From Croatia to Brazil, with luck

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Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together? I’m in Croatia this week, cruising among its beautiful islands among a group of 27 passengers aboard mv Emanuel, operating for Saga Holidays.
Yesterday we were in Split, the country’s second-biggest city, home to the 1,700-year-old palace built by Roman emperor Diocletian.
The seafront esplanade – the Riva – is one of the finest in Europe, lined with bars and restaurants on one side, and palm trees and gardens on the other.
Only the all-pervasive whiff of rotten eggs, courtesy of a sulphur spring emptying into the sea can detract from the elegant, relaxing scene.
After a day exploring the palace and savouring the decadent custard cream slices in Republic Square, and a dinner on board our vessel, it was time to seek out a big-screen TV to watch World Cup qualifying football.
There was little chance that a bar in the Adriatic would be broadcasting England’s clash with Poland from Wembley. But at least we could soak up the atmosphere among vocal locals cheering on their national side against Scotland.
We found the right place on the Riva: a bar and nightclub tucked against the palace walls, seats outside under sheltering awnings, and a modest crowd gathered around the television.
With our Ozujsko beers in hand, we sat back, ready for the tidal wave of emotion which would inevitably burst forth when Modrich and his teammates in red and white overwhelmed the Gordon Strachan’s men in blue. For updates from Wembley, we had to rely on mobile phones and Twitter.
As it happened, Scotland took the lead in the first half, and added a second through a penalty. The match ground to a close with the winning team still not qualifying for Brazil 2014, and Croatia heading for the play-offs.
Perhaps that’s why there was hardly a flicker of reaction from the crowd, which had dwindled away to a handful by the time the final whistle blew. Of the Croatian emotion we had been expecting there wasn’t a sign, and not even much in the way of doleful Dalmatians.
Things only got agitated later in the night when a violent thunderstorm rolled across the harbour, stirring up even more of that sulphurous scent.
By this morning, all was calm again, and sweet-smelling. Croatia still have hopes of reaching the finals, Scotland can look forward to another disappointment in four years’ time. And even without our happy band to cheer them on, England are going to Brazil.

By | 2017-06-15T15:59:29+00:00 16 October 2013|Cruise destinations|0 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

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