Our first full day in Omis was spectacular- it had to be, waking up near the top of the mountain! A wee kitty cat made our acquaintance and proceeded to pester us (adorably) for the rest of the trip.
I climbed a 5b first thing, which was great. The rock had more friction than the rock at Paklenica so it was nice to get great hands and feet on a climb. It was fantastic being out in the sun all day, and with town so close by we could pop into the local cafe to get caffeinated and explore the local market! The pastries here are super tasty, and a sun-warmed peach from the market topped it off. Yum! A long, lovely day in the sun was completed by the return of some seriously strong wind and a beautiful sunset over the ocean. Grocery shopping for the next few days was enjoyable because of the exchange rate and because the fruit and veggies actually looked like they had been grown in the ground and not in some factory somewhere. Again- yum!
Day 7: Hello, cactus, my old friend
After a morning spent holding my breath and clenching my sphincter on some more terrifying mountain roads, smelling clutch, and getting yelled at by an old Croatian woman, we finally made it to safe climbing ground. We also passed an old man rolling down the road on a mobility scooter, which cracked me up! You go, dude.
Our first crag ended up being entirely too windy to do anything on, so I mailed my postcards at a local shop and we settled in to the aptly named Belfast Cafe for a few coffees and reworking the day’s plan. The cute little cafe had a selection of Ireland’s finest whiskeys and a good old tricolor over the bar, despite the fact that the man behind the bar spoke neither English nor was Irish in any way :). We were right below another castle called Klis, which looked pretty cool although I couldn’t get a very good picture of it.
We headed to another place called Marjan, a hot oasis of cliff side towers and cacti. The red things on the cactus can be eaten, we were informed- too bad no one looked for thorns, first! I avoided this particular snack, this time. The routes were great but a few alterations had to be made in order to avoid cacti growing out of handholds! Although the road was quite near in order to belay you had to be a bit closer to the rock, which meant getting up close and personal with some spiky plants.
Long story short, I was picking cacti thorns out of places for awhile. Ouch! Other than the cacti, the view over the ocean as great and the air was fresh.
There was a church and a tower built into the side of the cliff, so naturally we climbed it :).
I didn’t end the day on a very good note. I went up an easy route to rescue gear for the Flying Dutchman, who couldn’t do it either. I was ohsoclose to being able to clip the last bolt, but exhaustion and general frustration proved to be too much. I’ve got a bit of a reputation growing for swearing my way up routes I find particularly difficult. Usually this means I get mad and then do it anyways, but sometimes it doesn’t work out like that. I was mad and frustrated getting off the rock that day, made none the better by having a stressful drive back to the house.
Day 8: Close encounters of the bird kind
Today, I got crapped on by a bird. Nice. First, though, a few of us headed up to a crag with some easier routes before getting lost and realizing the wind was going to be just as bad higher up and retreating back closer to the water. We had our usual car troubles starting with trying to drive with the handbrake on and then forgetting to put the car in gear (twice) when attempting to turn about on a step hill. Plummeting to my death over a cliff because of incompetence? Not on my list of things to do this holiday.
We joined the rest of our crew near the river and I led my hardest sport route so far, a nice 5c that was a lot of fun. Yay crack climbs! We headed back to the sun and climbed a few more routes before tackling a 6a+, which I was really keen to climb.
Prior to attempting this particular route, I had been belaying a friend and got pooped on by a bird faaaar above me. Hit my sunglasses, which I was glad to be wearing! According to her, getting pooed on is good luck… I’ll take what I can get, I guess?
New shoes on and snacks to look forward to should I succeed or fail, I roped up and got going. The climbing was great for the first 3/4 of a route, while two bolts in particular were pretty tough to get through. Nothing like a pinky hand jam to get you through a tough spot! I took a few rests and definitely didn’t climb it cleanly, but I was pretty happy that I got to the top any way that I could :). Success sandwiches were eaten and enjoyed after I whipped off my shoes (ow) and taped up some beat up fingers.
After my best day climbing, a swim was in order. The water was cool (darn wind!) but once you were in, it was lovely! Everything ached, but I knew there are very few swim in a Croatian ocean moments in life so I better enjoy this one. Back at the house I took a nice, hot shower (fantastic water pressure) and relaxed- good things were today!
Day 9: Unconsciousness is the only escape
If I ever create a new route anywhere in the world, I will call it ‘unconsciousness if the only escape’ because being unconscious is literally the only escape from this vehicle of madness.
Anywho… a lazy morning resulted in adventures around the nearby town of Split and ended by jumping off cliffs into the water behind a creepy abandoned factory. Climbers really do find the oddest places to climb! We were deep water soloing, which is a great way to climb without really having to worry about falling since you’ll just end up in the water anyways. Huzzah! It took me awhile to literally warm up to the idea of being in the water, but once in… whoo! So very refreshing.
Unfortunately someone else didn’t find our activities so refreshing, as two police officers soon dropped by to inquire as to what we were doing. Actually, they already thought we were doing drugs, which made us all laugh! We’re really just a bunch of weirdos who like to climb, which the police believed looking at our collection of shoes and towels splayed out over the rocks. The rest of the day proceeded uneventfully, with excursions taken to the center of Split via an ice cream shop and a cafe for coffee and wifi for the more technologically inclined. Real social bunch we have here :-P.
Back at the house and in bed early, tired after a long week of adventures and climbing. So sadly close to the end!
Our last day climbing was wonderful, although bittersweet seeing as though our holiday was coming to an end. Croatia seemed to know we were on our way out and gave us a windless day, all the better for climbing! We headed to a sunny crag (through some broken fences… climbers really do find the oddest spots) and had a great afternoon climbing a few routes. We were all pretty tired after so many days climbing and retired to a shadier crag. A few of us lost the motivation to continue climbing, so a brief beer at a local cafe was had and we headed back to the house to enjoy the remainder of our holiday :).
The patio was the perfect place to sit and enjoy the company of friends and to watch the boats sail in and out of the harbor. The sun went down early (loved the extra hour of sleep, thanks daylight savings!) and the church bells rang all day in the town, echoing up the mountain.
The others got back and we had a last evening of laughter, banter, and general shenanigans. I made the mistake of using our sad wifi connection to check Facebook, where classmates of mine had posted up the fact that our dissertation marks had been published. Yeeshka! After a few harrowing moments trying to log in from a borrowed mobile, we all celebrated when it was realized that I had indeed passed my Master’s. Huzzah!
Naturally my dear friends decided that jumping in the pool was the only way to celebrate…. BBBRRRRR! Finding out the results of my year’s work felt a bit anticlimactic, but maybe I’ll feel differently when I’ve actually accomplished something with my degree. Like get a job. Worries for a different day. Today, it was time to enjoy 1.854 liters of Croatia’s finest brew. Cheers to that!
Day 11: The final countdown
Boo, back to Belfast. The morning was spent in suspended denial of our immanent departure; I lounged in the sun and watched as a couple of the boys played like puppies around the pool, wrestling and chucking each other into the pool whenever they could. I laughed a lot! We packed up and cleaned house, no one too excited to head back to gloomy Ireland.
I volunteered as tribute to sit in the other car for the long journey back to the airport in Zadar, so more room could be taken for bags. Huzzah, one less thing to stress about! We left Omis and sped through the brilliant Croatian landscape, stopping for snacks and listening to great music. The Flying Dutchman and her crew, however, weren’t having such a splendid time- she succeeded in clipping another vehicle on the otherwise unoccupied motorway and scaring the bejesus out of her passengers. With her track record it wasn’t a surprise, but still. Yikes.
We all made it safely to the airport, although not all members of the group are currently speaking to one another. Ha! There’s bound to be some friction when you spend 10 days in close proximity to one another. I was definitely sad to have left Croatia, but I suppose the return of some sense of reality had to happen sometime. At any rate, great memories were made and more climbing experience was had! Plus, got a new stamp in the passport :).