Stacy and I arrived home almost a month ago. I’m slowly acclimating back to reality but trying to maintain my humor and relaxed sense. I guess in some ways, avoiding auto pilot. As I walked to work that first morning, with sirens blasting and a graffiti buster cleaning cement, I felt my body start to tense – I’d never noticed that before . . . I had to shake it off.

Now back to my trip, I think I might have a couple more blogs up my sleeve. On the island of Hvar, I do remember a moment when I wanted to click my heels to go home — but it was home from Stari Grad to Hvar Town.

Stacy and I took a day trip to Stari Grad on Nov. 1st – the Catholics on the island celebrated the day of the dead on that day (there was no trick or treating the night before that I was aware of). This, of course, meant to us tourists that even more shops and such were closed in the already basically shut down town. We walked down to the plaza that morning and it was bustling with people dressed up outside of the beautiful stone church. It had never been so busy any other morning. Earlier that week, we snuck into the church – a red candle was lit outside and the doors open. It didn’t have elaborate frescoes on the ceiling that rose to the sky (the dark church cast a blue hue), but as we walked through I stopped to look at the various shrines to the Virgin Mary, Jesus and the dead (you could light a candle at an altar). As I walked up to the front of the church, a teen-aged girl walked out of a confession booth and that’s when it dawned on me as to why the church was open. I stood staring at one of the shrines when the door to the confessional booth opened again and a priest walked out. I looked at him, looking at me (I’ve been good I swear!) and as he passed he patted me on the shoulder. He seemed calm and happy the pat gave me a warm feeling. I felt lucky in some sense to have encountered him.

But anyway, back to the Stari Grad story, we walked through the church-goers and to the bus station. We got on the big luxury bus and stared out the window at the rugged and rocky landscape along the coast for about twenty minutes, when we arrived in Stari Grad. It’s actually older than Hvar Town, but not as quaint. It has a horseshoe-shaped harbor, so we walked along the old stone buildings and yachts and then back through the narrow alleyways of the town. Nothing was open except for a couple of cafes so we stopped for an espresso. Once again, no shopping – bummer!

We had plenty of time before our bus would leave, in fact all afternoon and I thought, what the hell are we going to do. So we walked to the other side of the horseshoe. There was a big hotel at the end of it, with a nice pebble beach. The place was so eerily quite with a few other wanderers like us. The hotel looked abandoned for the season – it was so bizarre and almost sad. It was a big white square building that reminded me of communist apartments. So much of the different areas had these beautiful ancient stone buildings and then we would wander upon a cement block-type building.

We started back on the path to the town center and passed another shut down hotel and small rental cabins behind it. It was so peaceful and beautiful with the evergreen trees that towered over us and clear water of the Adriatic Sea waiting, quietly.

It brought back memories of camping. I pictured being in Branson, MO when I was maybe in junior high. Stacy and I stood on the cement boat launch, fully clothed,  and I thought it would be a good idea to go down the ramp, closer to the lake. As I walked down, my jelly sandals started to slide down the ramp on the moss that covered the cement. There really was no stopping me, and in fact it was basically like being on ice. Down, splash, into the water. Stacy started laughing at me as I tried to pull myself up first over the moss covered boat ramp and then off to the side over moss covered rocks. I kept slipping back in and Stacy was laughing way too hard to help me. Seaweed, moss or anything green in the water freaked me out! I was angry and got angrier when I couldn’t get out! Finally, somehow, I dragged my wet body out of the lake and we trudged back to the pop-up trailer. I swear, even the ducks were giggling at me. The only bruise I remember from that adventure, was the one to my ego.

Once back around the path,  in Stari Grad, we ate pizza and then headed to the bus stop. Our bus was supposed to arrive at 6pm. When that time came and went, we started to wonder what it meant when a time on the bus chart was underlined. Hmmm. Yes, of course we overlooked that fact – it didn’t even dawn on us to ask someone back in Hvar Town before our trip. We stared at each other and the few passing cars as we sat in the dark bus stop. I focused hard on the passing cars, willing the car lights to turn into a magic bus that would take us back home. It didn’t work, so we went back to the unfriendly guy at the pizza place.

He told us that his friend would take us back to Hvar for 200 Kuna (about 40 bucks) – what a rip off! He said the cab would charge us 250 Kuna. Well, we’ll just see about that, please call us a cab. The cab driver, dressed in a suit told me as we got into the VW that it would only be around 100-150 Kuna. See! The guy was lying!

Once back, nicely snug in the arms of Hvar Town, the cab driver stated that we owed him 250 Kuna. What?! I got over it very quickly and was just happy to back home and away from my vision of trudging through Stari Grad, trying to find a place to stay. It had crossed my mind before we realized that they had a cab in town.

The Hvar Croatians might not be that friendly, but they are honest!