Monday, October 19, 2009


We took two buses to get to Split, Croatia. We stopped in a town called Rijeka to change buses and we noticed that lots of people wear fanny packs there. They're a dorky thing to wear in the States so I decided to secretly photograph some people in their fanny packs. Oh, maybe I should all them bum bags since "fanny pack" in the UK is a naughty word. So I have a little collection of bum bag photos now. The countryside was once again, really lovely though Croatia. We traveled along the coast for most of the trip so the views down the steep cliffs to the clear water were constantly beautiful. I've decided Croatia is a really beautiful country as a whole. The scrubby vegetation, big dusty mountains, crystalline water, it's all so pretty. And I especially love all the wild pomegranate trees that grow on the side of the road. I was also lucky enough to spot a deer bounding through a clearing as we went by. It was late at night by the time we got Split. Luckily the local buses were still running and we managed to figure out where we were going and where to get off all on our own. We walked past the hotel at first because its really an apartment. Next problem was that reception was closed. Robyn called the lady after a bit and she told us that our keys were in the mail slot. The apartment was great - very spacious with huge glass doors leading to the patio. It was very nice to finally get into the room and flop down on the bed.

The 24th was a relaxing day. The only time we left the apartment was to get food from the grocery store. Robyn layed out on the patio for a bit, we cooked dinner, nothing exciting. We were disappointed when our internet cut out at 10:30 PM. Bed time.

Chuck and I went into town the next morning to get bus tickets to our next stop: Budva, Montenegro. We had a lot of discussions and research before we came to our decision to go to Budva. At first we were talking about taking a ferry to Greece (which was the ultimate goal) which would entail taking a ferry to Italy and then another ferry down to Greece. I kept feeling this unfortunate knot in my stomach whenever I thought about all we'd be missing by taking a ferry to Italy, etc, when we could be taking buses down through Montenegro and Albania. I finally decided that we needed to go the bus-route and see what we could along the way. So that's how we decided on Budva. After getting the tickets Chuck and I walked around the massive market that is set up in the center of town. Everything from shoes and jewelry to fruits and veggies was available. I especially liked the produce section. Let me relate my experience. I decided the grapes were looking particularly tasty so I headed over to a randomly chosen stall to have a look. I noticed that the fruit was buzzing with bees. They were all over the place, crawling in and out of the grape clusters and flitting about. I really liked the idea that the bees were into the grapes so I went ahead and chose a cluster for myself, holding them out to the wrinkly, dark-skinned woman who had been encouraging me to buy. She plopped them onto a rusty old-fashioned balance scale and used a set of counterweights to balance it out. It seemed so old-fashioned to me. I didn't know people actually still used scales like that! And bees and bugs crawling around on my fruit makes me feel so... au naturale. Geeze, I sound like such a yuppie. After getting a few more fruits I saw some flip flops for sale. I've needed a new pair of flip flops since Milan where mine broke, so Chuck attempted to do some negotiating. I'm very bad at negotiating - I'm happy with just going with the listed price if I think it's worth it. But Chuck wanted to get a good deal. The vendors were not into the negotiating thing at all though it seemed. They didn't budge their prices no matter what. So I settled on a pair for about €7, which was the cheapest we could find them. We had a quick beer at a little cafe before taking the bus back to the hotel for the evening.

We packed up and left the apartment on the 26th and headed to the bus station to wait for our 4:00 PM bus to Budva. We ended up just sitting on a park bench by a very active fountain area. We saw all kinds of things during our wait. There were a few pigeons around so an old man went and got a loaf a bread to feed them. This attracted more pigeons and there was a bit of a feeding frenzy. Pieces of bread would fly in our direction and the birds slowly got more comfortable with coming close to us to pick them up. Chuck even manage to get birds to pluck pieces off of the toe of his shoe. After most of the frenzy had subsided a skinny little cat came along, attracted by all the attention. He was definitely a stray. The poor thing was dirty and obviously malnourished. He pawed through some discarded brown paper that had been used to wrap some kind of food, and leapt onto the rim of a garbage can and stuck his face inside trying to find something to eat. It didn't take him too long to turn to the birds. I thought he couldn't possibly take one down, but he crouched, wiggled his butt in the air, and leapt right onto a bird. He held it down with his little front legs as he worked to get a good hold on his neck with his teeth. When it was secured in his mouth he picked it up and jogged away. We were all in shock. I noticed that no one else seemed to be as shocked as us, so maybe it's an everyday occurrence. Survival of the fittest! Yay! The birds were a bit hilarious after the incident. There were about 10 pigeons near the unfortunate victim when it happened and they all just stood still, their heads held high in the air, eyes wide. Their little heads twitched back and forth as they listened and looked around for any other threats. They were on high alert. But that wore off fairly quickly and they moved on to bath time. In Europe they have these cool fountains that you can use to fill up water bottles, or cup your hands under the stream for a drink, or splash your face or whatever. They're usually much prettier than the average "water fountain" in the US and have basins to catch the excess water so it doesn't make puddles. There was a fountain just like this where we were sitting. A few of the basins seemed to have blocked drains because they were overflowing, to the pigeons delight. They perched on the edge of the fountain, lean in for a drink, and tumble, wings flapping into the water. Underneath the fountain, where the water sloshed onto the ground, were little birds who would stand in the puddles and fluff their feathers in the water. After they were all bathed to contentment they sat int he sun, rolling onto their sides and poofing up to dry quicker. It was actually pretty fascinating to see what goes on in the daily life of a pigeon. I was a little jealous. Eat, bath, sleep. Although the whole being-attacked-by-cats and being bored-out-of-your-mind thing doesn't sound so nice. We had lunch after that and then hopped on our bus to Budva.

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