It happened in Brela, a typical village of the Makarska Riviera with all the known stereotypes of the Adriatic coastline being present (untouched nature, crystal-clear sea, delicious traditional food made of fresh local ingredients… you know the drill).
My friends were satisfied with the days spent on the beach and evenings spent next to a deck of cards, but I wanted something more. I wanted to scout the area for cultural points of interest, and local history. After all, the region has been inhabited by humans since time immemorial.
I constantly tried to evoke scientific and cultural curiosity among my friends. I tried to explain that, in the vicinity, French troops constructed a road during the Napoleon wars and they’re today a tourist feature of the village. Then I added that the nearby tower of Poletnica was the place of death of Hasan-aga Arapovic, a historical figure who became an important character in Croatian literature. And finally, that we were 15 minutes away from the ruins of an old Herceg Fortress, a small fort which managed to remain unconquerable for the Turkish forces. I even said it could be a great destination for a one-day trip.
In other words, I was very irritating to my friends, as I would be to any other sane person. So in order to calm my nerdy appetite, they organized a tour with a professional guide just for me. Yes, I was the single person to attend the tour around Brela. Upon initial discomfort, I accepted their proposition. They even paid for the whole experience upfront, so it was silly not to go. I was to meet this guide on Brela’s main square.
I expected him to be wearing distinctive clothes, maybe even a uniform provided by the tourist office. I also imagined a megaphone in his arms, or at least an umbrella which he could raise in the air in order to be seen in crowds. But my guide was something completely different.
For starters, it wasn’t a he, but a she. A redhead named Danijela in her mid-twenties. She wore a beautiful dress, while the megaphone and umbrella were nowhere to be seen. She approached me first, and upon an exchange of shy smiles, she asked me where we should sit for a cup of coffee. I replied that it can wait until after she shows me a little bit of Brela. She was somewhat confused by my answer, but nevertheless, the tour began.
First, we went to the beach of Dugi rat. There she showed me the symbol of the settlement, the Brela stone, often depicted on the cover of various tourist magazines. Basically, it’s a huge boulder which rolled down from mountain of Biokovo centuries ago, and ended up in a shallow part of the Adriatic Sea. Later, pine tree seeds reached the dust on the boulder’s dry surface, and soon, a small grove emerged. In other words, it looks like pines are actually growing out of the water’s surface.
We then switched to sacral architecture, visiting the early 18th century Lady of Health Church (Crkva Gospe od zdravlja). It is unique due to its old, unique Dalmatian baroque shape. Surrounded by green grass, and made of dry white stone, it looks like the scenery of a fantasy movie like as Game of Thrones.
I wondered whether we could somehow reach the peak of Biokovo Mountain, in order to see the so-called Hollow Cliff (Suplja istina) . Basically, it’s a tunnel-like natural structure which provides a gorgeous view of the village of Brela and its surroundings. Because the opening resembles an eye, it is sometimes said that mountain guards the settlement through Hollow Cliff. Danijela was not thrilled with the idea. She said it would take some time to reach the peak of the mountain, and her legs were already tired from walking around.
Not surprisingly, I was taken aback to hear such an answer. What kind of a tour guide complains about being tired? When I gently suggested to Danijela that she was paid to give me a tour, she was extremely puzzled, wondering what kind of payment and what kind of tour am I talking about. As far as she knows, this was supposed to be a blind date, arranged over an internet forum for such correspondence.
It’s difficult to say which came first. My anger, or my amazement by the complexity of the prank I was a victim of. Those dumb card-playing addicts actually managed to find a girl in Brela which looking for a date online, and hooked her up with me, under the explanation that she was a tour guide. What kind of evil genius would come to this idea? And now, I had to explain everything to the girl who had found herself in this crazy position. She actually thought that our tour was a date. I wanted to kill those immature creeps.
They were laughing, of course. I ignored them for the rest of our stay.
But not before I drank a cup of coffee with the redheaded Danijela, a girl who had a gorgeous dress, a wonderful smile, and who was not a tour guide at all.