Guest blog from Slovenian Hvarophile Renata Rakic, on the chase for the Jadrolinija ferry in Sucuraj many years ago – 1999. I wish this would happen to me once in a while…
I had my fair share of various first encounters with the one and only ferry transporter in Croatia – Jadrolinija. And most of them were quite stressful. I’m sure those who boarded a car on a ferry at least once will understand what I’m talking about. All the hustle and bustle, loud machine noises, unbearable heat and then yelling instructions how and where to squeeze in your car. Can we avoid it?
Yes, if it’s possible take the alternative rout and a shorther and much cheaper ferry ride, I thought. Because we always choose the long and boring ferry ride from Stari Grad (Hvar) to Split on our way home, we decided to take the alternative and less visited route this time.
But we couldn’t have expected events that occured on this ferry trip from Sućuraj to Drvenik that made this experience unforgettable.
It was maybe the last summer before the whole world flocked and occupied beautiful Croatia coast and it’s islands. So the narrow and winding road was quite deserted compared to nowdays so we could drive faster and more confortable. Back then the main concern was to be on time to catch a ferry. Even on the smaller ferries space was not the issue.
Before leaving Zavala or Plaža as the locals call it (small village on the south side of the island) we asked them how much time do we need to get to Sućuraj, with the image of the road in mind…
And the older gentelman who drove Fiat 126 (Peglica known locally) assured us that the drive can’t last more than one hour. Well, if he can get with his smallest of the small car to Sućuraj in an hour, then I can certanly do better with my burgundy red Yugo Skala (Rock in English) that I was driving at the time. So with confidence we waved our favorite place goodbye one hour before the first ferry. I don’t know on what fuel he was driving but despite an almost empty road we were chasing seconds all the way.
The adrenaline started to rise as we took that last turn before the ferry port. And just when I thought we finally made it, disaster… the worst that you can imagine. Right in front of our widely open eyes the sight of the ferry’s boarding ramp in the process of lifting like half way up. This is not happening… No way! All that speeding for nothing?
Then, I reacted suddenly and started to honk the car horn like crazy, still with disbelief that we missed it.
And then the unthinkable happened….suddenly everything stopped and the ramp slowly started to descend. Is this for real or a mirage? You will do that for us?! We couldn’t believe it! What a relief! Jadrolinija rules! We couldn’t be more thankful. Respect!
Just as we boarded a couple of motorcyclists stormed in and because of us made it too. A half hour ferry ride passed in blissfulness as we still couldn’t believe our luck. When Drvenik aproached we were already patiently and completely adrenaline free waiting in our car.
All of the sudden strange noises and Boom! Crash! The bus parked in front of us shook violently from left to right. What is happening? Earthquake? Are we sinking?
Of course we were last in line to leave the ferry because we were last to board… Was it really our luck to catch this ferry, I wondered?
After a few tense minutes the door or ramp started to open. The second adrenaline rush dropped. Apparently Drvenik came little bit sooner than expected… and we sort of crash landed. Or the breaks didn’t work…
I noticed some minor damage on the ferry and also on the landing concrete but everything was fine and we all survived to tell a tale.
But Why did they decide to wait for us? Is Jadrolinija always this nice?
Then it hit me, it was my car for sure, that burgundy red Rock of mine, common car for common people, very popular with islanders at that time. They must have thought I’m from the island too. Cool! My old car finally paid off.
Next year when I told this story to some friends in Zavala they explained that the reason they stopped was not only the car model but the honking, as this is something only locals would do. I guess It’s official then – I’m local now.
Needless to say that from then on we prefer alternative routes…