In an effort to be more environmentally aware I took the bus to the airport at the start of my journey. How lucky I am to have choices! I could use my treasured bus pass from home into the city centre, but then had to pay for the ‘airport flyer’. All absolutely on time (being early on a Sunday morning there wasn’t much danger of any traffic problems). This was a very minor concession to the co2 emissions I will be contributing to on the flight I am about to take to Dubrovnik, but every little helps and I think we are all becoming more aware of our impact on the planet.
It was good to feel the weight of my backpack again – the first time it has been hoisted into place since I visited Porto at the end of May. I prefer a pack to a suitcase. The noise of those pesky things being dragged around the streets really annoys me – even more so if I am causing the noise! And as Dubrovnik is a city of steep stairways a case would be really tiresome.
This little break also marks the end of almost four weeks of abstinence – potato only diet and no alcohol. I have a supply of delicious sandwiches and fruit which is calling loud and clear to be scoffed after such self-imposed restraint. Food never tasted so good!
I have spent the last weeks preparing for a kitchen refurb, spending countless hours pondering fixtures and fittings, drawers or cupboards, knobs or handles, and a couple of days’ hard labour removing wall tiles stuck tight with super-strength adhesive and carting them off to the local tip together with the huge mound of debris resulting from an internal wall being removed. Once I learned how much it would cost me to have it removed by ‘a man’ I decided to pull my sleeves up and cart it off myself. I’m now on first-name terms with the guys at the tip, or as it is properly known ‘the household waste recycling centre’. Luckily it is only a five minute car ride so my umpteen journies didn’t take too long.
Sadly I couldn’t reuse the existing kitchen cabinets because they differ in dimensions from my chosen replacement, and I was desperate not to have to scrap them as they are in perfectly good condition. Eventually, after advertising on Gumtree and Freecycle and many false starts I have finally found a home for them. So satisfying to know that someone else will make use of them rather than sending them to landfill.
So whilst I am away my builder friend will be removing the base cabinets and plasterboarding (to cover up the awful mess I made removing the tiles) and hopefully it will be ready for fitting the new kitchen on my return, which is currently sorted into neat piles around my living room.
So this little break is much appreciated and already much enjoyed.
Oh, by the way, I received the result of my DEXA bone density scan. It seems I have osteopenia, a stage between normal healthy bones and full blown osteoporosis. A bit of a blow, but it is reversible with medication and exercise. The medication being Alendronate and supplements of calcium and vitamin D. I am already taking vitamin D since returning from Spain, and after researching Alendronate l am leaning towards declining the meds in favour of increased weight bearing exercise. I do not like the sound of the possible side-effects, so if I can persuade the doctor to let me take another scan in twelve months to assess whether exercise has done the trick, I shall put off taking any meds.
Meanwhile I shall get plenty of exercise walking up all the steps in old town Dubrovnik.
I had intended to end this post here, but I drank up my wine and wandered around the old town. This place is magical. There are enough people around for the place to feel lively without the crowds that make it feel tacky and uncomfortable. And to improve on an already perfect evening, there is a clear full moon – absolutely stunning. I wandered the narrow streets, up and down stairs, through arches, along narrow alleys, trying to lose my bearings, but the old town is so compact that it is almost impossible to get lost. I just became more and more enchanted with the the place, especially when I unexpectedly found myself on the quayside amongst a group of locals singing along to the accompaniment of an accordion and guitar. What better way to start my first trip on a discovery of European cities.
Some may be interested to know where I am staying. Hostel Angelina, sharing a four bed dorm, and my request for a lower bunk was granted by sellotaping a reserved sign with my name on it to the mattress. Result! The camino has taught me the benefits of shared accommodation. Not only is it reasonably priced, but you also get to meet interesting people. Young, cool dudes from far flung places who are keen to communicate and share stories, and who are actually interested to know about the granny who is travelling alone.