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Swimming

Slovenia-Croatia 10/07: Swimming with the Fishies

When hotels.com said our apartment was 200 metres from the beach, I didn't realise it meant vertically as well as horizontally. I soon found the series of stone staircases that led down to the shore, went swimming three times in one day and still didn't feel it was quite enough.

I was amazed by the number and variety of fish on display, simply cruising around in the shallows unperturbed by swimmers. I saw shoals of striped and spotted fish, pale catfish travelling purposefully along the bottom, one small flat thing pretending to be a stone, and a sand-coloured octopus the size of my hand which oozed under a rock when it saw me see it. Prescription goggles: not just for making sure you select the right changing-room for your sex any more.

When Howard, who had been lurking in the air-conditioned apartment trying to find Tour de France coverage on TV, deemed it cool enough to go out, we rode to the border with Montenegro. This was the furthest point we reached, and everything looked extra strange and foreign: the slim, dark cypress trees, the wild lavender at the roadside, the police convoys flashing past. We stopped before the border and debated whether to pop in, but since neither of us had insurance or breakdown cover for the country, it seemed an unnecessary act of foolhardiness. Another time!

Returning to Dubrovnik, we took a stroll through the Old Town. This is still inhabited by both humans and cats; the main routes were all postcard and ice cream shops, but we saw washing-lines down alleyways.

I wanted to fit in one last swim before supper and bed. In the dark, the beach was deserted, but the water was so calm and shallow I wasn't afraid to go in. I swam under the stars and aeroplanes, to the sounds of a classical concert at one of the beachfront restaurants. It was so pleasant I wondered why everyone didn't do it, hoping the answer wasn't 'big sharks'.

52 miles

Dubrovnik old town Cat, Dubrovnik Old Town
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I went to Dubrovnik in 1998 and was totally enchanted by the cats in the old town! Glad they're still there ;-)
There seemed to be a plentiful supply but not too many - clearly a well-regulated system!
I was amazed by the number and variety of fish on display, simply cruising around in the shallows unperturbed by swimmers. I saw shoals of striped and spotted fish, pale catfish travelling purposefully along the bottom, one small flat thing pretending to be a stone, and a sand-coloured octopus the size of my hand which oozed under a rock when it saw me see it. Prescription goggles: not just for making sure you select the right changing-room for your sex any more.

That's really neat. :) You rarely see wildlife in the seas here, except for tons of jellyfish and (if you're a diver) the occasional crab walking across the sea floor.
I was very impressed and rather wanted to buy a snorkel, but they were expensive and I wasn't quite sure how they worked, so I just held my breath!
Snorkels are really nice and useful. :) If you want one, I recommend going to a good diving store and having them advise you, though; you may end up paying a bit more that way, but you'll get a decent one instead of the cheap ones you'll find in touristy areas. The difference is astounding.

They're really easy to use, too. As long as you're staying at the surface, you can use them to breathe while having your face underwater; if you want to dive down, take a deep breath first, and then use that to blow the water from the snorkel once you've come back up so you can breathe again. That's all there is to it. :)
Thanks! I think it would be a good investment as I love swimming in the sea. (I was confused on holiday as I wasn't sure how it would work out with my glasses/goggles, but Howard pointed out that snorkel and mask are separate things.)
Yeah, they are. Snorkels will attach to the headband of a diving mask; I'm fairly sure it'll also work with swimming googles. Again, a store should be able to give you all the info you need. :)

Masks are available with prescription glasses as well, BTW, but if you already have prescription goggles, it's probably not worth it.

That said, masks do have upsides; I personally prefer having my nose covered underwater, for instance. But they also have downsides, e.g. the larger volume. (Some masks are specifically designed to have low volumes, but none will beat swimming goggles.)

Gee, I'd really like to get into diving again — perhaps not SCUBA diving, but certainly snorkelling.

Edited at 2013-07-29 09:47 pm (UTC)
The swimming sounds awesome. Rarely is the water clear enough to see anything fun though I enjoy watching the grumpy crabs scuttle about, claws raised, when swimming over them.

One of things I currently one to learn is 'free diving', the ability to dive without SCUBA gear (obviously for a shorter period of time!) http://www.freediveuk.com/
Wow, that looks amazing! It's going to be hard to get back in the British sea after having my standards for warmth and cleanliness raised like this...