Friday, November 18, 2011

Novigrad to Split

We were up before sunrise today in order to catch a bus to Riječka via Poreč. We had done our homework online to ensure time schedules from Novigrad to Split. As the bus climbs up from the coast, Sandy points out that there is frost on the ground and trees as the bus climbs higher and further from the coast.

In Riječka we walked a short distance to the train station with an hour layover. Riječka is the largest city we have seen in Croatia. It is a major shipping port that has lost all of its original traditions through crowding with communist-era tall apartment buildings.

The train is reminiscent of old movies. There are only two cars with two very steep entry steps. We need help getting up and on.The cars have individual compartments each with comfortable six seats. You can open the window and slide the seat out to recline. The initial leg climbs steadily into a mountainous region with lots of open forested land and scattered villages.

Due to some rail repairs, we transfer to a bus at Blace, high in the mountains. We will continue by bus to another small village and then catch another train to Ogulin. Building styles in these mountains appears more Swiss or Austrian with wide roof overhangs, wooden and stucco exteriors, brown stain and white paint, and rosemalling on the shutters, very different than the colorful Mediterranean style In Istria.

Now on a larger and newer train and it too is very comfortable and few people. It is very foggy in these mountains. The conductor just gave us coffee. Another "Lost in Translation " moment. Dick said black and I said cream and sugar and we both got the same thing. Our final train doesn't have compartments, but we have a table for playing cribbage and gin rummy.

The conductor does not speak/understand English. We thought he had asked us to move to another car, so Dick started getting our bags together. He motioned "not now, next stop". As it turned out, he meant that we would need to transfer trains at the next stop. He probably thought Dick was going to get off the train immediately. The man across the aisle from us is very helpful, and explained this all to us afterward. Another "lost in translation" moment! We heard the conductor laughing with the engineer, undoubtedly about those crazy Americans.

The final leg of today's journey was good and bad. The good: a nice man we met on the train (a veteran of the 1991 civil war) walked with us to the #37 bus which is the public transportation to Trogir where we are staying for the next three nights. The bad, or not so good: #37 bus. Although our new friend thankfully found us seats on the bus, it was very crowded and it took over an hour to get to Trogir because of the many stops.

Our B&B is located right behind the Cathedral in Trogir in the old town. Our host's wife injured her back earlier today, so we are not able to meet her, but their daughter speaks English well enough to direct us to the one and only restaurant still open in the old town.

This week we enjoyed a couple nice picnics and tried our hand at scallops in their shell and sole. Sweet lady at the fish market. She told us November is sole month. She sells some kind of fish spread that was great on our olive crackers.

Also had our last English class and brought our Chicago playing cards that had descriptions on them. That was fun. We have decided to try and take Italian lessons when we get to Italy, since we sure didn't pick up much Croatian. Most Croatians speak Italian and all take English in school.

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