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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Moody in Makarska

Thankfully someone had sorted the music by the time I woke on Thursday morning. I sincerely regretted the latter part of the night before. Well the drinking bit anyway. When will I find an "off" button?

I wasn't in the mood for people really but I headed up on deck and decided to snooze in the sun. This was regularly punctuated by appearances of various people on deck and everyone else slagging them on the night before's antics. Halvor had left, having a stag party to get to in Norway - but I'm not sure whether he'd made his flight on time! By the time it came to lunch I was falling into my bowl of soup with tiredness so I took myself down to one of the quieter decks without so much as a bite of my main course. I tend to lock myself away when I'm feeling moody/hungover but that's not really possible when on a boat. Eventually the solution of a couple of Xanax and back to bed seemed the best possible alternative. Most people were napping the afternoon away but Lucie and Louise headed into the markets to check out the bargains and pirate wear and I believe there's a cool Shell Museum in Makarska too.
Markarska at sunset

Doug had told us that one of the other Sail Croatia boat's was having a pirate party later on that night. Unusually for us, we weren't up for it but I think most people were still nursing their heads and egos from the previous night. I would have gotten into the spirit but was happy to go along with the group.

Lucie and Louise had picked another picturesque spot for us to have dinner on the other side of town. I was rearing to go for a good night out (again!?) and needed some ballast for the drinking ahead.  We reached a beach at the other side of town and witnessed another stunning sunset (honestly only Ankor Wat has beaten Croatia for sunsets) whilst the boys skimmed stones across the sea.

We took our seats, each of us facing the ocean, and ordered the wine. For me, white wine was touch and go in Croatia. I like a dry white and have grown more picky over the years. They only sell Croatian wines and it is rather expensive - you're looking at at least 15euro a bottle and it can go upto E30, which in comparison to 1euro beers and 1.50 vodka's is extortionate. The nicest wine I found was Intrada, in Korcula, but it wasn't always available elsewhere. I usually asked the waiter to advise on a dry white for me, but they weren't always reliable (I suppose it's a personal thing and their tastebuds probably differ).

I had Lisa on one side and Sarah on the other, which I was growing accustomed to. Conversation was difficult in the set-up as you could only really talk to who was on either side and not stretch to either end of the table. Still the meal was pleasant and enjoyable and I tried to ignore conversations going on beyond either side of me. Lisa was still feeling a bit fluey and in need of a good night sleep so she headed back to the boat early and Sarah assured me she'd be back out later but I wasn't confident.

A few people seemed up for a proper night out (Lucie, Dave, myself and ever-dependable Ryan). I really thought Allan and Gareth could be convinced too. I forget Allan has some serious willpower when it comes to NOT drinking. He wanted to enjoy the last day, which was fair enough. So, some of us stayed on at the restaurant drinking cocktails and shots.
Unattractive blowjob drinking (that's the name of the shot!)

We headed back towards the boat and people began to fade. I contemplated joined the pirate party but everyone seemed completely wasted so it was some on deck drinks with Dave, Gareth and Ryan whilst Ivan was still serving. Katie, Liz and Chloe came by to tell us they were going to the club nearby but the Club in a cave which Makarska is famous for wasn't open so I declined. I'd had enough of clubs after the night before.

It seemed like an early night was on the cards and I'd probably be better off for it, so I snuggled in next to Sarah (my instincts had been right about her coming back!) read a bit of my holiday read, and dropped off to sleep around 1.30am.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Korcula - I thought I knew ya....

Finally I made breakfast! Sleepy headed Sarah was baffled when I clambered out of my bed at 8.30am and asked where I was headed but she decided to join me and Lucie at the breakfast table. It was a very continental breakfast - meats, cheese, yoghurts and bread. Not quite enough fruit for my liking but at least we got something into us. On Day 4/5 of the holiday, it felt like an achievement. The weather wasn't looking too great yet so we grabbed another hours nap before our daily jump into the sea to blow the mind and refresh the senses. I tried to jump onto a lilo and completely missed. Doug saw the whole thing and cracked up but luckily didn't catch me with his camera.

Then it was time for some editing on deck (Yes, I brought my first draft!) in the sunshine until we docked in Korcula. Even at first glance it was beautiful and resembled Dubrovnik. We all took off exploring the old town and churches, Lisa and I lighting candles and admiring the art within. Korcula was the home of Marco Polo but also seemed like a setting for Romeo and Juliet. I took more photo's here than anywhere else.
There was a cocktail bar recommended where you could get your cocktails by pulley which we really fancied, but it wasn't open so we stopped at the Fly-In near our port for drinks in the afternoon sunshine. After a few drinks and ice-creams Lisa, Pearse and myself took off to book a place for dinner which we all agreed on (Croatian tapas - sounds good to me!) and a look into some of the shops.  Tipsy shopping can go well or not - I ended up with new flip-flops, new sunnies and a hat! After another afternoon tipple some of us headed back to the boat but the boys continued enjoying their pints in the sunshine.

After the pre-requisite drinks on deck we strolled down one of the pretty alleyways to our restaurant for dinner. It was quite near the photo taken above and they set up our table out on the terrace (as they couldn't fit us inside!). Gary and I decided on a sharing platter to get in as much of the good stuff that we liked (Olives, cheese, meats, bread, anchovies...yum) after an eggplant starter. The wine was good, conversation was flowing and a guitarists melodies drifted over from a bar nearby. We didn't want to leave, however we had a street party to get to and some people were on a mission to score that night so we finally did, after sitting over dinner a few hours. Of course we started the street party with a Jaeger train and Lisa carrying men off down the street as well as a bit of pole dancing (I missed the pole until later when there was some greasy man on it!!). I got involved in shots with some others from our boat - Ashley, Josh etc and Lucie and Halvor joined in. We thought we had a few casualties and early sleepers but it turned out Gareth had broken his flip-flops and they had gotten delayed at another bar!

Pearce had stolen my hat and was being chatted up by men nearby. Katie dragged me over to give Elliot a talking to for misbehaving the previous night. It was all getting very messy by the time we reached the club. Jagers were going down like water, people were being pinned up against bars in suggestive dance moves, all of us were jumping on the couches dancing and singing our heads off. In restrospect it sounds messy. It was, but it was a lot of fun!

After getting involved in one too many love triangles and trying to play Mommy too much I decided to redeem the night and sought out Dave for a few drinks. Dave is always a solid man to have a good time with. He never moans, he'll listen to you have a moan but then he'll get you in the mood for a bit of craic anyway. Thus we ended up wandering the streets of Korcula looking for sustenance around 4.30am. He was missing his lovely wife Linda (who couldn't come with us on the cruise) and drunken texts seemed like a great idea at that moment. As it started to get bright I got tired and headed back to the boat. There was much running around as usual so I took to one of the decks with Katie and Andre to make innings into a bottle of vodka. This wasn't my brightest idea as the sun was coming up and eventually I ended up tearful and maudlin, sitting with Cahal, both of us wishing things were different.

It was a sad way to end Korcula, as it really is a spectacular place but I was sure after a few hours sleep the boat would look very different.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Memories of Mljet

Tuesday afternoon I crawled above deck just prior to docking at Mljet. Everyone was gathered around Lisa who had tales of her "birthday present" and it seemed some people down the other end of the deck were discussing it too ;). After we'd post-mortemed the night (Classified!) and our tour guide advised us all on the afternoon's activities, we disembarked to go swim in the sea nearby.

Mljet is a gorgeous little island off Dubrovnik, with a national park and a small community devoted to conservation. The sea was freezing, as usual, but we had fun playing around in the small pool nearby and the boys took turns in trying to dive through the various rings they had brought. Somehow I managed to hit the bottom of the sea, despite being the smallest, scraping my already banjaxed toes along the bottom. Ryan and Gary had the music going and it was very relaxing. When the wind had blown us dry we picked up and headed back to the boat for some afternoon drinks and to prepare for a cycle around the island.

Sarah and myself's late night chatting caught up with us and we decided on a quick nap but when the boys came to get us for cycling neither of us could move. It looked absolutely spectacular, particularly St. Mary's islet and monastery. After I'd caught an hour or two sleep I went off on a little walk of my own to explore. It was absolutely peaceful and the sounds of nature recharged me as I walked. On my way back I decided I'd choose a restaurant for that nights dinner and spoke to some of the restaurant owners. They were all friendly but I needed a place to cater for the various palates of our group so I settled on one where they had a varied menu. I stocked up on some snacks and drinks at the local shop and returned to the boat - having to cross 5 other boats to reach ours. In the process I lost one of my lovely white flip flops but decided against retrieving it as the depth of the drop between the boats was a little far for me!

Then it was time for drinks in the bar on deck again and everyone was pretty relieved that this definitely wasn't going to be a late night. No hidden clubs in coves here! We headed over to dinner and after a little bit of a wait we were delighted to find that the local food was very nice indeed. Gary said it had been his best meal on the trip so far.

Conversation over dinner at my end of the table centred around jobs in Dubai and us trying to convince Katie, Chloe and Liz that they should go to find work in Dubai. I think we sold it well? (Although after a week with us on a boat maybe not?!). The wind was sweeping in off the ocean making us very chilly but a nice Intrada wine warmed me up.

Dave, Gareth, Doug and myself stayed back at the restaurant to finish the wine, being literally the last to leave the restaurant and then Doug and I got into a conversation about the photography industry - given I had worked in it back in Dubai. We stopped off at the nearest little beach bar to the boats and had a drink with some people who were on other cruises. Back onboard it was time for a little night-cap on the top-deck with most of the girls cosied up under quilts. It was so windy, but the sky was sparkling with stars and we all felt we could have slept out there.

I retired at a reasonable hour - think it was just past two - and delighted that I could probably get a quality night sleep before our trip to Korcula on Wednesday.

(Photos - Doug Harding for the group shot in the pool)

Friday, July 12, 2013

Rainy Day in Dubrovnik

Sarah and I were jolted awake by a strange loud noise....the anchor dropping. It was time to jump off the top deck into the sea to awaken the senses. Some were feeling better than others, some were worshipping the porcelain god. As we sailed towards Dubrovnik the skies darkened and drops of rain could be felt on the top deck. I still wanted to explore this UNESCO Heritage city and see it's historic walls but a few of our group cried off in order to nurse sore heads, tummies and bottoms!
So we headed by bus up to the old city. A tour guide met us to take us around. The city is listed as one of the ten best walled cities in the world and it has some really beautifully preserved buildings. Although the Yugoslav wars affected Dubrovnik as recently as the early '90's and results of damage from shelling can be seen in various places  - alot of restoration work has returned the place to splendour. I personally loved the little side streets and all the steps that looked like they lead to little hideaways. Lucie was snapping away and has over 300 photos of the place!

After some pizza and more exploring everyone decided they wanted to climb the city walls (by steps, not ropes and harnesses!) but after I slipped on the first few steps I decided I couldn't apply myself to the task and really I just wanted to go back to bed! I'm sorry I missed the views but it was lovely to get back to the boat and listen to the rain from the comfort of my bed.

We got up as the sun was setting and everyone was feeling recharged and ready for a night on the town. It was time for drinks on deck again to toast Lisa's actual birthday so we started on the cocktails and the banter was flying. No man or woman was safe tonight with us unleashed on the streets of Dubrovnik.

We had booked a recommended restaurant for dinner, Ragusa 2 (Ragusa is the Croatian word for Dubrovnik) and we ordered some local specialities and a bottle of Prosecco for birthday girl. Unfortunately the food wasn't that impressive - Lisa had to send hers back twice! But we had a few good giggles and got her some chocolate cake. After that it was time for Jagers, Tequilas and BUCKETS of drinks at Skybar. Sarah and I got all serious and emotional for a bit (constant drinking and late nights will do that to you!) but soon loosened up and started dancing in the laneways. I got chatting with Chloe, one of the lovely Kiwi girls from our boat, and we all headed off to Revel nightclub, in the city walls! Ever so cool location! Doug, our brilliant photographer captured us all on our way to Revel.

Chloe and I finished our buckets and hid them near the door of the club as we wanted to bring them back to the boat. Inside was cavernous and very cool with a light show and dominatrix styled dancers. It was Jager time at the bar again (When is it not?) and then we started drinking Vodka with Blueberry red bulls - not bad!!! Lots of dancing, posing and pulling funny faces at Doug as he snapped away. We managed to vandalise a poster and all pose with it. It was just good, clean fun really. After I was sweaty enough I decided to head back to the boat and Chloe said we should we should have a late night swim. In my sweatyness I thought this was a superb idea.

We took a bit of a detour home, not necessarily intentionally and we had to hide behind cars to relieve ourselves - not noticing that in fact there was a road above us where people had a great view of our backsides. Cue more giggling and trying to flag down taxi's to get us away from our viewers. I ended up doing the city wall tour by night in our quest to get to port!! By the time we got back to the boat I wasn't sure about getting in the freezing water and there was also the chance we'd be thrown off the boat and could be fined by Dubrovnik Port Police for swimming at port. A guy and a girl from one of our sister boats came over to chat and have a drink so I sat on the steps chatting to a lovely boy, Blair, as Chloe and Emma swam around the boat. Then there was mucking about at the front of the boat and balancing on the buoys. General mischief.

When Sarah got back I followed her to the room for late night catch-ups and a post-mortem on the night. We ended up chatting until 7am when I had to call time and go asleep!! Then one or the other of us would say one more thing but eventually drifted off at dawn....knowing we'd be awakened by Pitbull blasting in the corridors around 11am.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The sleepy little village of Trstenik - ... until we arrived.

I hadn't planned on making breakfast and I also missed out on practically everyone having a go at jumping off the boat! We were fed healthily again (Well we over-indulged in the first course of spaghetti as we were all starving having missed brekkie) at lunch and Penny, our new rep came onboard to let us know of various activities for the rest of the day and the following day.

We docked in the pretty little seaside village of Trstenik after lunch, where we'd been told to try the wine-tasting. That was music to our hungover ears, no better cure. We high-tailed it off the boat as soon as we docked and headed straight to the local wine cellar. 

It was a quaint little place that barely contained our group as we sampled their local red and white. The owner's son delivered his well rehearsed speech about their vineyards and wines punctuated by wild bursts from his crazy father who was wielding a large knife rather alarmingly (supposedly cutting bread). I didn't dare mention that the white wine wasn't great, but the others thought the red wine was fine. The owner had said that the vineyards were best placed for growing red grapes and he had 30, 000 acres so I'm sure he knew what he was talking about. His son encouraged us to come to the beach party later where he was the DJ and would play us some trance. We weren't sure of this invitation so we scuttled out and decided on a bit of a walk to shake out the cobwebs.

Up a steep hill we found staggering views and the boys ahead of us claimed they'd seen huge fish jumping out of the sea. It was absolutely peaceful, except for us girls sharing stories and occasionally leaping with fright at an empty snakeskin or huge buzzing insect. I managed to keep my cool (those who know of my previous "episodes" with bees/wasps will be pleased to know) and even wanted to explore off the beaten tracks but we were scared off it by other creatures coming out of the trees to investigate.
After our little adventure we thought it was time for drinks and ice-cream sundaes overlooking the tiny harbour. Other people from our boat were splashing around in the water, which looked very inviting. There was plenty of banter and giggles about the night before, particularly how one of the guys from our boat - Andre, had tried to pick Lisa up (literally). Bad move since Lisa has the strength of a lion (She's a kick boxer!) and pretty much ended up carrying him around the bar!

Back on the boat it was time for snoozing in the sunshine
 and showers. We were planning a quiet night and a few drinks on the deck as we knew Monday would be a big one in Dubrovnik. We started on cocktails - Zombies, Sex on the Beach etc and I suggested a game of "I have never". About ten of us were playing and suffice to say that some people should never be allowed around children and others should be closely monitored at work. There were also some painful stories about intimate parts being damaged. Louise and Katherine were very lucky they were asleep through it all!

By 11.30 a trip on a speedboat to a remote cove with trance music sounded like a great idea so we were herded onto a tiny boat, given our token free drink and off to the beach we sped. I ended up with my drink all over me but Sarah gave me hers to compensate. As soon as we were at the beach it was Jager time and I'd spotted a single pole on a table that looked like it needed me hanging off it. First I had a bit of a dizzy spell and Sarah tried to convince us all that our drinks were spiked. Ashley, from our boat, suggested that perhaps it had been the wild ride in the speedboat over? This was far more likely but it took me a little time to recover.

Then it was time for some pole dancing. 

I wanted to climb up it but was wary, as if I fell off it was straight onto concrete and into the water. With my reputation for injuring myself and silly decisions whilst drunk added to the dizzy spell I didn't exactly cut a striking figure on the pole. Lisa, however, really did. She was like a beautiful ballerina on it.

At midnight it had ticked over into Lisa's birthday so she celebrated by snagging me (with my predilection for blonde girls when I've had a few, this wasn't a problem) and carried Gareth off up the beach to show her strength. I believe some boys got kissed in that little bar but I didn't see anything so can't confirm!

Although some of our party had bailed early, a handful of us stayed til the end and giggled all the way home on the speedboat. Then it was time for high jinks in the cabins. Poor Ryan's sleep was interrupted as Allan, Katherine, Louise, Gareth, Lisa and myself bowled in and thought all of us in the bed would be great fun (Nothing kinky, just seemed fun at the time!). This didn't last very long, but for a time Lisa found a pillow on my breasts and we had a little snooze. Eventually we thought we should find Allan and tell him he could sleep in his own room without two lipstick lesbians in the bed beside him so we took off around the boat. It was early morning by the time Lisa and I retired to bed, exhausted from the nights shenanigans and we still had another night of her birthday to go. Onwards to Dubrovnik.

(Thanks to Doug Harding, Lucie Jurenova and myself for the photos!)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Heaven from Hvar - not very far.....

We boarded Futura, very excited; there were hugs, exclamations, running up and down corridors, running on and off the boat and much teenage behavior. I think Allan actually jumped from his door onto the bed in the Master Suite (Of course it was his - it was his birthday cruise!). Spirits were high and happily also being served in the bar. We ran across to the various stalls by the port to pick up hats, sunglasses, beach towels and anything else that had been forgotten or didn't fit into carry-on (in my case!). Then we all took our drinks top deck and started sun-bathing as we set sail towards Hvar.

Lunch was served (3 courses!) and we met our lovely Sail Croatia rep Janice. She was bright, bubbly and exotically pretty. We all adored her on sight. Luckily she was also a fount of great information and told us we were up for a great party night in Hvar. She promised a bottle of Jager at the first bar and we knew we were in for some fun. After a few more drinks in the sunshine people started retiring for snoozes. First to go was Gareth and then Allan so I started getting apprehensive. My plan had been to drink straight through but if these party animals were getting a nap in then maybe I wasn't ready for the mayhem planned. I had another vodka - just to be sure, and then decided a little lie-down wouldn't be the worst thing. There was talk of a hike to the Spanjola when we docked but sure we weren't there yet (and I also had a broken toe to contend with - yes, I managed to break my toe two nights before the trip). Off to our cabins we went.

That evening first stop was to fuel our bodies for the night ahead at the Mizarola Restaurant. The location was in a gorgeous main square and we were seated out on a terrace. I was beside Allan and opposite two girls from our boat who were rooming together but were strangers - Chloe and Laticia. There was much merriment and the food was delicious. The prawn gnochhi was tasty and much lighter than I thought. I got in deep conversation over some lovely chilled white wine, catching up with my Dubai friends until Gareth came tearing back down the street from the first bar, telling us we had to come down for the Jager Train in Nautica.
It was happily received as you can see above. The night got more raucous, with bottles of Jager and vodka and plenty of red bull. I found something high to dance on (always a good thing!) and the girls all got friendly! The tunes were pumping, everyone was sweaty and delirious and really just had all the contents for a brilliant night out.

Every so often I'd pop out for some fresh air and meet interesting people at the tables overlooking the harbour. There were many nationalities there other than Croatian - American, French, English, as well as a multitude of Kiwi's and Aussie's. What brings them so far?

Whilst some ventured off to "Pink Champagne" for dancing, Dave, Gareth and myself chilled out eating pizza on the waterside. We were joined by Katie from our boat and Elliott, who was on another one of the Sail Croatia boats. He was proudly displaying his shark bite from that day. I was skeptical but he did have huge bruised indentations on his thigh which didn't look human. We headed back to the boat for a late night drink on deck and contrary to everyone's expectations we all were in bed before 4am that night.

Hvar ticked many boxes for me - good food, great company and plenty of Jager and dancing. Night no.1 had been an enormous success and we had lazing in the sunshine to look forward to in Trstenik next day.
(Me posing in front of Beyonce's boat - well it might have been!)
Thanks to Doug Harding for these photo's -