Posts Tagged With: Croatia

Croatia, Blackmail and Helicopters…


And how is everybody? I know I’ve been doing this blogging thing for a while now but it still feels rude to launch into a monologue about me! Anyway, launching into a monologue about me…  I’ve been out and about a fair bit in the last week with the housemates again and also sailing. So this week’s excursions have been:

  • Offagna: I really like Offagna – it’s a hill top town half an hour or so away with a big castle at the top. We (the housemates and I) went for a pizza at “Sotta la Rocca” – we had a lovely pizza and then wandered around the town a bit. Lovely, lovely, lovely. And the countryside around there is spectacular too. I could live there.


  • Portonovo – I’ve been here a few times now and really like it. I’ve not been to the beach there before for a sunbathing/swimming session but we (still the housemates…) parked up and walked a bit around the corner where it was pretty much empty and spent the afternoon there. Portonovo is FABULOUS for snorkelling… the water was crystal clear and the rocks, though a bit perilous to try and get out for a swim, meant there was a lot of fish, crabs and other things to see.

I snorkelled to that rock sticking out – turns out it was a long way (only realised that on the way back).

  • Croatia – Sailing was great! We had a little flotilla thing going on – 3 boats. There were 5 of us on ours – my friend Catherine and three really nice guys.  We left Ancona on Thursday night and did a night sail to Croatia which took 12 hours. We got there mid morning and headed to a Drogana (place where you take your passports – I hadn’t really appreciated before that you need to sort of check in when you sail places) in a place called Sali (I think) and then off in between some islands for lunch, a swim and some sleep.

Sali (quite possibly) Only stayed here an hour or two.

  • Then we moored up in a lovely little bay somewhere else for the night – I’ve only ever been in marinas overnight so it was interesting! And there’s this well known wind (the Bora) in Croatia which is known for blowing boats off their moorings so we all anchored up next to each other and had ropes tied from the boats to some rocks and trees on the shore and then we tied ourselves to each other as well so all in all, it felt like quite a secure mooring! Or at least if it wasn’t, the plus side was we’d have all been blown away together (and would have taken half the Croatian countryside with us as a souvenir).

We spent a good half an hour motoring around this bay looking for the ideal place to er, park (moor probably)…

  • Next day we headed to another bay (I wish I’d paid more attention to where we’d gone!) with a Caribbean style white sandy beach and crystal clear water. The people around there have a lot of money – we were amidst some very fancy power boats. I’m somewhat envious. Apparently they don’t have pirates in Croatia. I think there’s a clear niche in the market. I’m definitely going to consider becoming a pirate.

Lovely bay… somewhere in Croatia. I recommend it!

  • So in summary, I had a great time and I think I’m more tanned than I’ve ever been, though also more bruised than I’ve ever been. I haven’t nailed walking in a straight line on a rocking boat. There’s not a bit of my thighs that I didn’t bang into something with. I look like a domestic abuse victim.

I’ve been doing a lot of drawing lately – I drew a lot of portraits on the boat but I need to practice more. I’m not good with my shading yet – everyone looks like they have beards. Apart from the people that actually have a beard and then it just looks like they haven’t washed. I’ve decided I’m going to set up a portrait drawing business in Marcelli (seaside resort where all the Italians go during summer) in the next few weeks so I need to get better (Piracy and Portraits R US Ltd?)! Portrait drawing doesn’t seem to be done much in Italy. And the Italian’s seem relatively easy to please on the portrait front so far (fortunately!) so hopefully if I can improve a bit, I’ll be onto a winner. I love doing portraits anyway so even if it doesn’t work out, it’ll keep me amused a bit whilst the piracy business takes off 🙂

I’m still frustrated as ever with the language but after a couple of pep talks from friends I’m slightly less depressed about it – apparently it takes a while! Anyway, the plus side of being inept at Italian is that some of my errors have had me giggling for ages, and still make me laugh. I asked one of the guys on the boat if he wanted his portrait taken… Only I asked him if he’d like to be blackmailed instead. “Portrait” and “Blackmail” are very similar sounding words in Italian!  The best thing was his reply “nah, not today, maybe tomorrow eh?”!

I’ve had two housemates leave and another one move in this weekend. I think I might have yet another soon too. Or tomorrow. Or next week. Who knows! Marco is not forthcoming when it comes to providing housemate information.

I failed dismally at my bureaucracy quest last week – I went back to the Comune armed with every document I could think of but I still require more. I’m less and less sure about this residency malarkey anyway –  the reason I’m questioning it again is that apparently I now have to buy private healthcare insurance because I’d be “resident” as a student. So this is my understanding: if I was working and therefore paying taxes then that would be fine, I don’t need to pay for healthcare insurance. But as I’m not at the moment, then I’d have to pay for my healthcare. But I let out a property in the UK so I’m already paying taxes which go towards healthcare and I shouldn’t have to pay for healthcare twice eh? And by becoming resident in Italy, maybe it means that rather than paying tax to the UK even though my house is there, I pay it to Italy but then I don’t want to pay tax here – the tax is a lot higher (who’d have thought!). So, to sum up – I’m thoroughly confused. The internet only adds to the confusion. So, next stop will be to email the tax folk in the UK and see if they’ll advise. Meanwhile, I’m very seriously thinking about flying back to the UK, buying a car and driving it back here.

This week’s ‘What’s a bit weird’: Look at this graffiti on the wall of my local school (below) – look past the “porn”… “Helicopter”! Isn’t it sweet? Some little ruffian has been practicing their English! Unless of course it means something entirely different in Italian…


Buonanotte all!


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Thunderstorms, Nudists and Overworked Beavers…


This week’s been quiet – the weather’s not been up to much.

There have been a few beach trips – the first one was Marcelli last Sunday. That stretch of beach seems to go for miles between Numana and Porto Recanati. Because of its sheer size, I’d have thought it would be relatively empty and yet it was RAMMED with people. I don’t think there was a single Italian that wasn’t on that beach. There’s regimented colour coordinated grids of umbrellas that people pay for, interspersed with other grids for people that don’t want to pay but who’ve brought their own umbrellas, followed by another colour coordinated set and so on for miles and miles.

Anyway, this was the beach:


Marcelli Beach

 In contrast to that, this was Mezza Valle beach…


Mezza Valle – better eh?

Mezza Valle is known around here as being particularly spectacular. However, you have to have a boat to get to it or be quite fit as it’s a steep 25 minute walk down to it, and more importantly a challenging trek back up!

For that reason, the beach is very quiet. I’ve been there twice this week. The first time was just before the biggest thunderstorm I’ve seen. The weather had been looking a bit ominous but we decided to risk it, had a quick 5 minute swim and then decided that we should probably head back up again before we got caught in the rain. And let me tell you, you should have SEEN it – it wasn’t even rain – I think you have to have “rain drops” for that – it was more like the sky was under water. And it had hail in it!  The weather here is crazy. Thankfully we’d made it back to the car just in time. I feel a bit sorry for the poor guys on the beach behind us. The path would have been a river – they’d have had to have done their best salmon impression to get back up to the top. We’ve had quite a few other thunderstorms this week too. And with thunder like I’ve never heard before. It’s been sounding like the sky has been falling down (anyone else remember Chicken Licken?!).

Anyway, look at me talking about the weather (you can take the girl out of Britain but not Britain out of the girl it seems) – much, much more interesting were the nudists! Family members – you might want to look away now :-). Now, Mezza Valle is not a nudist beach but it’s suitably in the middle of nowhere and big enough to be able to find a discreet location far from anyone and strip off if the desire is there. The housemates and I found a quiet spot far from anyone but kept our togs on. However, within a few minutes, the single naked men on the beach seemed to be edging closer until one started a conversation. I’ve thought about it and come to the conclusion that most of my conversations with people are conducted at eye level. After this guy came over to introduce himself (shook our hands), he proceed to sort of stand amongst us for a bit resulting in an unusual eye / naked groin level conversation. To give him credit, he did apologise for having his bits out, but in a “what can you do eh?” sort of way (put pants on), and then proceeded to squat (oh my eyes…) between us and chat. However, to my surprise he seemed relatively normal and by the end of the afternoon I’d allocated him to the “Harmless Extrovert” nudist category.  In contrast, the other “Filthy Flashing Pervert” nudist category was occupied by a couple of the other men who were patrolling our patch of beach and stopping at random points to face us in a Superman pose (standing Superman pose. The flying Superman pose would have been even weirder).

Anyway, suffice to say, it was an amusing trip and despite the Filthy Flashing Perverts outnumbering the Harmless Extroverts, there were still enough Normal People on the beach for us to not feel threatened. Having said that, I would not go back to that beach on my own. Though I suppose if anything was to happen, at least I’d know exactly where to aim my kick…

Here’s a photo of my housemate and me looking like an idiot with my snorkel:


Jellyfish Watch: The snorkel is great – it’s the only mask I’ve ever had that doesn’t leak so I’m very pleased about that. But because the weather’s been so changeable lately, the water’s been mixed up from the rain and it was difficult to see anything apart from the occasional jelly fish that would appear out of the blue (literally). I’ve considered it and I prefer the idea of swimming without getting stung.

I went to Fermo with the school this week. Fermo’s a hill top town a bit further south than Camerano (where I am). It’s nothing particularly special, though it does have a lovely playground and cathedral on the top of the hill. Further down there’s a large piazza with places to eat and a few shops. There’s an interesting reservoir thing going on under the piazza from Roman times. We had a tour down there with an incredibly fast speaking Italian guide. Something about holes, rain, dirt and water levels. We all forgot where the car was so we traipsed round for an additional hour trying to find it before giving up and going to a bar whilst Marco carried on the search (successfully eventually!).


View from the museum into the piazza

After Fermo, we went to a Trattoria in Camerano where we had great food which was excellent value for money but resembled a school canteen. Still no menus. The conversations in Trattoria’s seem to go like this:

Waiter: Hi there. Do you want something to eat?

Punter: Yes, yes I think I do.

Waiter: Is food alright?

Punter: Yes, food sounds splendid.

Waiter: Right you are. I’ll bring some out.

I went to the cinema this week to see “Hangover Part 3” or rather “Una notte da leoni 3”. The literal translation would appear to be “a night from lions”. Though let me tell you something about the word “da” – it falls into an annoying set of words called “prepositions” like our “on”, “in” etc. but “da” is a particular gem which can mean a seemingly infinite number of things. The usual suspect is “from” but who knows?! Anyway, what a weird translation?! Apparently it means to have a great night out. They don’t seem to have the concept of “hangovers” here. There’s not even a word for it, so perhaps that’s why they’ve changed the title?! Anyway, pleased to report that I picked up the plot line relatively well.

What else? I went to Ancona yesterday with one of the housemates and there was a food festival going on which was a stroke of luck – we spent the morning eating free olives, cheeses and tasting all the oils.  It reminded me of a much more tranquil version of Borough Market in London. I got invited out for a drink by one of the men at the stalls. The pick-up techniques of Italians thus far appear to be stereotypically Italian. He grabbed my hand, spun me around and exclaimed “che bello!” (how beautiful!). Outrageous! You can’t objectify women like that! I let him off because he obviously has fabulous taste (and I’d eaten half of his olive stock). But if a guy tried that in the UK, he’d get a thwack in the stomach with a handbag. If  women did the handbag thwack here, I think most of the male population would be constantly doubled over. I don’t think feminism has reached Italy yet.


Look at these! These revolting looking dried insideless fish that look like they’re screaming (stoccafisso) are a speciality of this region apparently. MMMMmmmmm. Tasty.

On Thursday I should be going to Croatia with the boat folk 🙂 I’ve been sailing before and slept on boats but I’ve always been in a harbour overnight and had a chance to have a proper wash. I’m worried for my hair. It goes all dreadlocky even after I’ve been for a 5 minute swim in the sea. I think after 3 days of not being able to wash it, I’ll have no other option than to shave it all off. I’ve made an appointment with the hairdresser next Tuesday for the occasion.

In other exciting news – I’ve had my first taste of chocolate in almost 2 months! I’m rationing. It’s lasted almost a week (as opposed to the usual 2 minutes). Thank you Lucy for sending 🙂

What’s a bit odd? Given this week’s thunderstorms, it seems apt to point out how sensible and trusting the Italian’s are when it comes to umbrellas. The English, when it’s been raining and when there’s shopping to be done, will close their umbrella and wander around the shops with it dripping everywhere on everything. But the Italians often have a sort of bucket thing going on by the door so that the punters can leave their umbrellas there and if there’s not, there’s a sort of short term adhoc umbrella amnesty outside the shop. I know it’s only umbrellas but I think it shows a sense of trust that’s probably missing in the UK. It’s nice! Next time I’m in the UK, I’m going to leave my umbrella at the shop door and see what happens (I predict I will forget to pick it back up again).


Umbrella Amnesty outside of H&M. The Italians are so trusting. And they’re not cheap umbrellas either. I’m certainly not going to leave that nice blue one I took from outside the shop…

This week I’m bunking off school – I have plans to attack my Italian learning with renewed vigour (why is it talking so long?!?!?! I should be fluent by now!!!! GRRR!!!), sort out bureaucratic stuff, look at a car (specifically with a view to buying one I should add) and do some more painting / drawing (I’m so pleased I can vaguely draw – in the absence of being able to speak Italian properly, drawing people seems to be a reasonably decent bonding factor). I shall as ever, report back.

Have good weeks all 🙂


P.S. It’s been a while since Lizard Watch. Here’s a picture of a beaver instead. It was in Ancona by the beach. Beavers don’t live near beaches usually eh? I think it became exhausted trying to build a damn across the Adriatic. He did not look happy, poor thing.


Beaver Watch? His teeth were red. Do beavers usually have red teeth?

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Il mio appartamento, solitary confinement and the Sue Entertainment Plan…


Not much to report this week – it’s been very sedate! I saw the girls, my friends from Portsmouth, last week which was great – I’ve been so busy the last few months that I’ve not been down much so was good to see them. We went out for a meal and cocktails and they got me some lovely pressies – a lovely silver bangle, a personalized travel journal and some tea bags in a very patriotic tin so I can take a piece of home with me 🙂

I’ve been doing some finance stuff – I’m sticking (er, more accurately, I will try to stick) to a budget and I’ve got an AMAZING spreadsheet for tracking my spend developed years ago back when I had a job but absolutely nothing all day to do for it. I’m going to give some currency conversion companies a call tomorrow – suspect they’ll tell me I need to have an Italian bank account before I can do anything which seems sensible, only that I don’t have it set up now.

I was hoping to go full steam ahead on the Italian last week but I’ve lacked motivation. I have, however, gone on a health kick and been swimming at the local pool most days. I’ll do some more Italian next week hopefully.

I’ve got some pictures of the apartment I’ll be staying in. It’s 5 minutes or so from the school, in Via Minzoni. It looks reasonable enough – pretty basic but clean looking. I haven’t slept in a single bed since Halls of Residence at Uni. I think I’ll spend all night rolling off it. Perhaps I’ll need to invest in some pillows early on for the floor. The town center, a supermarket and a bus stop to Ancona and the bus stop for the beach are all less than 5 minutes walk away from the apartment. Here’s some pics of it they sent through:


I’ll be sharing it with an American girl the first week I’m there and then I think I’m on my own for 7 weeks! SEVEN WEEKS!!! There better be more people in the class! I’ve no doubt one to one Italian tuition everyday would do my Italian some good but I was sort of relying on making some friends there! I’m going to have to devise a rigorous entertainment plan I think. So far it consists of:

  • Do something healthy everyday – I think I’ve found a swimming pool in Ancona. At a push, I might try to start “jogging”.  I use the term loosely. I can’t jog. This weeks attempt was shocking. I made it about 100 yards before having to stop in a heaving mess.
  • Do something creative every day. I want to find a nice cafe and perhaps go there regularly to write/sketch. Probably write. I need to do some photography as well – I will win the Christmas Family Photography Competition one of these years.
  • I need to get a bank account and a new sim card for my phone – I’m hoping to get a pay as you go limitless data one. I strongly suspect the apartment doesn’t have wifi.
  • I’ve got a bunch of Le Marche tourist brochures I’ve started going through – there’s lots to see and do around the area so looking forward to doing some of those. I’m also hoping to pop into the tourist office in Camerano too but I think it might not open until June so that might not be a runner in the first few weeks.
  • I need to work out how to get around – there’s lots of little villages quite close and I think it’s only about 5km to the beach which I could probably walk to but would be nice to get the hang of buses / trains.
  • There’s a few ferries which leave Ancona to Croatia, Istanbul, Greece etc, so would be good to explore that a bit. The prices aren’t bad – about 60 Euros for a return to Croatia (takes 10+ hours) – more info
  • Hoping to try and befriend an ex pat or two as well. There’s some websites that seem to bring ex-pats together so will have a look at that.
  • Finding/befriending the local sailing club.

Right, onwards and upwards. I’m going to continue the research into the local area and with any luck, might actually create a separate page!



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