Here is a rather long report from our first holiday in 2010 where we visited the wonderful town of Komiza on the island Vis in Croatia.
10 hrs of driving and pissing and we finally arrived in Split. Only to not find our hotel. But then when we did it was the perfect place to spend one night: 20m from the sea and on the promenade a small bar selling great burgers. And very reasonably priced. Under €30 for all of us including 2 G&Ts and a bottle of wine. And it was heavenly sitting by the sea with NO mosquitos. Apartment also reasonable: €89 for one night for all of us with parking spot. Off to bed early for the next mornings crack of dawn departure.
Arrived in Komiza on the island Vis. Exhausted. But relieved. Had a few experiences that I mastered with driving: onto the ferry in incredibly cramped parking, then leaving the ferry without scratching on the side of the ferry and then the worst bit the drive into Komiza which was down a very steep winding road with amazing views of the bay below us but I managed to experience my “fear of heights” for the first time driving a car. Apartment absolutely perfect: our bedroom nice and cool and far enough away from the kids room / kitchen to not be easily disturbed. Kitchen with everything we need (except a big espresso machine). I sat down on the patio to start writing this holiday journal and booted twice as for the first time in years I found NO WLAN access points. So this was also going to be a forced holiday from the internet which is also great. Gabi bought an O’Neil bikini cos she forgot her bikini top. Gabi got her octopus salad, I got my beer, Luna got a blue Von Dutch baseball cap and Tierra fell asleep with her head on the table of the restaurant we ate dinner at. She dripped spit onto her hand and this wet the side of her face – looked so cute just hanging on the table with her feet dangling off the chair. Went back to the appartment and I had a sleep while the others went for a swim. After we all got up we were greeted by a little dog. The little dog was actually accompanying a small croatian girl who didn’t quite understand that I didn’t understand her as she babbled onto me. Then the dog did a “pisha” on our patio just missing Gabis beach dress. Then we all played cards (Schwarze Peter) and then Tierra and Luna tried to do some magic with upturned candle glasses. From day1 Luna for some reason is already totally balanced and playing beautifully with Tierra and almost not arguing.
Gabi found her bikini tops – but never mind the O’Neil one is at least liked by me. The day spent on the beach and Tierra unfortunately got her painful skin rash again which she seems to get at the start of each beach holiday. Tierra also trusted herself to walk the 5mins back to our apartment for the first time – so she learnt something. Unfortunately Gabi didn’t have the patience or trust and so had to go back 10minutes later to check she had arrived home. So Gabi still has something to learn. The evening was the World Cup final (Spain 1-0 Holland) on the beach practically in the pizzeria. Lovely evening except for the vuvezalas (the one thing I will not miss from the World Cup). After the game we retired to the patio with a glass of the local vino which is only enjoyable at subpolar temperatures.
So the World Cup is over for four more years which also meant that now we have no more deadlines to meet which meant that my watch was removed and we would live via our biorhythms and the angle of the sun. Beach in the morning and played our new game on the surf board. So lovely to see the kids laughing so much as I threw them into the water. Tierra’s skin is hurting more so we put olive oil on it and it started to get better. Had a quick visit to Vis which almost lasted much longer than planned as they locked up the road we were parked on. But managed to get out by driving over the pavement and managed to get all of our supplies from the supermarket. Managed as usual to have the fullest shopping trolley of everyone there. And then followed by the joy of driving into Komiza and experience my fear of heights whilst driving along the bends of the cliffside roads. Then back to the beach for some more fun in the sea, beers, sun and ice cream. The kids spent the early evening feeding all of the cats in Komiza with the kit-e-kat we bought in the supermarket. As a family we explored some of Komiza’s backstreets finding finally the market but still didn’t find the natural spring that Roman, our landlord, had told us about. we bought the best smelling olive oil on the way home and then played a game seeing if we could identify organic supermarket, non-organic supermarket and natural from here by smell. It was an easy game but still the differences were amazing. As the sun went down we sat on the patio looking at the night sky and the millions of stars drinking g&t / spritzer. I managed to see FIVE shooting stars – Gabi none. And I think now the 2nd time already on holiday Luna said “I am tired and off to bed” before we told her to. Tierra still needed telling. We witnessed the distant Croatian relative of our garden’s hedgehog who was young and nimble enough to manage four steps.
Day started with breakfast on the patio and coffee on the deckchair looking out to sea listening to the crickets. Tierra playing with the new family pet, cat Theresia (her choice for the cats name). And me teaching the Croatian cat the internationally well known word “no” (with the help of wet flannel whipped skillfully across her nose). Morning was spent on the beach and I finished it off with a visit to Zoky (+385-98-784-615 / firstname.lastname@example.org) the town’s (and maybe island’s) only barber to experience a new hobby of mine: testing “I want a George Clooney” in as many countries as I can. Well, he did Croatia/Vis/Komiza proud with I think the best haircut I have had for at least 10 years – and this considering the reduced amount of hair left to cut and work with to get the George Clooney look. Then back home to see the reactions: Tierra “huh? did you get it cut?” was the best. Then eating up the last three days leftovers before hitting the sack. After our siesta we headed off in search of some legendary white sandy beach. Well, if I thought the road down into Komiza was hell-on-earth for drivers-with-fear-of-heights then the coastal road was hell-on-a-hot-day. Miles of nothing more than overgrown pebbles stopping me and the family from experiencing bungee jumping without the rope. But we did survive but we didn’t find the beach but we did find Rukavac which reminded me a bit of Milna 20 years ago: two restaurants and a handful of old houses and a beach similar but larger than the “zwillingsbucht” – just as many sea anemone but no naked people. Lovely peaceful place to visit and even stay if your idea of fun is not having a bar on the beach. Was actually a little piece of heaven as the kids spent two hours playing with stones, building walls into the sea and no mention of shopping & ice cream cos there was not. But not so lovely when the missus is constantly nagging that “there will soon be no sun” … and all I am thinking is “I got the family here alive”, Then a quick beer in one of the local restaurants, perched on the edge of the sea, with a view to kill for, before heading to Vis; this time not parking in the weird pedestrian part just so that Luna could buy her SECOND pair of sunglasses. After all, she has got two eyes… After a wonderful sheeps cheese salad we retreated to spend an evening on the patio enjoying Our Sea View with Our Gin & Tonic.
Had a bit of a bad nights sleep (actually having pretty horrible dreams the whole time so far – need to remember to bring bells, jos sticks and dream catcher next time!) but this time not due to nightmares but stomach cramps. What also seems to be tradition on our hols – or infact any longish trip for me I get Taurean Tummy which means a visit to the toilet every 30mins. So a quick diet of BRAT (banana, rice, apple and toast) together with mouthfuls of dried blueberries. Should be gone by this evening. I hope so cos the octopus salad that Gabi just made looked a LOT more interesting than my rice… Family spent most of the morning on the beach and me on the toilet. But made it down to the beach eventually. As I was not playing staying-on-the-surf-board with the kids, they invented some new games involving holding positions whilst dancing and one of us shouting “stop!” or “water wind fire”. In the evening we awoke Luna’s love for golf by playing mini golf. She was hard to stop – as soon as we’d finished our round and headed off for the nearby beach bar she started her next round. As we sat looking out to the dusk at sea she would keep running up to us with such news as “got a hole in one on hole 9”. Then we headed off into the old town and had the world’s best cookie ice cream – the family’s new favourite. After that my personal shopper, Gabi, picked out a lovely silk towel that I will now use on the beach – assuming I can leave the toilet long enough. Back to the patio to count shooting stars again. I only saw one but Tierra and Gabi saw 2 each. While we were doing this Luna was writing her plans for addressing the need to Leopoldsdorf’s Mayor that we need a mini golf course in our village. Tierra also made a cute drawing of how 9 holes could be setup.
Night was much better – just had to get up twice and each time only for a HUGE fart. But after yesterday I was taking no chances. The worst seems to have gone but still had rice+soy sauce for breakfast and lunch. Another beach day. And by the end of it I was back to normal and able to play stay-on-the-surf-board with the kids. Luna also did a tiny bit of scuba diving with me – although her scuba diving involves lying on the lilo hanging over the edge, looking briefly under water before surfacing with splutters and shaking out her goggles and saying “they don’t work, water keeps coming in”. In the evening on the patio Tierra then showed us her hip hop dancing talents as we listened to the Crookers album which fit perfect to enjoying the last of the days light, looking out to sea. Our teenager was lying on her bed watching films on her eeepc.
Hot. Hot. Hot. We just heard from Roman that this is REALLY hot weather even by Komiza standards. Hotter than any day last year. Good to know that it is not just us. So we decided finally to switch on the air conditioning which at least makes it cool inside. Not icy cold like in the Park Lane Hotel but nicely bearable. Another beach morning with a quick visit to the bakery and fruit & veg market before. My digestion seems to have somehow regulated itself now – rice for breakfast seems to be working so that I can at least enjoy some other foods for dinner and tea. Heard about 42°C in Moscow and pleased to be near a nice cool sea as I imagine Vienna must be similar. Whoever invented siesta was a genious and I am now off to enjoy one. Thought VERY briefly for the 2nd time of work. Sent SMS to find out how things are and then forgot to look for replies. So it means that the holiday is working.
Half time has been reached. Relaxation pure has really started to work. Only two problems: “scorchio” also in the night and still my digestion/Gabis time of the month. The latter has at least got rid of another problem: Gabis pressure to get down to the beach in record timing. Today I turned into a German / Austrian as I was sent to the beach with towels to reserve the best spots on the beach (i.e. in the shade). More of the same down the beach: except after last night’s bad sleep was a bit hard especially the stay-on-the-surf-board game which, now with Luna, is becoming more like a new form of fitness training as I can now only shake her from the board with tricks. Even with Tierra it is getting harder. My attempts to stay on board are pathetic in comparison.
Another beach day. And we saw our first clouds after 8 days. But rather pathetic clouds compared to those we have seen in Austria this May and June. But it meant a welcome drop of a few °C. We now only have one cat left – not sure what happened to the other two but now only Mario is here. In the evening we watched the videos we had made so far and it was already clear to see this was the most relaxing holiday we have yet had. Croatian islands beat Italy EASILY also partly because of their spartan conditions and definitely not missing the Africans parading up and down the beaches with their clothes. Nothing against the Africans but when you have two girls and one wife it means a lot of shopping possibilities. And it is relaxing not to stretch ones wallet muscles tooooo much on holiday. Off out now for another mini golf open.
Beach day. Early evening on patio looking at shooting stars again (each night we have seen at least two). But afterwards we wandered along the harbour looking into yachts and I realised that if we ever do a yachting holiday it will be expensive. VERY expensive. As the only yachts we liked were those similar to Roman Abramovich’s. The others (which were also huge) seemed to be like low budget mobile homes inside. I don’t consider it fun to spend two weeks sleeping in a bunk bed. This is of course on top of the main requirement that anybody I guess has who has seen the film Open Waters II: ladders going down into the water that are fixed to the yacht; cannot be removed; cannot be forgotten to be mounted when everyone jumps in the water.
Went on a day trip in a boat to the Blue Caves on a neighbouring mini-island, Bisevo (www.srebrnatours.hr). Amazing. On the boat were only about 30 people, the loudest the Americans, and one of them looked like Sigourney Weaver which on the 45 minute journey to the island occupied my skewed mind: what would it be like to be married to the real Sigourney Weaver? If you sat opposite her at breakfast eating your cornflakes would you always be expecting a small creature to explode out of her stomach. Not exactly what I would call a relaxing marriage. Every sudden move would have me ducking for cover. Well, anyway we survived without any screeching and sticky monsters trying to get their tendrils down our throats and saw the Blue Caves which were amazing for two reasons: one the obvious amazing blue water which seemed to be lit up with special underwater lamps from Ikea but the most amazing thing was that our boat actually fit into the cave opening. Looked like mission impossible (I would have bet my house on the boat not fitting through the opening) but we got in their without losing our heads or ANY of the boat. Having seen the beautiful deep blue sea on the way to the island and then the incredible turquoise water in the caves I am beginning to think that the word used to describe the colour of Chelsea & Everton’s football shirts not good enough to describe Croatian sea colours. English needs new words for turquoise and blue. Then the boat took us onto the next port of call: a small cove, Porat Beach, with a couple of houses and three restaurants,one of which occupied our first two hours as we planned to have a quick meal but it ended up being a slow meal in a typically spartan restaurant – everything was really simple but the important thing was the food was excellent – but I am sure with the time they took making it they were cooking only with matches. Then the day spent on a sandy beach as if to remind us why we have come to love stoney beaches. Sand is simply a pain. Tierra and Luna enjoyed the sand briefly but by the end of the day both hated it. We had a “family swim” out into the cove and I think I swam the furthest I ever have from the coast (I have some kind of Woody Allen type phobia where I think I will not make it back – kind of like a horizontal fear of heights). During the trip and day we met a nice family of a similar cultural cocktail to us: wife from Croatia who is an English teacher, husband Spanish, with three giant boys. Infact everyone we met so far has been so nice. Even Sigourney’s double ended up being nice and had a story to tell which did not involve adventures in space stations. And Luna got to know one of the Americans, a girl called Phoebe, who amazed Luna cos she could talk quicker than she could: when Luna tells you something it is not a conversation but more like a brain dump done at Gigabit/second speed. Phoebe had obviously cracked the Terrabit/second barrier. The boat trip back home was much more relaxed as Tierra & Luna (who had both felt a bit queazy on the way over) got to actually enjoy it and Gabi sat on the front of the boat enjoying the sea spray in her face. Then back to our STONE beach to enjoy the last of the sun and Gabi managed to exhaust herself doing the crawl with my snorkel gear. Evening looking into the yachts again: from about 50 yachts there only two were acceptable – the type you would expect to see James Bond hanging out in. VERY VERY EXPENSIVE. First night where none of us saw a shooting star.
Another beach day. But now we officially reached the part of every good holiday that I hate: the countdown-to-going-home. This involves things like “last time we will do this” and “emptying the fridge”. But the worst part are things like “oh my god, 1700 emails are waiting for me” – i.e. thinking of work and life back home start to come to the forefront of my mind. I am trying to resist and enjoy “the now” and I think I am doing better than usual as I still feel incredibly happy and relaxed. Finally changed from sunfactor 50 to 20 as I noticed I am actually not getting brown. Strange to think that years ago sun factor 2 with that lovely smelling Ambre Solaire oil was standard. I assume it is about as effective as sweat or just not showering for a day. But it is sad that the smell once defined “summer” to me seems now to have vanished forever. Have now decided I will try to continue writing the latest book that I started – incase you don’t know, I am now trying to write my first book – which has nothing to do with work but more to do with life. The evening ended (after our traditional cookie ice-cream / yacht stalking on the harbour) on our neighbour’s patio as we ere invited to their farewell meal with Roman and Nikolai (Roman cooks a mean seafood risoto – incredibly good – even though we were officially full by the time he presented it to us). The meal had an interesting mix of nationalities resulting in the language being a mix of German-English-Croatian-Polish – sometimes a bit hard to follow but fun. And the amazing thing is that it seems it is possible to talk to almost any man in the world about premier league football. Got the great news from our Croatian neighbour (Man Utd fan!) that Joe Cole has signed for Liverpool, Gerrard said no to Mourinho and Torres is still there. All of which made the evening even more enjoyable. We really have no idea what is going on outside of this island (actually outside of Komiza): no newspapers, no TV, no radio. Austria could have been annexed by Russia / England nullified the independence of the USA / … and we would not know anything about it. Anyway a really nice night only interrupted by a hysterical Tierra with her blocked nose who could not sleep -and so was keeping Luna awake. Bad combination. Looked like we finally resolved it (I stroked Luna to sleep and Gabi lay with Tierra until she slept) and we collapsed into bed.
But then in the middle of the night Tierra’s blocked nose turned into some kind of more serious bronchial cough. Which meant a swapping of beds and me moving into Tierra’s – but also MUCH WORSE the turning off of the aircon which suddenly became ENEMY NO.1 for Gabi. And meant sleeping-in-a-sauna for all of us.
All very tired from the night’s activities with Tierra. Gabi found the pharmacy in the town and then took Tierra to the doctors. And the fatigue ruled out finally our planned day-trip to Milna (Vis’s Milna not Hvar’s Milna) – we were anyway considering cancelling as we enjoy our beach/patio/cookie-ice rhythm that we didn’t really want to disturb it but just to continue to enjoy the last couple of days like this. We are after-all Taureans and so not real adventurers and more enjoyers. I am pretty sure if EVERYONE had been born in Taurus-time we would still believe the world was flat and would not have discovered America or Australia.
So back from the doctors (apparently very nice bloke who could speak broken English) we got the news that Tierra’s cough is not life threatening (as Gabi and I guess all mothers of the world seem to immediately assume) and she just has to avoid ice-cream, going in the sea, sitting in the sun. So, very glad this is happening at the tail end of the holiday and not at the beginning which would have made the whole 2 weeks hell for her. Best news was the doc said the aircon was ok and actually good in this case as Tierra had a slight temperature. I love Croatian doctors. Luna and I went to the beach but my tummy is also playing up again a bit so there was no stay-on-the-surf-board game. Just chilling. Infact the whole morning was chillout time – Gabi and Tierra came to join us with Tierra sitting under the sun shade. We of course did not skip our traditional “Gemist” (white wine spritzer) on the beach (Gabi & I, not the kids). And Luna got her first ice-cream for the day and Tierra got a lollipop instead. Long siesta followed by another trip to the beach.
The last full day in Komiza. And the usual routine except for the packing. Tierra was pretty bad all morning but by the afternoon had brightened up and by the end of the day was back to herself jumping around in the water. Luna learnt underwater diving for stones and also distance: she improved from about 2m to I guess 6m. Gabi noticed a great tradition here: the fruit tree farmers leave some ripe peaches on the trees for the bees during the dry weeks – makes sense so that they are alive next year to pollinate. In the evening we headed for the harbour again to buy the girls their traditional holiday jewelry. Tierra found a lovely moonstone necklace which suited her beautifully but just before we went off to buy Luna’s she had a HUGE argument with Gabi during which she swore at her and basically lost all rights for anything. For some reason, even though we are sad it is over it feels like it lasted longer than the past couple of years although each of these holidays was two weeks too. Probably cos everything is so easy to reach here and the place is just perfect. What I can say though is that Komiza fulfilled our simple (but somehow hard to meet) requirements completely: relaxation as a family.
Left Komiza at 8:30 to get in the queue in Vis by 9am which was as on the way over WAY TOO EARLY. Could have slept or swam for another hour – Gabi had a 30minute swim at 7am which she totally loved and said next year she would do this every day. Hmmm, how come I don’t quite believe her. Maybe cos I know how much she loves just dosing around in bed, half asleep, purring and stretching like a cat. Spent the morning in Vis and were totally happy that we spent two weeks in Komiza and not Vis: the people in Komiza seem friendlier / more laid back and the place is generally more compatible with a swimming holiday – in Vis the beaches are tiny and scattered throughout the town with the largest (smaller than Komiza’s) miles away from most appartments. And Komiza seems cheaper. Got Luna her moonstone necklace as she seemed to briefly behave again. The boat trip to Split seemed much faster than the one to Vis – even though both directions are 2.5hrs. Now just got to find the hotel again where we will spend one night on the edge of Split again before the L.O.N.G. journey home again tomorrow.
First horror was that the hotel we had spent our first night in had somehow lost the booking for our final night. Note to self: in the modern world never deal with people; only book over the internet! Luckily the receptionist found us a better room at a neighbouring apartment for almost half the price (and I can thoroughly recommend this place for anyone needing to stopover in Split: Apartments Nika, Kralja Zvonimira 32, 21312 Podstrana, +385-98-179-1121, email@example.com). So ended up AOK. We then had a quick swim (well Tierra and I did) but got a big reminder of how special Komiza was and how great it’s beach/sea/everything was. This was kind of like laying on a gravel path – and, cos of a storm, the sea was not soooo inviting.
We then decided to quickly find a supermarket to buy breakfast for the next day only for me to find a new anti-theft function of my car (I guess all car owners will be laughing now but I never used the lock function before and so was a bit surprised when somehow I activated it and the car wouldn’t start). Well, I got out the manual and solved the problem and removed the panic of being stuck in Split.
We had the best part of the day as we hit the beach for the 2nd time, for our evening meal: sitting on the sea front, listening to the waves, watching the sun go down with probably the best cevapcici I have ever eaten – I had no idea that cevapcici could be so good. At 10pm we hit the sack and I slept like a baby without tooth ache / stomach problems / nightmares / hunger for milk – actually where does the saying “sleep like a baby” come from? Baby’s sleep terribly. So I slept like me-after-a-long-but-good-day.
So the absolute worst bit of the holiday: the drive home. The drive to Split was bad cos of the length but at least then we were about to start our holiday and head to a beautiful island with lots of surprises ahead. Now it was back to work and as we heard on the weather reports bad weather and I predicted 1700 emails to deal with on my first day back at work. In addition to the expected bad stuff between Split and Zagreb (about 4hours) there were terrible winds and I was so pleased we had not, as at one point planned, bought a mobile home or even a roof box. At one point the winds were so bad that the max speed was reduced from 130kmh to 40kmh. As we passed the winds my hands almost had cramps and my neck and back were in serious need for a massage. Add to the wind the same number of Zagreb matchkos as on the way to Split and it was just horrible. The Zagreb matchkos all seem for some reason to drive German made cars – infact I would go so far as to say that 90% of BMW/Mercedes/Audi car drivers had obviously been told while learning to drive that “when in the outside lane of the motorway, the aim is to drive as close as possible to the car in front without actually getting inside the boot”. Had a relatively short wait at the border and was soooo pleased that Slovenia is in Schengen which meant at least there we had no passport controls. But we still managed to waste more than an hour in various queues. And it was my fault as I had refused to believe Gabi’s instincts it seemed that every queue I got into whether it be for the toll roads or the borders I got in the worst of all of the queues (and Gabi’s recommended queue was ALWAYS the best one). I guess this was to re-teach me the life-lesson of patience which I thought I had learnt through living in England and waiting for buses or the visits I have since had and waiting for trains. Obviously this lesson is not yet over. Or it was to teach me again that my wife always knows best.
As we hit Austria had the great experience of paying €15 for 2 coffees and three fruit juices. The words “taking the piss” came to mind. As I reached home it did rain a bit and infact I only had 997 emails waiting for me – so it wasn’t all bad but already missing Komiza.