Tuesday, September 26, 2006

It's raining, it's pouring

Ok, so we are adults. We know you cannot control the weather and, well, if our treasured few days in the hot sun before returning to wintry NYC and Sarajevo hasn't exactly worked out, well, we'll find other diversions. We'll still have fun.

"What do you do in Hvar when it rains?" we ask the clerk at our Palace Hotel. She looks at us with an embarassed smile as if figuring out how to answer a trick question and she has no suggestions.

"What's fun to do in Hvar when it's raining," we ask our waiter at breakfast. "Not much," he tells us, chuckling because he feels differently about bad weather than us tourists. He knows he's in for a very easy weekend with no crowds or big parties.

At first, the weather was no big impediment. The place is full of shops selling jewelry, clothes and gifts and we visited them all. Hawley is a jewelry hound anyway.

The cafes all have umbrellas and awnings, so we stopped for coffees and later for wines.

We toured the beautiful Franciscan Monastery around a cove in the harbor where there is an art museum and then headed for a natural history and butterfly museum. It was closed, however, which we found odd on a rainy day when it might expect a good crowd. The hours museum post are sporadic and unreliable.

We tried getting manicures and pedicures -- but by the time we found the office of the one woman in town who does them in a little stone alleyway, she was already booked for the next five days. We were not the only disappointed sun-worshippers on Hvar. We did get an appointment for massages.

While Hawley went to the hotel spa for her massage, I went into the sauna. It was pleasant but not the kind of heart-stopping hot you usually get in a sauna. I learned why as soon as I stepped out. The storms had cut off power to the island.

Now, at first this too seemed like a funny little adversity to be gotten past. I had a massage by candlelight with the sound of rain and thunder instead of the usual new-age music because, of course, the radio didn't work.

Only when Hawley and I met up to plan our next adventure did we realize the predicament we were in. No electricity meant no ATMs were working and after all the rain-induced shopping, we were low on Kuna. Without Kuna we were pretty much limited to the hotel restaurant for food.

No appliances were working in the restaurant so we were pretty much limited to salad, wine and bread, which really was no sacrifice. As we ate, the sky turned from blue to gray to black, palms tress lashed the windows and a halacious storm moved in from the Adriatic. It was like being in a Florida hurricane again for me.

But for the restaurant workers who live in Hvar where rain is so rare, it was terrifying. One woman crossed herself as she gazed apprehensively out the window. Her colleagues slammed windows shut, crammed towels under doorways and brought out an assortment of pans to catch leaks from the ceiling. It was kind of fun.

The storm let up, though the electricity did not come back on, after about three hours and we actually thought for about an hour that good weather was on the way. In that giddy opening we ran into the Adriatric which really wasn't that cold once you got in and we raced to the fabulous fortress overlooking the town that used to hold off Turks from the area.

From high above the city we could hear peals of laughter and hoots of laughter as from a gang of soccer fans and we wondered what was up.

We found out when we climbed CAREFULLY down the wet stone stairs to the port again. A group of tourist stuck in a cafe without an espresso maker had pushed together tables and chairs and gathered around a guy with an accordian. They were singing and laughing. It felt like a Scaringe reunion.

Nearby at the BB bar, tourists lounged on the oddly shaped chairs and sofas under an awning on the sidewalk and chatted or read. We decided we would try all the local liquers on the menu that we'd never had before.

Excellent diversion.

All in allm before our weekend was over, we found a number of such innovative ways to have fun in the rain in Hvar.

The one thing we decided not to do was visit a little casino by the seawall. We hit Hvar on three of its 12 bad days, we figured. Did we really need another test of our luck?

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