|Our first stop up the Dalmatian Coast from Dubrovnik was the town of Hvar on the island of Hvar. We stayed in an apartmnt of a local family on the hillside overlooking the quaint port town. Our hostess went to great lengths explaining how to get back to her house from the town. She seemed quite worried that we wouldn't be able to find our way home. We weren't at all concerned - one look up the hillside from the town and you could spot the house no problem. There sat a brilliant tangerine orange structure among a sea of traditional white houses. It stood out like a beacon.
The town of Hvar surrounds a small cove and there is one main street. We plunked ourselves down on a stone wall in the town square to watch all the action. The patios of the bars and cafes were packed with people. The church bells started to ring and the entire town headed towards the church. There's no one left in the square except for us and a few other tourists. Earlier that day, in Dubrovnik, we had seen everyone heading towards church with their palm leaves for Palm Sunday. That evening in Hvar, there were no palm leaves but the attendance was certainly high - maybe it had something to do with Easter in a week's time. Half an hour later everyone filed out of church and back into the bars and cafes and we headed towards our orange beacon.
We had planned on overnighting in Split but decided we should make headway up the coast. We have planned to be in Venice for Purim. There are no trains heading north so we catch a bus for a 315km journey to Rijeka. One would think that this might take four to five hours including stops. Not so. After thirty minutes on the raod we passed a sign telling us that we had 356 km to go. Some how we had added an extra 41 km. Unfortunately, the seals had gone on all the windows so we couldn't see anything of the passing countryside or coast, although we understand it's stunning. The heat was also turned on full blast and the windows didn't open. With four hours behind us a sign told us we still had 205 km to go. Five minutes further up the road another sign told us it was really 220 km. I think the heat was making us delirious. After four and a half hours they finally gave us a bathroom break. A full eight minutes! It took five minutes to find the washroom and two and a half minutes standing in line. Talk about pressure! After six hours we were given a food break. Fast food doesn't exist here so it was potato chips and a drink and back onto the stifling bus. Finally, eight hours later and a distance of 35,694 km (?) we reached the city of Rijeka.
We arrived in Rijeka after dark, with no map, no knowledge of the city, and no reservations. We headed down the Korzo, the main street, and luckily the tourist info was open late. We were told that Rijeka has only three hotels, and they were all full. In the end we found one room left at the top 4 star hotel so we had no choice but to take it. Darn! The room was beautiful and an unexpected bit of luxury. The restaurant in the square was also first class, with excellent food, but Hannah was a bit freaked out when they wheeled over the tray of dead fish for us to choose our dinner.
For us, Rijeka, was only a sleep stop on the way to Venice. However, because we had sat all day on the bus being totally inactive none of us could sleep. Tomorrow we will go to Slovenia or to Trieste, Italy. It all depends on what we learn at the bus station in the morning.