Tales of Croatia. Part Six.
Continued from part five...
When we were walking on the wall around the city, we could see a beach to the South, only a short distance away. So, we made our way there. The beaches there don't have sand. And there aren't really large waves. The entire coastline has a huge amount of islands just off shore. And these 1000 or so islands (no exaggeration, look at a map) running all along the Croatian coast serve to protect the shore. The waves are very small and the sea very calm, for the most part. Because of this, there's very little erosion and the beaches mostly have no sand. I saw NO sand the entire time I was there. Instead, there are small pebbles. The bad part of that is that they are difficult to walk on unless you keep your sandals on (Teva to the rescue!). But, the great part is that the water is entirely clear. You can see into it clearly and easily. Nice! So, we jumped in. The sea is also extremely salty, which is pretty great. Floating takes no effort at all. Emptying your lungs does not make you sink. Not much will. You can lay back in this sea in a semi V shape and just float there looking around at everything. Amazing shit.
Right on the beach, there was a cafe. It was very open and airy, looking out onto the sea, with cloth drapery hanging, thin and whispy and pulled off to the side. Inside, it felt a little cave like, but with low seats and pillows. We went in and ordered a beer, and lo, there was a TV playing the World Cup game between the Czech Republic and the US. Rock on! It was an amazing environment to be watching that game in, however embarrassingly bad the US may have played. Fuck.
Behind us when we came in was a small group of maybe 6 Americans, being fucking loud and annoying. They were like frat boys, loud and obnoxious. I looked at Esad and told him in Croatian that right then I was not an American, that I would be again later, but for the moment I was not. These guys were exactly what a lot of people think of Americans as when overseas. They give us a bad name. Fuckers. Eventually they left, because the bartender chased them off. They'd just brought their own beers straight into the cafe to drink them and had not ordered anything, so away they went.
Dinner time came up after a while and we wandered around looking for a restaurant. We wandered for quite some time before settling on this very nice restaurant.
It was Monday and the restaurant was empty. Our waiter seated us on the balcony overlooking the walled city. Nice! The rain had stopped while we were checking into our hotel and it was nice out. It had been very warm and muggy, but night fell and it started to cool as we sat outside. Esad recognized the waiter. Turns out he was from Esad's neighborhood, Gajnice, and worked at a club near there. So, he was a neighborhood guy! What luck! We had it made! He'd come to Dubrovik for tourist season to make some money. He'd return to Zagreb when the season is over. We resolved to just let this guy recommend lots of great stuff for us. We had him help us with everything. And, a feast we had! When the time came to select a fish, he brought us out a platter with the fresh fish of the day. And, these were entire fish, fresh as all hell. They looked like they'd JUST been caught. Amazing. We settled in on one fish of medium size, but he was really adamant about us ordering the fish that was much larger. He said it was much better and much more recommended and we'd been having good luck, so why not? So, sure enough, we said go ahead.
And, in all fairness, Sasho tried to talk us out of it. He knows fish very well as he goes spear fishing, and said we should go with the smaller one. But, Esad and I thought we should trust the local, his acquaintance. So, we got Sasho to agree reluctantly.
That's called foreshadowing, that is.
So, they brought out a few dishes, we ate, more dishes, more eating. Nice. The fish was huge. Sasho grabbed the head and tore it in half, ripped out the tongue and ate it. He explained that much of the head was the best meat and gave me a piece from inside the mouth and head area. And sure enough, he was right. He didn't eat the eyes, nothing like that. But inside the head, that's some great meat. The fish was too large and we each basically ate half of our portion. We had no way to have left overs, so away it went. And, away I went to the WC.
When I returned, Sasho and Esad looked like they'd been fucked in the ass while seeing a ghost.
This is not good.
Sasho looked at me and asked, 'How much money you got on you?' Oh fuck. What's up? They show me the bill. It's around 1300 kuna. In Zagreb, by comparison, the three of us would go to a very nice meal with a lot of courses and drinks for 300, a full 1000 less. To be fair, we'd had a feast. It was great food, and by US standards of prices, the $225 or so bill was not outrageous. But, the fact is, they'd ripped us off, willfully. They literally charged us $200 just for that one fish, then everything else was normal price. We had trusted the guy and hadn't asked what the market price was or anything. We're idiots, fair enough. But we figured with him being a local guy that Esad knew, it was a great opportunity to get recommendations. It usually would be! But, this guy fucked us.
They had the very best paški sir we had, though. This is goat cheese from the island Pag. The stuff they had was really amazing. So, there IS that.
I had maybe 600 kuna on me and my Visa. I think we maybe had enough, but we put it on the card. The waiter came out and said that they didn't take Visa, only American Express or something. Or cash. I looked at him and told him that he didn't have any option, that if he wanted to get paid, he'd have to find a way to run my card or he wasn't getting paid anything. So, naturally, he found a way and ran my card. No tip at all, motherfucker. Esad explained he wanted cash. He was probably just gonna pocket it and run a different receipt at work or something. Sasho and I later split the bill between us, treating Esad since he'd been such a great host.
As it turns out, though, not only does Esad know who this guy is and where he works in Zagreb. But, he's*friends* with this guys' boss in Zagreb. So, revenge will be had. As Esad said 'His ass is mine.'
We left and quickly found a cafe to drink beer at. Esad got a text message from a friend who was in town. I'd met her already, Iva (from Ivana, pronounced like Eva). She was there for some seminars on some kind of NGO law stuff, I cannot recall exactly what. She brought a Serbian girl with her.
Sasho went back to sleep a bit early, as he was still jet lagged. The rest of us wandered around and found another cafe to drink at. World Cup people were out and rowdy. Nearly every alley in the inner city had raucous pub noise leaking out into the entire area. Mostly, loud drunken guys singing football songs and screaming. Occasional women howling as well, drunken and wild. Nice. After the cafes all closed down, we wandered over onto the northernmost area of the marina, out around to the side and secluded and hung out for a while.
End of part six.