The first full day of my Croatian adventure and I’m almost reduced to tears from physical pain and fear.
How can somebody who’s relatively astute struggle so much with common sense? Dad, I blame this all on you.
Loment is a term coined by one of my Tier One colleagues (co-workers who turn into real friends) and defined quite simply as a Laurie moment..
I’d woken up by birds singing at 3am and instead of going back to sleep like a normal person I was wide awake with excitement for the day ahead . So I got up, scribbled down some thoughts, replied to a few messages and an hour later I was sat on a bench overlooking the marina, meditating under the light of the sun and the full moon.
All of this sounds lovely but it all leads to the exhaustion that no doubt compounded Loment no 4
A classic this one…I checked the time for transport over and over and over. I was sure it was 9.15am for my crossing to Polače. I would have been totally correct if I was looking at the right month and it wasn’t a national holiday. So just a seven hour wait until my ferry that would no longer take me to Polače but to Pomena – same island but even further away from my campsite.
With pretty much a whole day to kill in Dubrovnik, I left my enormous backpack at Nikolina’s guesthouse and went for a walk back around the peninsula before finding a little beach to rest on. I’d forgotten to take a bikini with me but seeing as though I’ve read so much on Croatia’s liberal attitude to sunbathing I whipped off my clothes and lay there in nothing but a pair of knickers. It was all really lovely and relaxing for a whole two minutes until a rather large, potentially rabid, stray Labrador accosted me face-on with incessant loud and intimidating barks.
This went on for a good fifteen minutes. His tail was wagging so I think he just wanted a belly rub, but after having to have a tetanus jab for thinking I was Dr Doolittle with some wild squirrels once, I thought against it. So I did what anybody would do… I threw an apple to distract him, picked up my stuff and RAN (semi-naked into a busy car park).
This is genuinely by far the most physically grueling thing I’ve ever done. I now understand why men cry doing Iron Man. I was almost reduced to tears a handful of times but I just bit my bottom lip and took my frustration out by swearing at the giant hornets that kept tormenting me as I rode.
Just because it’s a 2cm squiggly line on a map, does not mean it’s a short, flat distance in real life.
Despite months, and I mean literally months, of researching the island of Mljet and reading time and time again that you have to hire a car or scooter to get around…. I decide that nope, the bicycle is the one for me and I can handle it. I’ve done a 100km bike ride for charity, I spend my days on top of a two-wheeled wonder so absolutely nothing to worry about….I GOT THIS.
Now it may only be 15km but what I forgot to think about was the fact I was carrying almost 25kg, 17 of which was on my back and the rest on my front – because clearly rustic camping requires three sets of fairy lights, twenty-three dresses, a mini hairdryer and a juice squeezer (I kid you not). I also hadn’t taken into consideration the 30 degrees heat or the fact I’d no doubt get lost – which of course I did, adding 3km and an extra mountain to my torture.
Regardless of all of this, there were three things that really got me to almost hit breaking point.
- This journey was spread out over about 13 MOUNTAINS, I’m not talking hills, I’m talking full-grown Snowdon-esque mountains with 11% inclines for kilometers at a time, winding bends and stomach-churning cliff drops
- I started at 6.30pm knowing I had just until 8.21pm before the sun would disappear for lights out, and I’m scared of the dark
- I was lost in a national National Park, swamped in a mass of 750,00 lush green olive trees with nobody around, no little villages in sight and no cars passing by – literally in the middle of nowhere and totally alone
So I guess it was the fear of nightfall, oh and the THREE FOOT SNAKE I saw at the side of the road that kept me going.
I made it.
I had to just stop and pitch up at the nearest site which was Camp Marina in Ropa.
The lovely lady who greeted my sweaty, petrified-looking face looked at me like I was an absolute lunatic. She could not believe I had arrived by bicycle. It was now almost 9pm and I had about ten minutes until the sun would disappear completely so I frantically whipped up my tent, had a delightful experience with an eco-toilet and about forty cockroaches then returned to fairy light cave for some rest.
I’m looking forward to checking into the Hilton tomorrow.