Wednesday, 31 August 2016

The Caribbean of Europe - Day 2


Trogir Island

Trogir                                                                                     Croatia

Sunday 23rd August 2015

I woke up by the sound of the church bells ringing at about 6am; it didn’t bother me as I was an early riser anyway. It was daylight and I was eager to open the curtains and shutter to see what the view looked like. I opened the window and slowly opened the wooden shutters for dramatic effect and I was amazed with the bright orange glow of the tightly packed rooftops. The buildings looked old fashioned with old stonework and old worn out shutters which felt as though I stepped back in time. However the aerials on the rooftops reminded me that I was in the present. Truly beautiful I thought wondering what the rest of the town looked like so at this point I decided to get ready to explore. 

My Room View
My Room View

It was 7:30am so I packed my small rucksack with essentials and headed out of the apartment. I headed towards the main gateway of the town and as I knew the way from last night there was no problem getting to it. I had seen across the bridge a very large market area so I headed towards it and as I got onto the bridge, on my left I could see hundreds of small boats moored up along the narrow quayside. It looked fantastic as the boats were gently swaying with the slight waves. To my right were a few more small boats and at the distance was a large area of sea which was gleaming from the suns embrace. I got to the other side of the bridge on the mainland and had immediately realised I had arrived in the market area.


Over the North Bridge of Trogir

A section of it was all fruit stalls and olive oil too which all looked amazing. They were selling fruit from apples, watermelons and plums as well as blackberries and oranges. The market place was full of vibrant colours and smells and everything looked a lot larger too especially the grapes and watermelons. I was tempted to buy some but I continued on across the road to the fish market and I could smell the place before I had even arrived; the closer I got, the stronger the smell became. I entered into the market area and stumbled on a lot of different fish big and small also coming across a large eel which I had never seen before. I didn’t stay long at the fish market so I headed out and back into the main market area. I still had no breakfast at this point and I was searching the area for a restaurant or something to have a good bite to eat. However, I walked by a small bakery and behind the glass cabinet was pastries of croissants, rolls and strudels. They looked quite filling and delicious so I thought I would buy a strudel. It was everything I expected it would be and it definitely filled me up. I followed the market up to the west as it stretched out about 200 metres long and half the stalls were already open whilst other sellers were just arriving to open theirs. I walked along the market immediately realising the familiar situation where each market stall were selling the same items. I continued heading west until I passed the last stall.

Right next to me was another bridge so I climbed up the steps and admired the nice views from the bridge. I noticed further west an old castle tower on the corner of the island so that was where I headed next. I took a slow stroll along the moored up boats looking at each one as I passed by them. Time had passed as I came up to the tower and it was called St Marks tower; this used to be part of the towns defence during the Napoleonic war so I was amazed at how much was still intact. I then walked along towards the ‘Kamerlengo’ fortress which was the other part of the towns defence. However, this was a lot larger than the tower and looked like it was still intact.

St Marks Tower
Kamerlengo Fortress

The next part I walked along looked familiar as most of Trogir’s pictures on the internet showed this area. It was called the ‘Obala bana berislavica’ which was basically the harbour front for the ferries and yachts coming in which had a huge pathway and rows of palm trees on the south side of the island. I could feel the warm temperature and it wasn’t even 9am yet as the sun was beaming on my face. Along the way were huge private yachts moored up; they were monstrous vessels and the pirate side in me thought about commandeering one and sailing the Mediterranean Sea. I suddenly snapped back into reality and approached the bridge at the south of the island which connected onto another larger island called Ciovo.

Obala Bana Berislavica

So I crossed the bridge and I decided to follow the quayside to the west where there were hundreds of sailing boats moored up. I took my time yet again admiring the boats trying to keep the pirate in me locked in my head. I had walked down a mile or so before I decided to turn back around and head to the bridge again. However, as I neared the bridge, I passed a poster of a birds-eye view of Trogir and part of Ciovo Island. I could see there was a bay not far from where I was so I decided to head for that bay. I turned into a street way heading south and as I got further in, the street became narrow and full of cobbles. The surrounding buildings looked quite picturesque too but further on in my walk, the cobbles turned to tarmac and I could see in front of me a steep hill. Great I thought as I climbed the hill already beginning to sweat with the heat and incline. I kept on climbing though admiring the walk up to the top which I could see up ahead. Half way up the pathway there was a clearing in the trees and as I turned around to see how far I had walked, I could see quarter of Trogir Island. It looked beautiful seeing all the orange rooftops and the bell towers chiming.

Trogir Island

I finally reached the top and I could see the beautiful bay in front of me. However, I had to walk back down the opposing side to get to it. The area seemed a lot more peaceful until halfway down I could here a noise I couldn’t quite make out. It was either chirping from tiny birds or the sound of large crickets. I couldn’t see any birds in the trees or crickets from where the deafening sound came from; it had me quite confused as to what it was. I continued downhill until I was walking alongside the bay. It looked better closer up too as I could see groups of people at the pebbled beach area in the distance relaxing and having fun. It didn’t take me long to arrive and as I walked onto the beach, I could see the clear sea water which looked truly remarkable. It wasn’t as blue as I thought but it was still blue enough to be a thing of pure beauty. I sat for a long time staring out at the bay watching the little boats and ferries in the distance as well as watching planes coming in to land. It felt great and peaceful but I couldn’t sit there forever as I wanted to see more sights. I wanted to head back to Trogir so I had to climb the hill again. 
  
On Ciovo Island

It was easier climbing back up this side of the hill and I soon arrived at the top again only to head back down. Time had passed still wondering what the noise was from the trees before arriving at the southern bridge into Trogir. Along the way I could see a well designed bell tower of St Lawrence cathedral. Yet again it was ringing away so I headed towards it. I turned a couple of narrow corners and arrived at the open St Johns square with the huge cathedral in front of me. It wasn’t a large square but big enough to house a cathedral, clock tower and a couple of restaurants which all fitted in well. Speaking of the clock tower it was right behind me and it looked very pretty with its round/square dome with a sky blue coloured clock face. At this point I decided to head into the cathedral and as I got to the main doors of the cathedral, I had a quick glimpse inside. I immediately realised that I wasn’t meant to be in there yet as it was prayer time and there was a sign which said no visitors during mass; so I high tailed it out of there. I ended up walking across the northern bridge to the mainland again wandering around the market again.

St Johns Square

As Trogir was a very small island town it didn’t really take long for me to see the highlights of the place and surrounding area. I then back tracked and decided to head east on the mainland as I knew there were large pebble beaches not too far from where I was standing. By this point the temperature was rising and I could definitely feel the suns embrace. It wasn’t long before I arrived at the beach and had noticed that there weren’t many people here meaning there were a lot of sun loungers available. I picked a random lounger and placed my bag on it claiming it as mine. I then sat down with the large umbrella open keeping me shaded from the hot sun. I was watching on at the people swimming in the sea but I couldn’t go in as much as I wanted too; I wasn’t dressed in the clothes for swimming. So I just relaxed for a good long while catching some sun enjoying life.

St Lawrence Cathedral

It was coming up 12pm and my belly began to slightly rumble with hunger as all I had in the morning was a strudel; so I left my seat and headed back to Trogir. I noticed at this point the beach was starting to fill up with people so there was no chance I would get my seat back upon my return. I reluctantly found a café along the way so I stopped there for a quick cappuccino. Whilst I was looking at the menu, I had to keep reminding myself about the price difference. So when the bill came at the end it said 11 Kuna which was £1.10 and not £11 for a cappuccino. After my quick drink I got back on my feet and onto the island again heading west along the rows of restaurants. I didn’t want anything big so I avoided the large restaurants. I took a left turn heading south on Augustina Kazotica which was one straight street from the north of the island to the south.

Halfway down I came across a pasta restaurant which caught my eye. This was the place for something good and quick to eat so I entered into the seating area through the building and back outside. I sat in the corner by myself and then the waitress came over asking what language I was wanting on the menu. I said English mainly because I was English and then she passed me it looking on at what they had to offer. I had a quick glance at the menu and decided to have pasta and tuna with yet another cappuccino. I was expecting my food to take a long time to arrive as though they had to go out and catch a tuna for me but in no time at all, the waitress returned with a plateful of pasta and tuna. It looked fantastic so I dug in straight away enjoying every bite tasting the flavours for once instead of wolfing it down; it tasted amazing as did my drink. By the time I had finished, the place began to fill up which no doubt kept the staff busy; this meant it took them a very long while to see everybody. While I was waiting to be seen too, I was busy playing around with the plastic stirring stick for my drink bending and flexing it. I accidently snapped it and part of it went flying over to another groups table and hit one of them. I immediately apologised and they started to laugh. Eventually the waitress came over and took my plate away whilst I asked for the bill. In short time she returned with the bill which said 98 Kuna which was £9.80 not £98; I paid and took my leave heading south.

I headed towards the fortress admiring its beauty and then took a walk into all the narrow streets of Trogir. I didn’t care if I got lost as I knew my bearings so all I did was admire the tightly packed streets and old fashioned buildings until I stumbled on my apartment. I definitely thought at this point that there was nothing new to see in Trogir so what I did next was go up to my room and get changed into something I could swim in. I entered my room and realised it was already tidied up by housekeeping. I quickly got ready, placed a few things in my small rucksack as well as leaving things behind and headed out eager to swim. I was soon away from Trogir Island heading straight for the beach area and soon arriving to the crowds of people at the beach sun bathing or swimming; this made me wonder whether I could actually get a seat at the beach. Suddenly I found an empty one to my surprise and immediately sat on it. 

Narrow Streets of Trogir
Narrow Streets of Trogir
Villa Ruzica - My Apartment

A short time passed and then I took my sandals and top off heading for the water; I must have been the whitest man on the beach as my body never saw sunlight for years. As I knew it wasn’t cold I stepped in and it was quite warm which was a relief. The further in I got, the colder it seemed to be but nothing was stopping me so I got right in swimming around; it was a real energy charge swimming around. I tried to keep the salty water out of my mouth but I couldn’t help it and forgot about how strong the taste was. I was spitting it out straight away as I began to swim further out. I kept glancing back at my seat making sure my bag was still there which it was so I continued outwards until I came across a rope barrier with little buoys on them. As my feet weren’t touching the ground anymore, I grabbed onto one of the buoys which kept me upright, floating and without having to do much paddling. I spent quite a bit of time at that spot watching on as the planes were taking off towards me and right above my head. I headed back towards the rocky bank area close to the shoreline and once I got close, I noticed a lot of tiny legs moving sideways. I realised they were small crabs and I spent about 5 minutes trying to amuse myself catching them without hurting them or hurting myself with their snapping claws. I couldn’t catch them as they were too quick scurrying into the rock crevices; Im sure if I was in a survival situation I would have put more effort into catching them. I looked over at my seat with my bag still there so I decided to go out to the far end again without stopping with forward breaststrokes. This was a bad move because along the way, water was getting in my mouth again and into my eyes which slowed my pace right down. I just managed to make it in one piece as another plane flew over me. There was slight pain in my eyes but nothing too drastic. I tried to blow on my eyes to try and dry them off which made me laugh at what I was doing.

Throughout my time in the sea I felt as though I was getting weird sensations of stinging in my feet and arms as though something under the water was doing it. It didn’t bother me much so I continued back towards the shallow area. There was part of me wanting to get out but the other half wanted me to stay in and so I pretty much doggy paddling around the area where as everyone else was swimming the right way. I could tell I was in the water for a very long time because my fingers looked wrinkly; so I decided to get out and rest on my seat. I tried to do the whole leaving the water like James Bond but I don’t think I got out as smoothly as I wanted too. Anyway I got to my seat dripping wet with wrinkly hands and a towel draped over me; definitely don’t see that on James Bond films. I dried up pretty quickly due to the heat and wind but my shorts were still soaked. Not to worry though as I wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon as I just wanted to relax. I slapped on some sun cream and went into the lounge position. I did spend a long time relaxing for a few hours either sitting up or lying down enjoying the sun and the sound of the waves hitting the shore. 

Beach

Time had passed and as I looked at my watch and thought it would be a good time to take my leave. I grabbed my things and left heading back to Trogir and straight to my room. By this point it was easier to find my way around the town and to find my hotel too in the narrow cobbled streets. I eventually entered my room and changed back into my original clothing. Then I spent another 2 hours in my room relaxing and unfortunately I had missed out on the sunset in Trogir. So by the time I was up and leaving, it was quite dark outside. Not to worry though as I still had a lot of days to see the sunset plus the fact I thought Trogir would look amazing and different in the dark. I headed downstairs and out of the hotel turning left and heading west. I then passed a few restaurants but I kept going to see if there was anywhere better. All along the way there were nice smells of cooked fish making me hungry and made me wonder what type of fish they were cooking too. I had a feeling the better restaurants would be on the harbour to the south of the island so I headed in that direction. I was right, a large row of restaurants were ahead of me so I walked over to them. Not before admiring the monstrous yachts which were all moored up twinkling like Christmas lights along the waters edge; I was just wondering how rich someone had to be to own one of them. I wouldn’t have thought I could get a yacht with my wage at work but possibly afford a little wooden row boat without the oars.

Anyway, I finally found a restaurant called ‘Riva’ where I was greeted and escorted to a table. I grabbed the menu and scanned it already deciding on what to have. I decided to have bruschetta with octopus and tomato which was a first for me, a meat feast dinner and the local beer called ‘Karlovacko’. My beer came first as usual and I had the same size beer glass as I did in Austria which was a surprise. I took a drink and out of all the beers I have ever drunk this had to be my favourite; it was just right and tasted heart warming. About 5 or 10 minutes went by and then my starter arrived. It looked lovely but I was mainly concerned about what the octopus tasted like so I held my nerve and without hesitation I put it in my mouth. I was amazed and surprised at how delicious it tasted. I thought it was going to be squidgy or slimy but it was the total opposite. I closed my eyes and tried to figure out what it tasted like. I came to the conclusion that it tasted a bit like lamb but on the fishy side so it was a fishy lamb. Once that was eaten and out of the way, the waiter came over with my main. It had some sort of sausage on large skewer sticks also with pork, chicken and beef steak; it was a dish to die for and everything was cooked to perfection. I thought I was finding it hard to finish off my plate because I was getting full and lacking hunger at this point. It was brilliant and as I received the bill and paid up, I was soon on my way waddling down the harbour like a penguin with a full belly of food.

I admired the yachts with the luminous glows of turquoise and greens coming from the back of each yacht and there was one specific one which was attracting a very small group of fish. I walked to the east of the island and walked half way across the southern bridge to look on at the beautiful row of yachts with Trogir town in the background whilst street lights would glow the area up. I then took a walk around St Johns square where I could see hundreds of people at restaurants, sitting along the cathedral walls or disappearing into the narrow streets. I also took a stroll through the narrow streets of Trogir and everything was all lit up with large amounts of people admiring the shop windows as was I. I thought it would be quieter at night time but it was a hell of a lot busier but to be honest it felt great mingling with the crowds of people losing myself.

Trogie Waters at Night
I headed back into St Johns square where I would rest my legs from all the walking. It was when I sat down that I took a lot more notice at the architecture of the surrounding buildings and floors. It was extremely old fashioned which kind of looked like the Italian architecture but still maintaining a Croatian style to it. I then noticed the whole square was marble as were the cobble pathways around the town too. It truly looked amazing and different I thought but then it was getting late; so I picked myself up and headed for my apartment. It was a lot easier finding it and I kind of underestimated my potential of finding things with ease. It felt great getting back into my room almost ready to drop and fall asleep. Just before I closed the shutters I gazed up at the stars and moon and because there wasn’t much light in the area, I could see quite a lot and I was in a trance like a wolf. I eventually closed everything and rested for the night.

Trogir at Night
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