Sunday, November 6, 2011

On the road... again

It has been an incredible month. Time has flown by as always but October seems to have been even worse than the rest. It was October 1st... then suddenly it was the 28th.

I was very melancholic while slowly dismantling the life I had previously lived for the prior six months. The house what was my home was being reduced to two backpacks full of random items. One full bag of computer and photo gear, one of clothing and real life stuffs. As I went through everything I had to decide what to store, pack or throw away. At the same time in Dubrovnik because the ex-pat community is so tight, I was also doing the rounds of "goodbyes" and "see you in Zagreb"s. A coffee here, return an item there, clean my room and suddenly the day was nearly over. The last few hours until 1 am were spent checking my baggage twice to make sure I didn't forget anything. I crashed around 1:30 only to wake up at 4:30 am to catch the 6:00 am bus to Zadar to meet Dave.

Its a strange feeling to walk out of a city for the last time. I was leaving behind something so familiar, a city I had lived in for six months. It's a strange feeling looking down and empty street and not knowing whether you will ever return to that place. With a heavy heart I walked out of town with my belongings on my back, but not before snapping one last shot of the "grad". I caught the bus to the station and boarded the eight hour bus to Zadar.

It's strange. Once my ass hit the seat on the bus, it was all familiar once again. That feeling of being on the road once again. Not to mention that all too familiar bus seat that feels like it's been "designed to be uncomfortable". My home for the next eight hours. Days earlier I had booked two beds for Dave and I at the "Drunken Monkey Hostel" in Zadar. Now I'm not one for party hostels, but according to hostelworld reviews this was the only hostel in Zadar that hadn't recently had any encounters with bed bugs. party hostel be damned, I was going to sleep bed bug free so I booked us two beds and prepped myself to see Dave again.

It's a funny thing seeing friends while abroad. There's quite a difference between "true friends" and "acquaintances". Acquaintances tend to lose contact and feel the geographical distance and time a friendship suffers while two people are apart. With "true friends" time and distance don't matter. It's just like old times when you finally do come together again. That is exactly how I felt when I finally met up with Dave in Zadar. It was literally like no time had passed since we last saw each other. Other than the obvious fact that we were both in Croatia, nothing had changed. Time to explore Croatia as friends.

I was pleasantly surprised by what Zadar had to offer. It is a small city with a population of around 80,000 residents, but in comparison to Dubrovnik it seemingly has a lot. Real grocery stores, western european shops and brand names, even an H&M store to buy reasonably prices winter wear. I was very impressed with the amount of local art and culture presented within the old city walls. The old city itself felt large than that of Dubrovnik with an emphasis on art. Zadar has a few local installations as attractions along it's beautiful riviera. The "sea organ", a stone waterfront with holes cut in the side to allow water to generate air pressure as the waves pass by is a definite highlight. Sitting on the waterfront not just watching the waves coming in, but hearing them as well was a total treat. You wouldn't really think it, but the waves do have a magical and hypnotizing sound to them that does actually sound musical. Right next to the sea organ is the "Sun Salutation" circle. A solar powered LED light exhibit that captures the light during the day and illuminates panels during the night while putting on a "jumbo-tron" like light show. I managed to snap plenty of night shots along the riva with a local tallship moored alongside.

In Zadar we happened to run into Andy Davidson, a friend of my brothers. Now it's a bit of a funny story but Andy actually gave my brother Miles a ride back from Greece on the back of his motorcycle. It may sounds simple, but it was far from it. Bad roads, crappy signage, crazy drivers and cold weather were some of the obstacles that confronted them. When they arrived in Dubrovnik Miles asked if Andy could spend some time at our place to get some much needed rest. What was supposed to be "a few days" turned into over a week... which was our pleasure as Andy turned out to be a stand up dude. About as good as they come. Miles had left to go meet Emmett in London but Andy had stuck around and hung out with us in Dubrovnik a few days longer... then rode his bike up to Zadar and managed to meet Dave and I at the Drunken Monkey Hostel. It's strange how easy it is to get along with other travelers... people who really know how to grab life by the balls and cherish every moment of being on the road. Andy is definitely one of those dudes.

Here's a picture of Andy and his ride.

How Andy, Miles, both their bags, fuel tanks and camping gear ever fit on there... I will never know.

Anyways we all had a blast in Zadar, meeting other fellow travelers, locals and for myself getting to experience a new part of the croatian coast. It's strange how once you spend a lot of time in Dubrovnik, you get used to the fact that you miss out on a whole shitload of other cool things out there. After spending a few days in Zadar, we decided it was time to part ways and head to Zagreb. Dave and I jumped on a bus while Andy once again saddled up and headed directly to Ljubljana. We boarded the bus in the warm adriatic sun. As we drove along the road to Zagreb we passed through a super long tunnel. I swear it must have taken us 10-15 minutes to drive through! Once we passed through the other side, it was cloudy and foggy and cold. A sign of the weather to come. We had officially left the dalmatian coast behind for cool weather, cloudy skies and real winter. What was even better was that Dave was sleepingmost of the time... so when he passed out, it was sunny and warm. When he woke up the sun was gone and it was hovering about 5 celcius. Not anybody's favourite way to wake up...

Anyways we arrived in Zagreb... met up with my friend Booboo and finally laid our heads to rest. It was a good trip so far and as we would find in the coming days, familiar places were all about to get a bit more familiar...

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