Hvala pronuced Gwala...Dale Koala so there ya go. Never have any problems in a strange and foreign land.

    Tuesday, June 09, 2009

    Amsterdam, Our last Days

    Saturday here in our Place de Domicile!!!

    John and I have commandeered the table for our computers

    Waking up in our lovely room

    Many a wine has been drunk in this lovely lounge assigned to us.

    We have learnt very early in the piece, that Dale’s suitcase, that we bought in Chile, a few years ago, is not satisfactory. Just had the handle for pulling fixed in New Zealand, before we left, and it is already broken again, in transit
    It’s heavy and with the sore ribs not making life easy. Thank God for Mr McCready and his gym work…he carried the thing, all the way up our steep 4 flights of stairs.

    But a lovely surprise at the bottom of this staircase, this gorgeous stained glass window. Something to admire while you prepare to climb.

    So we went to buy a new one at V & D Store. Managed to pick up a very smart Delsey Red, reasonable price on sale of course.
    Then we bought deli lunch from the same department store. Great selection of salads and bread. Along with cheeses, a fine feast was had.
    Cees came to join us, he had been in New York. The plan for the afternoon was for Wessel and Esther to take us all, on the canal on their boat.
    Wessel has become Tour Guide Extraordinaire. One day factory tour, next the Canal. It a stunning way to see the City, Of course there are commercial boats but so much nicer to go private.

    Cees and John
    Wessels Guide Extraordinaire

    Elise with Baby Elise

    Can you believe this garbage unusual Amsterdam is a clean city

    A barge and if I'm not mistaken my finger

    Esther and her girls

    These 3 barges are a playground for little kids.

    Matching boats

    Not tulips but geraniums on show

    This was a wedding taking place on the barge with a bubble machine...(added extra!!!)

    Back of the flower markets

    Leaning houses of Amsterdam

    Some clown tipped the toilet into the canal. NICE!

    Back to the house cups of tea in Lise’s living room

    Sena Wessel and Esther’s eldest daughter is a very talented little girl, she draws she dances and she play the piano. Only 8 years old. JT teaching her some tips.

    Then up to dress for dinner.
    We were very privileged to be taken by Cees and Elise to The Hotel Okura, to dine in their 1 star Michelin Restaurant Yamazto.
    We had a 8 course Degustation Menu
    It was divine
    Plate after plate of beautifully prepared food was delivered to the table.
    Lots of tiny morsels. So much work.
    First course 6 different tastings
    Abalone-Shrimp Sushi - Daikon Radish wrapped in Herring - Deep fried re mullet -
    Shabu shabu sirloin wrapped around Chinese Broccoli
    Then Green Pea soup with white asparagus and Tofu pudding
    Sashimi, Tempura lobster, Sashimi, and so on

    Dessert Green Tea Ice-cream, little raspberry things

    We drank Champagne cocktail, white wine and sushi
    Our host insisted on paying, we all feebly offered to pay our share but must admit on our reasonably tight budget, it was a relief to be looked after.
    On reflection, as wonderful as the food was, we were disappointed in the service,
    not as effortless as I would have expected.
    Jt continually asking for her water glass to be filled. A long time to order.
    Few little things you would expect to happen automatically. Mmmm.
    A wonderful day… leaving tomorrow Quelle Domage.
    Took some more shots of our residence.
    The main house on the left our apartment on the right
    Wessels and Esther live in here at the back of the garden

    The Wessels girls Over to say farewell
    Cees and Wessel kindly chauffeured us and our baggage to Amsterdam Central

    We were so sad to leave. All of the family have been so generous to the four of us.

    Our final look at Amsterdam...the station

    We were very taken with the guard. Loved the outfit. I want that hat…might look a bit Peter Sellers, but he was helpful

    The station, with me and the baggage.
    Our train
    There was a slight panic when the train arrived, we were standing where we were told by the guard, but the train came in with the carriages round the wrong way. Everyone rushing around from end to end, By the time we got to our carriage, most of the luggage spaces had been taken up.
    All a bit tight really

    This caused a little stress, the sore ribs were tested with the lifting of he suitcases, BUT on the bright side at least we didn’t still have the big blue one!!! C’est difficile…mais, when there is a will, there’s a way.
    And so we settled in for our 4 hour journey to Paris “The City of Lights.”
    Through industrial Holland, Belgium, into the French countryside lovely green and orderly, me listening to my Collins French Phrase Book. Dale to music. All very easy really.

    Great Expectations