ll Nick's Croatian Adventure! 

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26 May 2004

Well, I have been in Dubrovnik for well over a  week now and am anticipating the end of my stay here. I'm still not sure exactly where I'm going to go next, but think I will be making my way up to Zagreb in due course to spend a couple of weeks up there. I'll probably stop off at some places on the way - in particular I would like to see more of Korcula - didn't get to see a great deal of it last time, what with spending a couple of hours hunting for my wallet! It is perfectly feasible to island hop and then get a ferry over to Split and pick up the highway (no motorway yet, although they are in the process of building one - almost nightly updates on the television news). I would also like to visit Montenegro (Crna Gora in Croatian) and have a look down there, as I gather that prices are some what cheaper (to be honest they'd have to be!). People here are also talking up Bosnia, which might not be such a mad punt after all, given the proximity to the airport at Dubrovnik and the fact that the planned  motorway linking Croatia to Turkey will also pass through a swathe of Bosnia and connect Sarajevo as well.

But having said that, I'm still in Dubrovnik. The sun has been shining for the last few days but the weather before that was pretty bl**dy awful - it poured down on Sunday, which is one of the reasons why I managed to get the website done in a day - Mr. Driscoll take note! In fact, I think I'm actually working harder out here than back home - not difficult I hear you all chorusing... For example it is now 11.15 and I'm still typing this.

My daily routine, although by no means set in stone, is fairly consistent - I spend a couple of hours with Milanka doing Croatian, about an hour getting to and from her place, then a couple of hours on the computer, writing up my Croatian and doing my homework, like the good student I am. In the afternoon I try for  a bit of time in the sunshine, with my vocab lists open on my knees (primarily to prevent them from getting burnt) - this is in fact a cunning ploy to try to disguise the fact that I'm English. (Unfortunately the GB plates and cycle helmet are dead giveaways - the locals don't even wear helmets on their harleys - they must have one of the highest rates of traffic deaths in Europe!) But no more than a couple of hours in the sun just in case anyone thinks I'm slacking, then time looking at houses and talking to agents, before we (the family and I, not the agents - although I've tried talking some of them into taking me out for dinner) all have dinner together about 7.30.

Since Senad left I haven't actually been out in the evening at all! Which as anyone who knows my habits in London will testify, is seriously out of character. I'm obviously trying to learn as much Croatian as I can now whilst I'm surrounded by the family. I'm sure there will be plenty of evenings ahead of me where I will have as much of my own company as I can tolerate - normally about 20 mins! I haven't even managed to locate a decent salsa club! (Although my spies at VIP, the telephone company, tell me there is one in Zagreb).

On the whole I'm feeling pretty chipper. Had a bad day on Monday though. I somehow managed to get the Sasser B virus on my laptop, despite having downloaded the Microshi(of)t patch and running Mcafee and then my blasted new cordless mouse stopped working and I had to use the stupid trackpad, or whatever they're called,  that comes as standard on the beast, before I borrowed a mouse from the family. I couldn't get the web portal to upload the website, I saw 2 overpriced houses that I really couldn't wait to get out of (and worse, had to make polite noises about them, when I really wanted to tell them I wouldn't house my cat in them) and everywhere I went everyone was talking to me in English, even though I have been asking them to speak Croatian. I then tried to buy some batteries in a shop and the woman wouldn't sell me the ones I wanted ("you don't need those, these are cheaper!"). And then to cap it all, some idiot just cut right across me so he could park! He very nearly got a taste of the famed Nick Road Rage....

Fortunately, Mrs C was at the other end of a phone line (that's right, she was talking to her Mum) and she managed to pull me out of it ("just GET a grip NICK!" -it's amazing the effect a bit of shock treatment can have..). Tuesday was a much better day. Got the website up and running, managed to email the link to most people and have had a fair few messages of support - I even got one from my brother, Chris, saying he was impressed...! Plus - I have discovered a great way of getting to talk Croatian - feign illness. I went into a chemist's as I've had a touch of sinusitis (ok - self diagnosis, but how hard can it be..?)  and the women there didn't even attempt to speak a word of English, gave me directions to the local doctor's and were generally very helpful. So expect me to be a veritable walking medical dictionary by the time I get home. The Croatian for "I have a headache tonight", for all you ladies out there who are interested, is "boli me glava!" - great isn't it.

I've been to see quite a few houses and flats in and around Dubrovnik now and have put the best ones on my houses page. I am very interested in the flat in Lapad and just need a couple of other people to get involved as well to make it a real possibility. If anyone wants to join me in this let me know soon as I don't think it will be around for too long.

I went back to a small village called Mlini where we stayed four years ago. I'd forgotten just how beautiful the place is. It's different to most of the coast around here - there are more trees for a start! It's in a small glade with a small fishing harbour and the houses are all surrounded by trees. The name means mills, and there are several mills still standing, fed by a small river, which nowadays is used to drive a small hydroelectric plant - but even that is in keeping with the rest of the village, made of the local stone and hidden by pines. There is a 200 year old oak right next to the river. I remember there being a lot of war-damage, just 4 years ago - houses with shell holes and no roof, but the whole place has been done up apart from one very imposing, Italian-looking villa - which has been bricked up. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but if only we'd had the sense to buy when we were here in 2000

I've been having numerous problems with trying to upload my revised website to my Bulldog account. How is this for nonsense... - you have to specify the directory structure when you first upload the site... so you can't just add a directory when you like, you have to scrap the whole thing and start it from scratch again, uploading the whole darn shooting match, including those very large and very expensive jpegs! I mean, how stupid is that!

I've been using an internet cafe round the corner which has an ADSL connection so things are a bit quicker. They also let me use a spare connection so that I can connect my laptop directly into their network. They run on Linux, the first time I've used it, and are part of a consortium developing a Windows-style front-end for Linux. I've put a link to their site on my links page. I'm impressed. One of the guys was yabbering at me in Croatian as I was uploading several MB and slowing down the whole network - as I'd spoken to him in Croatia earlier, he thought I was Croatian - if that's not a compliment to Milanka's teaching then I don't know what is... Dragan reckons it was the haircut that was the clincher though - I certainly don't feel out of place, follicularly speaking...

One last thing.... there was a great name plate on the door at one of the flats I went to look at - I just had to put it in here:

Bozo Staka - great eh?

One really last thing - what is it about Central Europe and pine cladding???

Ajde bok!

Nick

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