Thursday, 11 September 2014

Croatia: Chapter 6 - Hvar

While reading this post please remember that I am now perfectly fine and back in one piece (that's mainly aimed at you, Mother). Also sorry there are very few photos for this post, it will become apparent why I wasn't in a photographically inclined mood.

Back on the bus in Dubrovnik it started to drizzle as we left the station and gradually got worse as the day went on. What also got worse was how I was feeling. I usually have purely headache related hangovers but this one was making me feel bad all over especially my stomach. I tried to sleep on the bus but as we were going up the winding roads on the coast, each turn made my stomach lurch and sleeping wasn't going to happen.

On and on the journey went and this 4 hour coach felt like it was taking much longer than the 12 hour one we had taken last time. With the bathroom out of order I had a plastic bag on hand just in case which is virtually unheard of for me (both to be that organised and to be feeling that nauseous).

We arrived in Split and I was very happy to be in the outside air but this was short lived as it was now chucking it down and very overcast. Ami and I walked up the road from the station and within 20 steps were soaked through. I bought an umbrella purely to be able to see rather than to prevent getting wet since it was too late for that. With the wind picking up Ami left me cowering under my umbrella with the luggage and went to see if the boats were going out to Hvar still.

Hvar is one of the larger islands off the coast of Croatia and is known to be a favorite destination of the young and privileged to take daddy's yacht and blow off some steam. We had heard about this one club which was nearby on its own private island and ferry boats took people across each night to party by the sea and under the stars. It sounded great and everyone we met so far had said it was amazing. Given that my birthday was in 5 days time it was going to be my birthday night out and we were both excited for it even before we flew out!

Back in the rain I am feeling worse and worse. I can feel my blood pressure dropping and I focused on one point to stop myself from closing my eyes and disappearing. It was becoming increasingly apparent that this couldn't be just a hangover. Thankfully ami scuttled back, wearing her hoodie like a cape, with two tickets to the last boat going out to Hvar. We had a little bit of time so we ducked into a pizza place and had a slice to try and help me feel better. It didn't.

The time came to go back into the rain and find the boat. At this point the lightening started. My lightheadedness made it difficult to get my suitcase up the gangplank and into the boat but eventually we were in and sitting down. Thankful that we made it I closed my eyes and tried to sleep. It would take about 75 mins to get to Hvar and as this was the last boat it was packed. The storm was now well and truly taking hold and the ferry pitched it seemingly every direction. Each time we hit a really big wave the entire population of passengers would make the same noise in synchrony, a phenomenon only seen here and at firework displays.

Suddenly the pizza wasn't happy any more and I staggered to the bathrooms. They were all taken so I stood with my knees bent trying to counter the sudden drop or rise of the floor as the waves hit in a sort of peculiar Cossack dance. 5 minutes later sans pizza I returned to my seat feeling slightly better. This was short lived and my emergency plastic bag was also used. I didn't notice but Ami has told me about the expressions of the passengers around us were a strange mix of simultaneous disgust, sympathy and resignation that they might soon befall the same fate.This was when we realised the bag we thought was water tight wasn't. In a quick use of our travel documents folder I toddled off to the bathroom again and poor Ami found some tissue for the seat.

At this point I was completely zoned out. I hazily remember the following but Ami has filled in the gaps. Soon we arrived at Hvar where the storm was showing no signs of waning. I had my backpack and the umbrella and bimbled off the boat. How Ami got both suitcases off the boat I have no idea! We were now on a stone harbor in the pouring rain and the dark apart from when lightening struck the the place lit up like Christmas. I remember trying really hard not to lose Ami but sometimes she seemed to vanish and I would have to stop and look for her. Not sure how I could have missed her dragging two large pink and purple suitcases but I wasn't with it at all.

We found a taxi rank with zero taxis (a running theme for Croatia) but soon (maybe not soon, I remember soon) two appeared and we shared with another couple of girls as there weren't nearly enough to take everyone out the rain. We had booked an apartment for this night and were shown to our suite. I was clearly still away with the fairies. Ami asked about a Dr on the island and we were told there wasn't one, only the hospital on the mainland and no boats would be going out in this weather. They did suggest that it was probably a virus and I needed sleep and water. I desperately needed some clean clothes but this was when I realised I couldn't find the key to the suitcase on my padlock. I could remember locking it and putting the key on my bed next to my purse but I couldn't remember putting the little silver key in my purse. Damn. Sick, trapped and now with no luggage.

Ami went back to reception to see if they had bolt cutters to get the padlock off my suitcase and I contemplated my condition. Don't ask me why but I suddenly remembered a panflet I was given in freshers week that came with the story of the fresher who thought she had a hangover but it was meningitis and she dies. Slightly freaking out I went to get a glass and tried to remember the rest of the panflet. Checking yourself for rashes is hard when it feels like you're thinking through your own recent vomit. It's also harder when you are covered in fresh bruises from a combination of lugging a suitcase, finding a pole in a bar, and general clumsiness. With a small questionable bruise on my rib cage I connected to the wifi and googled. According to the NHS symptoms are: 
  • a fever, with cold hands and feet - check but I had spent the afternoon in the rain
  • vomiting - check but I had been on a boat with a hangover
  • drowsiness and difficulty waking up - check but I hadn't slept much the night before
  • confusion and irritability - check 
  • severe muscle pain - first symptom missing!
  • pale, blotchy skin, and a distinctive rash (although not everyone will have this) - rash probably a bruise but still worrying
  • a severe headache - my head didn't feel great
  • stiff neck - not really
  • sensitivity to light (photophobia) - not especially 
  • convulsion or seizures - no
So with incomplete symptoms and alternative explanations for the ones I did have I decided I probably didn't have meningitus. It didn't really matter if I thought I had it or not since it wasn't possible to get to the mainland! 

Ami came back half way through my panic with news that they could cut my padlock off but not till the morning. Ami lent me some PJs and I went to sleep. 14 hours later I woke up (a good start) and felt a bit more like me. I was still a very wobbly me, but I was at least me which was a significant improvement on the previous night's fairy/delirious Deb.

Later, dressed head to ankle in Ami's things (I had my own shoes) we headed out to see what Hvar was like when it wasn't attempting to become Atlantis II. 

The view from our balcony
 Hvar was now dry and sunny so although we had missed our chance to visit the legendary club for many reasons, we could at least see the island a little. We explored the little shops in the town, Ami had a quick dip in the sea and we had a great lunch all of which stayed in my stomach! While wandering round we also spotted a beauty spa and we felt we needed a little pampering after the night we'd had! Two 30 minute massages later we were feeling much better. Adding to the good news, the hotel staff had managed to free my luggage and we even had time to have a drink and take in the view before going back to the boat to go back to the mainland. This time it was a much nicer journey for all concerned!

We're still not entirely sure what caused my little madness but probably a combination of some or all of the following; a virus, a hang over, not enough sleep, most likely sunstroke from the walls yesterday and most unlikely gremlins.