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Lastovo – Friday 10th June

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Three churches, the town decision making centre, and abandoned military post and a weather station are all in this picture.

Fisherman’s underpants. An old fisherman, been out at sea for a few days, a bit of incontinence and a skin rash.

In a land of memorable toilet experiences, the ferry to Lastovo provided a brain-freezing smell that has surpassed all others. And that was just the urinal. In the women’s they had squat toilets, so Sylvia tells me, shuddering.

We broke into a cold sweat more than once. This will be obvious to you, after the event, but here’s how it happened….

There’s a 604 and a 9604 ferry to Lastovo from Split. One is a fast catamaran, the other a slower car ferry. Even though its slower, and takes 5 hours, the car ferry leaves earlier so arrives at 3.45. The catamaran gets in later, near 5.00. The car ferry also stops once, at a port on Korcula, for 45 minutes.

Changeover at Korkula

So when we got to Korkula, we commented on the fact that not many people were going on to Lastovo. No one, in fact. Everyone got off. I went to watch the unload/reload process from deck, three or four stories above the dock.

It was chaos. The car ramp wasn’t at the right level. Two guys came off the ferry with a massive case. Gold bars? It was obviously incredibly heavy. They chocked it under the car ramp, then crawled around underneath while the unseen ramp operator raised and lowered it, at risk of crushing them at any moment.

Meanwhile future passengers milled about, making rushes to board the boat while a security guy shooed them off, manhandling them out of the way. All very entertaining.

I went back and described it to Sylvia, and while we were talking we noticed another, smaller ferry pulling in as well. I commented they probably did that on purpose, so people could jump from one ferry to the other. I mentioned to Sylvia there were 20 or so cars lined up to get onto our ferry. She thought that was odd…if no one was staying on to go on to Lastovo, why would so many cars be going there?

Click, click, click…the missing gears ground into place. Quick, quick…get off! Our ferry wasn’t going on to Lastovo, it was returning to Split! I ran downstairs and asked the cafeteria waitress. “No, Split”.

By now the oncoming passengers were pouring onboard, and Sylvia and I had to get through them down the narrow stairs and get off the ship. Again I checked with one of the boat crew. He said we should stay on, the boat WAS going to Lastovo. Next to him his mate scornfully disagreed, and said the boat was going back to Split. Off we went, dodging cars coming off the ramp, stepping over chain barriers and concrete slabs.

Sure enough, the boat berthed alongside was ours, and we jostled up the gangway. The guy collecting tickets looked at my stubs in disbelief…there are two parts, and his part was gone, taken on the other boat. Annoyed, he started lecturing me and in English I said “They took them on the other ship.”

You could see him digest it. “English. Idiots. They don’t know what they are doing.” Begrudgingly he said “Lastovo?” and I agreed, and he just waved us on.

Relieved we slumped into our chairs and de-packed. We would have had a three hour return-trip to digest the mistake, had we stayed on, and been back in Split with the day wasted.

So, two hours later we arrived at Ubli, a small port on Lastovo. Nothing there, a few houses and a petrol pump. But a small van was waiting at the dock. Its not a bus service, but it meets the ferry and takes people the 9 Km to Lastovo township through very steep, windy hills. Walkable, but not at the end of a long day with a heavy pack.

LastovoLastovo commercial centre is a 10-shop strip, most of them shut. We got out of the van, and listened to the tumbleweeds. When they said Lastovo was “wild” they meant “almost deserted.”  We decided to really try the serendipity approach, and walk a few streets looking for “Sobe” signs….”Room to Let”. There was only one, but no one answered the door.

We walked back to the commercial part of town, and simply just kept asking people. No one spoke English or German. We tried the dive shop on the phone. They had some vague, ridiculous idea which involved walking off to nowhere some 2 Km away. Finally a young chap heard the discussion, and as long as we waited for him to finish his icecream he would take us, he said. Which he did. His 80 year old grandmother takes in people, and we are staying with her.

The room is ok, she’s nice. Not a word of English. I got out paper and pen and we managed to communicate ok with drawings. She has visited Australia and knew quite a few place names.

So. Lastovo. Depends what you like in a holiday town, but for me this is the jackpot. The way we keep working back through old towns, I expect we’ll be caving it with Neanderthals next week.

For the last 50 years the island has been off-limits to foreigners for military reasons. After Croatia’s independence that ban was lifted. But by then most of the locals had left. It’s a ghost town.

The town is almost untouched, just starting to be restored. It’s unusually built, inland, away from the sea to avoid marauders. A flat valley market garden supports a town perched precariously on very steep hills. Random roads and pathways stagger up and down the hill, and the worn and shabby, disintegrating feel of the place is wonderful.

A good photographer could spend a lot of time here with the stonework and shifting sunlight.

It might all go bad. The dive centre were not intending to go diving tomorrow or in the near future.

Just paint over that old crap

The host’s daughter/niece was sitting in the kitchen when we came back from dinner, and snarled at me and turned her back on Sylvia. The place is full of dogs and they like barking across the echoing valley.

I’ve seen “The Wicker Man”…..

But so far it could have been a lot worse and has been great.

There’s only one restaurant within walking distance. We got, in retrospect, terrible instructions from the landlady’s grandson. Still, “Kanoba?” to a posse of ruffians got us some directions. A shirtless guy moving stones and bits of wire looked at us curiously as we walked past, and I greeted him with the Croatian ‘hello’. It was obviously the wrong way, so as we came back I said in my appalling Croatian, “Excuse me, restaurant?” Barely cracking a smile he said, “Speak English, for God’s sake.”

He claimed we couldn’t miss it, and once we had walked down three blind turns and squeezed past the truck blocking the way I guess he was right.

The restaurant was the size and shape of a two car garage, made of stone, with one window looking out on the 1 metre laneway.  The food was great, simple, proper Croatian food. There’s a few things I keep seeing on menus and we finally tried some of them…Pag cheese, sardines, lemony/olive-oiled chick peas. He obviously cared about what he was doing and enjoyed the fact we loved the food.

We might not stay three days if we can’t sort out a dive, but we’ll see how we go tomorrow. The water looks lovely, and our landlady claims it is 24 degrees.

Written by wurstofvienna2011

June 11, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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