It took many hours to reach a small back street somewhere a few kilometres outside Split late at night. After many days of bread and cheese dinners, it was quite delicious to visit a supermarket and get olives, pesto and many mountains of tasty food that we all cooked together. As we ate dinner outside on the porch, a storm blew up and dinner was accompanied by red wine and lightening entertainment. By morning the weather was nice enough to go to the beach, so we bought a watermelon to eat. The sea was warm to swim in and clear enough to see to the bottom. Unfortunately never being one to back down form a challenge, I ate the whole of a small chill at a fruit vendor on the side of he road. My eyes started to water and then my mouth caught on fire. I felt violently ill and surprised myself that I wasn’t actually sick. If challenged to eat the same chili again, I probably still would. My concept of consequence is somewhat warped or non-existent.
The good Croatian weather soon disappeared and visiting a market, we were treated to another thunderstorm. This time we had to run through it in bare feet and got absolutely soaked. I enjoy heavy rain that soaks you through. Less so when it’s cold.
History is something that I never paid attention to in school. I was always of the opinion that the past is the past and better left alone because it cannot be changed. Recently I have become more interested and I enjoyed hearing little stories of the places we visited that at one time, were very important. Diocletian was a Roman emperor at the end of the fourth century and we visited his palace. It’s a nice house. We visited more ruins in a different place and had the opportunity to act out our own battles in the arena. A place where many people may have lost their lives in the past but is now a place of interest and amusement for us. Outside another town, we leapt off the walls into the water. While doing a penguin dive, I hit the bottom and cut both shoulders, as well as hitting the scar on my head that has been there since I took on a batting cage in South Korea last year.
When we finally made our way to our home for the night, we were greeted by an older couple who spoke no English and gave us a home made container of wine. It held a great many litres of wine. Despite five of us trying our best, we were incapable of even half emptying the container so my dad decided that the polite thing to do would be to pour some of it down the sink, giving the illusion that we had drunk more than we really had. Parents are curious.
On the side of a quiet road, miles from anything, an old lady sat by a table under an umbrella. Curious, I asked to stop but we had passed her by and my dad has a thing about turning the car around. He won’t do it (parents are curious). Shortly after, we spotted another lady at the side of the road and this time we stopped. She was all smiles and laughs as she sold us some delicious cheese and my dad told her stories she couldn’t understand. I have no idea where this lady came from or how she got to where she was.
In the Croatian countryside we passed many buildings that were abandoned and riddled with bullets. A reminder of bad times that have passed.
Passing a village we found a tiny child in wellington boots and wearing a farmer hat while pushing a wheelbarrow twice his size. The boy could barely see over the top of it as he lifted the handles and crossed the road before wheeling it away into a field.
Plitvice Lakes National Park in the north of Croatia is a beautiful collection of lakes and crystal clear water that begged to be jumped into. Unfortunately swimming in them is forbidden so we simply walked alongside them and up the cliff tops, admiring everything around us. Any time one of us stepped too close to the edge, my dad had a small panic attack as parents are prone to. Fortunately he missed my attempted balancing act gone wrong. Balancing upon the wooden railing using two hands, I tried to lift my body parallel to the ground. Ahead of me was a steep drop that would have caused serious damage if one was careless enough to fall down it. Somehow I over balanced and in panic, straightened my arms, bringing me momentarily into a handstand position upon the railing. It didn’t last long because I tipped over the edge and in a manoeuvre I am still curious about, I managed to rotate myself in the air and bring my feet down on the edge of the path, clinging to the dangerous side of the railing. I don’t get scared very easily, but this terrified me and reminded me of my own mortality.
Cooking in groups is fun. We should do it more.
I once decided to read the bible out of interest. I am not religious and used to be very anti-religion due to the fears they instilled in me. I have started to read the bible once again and hope to finish it this time. Thus far I am finding it a little difficult and lacking a believable narrative.
On the roof of a castle, we found a toilet hole that opened to the ground below. Climbing on the walls for a photo, I induced another panic attack in my father.
After hitching through four countries, it was time for my fellow hitcher to leave. I drove her to the airport and felt guilty when I didn’t pick up a hitchhiker as I passed. I guess I didn’t like the look of his face. Sometimes one should judge a book by it’s cover and in the instance of hitchhiking, I feel that responding to your instincts is important.
That night we decided to stay at a campsite and cook dinner on our barbecue. My father decided that he would park our large truck in the middle of our camping pitch and sleep in the back of it. We had almost enough room to pitch a couple of tents if we didn’t mind setting fire to them with the barbecue. After much debating, we persuaded him to sleep in a tent and to remove the vehicle from our camping spot. The wind was strong and the barbecue struggled but we slept well on mountains of duvets like field mice in soft nests. In the morning we were greeted by a beautiful pebble beach and woke to swim before heading North to Slovenia. As my family were planning to leave, I wasn’t sure what to do with myself and looked online to find a hostel in Budapest that wanted help. Accidentally, I e-mailed them to say that I would happily come to help in Bucharest and after the initial copy-paste embarrassment, it was decided that I would arrive in Budapest the following day. My family left me at a service station and for the first time in a few weeks, I was completely alone once more. It was short lived. A psychedelic Russian rock band picked me up and drove me all the way to Budapest as they were playing there that very night. I settled into the hostel and took six people along with me to watch the gig. Unfortunately we had missed the music but the hostel owner gave the band a bed for the night in the hostel and we shared some beers together. I was suddenly surrounded by more than ten people when hours before, I was alone on the side of the road.
Food in Eastern Europe is not my favourite. Being vegetarian, I am not able to eat most the typical dishes and often end up with potato based dishes. In Hungary they eat Lángos. Essentially you deep fry dough, then in it’s best form, lather it in garlic, smoked cheese, and sour cream. It is quite a delicious heart attack in take away, budget form. Other Hungarian food I enjoyed includes deep fried cheese.
Hungarian has 35 cases or noun forms. I’m not really sure what that means, except that it is very very difficult to learn.