Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Knocked off my bike and blown away

This weeks gallery theme is to share a secret and paint a picture of the world we live in.

I took these pictures when I was travelling by train across Eastern Europe with my sister. Her friends had dropped out of their planned trip, so I was quick to offer myself as a willing replacement. I had wanted to go on another Inter Railling trip since I first went 20 years ago.

Prior to this Mrs DGI and I had been through the toughest times of our relationship following the extreme highs of three positive pregnancies and extreme lows of three miscarriages. Mrs DG Inc had been signed off with bereavement for several months and our family plan had gone on hold. She received some excellent support and councilling, but as a truly stoical British male, I did not really talk about my feelings or fears and carried on plodding away at work. By that summer I needed a big trip to get away, recharge my batteries and have some time to think, write and reflect. She gave my trip her blessings- on the condition that I met up with her in France after four weeks, so we could still have a holiday together.

I had been travelling for two weeks and was staying in Trogir in Croatia. A truly beautiful part of the world, the Croatian coastline is a hidden gem, there are numerous little islands with untouched beaches that can be reached by quaint taxi boats, the weather is wonderful and the people are warm and welcoming. I was also blown away by the history of the Croatian coast, it was used by the Romans and Venitians as a holiday and retirement base and the land is dotted with palaces, temples and amphitheatres. It is somewhere I have recommended ever since. Trogir is a walled town on a small island, it has many winding alleys similar to Venice and is linked to the mainland via a single bridge, it is then linked to a much larger island called Ciovo. My sister and I had rented and apartment for a few days. I took up the landlords offer of borrowing their bike and went for a ride over to Ciovo.

The roads were busy, it seemed as everyone wanted to be out on such a wonderful evening. I cycled a couple of miles until I came to a long golden beach. Vendors were still selling their wares, families were dining out on the sands and as the sun began to set people were still swimming in the sea. I decided to stop, brought a cold beer, sat on the beach and soaked up the atmosphere. I felt truly rested, all life's woes were lifted.

I tried to capture the moment, so took a picture.

After enjoying my beer I cycled a bit more, came to a small harbour and couldn't resist another obligatory sunset photo.

As the light was fading I got on my bike and turned for home.

The road back into Trogir was mostly downhill, there was still a lot of traffic and a large tailback from everyone trying to use the single bridge between the islands. I decided to follow the cue of the teenagers on mopeds, weaving down the middle of the road between the cars. It was when I had built up some speed and was coming to the bottom of the hill, that some old guy in a clapped out Fiat 500 decided to open his passenger door. I would like to say my life flashed before my eyes, but there was no time.

It caught me across my face and chest. There was no permanent damage, but my sunglasses were smashed, my ribs were bruised and my throat felt weird. The old guy spoke no English, I spoke no Croatian. While trying to close his now oddly bent door, he cursed something I didn't understand and I cursed something he did understand (bloody Hollywood). I was dusted myself down, and got off my bike to pick up my battered sun glasses, some Dutch guys in a bar opposite were shouting something about me suing him. Meanwhile, old guy goes round to his boot and retrieves a large hammer, walks back towards me, raises the hammer. Then begins to angrily pummel his passenger door, while still cursing in Croatian. I leave the scene, bruised, but at least not battered.

When I get back to the apartment my heart is still racing with adrenaline. After a quick G&T (lemons straight from the tree overhanging the balcony) I check my phone and see I have numerous missed calls from Mrs DG Inc, roughly about the time I crashed into the car. I return her calls, I obviously have an event of some importance to share with her. I start to babble, however, she cuts me short and trumps me by announcing, "I'm pregnant!"

I have not been back to Ciovo, Trogir or Croatia since, but the photos of that evening will always remind me of that eventful night and the start of the biggest trip of my lifetime.
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