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Makarska was our first night in port and we met it with a soft, salty breeze and a cool welcome repose from the scorching sun. It’s a beautiful seaside town surrounded by steep, rocky cliffs and quite well-known for its nightlife.

A fishing boat restaurant getting ready to serve (eat there!)

A fishing boat restaurant getting ready to serve (eat there!)

We gathered on deck just as we came to port, as the policy of Sail Croatia seemed to be. Our guide, Nicoletta, told us about all the different places to go. Most of those suggestions had deals worked out with Sail Croatia, and we were given coupons for the additional draw. In addition, Nicoletta gave us a bit of confidence, advising that maybe some of those places weren’t so “local”, and it might even be better to eat on a sail ship that would come and dock later that afternoon (in the picture above). Nicoletta also told us about a cave club that we could go to at night, at the end of the beach. Deep Makarska club is literally a cave in the rock, one side the deep sea and the other a DJ stand with a rig, powering up at around midnight. They say though that the music is pretty much the same every night, so it’s not much of a local stay, but the tourists are sure to flood it. It’s of course, hard to imagine at such scenic places that people are blessed with being a “local” at all. This of course, leads me to my continued diatribe of what it means to be a “local” versus a “tourist”, and if doing “touristic” things or going to such places is in and of itself bad. The most beautiful places in a city are often the most touristic, mainly because they are the most beautiful.

There is a clientele for disaster porn, for people to brag about going to the most run-down and dilapidated places, where the only furniture is a lice-ridden cumbag surprise couch of sorts and a maggot eaten skull, the room smelling of dank mold, and occupied with a half deaf guy at the bar shouting the wrong order back to you repeatedly and a possibly dead guy in the toilet. I have been to those places, my facetious friends, and it’s not always worth it just for the cred of having gone “local”.

The patio at Riva

The patio at Riva

We took our chance with one of the officially advised places. I should know better from doing this, with as much as I travel, that places are usually advised to go to because they pay people to advise them. Then by capturing the repeat audience, their services and food slide, and soon they are the bona-fide “tourist trap” that you want to avoid at all costs, and it’s not the good and beautiful kind. I bring this up because there we were in a restaurant called Riva, sitting in an otherwise beautiful courtyard, waiting nearly an hour just for our drinks to come out, another hour and a half for our food. The food further fermented our foul verdict with its general lack of tenderness and precarious price that came to the equivalent of dining in a restaurant back in the US in some district of two-syllables like "LoDo" or "FoDo" and spaces between restaurants occupied by factory-design brobars. But if that's your thing, that's your thing.

On our way back, we ran into a couple of the people we had met on the boat. They went on about how amazing the fishing boat was. It was cheap, the fish was literally just caught, and it was utterly chaotic. The fishermen operated like the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld, barking out, and if you didn’t know your order, they’d shout at you until you just blurted something out. And the raki was the real deal, ready to be thrown up overboard. So if you’re in Makarska, take it from our fellow travelers, skip the restaurants. Follow the line, listen to the people ahead of you, and just repeat what they say. Remember, when you travel to unfamiliar lands, you might have to put aside your penchant for ordering gluten free, almond milk, ammaciato blockiato my priggiato.

The Makarska boardwalk at night

The Makarska boardwalk at night

We went back on the boat to recuperate. Luckily on the boat was our great cheap beers on tap poured by the friendly boatswain. We went up on the top deck with our cold beers and listened to a guitarist playing at a bar down on the boardwalk and stared up at the stars, painted across with broad strokes and speckled with flecks of white acrylic. Despite the dinner, there were still few ways to beat the difficulties of life.

Ferries from Makarska sail out to Sumartin on Brac island and back up to five times a day in season. Check the schedule here for more. From Sumartin, it’s a skip to get to Hvar or back to Split.

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