The Unofficial Report On Diving Croatia
In the world according to EasyJet you are allowed to have 32 kilos of luggage if you include sporting equipment, sounds simple, well yes and no!
You can have two bags if one of them is sporting equipment but you may be charged for the bag (no lies this is what we were told). For example, if you took your golf clubs that would count as sporting equipment and could be in a separate bag, this is a piece of sporting equipment in official terms apparently, but you may still get charged for the bag (confused yet). Otherwise it should all be in one bag, unless it is a piece of sporting equipment. This is the exact explanation given to me and Chris at the check in which drew completely blank stares from both of us at which point she gave up and checked our bags anyway.
A simple departure accompanied by several beers and a snack with the discussion on diving and just how cold the water might be. There was little in the way of expectation of really warm weather (oops). So I’m glad I packed three warm tops! Two and a bit hours later touch down in Split and the group grew by two (my wife and Andy met us there).
We met our congenial host for the week who wasn’t called Borat! Anyway Borko led us to our transport and we started our holiday proper heading for the very pretty Rogoznica.
The group was led by Uncle Len Hards, Dive Marshall and master of ceremonies – He was ably assisted by Marcella (Cousteau) Turanova, Asst. DM. Then the rest of us: Sandra (Barbie) Argent, Glen (you’re all mad), Jim (Octo) Molyneux, Chris (Jordan) Knight, Andy (I don’t need a dry suit anymore) Ethel And me;
And, not forgetting the non divers (the beautiful ladies), Mary, Cathy, Audrey and Rebecca.
Bourco showed us to our apartments which most of us agreed we would never find our way back to in the dark. Very nice, comfortable well appointed and convenient for the dive centre and the pub (in no order of importance).
At this point I was very glad that I had packed a couple of pairs of shorts!
Needless to say once the kit was dumped we found the bar and found some beer. Borko enlightened us to the joys of Croatian diving and what to expect gastronomically for the rest of the week and said to use his name any where in Rogonica as it might help and, in this instance, genuinely seemed to. Several beers later we retired to bed.
Diving was due to start at 09:00 hours the next day. The sun was shining and it was decidedly warm walking to Dive Pongo (something to do with a dog Borko once owned) with all the kit required. The centre was literally at the waters edge and the boat was moored outside. You couldn’t of asked for a nicer location (unless of course there was a bar and restaurant next door) and the view across the Adriatic was amazing. We met Borkos able assistant, who wasn’t called Gorko (shame really as that would have been too good to be true) and sorted our kit out. Goran went and got the boat and we duely loaded up. We set out at 1000 hours, well we were on Croatian time by then!
You could say the mix of equipment being used was a bit different, wetsuits and twelves through to dry suits and twins but other than Andy and the local boys none of us knew quite what to expect (not exactly sure I came away any the wiser either, it all seemed to work, Borko dived on twins in a dry suit, Andy on twins and a wetsuit and Goran on a twelve in a wetsuit, so take your pick really.
So what was the diving like? All in all pretty good, we knew it would be a little murky and colder than later in the season but it is still pretty spectacular. Lots of big walls, amazing Gorgonia and plenty of critters.
The first couple of dives were the usual adjustment dives, getting back into the swing of things after which we all settled in and took in the scenery. Of note were the Mig site (none of us actually managed to find the majority of the wreck), the fallen lighthouse, the still standing lighthouse and the blue cave (not much of a cave really and I would imagine really spectacular when the water clears). It was octopus mating season so they weren’t in the usual abundance but that made the encounters (ink and all) all the more special. Wrasse and scorpion fish everywhere (including the biggest I have ever seen), John Dory and angler fish making an appearance along with loads of different shellfish.
From a personal point of view I think my favourite was one of the last, the fallen lighthouse. We’re not talking big winding staircase and porthole windows, it was a big concrete block with a big concrete pillar. Blown up in WW2 it sits top end down in about 4 metres of water in its own crater which drops to around the 7 to 8 meter range, doesn’t sound that great but it is so out of place it just looms at you and has a very eerie feeling. Very cool.
Things of note, hmmm! Len won’t be asking me to zip up his dry suit again, Marcella has decided that she either needs a Bathescape or a trimix rebreather, me and Jim did some equipment testing, Glen discovered the joys of being a trainee diver and Chris became Borkos model of choice for the week (he looks good in the water apparently).
Most of the diving will no doubt be reported and debated elsewhere, so on to other stuff!
Croatian cuisine is on the whole simple but very tasty (ask Chris he did the majority of the menu in one restaurant). The fish and shellfish were fresh and wonderful, Audrey has become an addict of the garlic oil (probably more garlic than oil but very tasty), the girls discovered the local wine, served in litre jugs was pretty good (at any time of the day) and Len had chips, a lot. Ice cream is a big thing everywhere in Croatia and can be purchased until closing time (we should know).
Not expecting much from the weather we were more than pleasantly surprised. It was sunny and warm everyday (we measured up to 33° on the boat one day). We did have one rain storm, it lasted what seemed like about 30 seconds (Rebecca stayed on and said that their was what seemed like a monsoon a couple of days after we left but even that didn’t last long). The only drawback to the climate was the mosquitoes, not much of a problem during the day but they liked to bite at night. It didn’t take too much repellent to deter them.
As diving was usually done by three most days there was some down time and we headed for the sea and swimming. You can’t really say headed for the beach as they don’t really have beaches. What they do have are little concrete platforms (left over from the communist days) that reach out a little way into the Adriatic which you can lounge on and swim from, really rather civilised. And there was a lot of them.
The last day was our down time (break before flying) and it was decided to do some sight seeing so we headed for a rather beautiful little city called Trogir. A walled centre with winding narrow streets, a cathedral, a castle and lots of bars and restaurants. Some of us made our way to the top of the bell tower (no way would the health and safety squad of let you do that in the UK) for some truly breathtaking views. Borko had recommended a restaurant to eat at, the only problem with this being was finding it, talk about out of the way. But he was right, very atmospheric, good service and pretty good food. Len had some chips. Croatian hospitality extends to complementary drinks before or after the meal (or both) and they served some interesting rocket fuel.
The accommodation was pretty good, most of the group in one villa with two separate flats, and Rebecca, Andy and I in a slightly smaller villa round the corner. We had no problems in our little flat and essentially neither did Len and the posse apart from the owner who apparently was a fundamentalist member of the green party (a severe dislike of any unnecessary use of electricity) who liked to go to bed early. Well if you are going to have wild parties you should read the rules first…
No major injuries were sustained, Len and I both got savaged on our toes by the ridiculously high door frames, Glen spent a little too long in the sun (think lobster) and Cathy got ravaged from behind by a rampaging anemone.
Altogether a quite splendid trip, major, major thanks to Len for organising a truly unforgettable holiday.