Monday, October 19, 2009

Great wall - what great wall?

It continues to piss down here and we woke this morning not only to pouring rain, but also to the wind howling up and down the staircases from each level of the Villa Antea apartments. And to add insult to injury, it has turned quite chilly thank you – 8°C. Brrrrr. We know that it is autumn and well and truly heading for winter, but did it have to happen so suddenly. When we left Restaurant Komina last night we went down the hill looking for somewhere to buy some milk and butter, unsuccessfully. So this morning breakfast for Donna is cheese and crackers so she can take her medication.

Once we leave the apartments we stop in Babin Kuk at a small restaurant / café bar and have omelettes and fresh orange juice. Michael has coffee while Donna and I have hot chocolates, that are not really served all that hot! But that is the same anywhere in Europe – they serve hot drinks a little warmer than body temperature, so you can drink them rather than sip them. And while each have their merits, I still think that I prefer the way we serve them at home – hot, hot, hot.

As we head away from Dubrovnik there is yet another big ship in port – you wonder how they can come through the narrow channels – guess that they are deep and that does the trick. That makes a total of seven we have seen – more even than we saw moored in Barcelona all those months ago.

There is no Red Bull here in Croatia or Herzegovina – but you can have a Mad Bat in its place according to the billboards that adorn the roadside. Not sure which of the two is more appealing to me. I guess a red bull has less of a mental impact than worrying about the Lyssa virus that the mad bat might be carrying!

The trip to Ston is only about 50 kms but as we and a whole line of traffic get caught behind a petrol tanker on the single lane highway that hugs the coast, twisting and turning in and out above the small bays below, the trip lengthens to almost 2 hours. Still, we are in no hurry and if it weren’t for the driving rain, we would have been able to get some really good photos of those bays, filled with oyster and mussel farms.

We turn towards the coast to get to Ston to have a look at their 5 km long defense wall around the town. We have been proudly told that it is the longest in Europe (although we think that Carcassonne is longer, and even Toledo would come close). It is also claimed that it is the second longest after the Great Wall of China (which we clearly now know that are more than one wall). Whatever, it is very impressive and as we see it on a dismal day from below, it certainly reminds us of the Great Wall – and the temperature too reminds us of last December!

Its too wet to get out of the car and so we continue to drive seeing some more of the countryside before turning to head back towards Ston. We call in to have a look at the marina where the ferries leave for Miljet and on the way back in to Ston realise that the ponds we are looking down on are the famed Saltworks that have were started in Roman times and have continued uninterrupted to today. Trouble is that today there is no drying salt anywhere – all the ponds are well and truly water-logged!! They still look pretty impressive.

Heading back into Ston, we get a better look at the wall that contains not only the town, but also a thumping big hill as well. It does look like the Great Wall – going up and over the ridges. It too is very impressive – if it is fine tomorrow, we might come back so that Michael can walk part of it – but just ‘might’. Back on the road south, we called in briefly to Mala Ston (small Ston) set deep against the bay. It is here that we see evidence of the plentiful (in summer maybe) shellfish and also find the two restaurants that Maya has recommended to us – Bota and Kapetanova Kuča sitting side by side – supposedly they are the best for oysters. No-one is hungry though so we push on for Neum. And as we continue our trip along the coastal road, we are rewarded with views of those walls from across the water.

Neum in Bosnia Herzegovina is only 25 kms away. First stop is at a chemist for cold and flu tablets. Donna is fighting a head cold and has generously decided to share it! She says that she isn’t selfish and that she has an excuse with no resistance and wants to know what my excuse is! Funny, isn’t she – NOT. The assistant does not speak very good English and Donna can’t make herself understood for antacid tablets.

So, on to our accommodation for today at the Villa Nova Hotel. Thankfully the manageress speaks quite good English. “Would you like to book in for dinner?” she asks. “Yes please” we respond – not wanting to have to go out into the weather again. “OK, it is in the restaurant downstairs from 6:30 pm. We have a bus in as well.” Hmmm – looks like we are down to dinner early – don’t want the bus groupies to get all the tucker! Our unit is huge. Lounge with TV (and some sub-titled English channels), small kitchette with table and chairs and a separate bedroom. All with a balcony looking over the bay and islands. Would be magical in summer.

Dinner is down in the waterside restaurant - (well, today any room is waterside!) and is a buffet. There is a bus group in and we are the only other guests, so the buffet works well. We are served a bowl of home made chicken noodle soup to start - was don, was good! Then the buffet - breaded cheese, sardines and halibut, spinach and boiled potatoes, chicken wings and chevappi (skinless sausages), tomatoes boiled in broth, a mediterranean style vegetable dish, mashed potato, stuffed cabbage leaves (yummy) and salad. It was very good wholesome and honest food. We finished with 'pudding' - chocolate blancmange with whipped cream.

Back to our room and as I upload this blog, Donna and Michael are watching 'American Ninja' on the TV - a film from the early 1980s. (with a really annoying woman character!)

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