The Labrador chugged out of port midmorning, setting off on it’s final leg up the coast of the mainland toward Split. We made a quick swim stop before lunch, our last chance to swim off the boat. After wolfing down lunch 13 of us were dropped on land and taken by bus for a spot of white water rafting on the Cetina. Initially we thought we’d been abandoned in the middle of nowhere, as our bus ditched us at the river, with our guides nowhere in sight. Fortunately they arrived and got us underway with a smile and an easy going attitude.
The good weather appeared to have settled in as we made our way to the island of Brac. The first stop was Zlatni rat, a V shaped pebble beach that features on many of Croatian postcards. The water as ever was crystal clear and refresshing. The ship dropped anchor not far from shore and a group swam to shore while the rest of us settled on the sunloungers. Martino and the captain also let down a zodiac and began ferrying people to the beach, giving people a chance to take camera’s ashore. We spent a fair bit of time there, waiting for lunch, sunbathing, skipping rocks and watching fellow seafarers. It seemed to be quite a popular spot for yachts and a few dropped anchor alongside us and enjoyed their own lunches. They seemed unconcerned by our presence and as they finished their lunches they each relieved themselves over the side of their boats.
The morning light dashed our hopes of cave exploration as the drizzle and overcast conditions persisted. Our departure from port was later then usual as the captain tried to plot a course for us. The ship wasn’t scheduled to dock in the next port until 2pm, and open water is no fun when you’re on heaving seas. Additionally with no swim stops to eat up travel time we had an abundance of time to get wherever we were going, but nowhere particularly enjoyable to spend that time.
Our next desination was the Island of Korcula. Here a large portion of the boat went out on an excursion, a buggy safari, which included some “off-roading” a snorkel stop, a wine and grappa tasting at a local vineyard and then drinks and nibbles on the back of a boat. The white wine nice enough, the red, kind of strange, not really bad but not to my taste, although it seemed to be the local drop. They provided four types of grappa; cherry, orange, lemon and herb, on which opinions varied. The Herb variety from what I remember was the least popular, and contained the most alcohol. Personally I preferred the Cherry and Lemon and found the Orange unpleasant.
I awoke at dawn after a restless night in a chair that reclined slightly, aboard the ferry. A dolphin was leaping alongside the ship as I peered out of one of the portholes. We arrived at 7am, and I grabbed a croissant and a coffee with a Canadian girl I’d met on the ferry, living in Bari and one of the few people I’ve met with a positive opinion of Naples.
The remainder of my time in Italy passed very quickly, with a couple of highlights, and a few manic moments due to delayed trains, my lack of Italian and some mis-communicated instructions.
My return to Rome eventuated from a need to get from Greece to Croatia in the cheapest and most entertaining manner possible over a period of four days. A quick flight to Rome allowed me to enjoy a couple days in Rome before heading south to visit the Roman town of Herculaneum and Sorrento, then catching a train across the country to Bari to catch an overnight ferry to Dubrovnik. This was my second visit to the capital, and a much more relaxed affair then the day and a half sprint through the sights that made up my last trip.
Our farewells were brief as I tumbled from the rental car at the metro station, and I couldn’t help but mourn our seperation. After 22 days of travel with close friends I was heading off again on a solitary path. But in a flash my companions had zoomed off toward the airport, returning to their lives in London, while I still had a day to myself in Athens. After dropping my luggage at the hostel( right by the Acropolis and very nice) I went for a wander. On Sunday’s all the sights are free entry, so I wanted to cram in everything I could while they were still open, but I ha a few things that I wanted to see first, namely the changing of the guards at the Parliament.