Croatia – Day 1
24 August 2012 – Friday
We took the direct Baku-Split flight. There was not a single Croat on the flight, and not even any other foreigner – the plane was packed with Azeris, who couldn’t be any happier with the opportunity to travel without a visa. There isn’t actually anything to be said about the flight, as it was pretty ordinary: we took off, landed, applauded the pilot.
Split met us with a stifling heat, worse than in Baku. That’s what I call “out of the frying pan into the fire”. The airport was very small, “chamber-sized”, I would say.
Generally, when upon your arrival everything passes smoothly and without a hitch: passport control, the transfer driver holding your name sign, etc, – of course, you feel happy about it, but when you start writing, you feel some disappointment, because it turns out that there isn’t much to write about.
But, on our way to Dubrovnik, I made some observations: the first impression was as if I hadn’t travelled beyond Absheron, at least the landscape was very similar. However, it changed quite soon. On our left there were mountains: sometimes green, sometimes bald; and on our right was the clear blue Jadran (Adriatic Sea). Its water was of the colour I’d never seen before, and so clear, that the sea floor near the shore could be seen even from far away. The whole coast was basically one big stone beach (sometimes civilised, sometimes wild), and people were bathing here and there. All along the coast there were signs of hotels, B&B facilities, flats for rent, even rooms for rent in people’s houses – all persistently beckoning tourists. Pretty much everyone was walking around in bathing suits, even in urban areas.
The peculiarity of the way was that part of it (about ten kilometres) passed through a neighbouring state – Bosnia and Herzegovina. Everything was as it should be: the border-crossing post, the police, which, however, didn’t perform any checks, taking on trust that we were driving from Split to Dubrovnik. We noticed that an active construction of new, more serious border-crossing points was going on: in a years’ time this is going to be not an ordinary border, but a Schengen border, as Croatia will enter the Schengen zone while Bosnia and Herzegovina will not yet.
Actually, it has to be mentioned that we had previously imagined the famous “Jadranska Cesta”, that is the Adriatic Highway, to be a really wide highway. In fact it is a quite narrow winding mountain road. In general, the road was very picturesque: the turquoise sea, red tile roofs, trees, palms, flowers, mountain slopes. However, it’s quite far from the stunning beauty of Norwegian fjords. Maybe because a sight like this is more or less familiar to our eyes.
We’d been previously slightly frightened by forest fires occurring in the countly, and we did see smoke on the way, but luckily it was off our route.
The duration of the Split-Dubrovnik “rally” – a little more than four hours – was not enough to be seriously tiring, but slightly longer than required for a pleasant car drive.
The Neptun hotel is part of a resort complex with three pools and a private beach. It made a good impression, even though we didn’t yet have the opportunity to look around properly. Funnily, after all the talks about Absheron, my mobile Facebook made a mistake and, while I was uploading a photo with the sea view, made from my window, it defined my location as Mashtaga (note: it is a place near Baku, famous for its lunatic asylum – so one can just imagine what my Facebook friends thought, when they read my status, tagged in Mashtaga, but saying I was in Croatia!).
By the way, I noticed the dominance of Russian, German and Spanish tourists in the hotel.