Dubrovnik, Croatia • July 2015 • Length of Read: 6 Minutes
I stirred from my afternoon nap to a half-naked Chinese man leering over me and panting profusely; a pair of skin-tight wet-suit shorts leaving little to the imagination… and I mean little…
“Hey,” I groggily mumbled. “What’s going on?”
“Hello. I just been kayak. Very tired. Much exhausting for 3 hours paddling.”
“Yeah, I can imagine out in that heat” I responded, just glad to get an explanation for his lack of attire. “Was it fun?
“Very much so, but now I must sleep.”
“No worries man” I said, rolling back over into my pillow and pulling down my eye mask for some further shut-eye.
When I awoke for the second time, the Chinese man was passed out under his sheets, and the bunk above which was previously empty now had a tanned guy with a headband lounging out in it.
“Awrite mate” I said, momentarily forgetting that Scottish slang usually goes amiss with most backpackers.
“Awrite man” he responded in a very familiar accent. “Where are you from?”
“Glasgow” he grinned.
Joseph was at the tail end of a two month European Tour which has seen him trek across the alps and down into the medieval menace of Florence and The Eternal City of Rome. In all the time he’d been on the road however I was only the second countryman he’d come across, and bantering about life in and around the University campus where he studied Geology was clearly a refreshing hometown comfort. Recharged after my power nap, we headed to a beach located just outside The Walls where we traded travel stories about the mishaps and characters we’d encountered on our different journeys until the sun started to set.
The French dude at the hostel reception had suggested a local place away from the tourist-inflated prices of the main street to grab some dinner, so we wandered across and ordered come Cevapi and Ozujsko beer at his recommendation. I wasn’t too sure what to expect from a ‘traditionally Croatian’ dish, but when the waiter brought over what was effectively 8 sausages in a king-sized bun stuffed with lettuce, tomato, and garnish, I was pleasantly set-back. Having had nothing since lunch it was wolfed down in a manner to be frowned upon by anyone of upstanding values; certainly not a date dish but delightfully filling.
Back at the hostel we sat out on the patio playing some cards under candlelight and sipping on some more Ozujsko that had been picked up at a mini-market on the way home. A couple of Canadian girls with a tub of ice-cream sat down to join us and our card games were soon put to the side as a couple of lads from Brighton also came up the stairs. Apparently in Dubrovnik, unlike every other city on the European continent, Saturday nights are the quietest of the week, with the locals all heading out from Sunday to Thursday and then using the weekend to relax and recover. The French guy warned us that due to this and the coinciding opera taking place down in the main square not much would be kicking off, so we decided to just head down as a group to the marina and have a ghetto-style moonlit liquid –picnic.
One of the guys from Brighton, who based on his accent originally hailed from Australia, had been travelling for over 14 months having built a guitar tuition app that provided him enough passive income to spend his days bouncing from country to country. Whereas some people might have been arrogant and flash about the whole thing however, he was really humble and talked down his achievements as if he were embarrassed to discuss the success of it all. “It doesn’t bring in a lot man, but I was able to party my whole way through Asia for 7 months straight. So much for getting the work done on my next project that I was meant to…”
The girls mentioned a place where you could get some drinks whilst taking in ‘the best view in Dubrovnik’, so as the Brighton boys bode us farewell Joseph and I followed them up the cobbles and past a sign that read ‘cold drinks with the most beautiful view’ until we reached a wrought iron gate at the foot of the Southern Walls. Entering, we found seating areas perched amongst the scattered rocks marking the Adriatic coastline. The girls had been at Buza Bar earlier in the day, cliff diving from the tables into the depths of the crystal clear water below. As for the view at 1am however, it was more like staring into an abyss than out at the vast ocean of colour they had seen when the sun was up, but the glimmer and shimmer of the lights from vessels still at sea gave an alternative kaleidoscope of imagery as they swept effortlessly across the horizon to destinations unknown; beacons illuminating the darkness.
We paired off and I went for a stroll with Keira further down to the water’s edge. She was a psychology student in Toronto and started rambling on about her Synesthesia, a neurological condition in which the stimulation of one sense automatically triggers an involuntary stimulation in another. To put it in Lehman’s terms she gave the example of only being able to use plastic cutlery as otherwise every time she eats all she can taste is the metal of the fork. “The book Wednesday is Indigo Blue contains remarkable interviews and scientific studies on the topic, but it is almost impossible for someone to rationalize that isn’t affected by it. Did you know every time I see the number 4 it is always the colour green, no matter what is actually printed?
“That’s mental!" was my response, genuinely fascinated by this phenomenon. “And what senses are triggered when this happens?” I cheekily added, leaning in for a kiss…