due to ill health, this Blog is no longer being updated. There are posts in the records and the posts already published will be kept as long as Blogger allows. Thank you for your loyalty!
Ian W Mitchell. 22 December 2017.
Life in general, even for an aristocrat! Tip: Use "ARCHIVES" for lost moments. Blog started in September 2004.(This is another 'marquisdugalipot' group enterprise).Contact:
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Since it's holiday time, here are a couple of older articles on the subject.....
Croatia! OK, I'm talking quite a while back, the Berlin Wall was still there, a man called "Tito" was still (just) alive and in charge! I've forgotten the year now, but to give you a hint, we entered Belgrade, in our modern German Tourist bus, just a week or so before he died, and he was actually in Hospital there, at that moment. I've already written an article about the scene in Yugoslavia at the time, somewhere on this blog, but now - I'm sitting in the South of France, unusually the drizzle is present, the sky is grey, people are not too happy, tomorrow the sun will be back, but it's still a personal insult! S0....have a look at older things! We had left Berlin West, where we were living, having received an unusual period of free time, BOTH together, and we took the first thing we saw on the list of "places to go". Opatija was the name of the place, and apart from the almost unpronouncable name, we knew nothing at all about the country we were going to! We had some 10 days or so, with 2 days coach journey to get there, and two days to get back, leaving us with around 6 days to look around. Even although it's a long time ago now, I look back with great pleasure, on this excursion. We didn't know that later in life, when we lived in Allgau, South of Germany, we were to go to Opatija very often, just for the weekend, since it was only about 4 hours from our mountain home in the car, but presented a totally different set up, with Sun instead of snow, and beaches instead of ski slopes! Both have their charm and beauty, but too much of either is simply TOO MUCH, and a change imposes itself! The Coach driver, as I recall, wanted to get out of Belgrade as soon as possible, considering the situation a little too serious, with nobody knowing what might happen if Tito were to die whilst we were there, but it WAS on the holiday plan, so he sped through the streets as quickly as he could. He also had something else in mind - selling his German boiled sausages at exorbitant prices to his captured customers! He didn't want them actually giving out money in Belgrade Restaurants - so - In, through - and out! Disappointing, really, but this was a factor in all of our Coach holidays (I recall being told off in no uncertain terms, when I brought a French baguette onto HIS bus to replace the breakfast we had been forced to swallow in one gulp, because he wanted to get away early! Who, he asked - in a highly pitched German voice - did I think was going to clean up the crumbs in HIS bus? Well.. YOU, I replied, I'm on holiday! Didn't please our Fritz!) Of course we knew that his boiled sausages and dried bread were a "side" income, but these things, together with a half liter of German beer, were NOT our idea of a holiday breakfast! So, having made ourselves thoroughly unpopular with the Fuhrer ( means "driver" in German!) and with the other sheep-like German customers, we just carried on our normal a-social life! We finally arrived in Optija, and having queued up to get our Rooms, we made our way directly to the nearest Car hire place, whilst the rest of our German co-voyagers were installing their towels on the swimming pool loungers for the next day, and within an hour, we were happily humming our way down little narrow roads in our dustbin Fiat. Opatija lies on the Adriatic coast, rocky (not pebbles, but rocks) beaches and coast line, but very enjoyable. The sand doesn't get into your socks, your shoes, your underpants etc... At the time, the whole area, indeed the whole country, was highly underdeveloped, and we were there out of what was considered to be the Tourist season (it was April time), so there was no problem in finding a table at a Restaurant. I dare say all that has changed in between times, but we were happy to just drift in our little vehicle, along the coastal roads. I recall finding a little Seaport, with little rowing boats (actually the Yugoslavian version of fishing boats) all lined up, full to the brim with all sorts of marine offerings. What happened was that you sat down at a table, outside, on the side of the Port wall (there were no cars or vans - the only transport we ever saw was donkey power!) and you ordered your meal. Right next to you was an enormous grill/barbecue in stone, with an intriguing rope which dangled down towards the fishing/rowing boats. We stuffed ourselves with Scampi, langoustines, mussels, fresh sardines and lots of other things (we each had at least 4 servings). These bestialities were heaved up by that intriguing rope, at the end of which was a wicker basket, full to the brim, from the boats. From there, they wriggled their way directly onto the permanently red glowing grill, and from there onto an enormous plate, piled high, and surrounded with fresh lemon halves. Salt was unnecessary, a little home made mayonnaise was served at table, and lots of fresh country bread, in thick wedges, were the sole accompaniments, apart from the lavish gulps of local white wine, which just seemed to disappear so quickly that I looked under the big jug, just to make sure there wasn't a hole in it and the table, with someone underneath to recuperate the wine for resale. There wasn't - it was just us! (Incidentally, this was before the time of alco-tests on the roads). The reeded roof of this "terrace" protected us from the harsh Spring sun (at least that was what the locals told us) and life was good! Most Yugoslavs spoke either a smattering of German or English, so we got bye quite well, and then I made my one and only mistake! Pay the bill - of course we had to pay the bill, for those kilos and kilos of seafoods and bread - the litres of wine. Problem was - in what currency? It appeared that the Patron didn't hold a great deal from his own Yugoslav dinare, and preferred US Dollars, German D-marks, or even better Swiss Francs! Well - we had them all! How many would he like? When he told me, I protested vehemently that "it just wasn't on!" He wanted 5 German D-marks each! For a meal that had taken some 4 hours of non-stop imbibing and chewing! From simple octopus salad, via the immense grill offering, through some sort of local pudding of fresh figs, to Coffee (Turkish variety) with a Yugoslav version of poison (called "Slivovitz" - and it is "more-ish", a sort of plum brandy which grows on you the more you have). Not forgetting the gallons of white wine. Being a "good" Tourist, I didn't argue, and slapped down a 10 D-mark note, together with a few loose coins and notes of the local "dinare" (well - you had to use it somehow). With profuse thanks, we were forced to take another little glass of Slivovitz, and - on leaving - I thought that the service on the terrace had been so friendly, quick and plentiful, that it merited a little tip. I only had small change of German currency, so I slipped one of the 5 D-mark pieces onto the table, and we left. We hadn't got far when a great roar came from behind us! OK - we thought! Now for the REAL price! There he was, our Patron, chasing up the cobbled road towards us and our car. Oh my Gawd, thought We! Last time we'll see Berlin! No, no, no, no, our host hurled! Pressing the tip of 5DM back into my hand, he explained that if I left so much, the waiter would be the toast of the town later that afternoon, and probably would be so "smashed" as to forget to come into work this evening! That was our first experience of Hospitality in Croatia - and it wasn't the last! I won't ever forget it, even if it's all changed nowadays. ******************* (More experiences of Croatia and it's surroundings will follow in later articles!)
(iwmpop (mr le Marquis) April 2008 30600, Vauvert, France.
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