Postscript on Croatia

Vis tour.JPG

I cannot leave Croatia without recounting a few things that we experienced on the island of Vis. We sailed here, ready to check out and leave for Italy but the first thing we did was visit a pharmacy. I had fallen a couple of weeks previously and had scraped the skin off my outer ankle bone. I had thought it was healing well but it had suddenly become ominously swollen, red and tender so a visit to the pharmacist was prudent (no access to maggots). One look and she pointed an imperious finger and said, “Doctor”. So out of the door, around the corner and up the stairs I went to be greeted by a cross between Billy Connolly and a mad scientist come magician. He was a big man with wiry curling grey locks, glasses and a psychedelic shirt. This was the doctor. There was no one else there so I got straight in. He breathed spells into his beard and puffed his disapproval at my neglect in allowing the wound to fester. He swamped it with iodine and then set too with tweezers to extract the poisonous gunk. Wrapped in startling white breathable gauze, held in place by micro pore tape I was packed off (after paying a princely sum) with prescriptions for antibiotics, antibiotic cream and dressings. This all took less than an hour; price worth paying?

Part of Mama Mia 2 (MM2) was filmed here on Vis and on our wander around we came across an open air cinema advertising a showing that night – ‘my, my how can I resist you?’ The locals had been none too happy that Greece was getting the credit for the pretty location. All their street names had been replaced with Greek writing and the green shutters painted blue. Needless to say this was all returned to normal when shooting had finished. So everyone enjoyed a brief brush with celebrity and it has probably given Vis more visibility (!) on the tourist trail. For me it was a truly terrible film; uncomfortably embarrassing and sitting for so long on a hard seat is STILL awkward!  Colin Firth at the place we used to land our tender!

Vis

We booked a private Military Tour. WW2 V MM2 no contest, this was truly terrific. It was four hours long and should have been in a Land Rover Defender (more military) but thankfully that had gone U/S (unserviceable) and so we were taken around in a more comfortable Freelander. Our guide was a young man from Vis, educated, articulate and liberal in outlook and we gained so much insight into contemporary Croatian life, politics and economics. We saw a variety of things with him and we chatted freely all the way. Enjoying a coffee break in the pretty port of Komiza and tasting apples from his friend’s orchard. We drove to the highest point passing, with no feeling of guilt whatsoever, others slogging up on foot. Mount Hum gave us a great view and we looked down on an ancient Illyrian settlement. We also had an aviator’s view of the WW2 allied air strip. There is talk now of reinstating a runway which could bring in more tourists but as you can imagine this is very controversial. We climbed steps up to Tito’s caves where he would retreat if threatened by German discovery. We entered labyrinthine dark and damp Cold War tunnels armed with torches to explore headquarters hardened against nuclear attack. These felt sinister and creepy and will probably feature as a location for a horror film in due course! Back cross country by way of Fort George looking out onto Lighthouse Host on an island named after an admired British Commodore. This link is interesting, believe me  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Hoste he had six children, all had wonderful names and there is a cricket club here named after him after the Croatians learnt that he held games of cricket during the British occupation. Hurray, we are popular here, not so the Italians who are considered arrogant.

A few observations…..
Of the system:
We have taken the worst of communism and the worst of capitalism and it doesn’t work.
He was quite admiring of some aspects of Tito’s communism
Of olive trees and vines:
The olive tree is like your mother, you can neglect her, not visit her for twenty years and when you do she still welcomes you with love. The vine however is like your wife, needs constant attention or else she will give you a deal of trouble!
Of marital hopes:
My girlfriend thinks I am too old for her; the smart girls leave the island and the pretty ones get pregnant. She is 10 years younger.
Of religion:
The predominant religion is Roman Catholic; you can be a Muslim or an Orthodox Christian but best not to be a…………… Protestant!
Of the EU:
The original referendum was swayed by unrealistic aspirations and if it was to be repeated it would be rejected and they definitely don’t want the euro!
Of incomers:
If you stay/survive over even one winter, whatever your colour or creed, you are accepted into the local community.
Of forest fires:
Belief that they are started deliberately to ‘clear’ land so that proposed planning permission is more readily granted. There is suspicion also that fire fighters are taking backhanders to arrive at a fire too late.

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That’s it for now – eight Swedish women have rafted up on us and we have a 0530 shake for a dawn departure – Italy awaits us!

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