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Day 7: Are you Croatia or what?

By Folk Combo, Jan 20 2015 12:29AM

On how Folk Combo spended a splendid week in sunny Croatia.

On the first day of January, we woke up, slightly hungover, next to the Adriatic sea in Opatije. It was a beautiful sunny day and from the Villa we could see many people striding along the boulevard, enjoying the particularly nice weather. We got up, had our coffee and cigarettes and thought it might be an good day to do some busking in the sunshine. So we quickly changed into our folky outfits and set up our act on a nice bench overlooking the bay. It was the most relaxed and easy busking session ever, since we weren't below zero for once and we could actually feel our hands and fingers while playing. The Villa was right behind us and we could easily jump back into the car to make a coffee and grab something to eat. We fed the pidgeons with some old pieces of bread and we even rehearsed some new songs. The people were very charmed by our music and the kunas were steadily filling up the mandolin case. A few hours later, when we finished and counted the money, we realized we broke the Bratislava record, that, until then, seemed unbeatable. We were sitting in the car feeling like two maffiosos while stacking up the bills and coins on our improvised camping table. A very promising start, we both agreed, and the earnings were spent on a huge bag of groceries. which included basically everything we liked from the supermarket.

From Opatije, we followed the coastline down south. We found an excellent camping spot on the insula of Krk, allthough we had to break a few rules to get there. It was some kind of forest where camping was prohibited but there wasn't a soul down so there we drove the Villa onto the rocky, unpaved road into the darkness. We found a nice place next to the water and that night we made a fire and barbecued underneath the full moon, roasting sausages on sticks and trying out our new collection of groceries. We played some songs and fuelled the jam with whiskey and beer. An excellent night! The next morning we had a little dip in the water which was very refreshing and we drove back over the bridge, leaving the Krk insula and made our way towards Zadar. This is an ancient and historical city, full of ruins from the Roman Empire and a beautiful church made of white stone. After a small stroll around the city and some intentions to do busking, which we didn't in the end, we found another great spot next to the sea, recommended to us by some locals and there we set up camp. The cars that were parked there weren't empty. Inside, all kinds of private things were going on and you could see the moving silhouets behind the windows. The place was next to the water and the weather continued to be good, so we camped there for a few days, doing nothing whatsover, sitting in the sun, playing music and taking it easy. For a moment we nearly forgot about our folkloric quest and it felt like we were having an actual summer holiday. On one of the Zadar nights we went out to play in the center. We found a nice staircase where the music resonated beautifully onto the almost empty square. The pedestrians were quite surprised by this unexpected musical ambience and some of them stopped and listen attentively. After the session, a young man, who had been sitting around for a good while to listen, came to us and thanked us for the music. His name was Serdjen, a fellow musician and a student of philosophy and sociology. He had been triggered by our music and had followed the sounds down the streets until he found us. He told us he was very happy to find us playing there so spontaneously that night. We had a nice conversation about science, music, philosophy and spirituality and we kept talking for a couple of hours until it got a bit cold and we returned to the campsite.

After two days of hanging around, we knew we would have to move on and we left our beloved camping spot with garden by the sea and the salty pool. On our way to Split, we went to the natural park of Krka. It is made up of a huge system of waterfalls and creeks and we spent some time walking around, listening to raging water; the sounds of nature. After the park we conintued the road to Split, another city on the coast of Dalmatia. It is full of charming tiny streets and alleys with gorgeous arcs of marble, nice corners and little squares with cafés. We went for a some busking, made a few kunas and had a beer in a small bar. From there we found a cheap room where we slept that night and the next day, after a another busking session and not finding any folk musicians, we decided to move on to Dubrovnik. We had to pass the border with Bosnia Hercegovina to reach this southern point of Croatia and the douane thorougly examined the Villa before they let us go on.

We arrived in Dubrovnik at night, so we didn't see much of the city at first. We slept, again, next to the sea and the next morning went to the town for some sightseeing and a busking session. The old part of the town is some kind of fortress, with huge, thick walls. One could easily imagined this place used to be an important stronghold, armed with big cannons against some foreign invader. Now there was just a one cannon left, as some historical artefact. Next to the fortress, there is a cute little harbour with small boats. The city was very quiet; there weren't a lot of people on the streets except for a few herds of Chinese tourists and some locals wandering around. It was a beautiful day and we were enjoying the sun while playing on one of the main squares of the city. The few people that were there made some nice remarks about the music and we even sold a CD. Afterwards, we walked around a bit more, got some lunch and at dawn we decided to move on and leave Croatia and the sea behind us. Before that, we had to spended our last kunas, which we still had quite a few, so we fuelled up the Villa, bought some more groceries and we were ready to go.

At the border with Bosnia there was a problem. We didn't have our Green Card in the car. It is a document concerning international car insurance and required for countries outside the EU. This wasn't a problem so far and considering the smooth crossing to Romania, also outside the EU, a bit of a surprise. We were sent back to Dubrovnik and we had to think of a solution to this paper problem. We got a scan of the original thanks to Gijs's father and we copied it onto a paper. We went back to the border to try again but he border police still didn't wanted to let us pass, since our improvised paper wasn't green and he told us he would be abandoning his protocol accepting copied versions. We were persistent and assured him that it was the right paper. He asked us where we intended to go. We told him we would drive straight on to Romania and would only stay one day in Bosnia, only for passing trough. He changed his mind, reminded us to drive safely and slowly and let us in. Pfieeww... That was close. We knew then we had to solve this tiny paper problem before trying to pass the others borders, but for now, we could move on.

Goodbye Croatia and hello Bosnia Hercegovina.

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