Friday, September 7, 2012

AWOL in Europe

Sorry for my absence, as you can imagine, when you're on the road, it's not always easy to find an internet connection. However, that said, it amazes me who actually does have WiFi in the most remote places, so much so that in this day and age, for a business to not have internet is inexcusable. Such was the case at our last hotel in Italy, even though we really loved the place. Small town life in Italy, much more simple and grounded.

In light of this, I need to make this fast and then add more details later. We are currently in Croatia, and believe me when I tell you it's beautiful here. Very reminiscent of the Greek Islands, only filled to the brim with young college students looking to party. It's like Dayton Beach, only European style. It's a bit too much of a big frat party for our tastes, though I could imagine that if you were 21 and single, you'd be having the time of your life. Beautiful people everywhere and plenty of alcohol and skin. Just what every college grad is looking for in life.

Before we caught the ferry, our last two nights in Italy were so interesting, we really enjoyed them. Since we didn't really know the area, it was a bit of a crap-shoot finding a place, R literally had to work in the dark in deciding on a place. She chose two tiny towns to stay in, Saltara and another one that was so small that we were the first American tourists that she'd had. I can't even remember the name, and I can't find it on the map. Either way, nobody spoke English, but everyone was really friendly and warm, I can't stress this enough. It was quite the experience, but the real deal. No fast food or Sponge Bob in sight.

After two really enjoyable days in small town Italy, we drove to the coastal town of Fano, where we caught the coastal route to the port city of Ancona, which was about 1.5 hundred kilometers. We had to catch an overnight ferry there, but it was leaving at 9:00PM, and we arrived in the early afternoon. The way it worked was we had to find a tiny airport near Ancona to return the car, then figure out how to get from the airport to the port. Kudos to R for doing an amazing job at navigation. We found the airport no problem, returned the car (it was Hertz), and then caught a cab to the port. People were very friendly, and at the airport, there were numerous tourists just beginning their Italian vacations, and I actually had a conversation with the chatty French gentleman standing in line next to me, in French, no less. He sort of cut in front of me in line, and from there, a conversation ensued. It was cool.

We caught a cab from the airport to the port, which like most port towns, was a little dicey. There are just unsavory elements to be had in ports, no way around it. If anything, ports in Europe are not as scary (at least to me) as ports in the US. We had several hours to kill, so we wandered about Ancona, first in the old section, then in the more modern part, which was really nice. Very bustling and filled with tourists. We had pizza for lunch, then gelato (most importantly), then it was time to get on the ferrry.

It was an overnight ride, and had a sleeper cabin, but we slept terribly. I've taken several ferries and found them to be just okay, not luxurious in any way, but clean and adequate. Definitely not good for sleeping, but R found it impossible to get a flight directly from Italy to Croatia, so went for the overnight ferry. I now know what a submarine crew goes through. I think the cabin was located near the engine, because it was so loud we had to practically yell to communicate. When we landed in Split, Croatia, we were exhausted.

That did not, however, dampen our spirits in Croatia. The port town was simply lovely, nothing like Ancona. The reason is that Split is a tourist port, whereas Ancona is a shipping port, huge difference. It's a beautiful beach community, though more Euro style, with a lot of history and older, more classic architecture, with buildings dating back to Medieval times.

We landed in Split around 7:00AM, and had to catch another ferry to Hvar around 11:00, so we had time to kill. We toured Split, and it was such a cool town. There is so much going on, and we even found a farmer's market and got fresh peaches. The main square used to be the palace of the Roman emperor Diocletian, and there are Roman ruins all over town.

From Split, we caught another ferry to Hvar, and let me tell you, it's Spring Break city over here. Throngs of young, beautiful people ready to party. We're a bit out of our element, but it makes for a happening scene. It seems as if the main two demographics here are older people, and the young and hip. There are tons of yachts and sailboats in the harbor, so you get a sense of some money out here.

Our flat is lovely, located off the main drag, so it's quieter. We're spending our time just relaxing and swimming in the Adriatic. The water is crystal clear and just the right temp.

For now, I'll sign off. More details later, so stay tuned. Until then, thanks for reading.

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