Rory McGrath, Griff Rhys Jones and Dara O Briain head to the Adriatic to experience the region's amazing maritime history. A gondola race on Venice's Grand Canal awaits them.
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On this voyage into the unknown,
Rory has decided to be useful.
He's been learning the language.
RORY STRUGGLES TO PRONOUNCE WORDS
DARA PROMPTS HIM
RORY REPEATS WORDS
-Da, yeah, da.
BOTH: Bok! Bok! Bok!
What is this one we're doing now?
We're at the lower end of the Adriatic and we go through Croatia,
along the coast of Croatia, which is the finest sailing ground in the whole of the Mediterranean.
What the Romans called Dal-mat-ia.
So you're bringing us basically along the Balkans?
Balkans, yeah. Three Men...
-Good title, isn't it?
-It is a good title.
-Three Men In The Balkans, you see.
Three Men Go To The Balkans. I like it.
Yes, we're going to Venice.
Apparently, the Balkans didn't sound appealing enough.
In about a week's time, we intend to take part in a gondola race in front
of thousands of tourists on Venice's busiest waterway, the Grand Canal.
-This doesn't strike me as the best place to do a race.
-What, on the busiest bit of canal in the world?
'In our quest to get there, we'll be travelling up the stunning Dalmatian coast,
Frozen to the rigging!
'..and more rain.'
'We'll be blending in with the locals...
Why don't we just stay on a plane and go all the way to Venice?
'..and blagging our way.'
-Are you going to Venice in that?
'..onto any boat that will take us...'
Here we go!
'..across borders and seas to one of the greatest cities on Earth.'
It may be an English preoccupation, but can you flush toilet paper down the lavatory?
-I don't remember!
-It's perfectly fine to flush the lavatory here.
We start on one of the few train routes in this area.
Travelling across land is very difficult here. It's the Balkans.
When you say Balkans, what you're referring to are the huge mountain ranges that dominate the area.
Montenegro actually means Black Mountains, and it's these that
mean that historically, the only real way to get around was by boat.
Perfect for us.
This takes us to Bar.
Bar in Montenegro.
Is it a licensed Bar that we're going to?
'Yes. The first leg of our journey to Venice
'will take us through Montenegro and on up the coast to Dubrovnik.
'From there, we need a lift to one of the many islands
'along the coast of Croatia and across to Venice,
'hopefully before the gondola race begins...or finishes'.
Sitting in a junction between East and West, the Balkans has a long history of conflict.
There was a period of unification after the Second World War,
when it became the Communist State of Yugoslavia,
its separate nations held together by its charismatic leader, Marshall Tito.
Don't tread on the live rail.
When Tito died, Yugoslavia started to break up in a series of bloody conflicts.
Montenegro didn't actually become independent until 2006.
The harbour at Bar is crammed with mothballed military boats from that era.
But we're heading for a boat that's been saved from the knackers' yard because of its prestigious history.
-Griff, where are you bringing us to?
-We're looking for a boat called Jadranka.
What does that mean?
I don't know. You're the linguist.
-What does it mean?
-I think it sounds like Cockney rhyming slang to me.
What is Jadranka?
Jadranka is Tito's own personal yacht.
Tito was President of Yugoslavia, the land of the southern Slavs.
"Yug" is south in Serbian,
in case you're interested and wondering why they called it Yugoslavia.
'And Jadranka means Little Adriatic'.
Look at this. There are people with serious uniforms on this boat.
RORY SPEAKS SERBIAN
Rory, go ahead, because you speak the language, and do the introductions, please.
-Welcome aboard. My name is Goran.
'Comrade Tito had the yacht built 40 years ago for the entertainment of
'foreign dignitaries and celebrities, to show off his socialist utopia.
'Nowadays, they use it to show off the new Montenegro.'
'Say what you like about the strict socialist, ex-partisan womaniser and leader
'of the non-aligned nations of the world -
'Tito certainly knew how to spend it.'
We're heading north up the coast to Tivat in the Bay of Kotor
to meet our next boat.
We're going to have a look around to see if we can find
any hints of Tito still on the boat.
Like Sophia Loren.
-Hello, Captain, how are you?
Very well. This is our first boat.
-How are you feeling?
-Oh, yeah, I haven't got this back yet.
-You don't have a problem?
-No. So who's been here from our part of the world? Who's been here from Britain?
Prince Andrew was here.
-And who else?
Gaddafi? Very topical at the moment.
-Very hot right now, Gaddafi. Who else?
Yeah. Elizabeth Taylor.
OK, what is Elizabeth Taylor's military or governmental role?
I believe that Tito loves...
-The beautiful ladies.
-He did love the beautiful ladies, didn't he?
And where would President Tito make love to all those famous actresses like Sophia Loren?
It would be in here in the lounge.
If you're a communist leader, what you want most of is,
let's face it...fridges. Look at this.
These peculiar...they're shot glasses.
Everywhere you go on this boat, there are shot glasses.
Shot glasses. Imagine how much raki you'd get in one of those.
Shot glasses everywhere you look on this boat!
This drawer is actually a shot glass.
You actually just pour the brandy into that
and you put your head in here.
There is a lot of popular TV shows from Britain.
-Only Fools And Horses.
-This is a classic hit.
-Yeah, and Allo, Allo.
So if David Jason came to Montenegro,
-he'd be a big star here?
-Yeah, he's very famous.
As yachts go...as a modern yacht goes, it's quite basic.
-..room here, room up there.
I mean, they spend a fortune these days, the real Titos,
getting their yachts with...
It all started with Onassis, Aristotle, who in his bar
had bar stools covered with the foreskins of sperm whales.
I had no idea what you were going to say then, Griff, you know.
That's what got Jackie Kennedy going.
-He said, "Hey, you sit down on the foreskin..."
-What, she straddled...?
No, Tito missed a trick there.
There are no foreskins of sperm whales being used as upholstery on this boat.
Since Montenegro became independent in 2006,
Porto Montenegro in Tivat has become the place for the super-rich
to buy their super-rich houses and park their super-rich yachts.
Owning one of those would feel like owning a ferry.
-It's a floating large, privately-owned hotel.
My reverie would be that sailing boat over there.
-That's our next boat.
Jadran, meaning Big Adriatic,
is just about the only other boat in the Montenegrin Navy.
It's a sail training ship,
and we're hoping she'll take us across the Croatian border to Dubrovnik tomorrow,
and perhaps teach us how to sail, whilst she's at it.
Just to the north of Porto Montenegro lies
one of the oldest and most important harbour towns along the coastline.
-That's Perast ahead.
In its peak 300 years ago, Perast was one of the main naval shipyards in Europe,
and was reputedly where the world's best sea captains came from.
Nowadays, all that remains of that heyday are some of the traditions.
Our musical escort are going to one of the islands just off Perast.
They're practising for what is known as the Fascinada,
a 500-year-old celebration of a vision, sung from the back of a rowing boat.
SHIP'S HORN BLARES
Legend has it that a sailor saw a vision on the water and threw a stone to mark it.
Every passing ship did the same until an island was formed, and then local sailors built
a church to give praise for all the times they'd been saved at sea.
-It's beautiful, Griff.
This is very lovely.
Look at the plaques.
So if something happens to you from which you survive and continue,
then you make an offering in a little piece of beaten silver.
And obviously, I have never seen so many.
Some are clearly for saving from ships, and legs...
-Some are from storms.
-And quite a lot are for hearts.
-Mainly boats, though.
-There are a lot of shipwrecks and storms.
People who build a church on an island made of stones in the middle
-of an inlet are probably boaty types...
-It might be a passenger.
-..or at least have access...
Day two. Well, over the last seven years, we've been all over Britain.
Everywhere, we've been. The far north and the west,
and we've experienced nothing but the most brilliant weather.
So we came to the Adriatic in spring, and of course it's blowing like gangbusters.
Still, it's quite a big boat, isn't it?
No doubt it'll be... it'll be very safe.
And it'll need to be, as it has to take us over the border to Croatia
and into the port of Dubrovnik.
I've come on ahead of the others and been awarded special duties, thanks.
One of the most fundamental parts of cadet training is climbing the one hundred-foot mast.
No, really, thanks.
If I was a cadet and I was going for the first time, would I just be sent?
-Would a deck officer help me up there, or would I just have to go on my own?
-For the first time?
-Someone will go with you.
OK. It's my first time.
-You'll be gentle with me?
-Thank you. Off we go.
'This training ship was commissioned in the 1930s
'to prepare the next generation of naval commanders from this coast
'to be the best in the world.
'She was the pride of the Yugoslav Navy,
'and when the countries split post-war,
'Montenegro managed to hold on to her.'
-Hello. No disrespect to you.
-A pleasure. A pleasure, Captain.
-Is it Captain, or...?
Commander, sorry. You already have met one of our...a little guy.
-Yes, he's upstairs.
Oh, he loves that. He loves that.
The...others don't want to do this,
because they don't like heights.
How is the technique? Is that right?
No. His technique not right.
Your technique's not good, Griff.
RORY SHOUTS IN SERBIAN
You understand us.
You got that, Griff?
No, don't reach for the phrasebook.
And you're wearing the wrong shoes, but apart from that, very good.
I...wonder if you can hear
the slight tremor
-INDISTINCT SHOUTING FROM BELOW
Oh, OK, understood.
This is called a lover's hole,
because on other boats,
they used to go outside
and there was a little stretch of rattlings
which goes outside, and then you used to sort of hang upside down.
This is quite easy by comparison with some boats.
We're now only in the first crow's nest.
The second one is up there.
Do you need me to go up to the next one?
Well...you don't need to.
No... OK, thank you.
-It's no problem.
I don't think this is a three-man job, somehow.
The danger is not falling in the sea and drowning,
the danger is falling on the deck.
I just hope I fall on Rory, if I fall off.
OK, that's enough.
It's now blowing 40 knots up here.
I haven't enough hair to blow in the wind
to show you how blowy it is. We're setting off into the teeth of a howling gale.
'And as we head out of port,
'the weather doesn't get any better. In fact, it gets a lot worse.'
'And if it's this bad on deck, heaven knows how bad it is halfway up the mast.'
I've got to go down now. It's wet and I'm cold,
-and I'm not even wearing waterproof trousers, which is...
-MAN SPEAKS SERBIAN
OK. Yeah, everybody's saying I've got to go down, so I'm going down now.
Not before time.
Griff is still up there, and has actually appealed for waterproof trousers.
He's frozen to the rigging.
Sorry. Forgive me, I'm just going as low as I can possibly go.
Ah, that feels secure. That feels safe now. That's good.
This is where I want to be from now on.
I'm not getting up from here, all right?
Just sail on, and I'll just stay here.
The rain now stops, and it's all hands on deck.
We have to get some sails up to get us out to sea and leave the bay.
The sails going nowhere.
What are we pulling?
-We're pulling...the land is getting closer.
There's a bat!
There's a bat!
Look at his little teeth...
Am I the only one who's alarmed by the idea
that it's so long since these sails were opened up
-that bats have roosted?
-There's a whole bat colony up there.
Of course, being such a tall ship,
the sails are, well, quite big and heavy, and take an age to get up.
But disappointment, given that the wind now drops completely.
It's not a great day for sailing. It's gone from being too windy to no wind at all.
-No wind at all.
-Yes, quite random, this. How far can you take us?
Can you take us to Dubrovnik?
Yes, I can.
-I can take you to Dubrovnik...
..but our two governments must take the...
-agreement about that, because we are a Navy ship.
'So it turns out we have bigger problems than the weather.'
Two things I've learnt this morning. One is the Montenegrin for "bat", a sismis,
which is something I wasn't expecting to be learning today or ever in my life.
The other thing is that we are not actually officially allowed to go to Dubrovnik in this boat.
The captain's been quite diplomatic about it. The point is that Dubrovnik is in Croatia.
This boat is Montenegrin.
HE SPEAKS FOREIGN LANGUAGE
'So for the avoidance of a diplomatic incident,
'this boat is not going to Dubrovnik.'
Bye, thank you!
And with the weather being so strange, the captain is happy to get us off as quickly as possible.
We're sped away to the nearest harbour, Herceg Novi.
This is great, isn't it? It's like being on holiday in England in the summer.
Amazing that this is a banana boat. I don't know why we're using a banana boat.
It's out of season, I suppose.
People would pay good money in the holiday resorts for this kind of fun.
With our unexpected change of fortune, we are facing the real possibility
we won't be able to get across the border at all in a boat and will have to find another route.
'But as we approach the sea wall, there are three boats flying Croatian flags tied up alongside.
'I wonder if they're there to help in some way?'
Is this the closest we get to the border?
This is the last bit of Montenegro.
-You see, that boat couldn't take us to Croatia for diplomatic reasons.
The truth is, what he told us off the record is that
there has been a campaign in Croatia to have the boat repatriated,
that boat, repatriated to Croatia, so they're a bit wary of going there
in case there's an incident of some kind, so we have to make our own way without the boat.
This is what he told us off the record, is it?
He told us off the record.
-He specifically used the words "off the record"?
-Yeah, he knew that.
-Isn't there an international convention...
-They're never going to see it.
And then he asks, "Can I have a copy of this on DVD?"
I know, but we can take that bit out of the DVD.
So it might be less glamorous than the tall ship,
but at least these yachts could actually get us to Dubrovnik.
-How are you?
-Oh, you're English?
Scottish! Are you going to Dubrovnik?
We're off to Dubrovnik now, yeah.
-Is there any chance we could get a lift off you?
-Can you smuggle us past customs?
There we go...
'It's not in my nature to be cautious, but I've been made promises like that already today'.
We're coming from Montenegro into Croatia.
Will we need to be showing passports at some stage?
-You have got your passports with you?
-They're somewhere on us.
You are going to need your passports.
OK, Griff, I'm going to take control of the throttle for this one.
I haven't got my glasses on.
Well, it's mainly mountains that you have to avoid at this point.
-Do you want to take her?
-Not particularly, no.
OK. Well, that's two of us.
'It turns out this flotilla of Sunsail yachts are being relocated
'to Croatia, and being tourist boats,
'it's apparently slightly easier for them to get across the border...
Jesus. This could be quite a challenge if you were just part of a flotilla, if you're a newcomer.
-But you wouldn't go out?
-We normally wouldn't...
Do carry on!
Oh well, that's a bit lumpy.
I'm glad we got rid of that enormous, huge, seagoing boat
-and transferred into a really tiny boat.
Dubrovnik is a six-hour sail up the coast.
Arriving by boat into this old harbour
is an unforgettable approach to this unforgettable city.
Day three, and everything is peaceful, because Rory isn't on the boat.
Well, here we are in Dubrovnik, or as they say in Croatia, "Here vee are in Dubrovnik",
without doubt one of the most beautiful medieval cities I've ever
laid awake in listening to church bells ringing all night.
So rather than just toss and turn in the bed, I thought I'd come out and buy breakfast for Griff and Dara.
Talking of Griff and Dara, vegetables here!
HE SPEAKS FOREIGN LANGUAGE
Founded in the seventh century, Dubrovnik is the only city state
on the Adriatic to have ever rivalled Venice.
In fact, it looks so much like Venice that it's been its stunt double in numerous films.
And like Venice, it is also overrun with tourists.
Up to 85,000 a week come here during the summer, and people buying
holiday homes here have driven the prices so high, most of the locals now live outside the city walls.
I'm back, boys. Breakfast.
Pig's ear. I thought "Pig's ear, that sounds appropriate".
Very nice, that. Griff, Dara!
Gone for breakfast. That's charming. That's great. That's great.
It's not the expense, it's just that I took the trouble to learn the Croatian for smoked pig's head.
Mmm...better go and find them.
So we are walking down the main street, which we call Stradun.
'After a leisurely continental breakfast with the flotilla crowd,
'I've joined them for the guided tour.'
I'm afraid that we will stop now and start climbing the steps.
-Ready to go?
This is the part of Dubrovnik which was constructed in 1272...
'Meanwhile, I've been stuck waiting for Rory.'
-You missed a great breakfast.
I had breakfast an hour ago. We hung out with the flotilla people,
and they're on a tour, which would have been lovely.
-Why didn't you go on it?
-I was waiting for you.
-So we've missed the tour?
We can go to one of the...do you know how many Irish pubs there are within the walls of Dubrovnik?
-Shall we go and have a bit of an explore?
-Let's have a look at the Irish pubs.
'In its long history, Dubrovnik has been both a free state and part of the Venetian republic.
'It's been invaded by Napoleon, shaken by earthquakes, ruled by the Austrians, the Nazis, the fascists
'and of course the communists when it was part of Yugoslavia.'
'Now it seems to be mainly overrun by the Irish.'
'But in Dubrovnik, it's only a matter of time before you're confronted with
'what happened here 20 years ago, when Serbian and Montenegrin forces attacked this Croatian masterpiece.'
So first when they started on 1st October 1991, they arrived
with their ships, so first position for shelling was behind the island.
So first ten days, they were constantly targeting hill peaks.
During that period, most of the locals went in the fortresses,
so Dubrovnik fortresses down there definitely had the best role at the end of 20th century.
In each tower, approximately 2000 people moved in.
My worst personal experience was that we were cut off from water and electricity for nearly five months.
The town's ancient rainwater storage reservoirs then became the city's only water supply.
Very interesting, the way all the maps in the city do this.
"Sites of damage caused by the aggression on Dubrovnik by the
"Yugoslav army, the Serbs and the Montenegrins in 1991-1992."
They're not sitting on the fence.
They make it obvious who did it.
Yes, but interestingly, what we refer to as the Balkan conflict is
-referred to here as the Croatian War of Independence.
Yeah. For the Croatians, it was a chance to break out of Yugoslavia.
And the Serbs tried to stop that, and that's the way they view it.
It's a moving piece of work, isn't it?
There's all the points there where bombs fell.
About 68% of the buildings in Dubrovnik, which is a World Heritage Site, were damaged.
At this bay, Croatia is only 850 metres from the border to the sealine.
-From the border with Bosnia?
'Borjan was part of the force defending the city.
'He was stationed up here in this hilltop fort,
'which became the last line of defence against the advancing Serbs.'
There were only 600 soldiers.
-It was impossible to defend against 18,000 against us.
18. 18,000, yes.
'The hill's strategic importance meant it was the scene of the fiercest hand-to-hand fighting.
'Many of Borjan's comrades were killed.'
So you and how many others came to this fort?
Probably there were always 30 to 40 people.
And it's crucial to you to defend this hilltop position?
Absolutely. We had shift changes.
We didn't stay all the time here, but 40 people were always here.
Because if they had this fort, they had complete control of Dubrovnik.
-Serbia and Montenegro thought that this would be a pushover
and they'd get it, but in the end it proved to be a resistance which held them...
They thought it would be ended in five days.
This all happened very recently.
What's the feeling now between Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia and Bosnia?
I will never forget what has happened, but we must continue living, understand?
I couldn't hate anybody,
I am not a person like that, but I can't forget what has happened to me.
I will be talking about it for ever.
It's complicated, because the history here is the history of generations
going back who remember these things, and then out it comes again in a new war...
No, I hope something like that never happens again here.
-So as far as you're concerned, it's important to keep the memory alive, but not the hatred?
No. I can't forget what has happened to us, but we must continue living.
'Down in the town, there's a conflict of another kind.
'Although Dubrovnik is slowly being taken over by tourism,
'people do still live, work and play within the walls.'
-That was good. We don't often have fun on these...
-And then the fun grinds to a halt. Have you been learning things?
The history of this place starts with ancient Greece...
-We don't need to hear it all.
-I wasn't going to start.
-I was just going to say, if you want to hear about wars, wars and more wars...
-We had a war here.
If you want to hear about conflict between neighbouring countries...
-Casualty - his toe.
-In years to come it'll be on a poster outside the city.
Griff may have learnt all about the history of Dubrovnik,
but we had tried the Irish pubs and met Andrea, skipper of this boat, The Magellan.
-Is this the boat?
-They're doing a cruise anyway.
At least as far as Split.
-Yes, so we can stay on it till then.
-How far is Split?
-Hello. Come inside.
'The Magellan has to relocate to its home of Split to get ready
'for the start of the tourist season, so we'll have her all to ourselves.'
'We're hoping we'll be able to find a boat to take us to Venice on one of
'the islands somewhere between Dubrovnik and Split.
'It's a vague plan, I know, but this coastline is
'the boating capital of the Med, so we stand a fighting chance.'
It's a huge boat for three of us.
-We never have to see each other for three days.
-That'd be great. Oh, my God.
HE SPEAKS FOREIGN LANGUAGE
Yes. Local beer. You want small or large?
You are a large man, so...
Oh, thank you.
Do you watch Only Fools And Horses?
Yes, on TV? Yeah, yeah.
It's very good. It was my favourite.
That is fantastic, thank you very much. What do we say?
-Cheers, cheers, cheers!
-Zivjeli is the same.
For a good couple of days.
We've motored through the night to arrive at Korcula.
Like many of the islands along the Dalmatian coast,
this innocent place has been controlled,
invaded, given away and conquered by dozens of empires.
Greeks and Romans, Genoese, Venetians, Austrians, fascist Italians
and revolutionary French have all invaded it.
And now, it's our turn.
It's famous today as the birthplace of Marco Polo, although that's
contested by the Venetians, and for its sword dance, the Moreska.
Today they're practising under the watchful eye of master dancer Tony.
The solid steel swords are designed to spark when struck hard and produce the distinctive sound
and rhythm of the dance.
This, by the way, is an antecedent of morris dancing.
Bravo! Well done, well done. Hi, how are you?
-Hello, how are you?
-Hello, how are you?
Explain to us what's going on. How many different dances are there that people do?
It's kind of a dance which used to be danced all over the Mediterranean in the past
to celebrate the victory over the Moors.
So that's where the name comes from, Moreska.
The period when the dance originated was the 16th century.
Basically, this one, this version, spread from Spain in the 11th century
and spread all over the Mediterranean.
-It looks very dangerous.
-It is dangerous.
-Oh, thank you. It is dangerous!
Have you seen the English morris dancing?
-What do you think?
I mean, in comparison with this, I wouldn't dare to call them sissies, but...
-No, with all due respect, of course.
-These are real swords. I mean, you see this scar?
It's like this.
That's from one of those swords.
-Tony, do any women take part in the dance?
-No, only this one maiden, and basically, she's doing nothing.
I mean, she's having a role in this dialogue, and it ends with a kiss.
If we did it, could I play the maiden, please?
I'm not kissing you!
-Forget the kiss.
-We never really had such an ugly one.
It happens regularly that somebody gets hit on the finger,
-and the finger breaks in about five pieces, and then they screw it together.
'With those words of reassurance, we can start to learn with confidence.'
At the same time, the same time.
'It's a rare thing that I actually get told to thrust a sword in Dara's face'.
-Yeah, that's what you do.
'As ever, it look like the prospect of severe maiming or laceration is drawing a crowd'.
You do this, this and you go like this.
I go that side? Yes.
Other shows may, for one reason or another, sort of film the tourist
attractions, but we have come here to the Dalmatian coast and become
a tourist attraction ourselves, which is a first for British television, I think.
I notice once again that I am utterly redundant.
I suppose I could fall on my fake swords
while these two learn to bash each other over the head, which is something I'd quite like to see.
'Sadly, Griff, I don't think that's going to happen, as Dara appears to be stealing the show'.
I'm loving this.
I'm playing the left-handed card.
I did say to him, "Is it a problem if you're left-handed?"
He said "No, no... yes, it is, you out."
So once again, pretending to be left-handed has worked nicely for me.
I think it's time to teach him some morris dancing, isn't it?
-The sissy way. Let's get some sticks and beat him up.
Let's get some bells.
-He's good. He's good.
-Ha, improvised there.
The only thing, don't you agree, that's lacking...
I think you've got to put on the skirt and the bonnet.
-LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE
It's the real thing.
Who will fight me?
Oh, them, probably.
Are you marking this?
I like the Arsenal strip. OK, orchestra!
Trying to find a way out of this now.
Just die! >
Come to the judges.
To be honest, I was kind of toying with them a bit there.
-AS LEN GOODMAN:
-Dara, first of all, well done, son.
When you come on that floor, I thought, "He's not going to be a Moreska dancer", but when you got
into the dance, to be fair, you done a passable impression of a Moreska dancer and I thought "fair play".
You did a few stumbles, you weren't pointing your toes,
but you did a cracking good performance, so well done, son. ..Bruno.
-Well, I liked it, but...
he was all over the place.
There was no passion from the Moreska.
You have to dance the Moreska with passion and precision,
and everything there was just a mess.
-He's a beginner, Bruno.
I think he done all right. Give the boy a break. Anyway, let's score him.
I can only give you 5.
Oh, boo. Boo. Boo.
That's what I think of you and your marks.
We didn't get marks back when we were fighting the Moors-slash-the Turks, can't remember which.
Didn't get marked back then, did we?
I could wear this for the rest of the shoot, but these are the best.
Oh, that was a spark.
I'd take these home,
but surely there'd be a hand luggage issue with this.
Presumably they'd stop you with this.
Dara may have fallen in love with a pair of swords and a silly hat
but we can't sail to Italy on them,
so we must leave them and Korcula behind in search of a boat that can get us to Venice.
The skipper has been told to head for Vis.
Vis is the closest Croatian island to Italy.
It has a big harbour, lots of boats and tourists.
Perhaps this is where we will hop on to Venice.
In the meantime on this boat, we're sort of passengers.
Usually, we let off a rope or we pull on a rope
or we start the engine or something or go and look at the engine,
but we're just passengers,
so I'm just calculating the distance we've come.
20, 40, 60, 80...
We've come about 130 miles.
We are still...
We're still about 100, 200 miles from Venice.
That's where we are. That's us.
Here is Croatia,
is the island of Vis.
And we are...
# Doodle-oddle-ooo! #
..5.4 nautical miles from the entrance to Vis.
Good, isn't it?
Lying just 60 miles from Italy, Vis has always been of huge strategic importance,
and has throughout its long history been fought over in countless naval battles.
During the Second World War
it was both where the British fleet was stationed and home to Tito's Partisans.
What we're getting here is an inter-connectiveness,
because this is also Tito country.
-We left Tito country before.
Evelyn Waugh was here as well, and he was working for the commandos.
Oh, yeah. What did he say about Tito?
He decided that Tito, who was quite difficult to meet
and was living in the cave next door, was a lesbian.
And so in order to amuse himself and the rest of the British contingent,
he put it about that Tito was a lesbian, which annoyed Tito so much
that he came down when they went on a swimming expedition,
-Tito wore a particularly skimpy pair of swimming trunks...
-He put it about as well, Tito.
-..in order to reveal that he was, in fact, all man.
As we enter the harbour, one thing is striking - the lack of boats.
Usually, this harbour would be teaming with them,
but that's in the summer, not in April.
Still, there are lots of things to recommend Vis, despite the absence of boats.
One is the absence of cars.
So Rory and I get on our bikes and create the absence of Dara.
You're on the wrong side of the road, by the way.
'Because Vis was a military base, it was closed to tourists until 1998,
'and so it is an unspoilt gem of an island
'where the locals carry on their traditional way of life, farming and fishing.'
Most importantly for me, however, it's reputed to produce the best wine in the Balkans.
And since we're moored for the night, I'm stocking up for the evening
at the cellars of a local vineyard housed in an old World War II bunker.
-This is 2006. This is very good wine.
-It's drinking well.
-A little dry.
-A little bit of tannin on it. Little bit of acid in the taste.
-Yeah, there is a lot of tannin, you know.
I'm trying to do the language thing.
I'm just enjoying the drink, to be honest, I really don't know...
how to communicate this to your television,
other than you can see the speed at which I'm drinking it...
-This is really good. This is very nice, it's 2006?
The 2006s are drinking very well. They are drinking excellently.
On the edge of town, we discover that wherever foreign empires have gone
the British have inevitably got stuck in too.
"After more than 100 years, British soldiers and sailors who fought and died for their country's honour
"on the seas and islands of Dalmatia have been laid to rest in this island cemetery, 1944."
After more than 100 years?
That must have been 1844.
"Here dead lie we, because we did not choose to live
"and shame the land from which we sprung.
"Life, to be sure, is nothing much to lose,
"but young men think it is and we were young."
It's a very serene place.
Look where we're standing.
We're standing on hallowed ground.
Vis was not just an important British base in the Second World War
but also during the Napoleonic Wars a century earlier.
It's wine of the island, is it?
It is wine of the island, and it's stored in Marshal Tito's caves.
Better than that - the wine's good, but better than that, he runs a cricket team.
-Marshal Tito played cricket?
-Marshal Tito played...
No, you've mixed up the different things here.
Tito didn't play cricket. The wine-maker, Tony, plays cricket.
They have a cricket team, and they'd like us to compete on their behalf against a German cricket team.
Is Tony English?
No, he's local. It's a Croatian-based cricket team.
Presumably when there was a British Army...resting here, they played cricket,
and whoever was the general there was missing home terribly.
-We saw the plaque.
We went to the cemetery and we saw the plaque about the Napoleonic wars.
As the only English person between the Welshman and the Irishman, can I just say that I never real...
-..really liked cricket very much.
-That was unexpected.
I think you're going to have to grow to like it.
THEY SING IN THEIR NATIVE TONGUE
'Magellan is, after all, a sort of mini-cruise ship,
'and in-keeping with that, entertainment has been laid on,
'although this group's day job is in the local docks.'
Can we offer you a glass of wine?
-You sing another song and I'll get some glasses.
-You get the glasses.
I'll get some glasses.
THEY RESUME SINGING
# We all live in a yellow submarine
# A yellow submarine
# A yellow submarine
# And the band begins to play...
# Bam-bam bam-bam-bam Ba-ba-ba-bam bam-bam-bam
# We all live in a yellow submarine... #
I like the Magellan, but I haven't seen a sail since we left Dubrovnik.
Fortunately for me, circumstances and a crate of island wine
have conspired to give me a little bit of time to indulge myself at the other end of the island,
It's great to be here so early, not just early in the morning, but early in the season.
It just feels...pure,
and not many Mediterranean places feel pure.
I'm looking for Pino.
'Pino owns a traditional fishing boat, and he's agreed to take me out in it.'
-How are you today?
Where are your friends?
They're asleep. The trouble is, they're only moderately interested in a lovely boat like this.
And I like the boat a lot.
-Can I give you a hand?
OK, I'll jump aboard.
The falkusa boat is not only sleek and beautiful, it's efficient and beautiful.
The 500-year-old design is unique to Komiza.
The fleet race out to the fishing grounds in order to get the best fishing spot,
and race back to be first in the market.
It was a fast boat, capable of carrying eight tonnes of fish
on a 25-day trip, and now they've all gone.
OK, now we're sailing.
-We can go to Italy.
Yes! 'This is a replica, but it sails like the original.'
-She's sailing herself?
That's the point of every sailing boat.
Yeah, very nicely balanced.
'With the lateen sail set correctly she can hit a speed of 12 knots,
'and they say the rudder starts to quiver like a contented cat.'
Look at that!
The bowsprit is sort of bending completely over.
Yeah, now it's purring.
It's purring now, I can feel it in my hand.
'I suppose heading to Venice on my own is not allowed.'
-You ready? You want a soft one?
-Yeah, go on. Nice and gentle.
-That's the best it's going to be today.
-How was the fishing?
-It was good.
I've got some fish, but we didn't fish for it.
Did they come from the fishmongers?
Yes, I got them from the stall in the market.
-Very good. What are they?
-I don't know.
A couple of red ones and a big, fat, grey one.
That sounds like us!
It's a perfect description.
Is this the cricket pitch?
-What are we doing?
-We're playing cricket against the MCC.
The Munich Cricket Club.
There are two dogs running around, and every time the ball is thrown,
one of the dogs picks the ball up and runs off into the bushes with it.
-That's our only hope.
-Aim for the dogs.
See you in a minute.
I don't know what to do with my fish now.
-It'll go off, won't it?
-Why did he bring fish to a cricket match?
Well, this is a very tough looking team from Munich.
But unlike most German cricketers I know, they look like they know what they're doing,
mainly because they're British expat bankers.
Then there's us, completely clueless.
And believing our ignorance to be modesty, captain Craig is putting us in to bat first.
-You guys need to wear a box.
-Now you tell us.
-It's best to put them on before you put your pads on.
-Has that been washed?
-It's been drunk out of, but never washed.
-It's a bit supermar...
-I haven't got that much to protect.
If you just need a junior...
We don't share the pads, but we do share the boxes.
Especially in this heat... Oh, I'm not wearing that one.
-Where has that come from?
-It's had a lot of runs, has this.
-It's had a lot of runs, that one. Aye.
-That box has seen some trouble, that box!
-Forward to new victories.
-Are you ready to go?
-Let's do it.
-This is the tradition round here.
-Oh! It's come out the back.
Here we go.
So here, off the coast of Dalmatia, where the ancient Greeks
and Romans first left traces of their civilisation,
where the galleys of Venice plied their trade,
where the Ottoman empire came knocking at the door,
where the Serbs, Montenegrins, Bosnians and Croatians struggled for their identity,
the British have left behind a perfect way of wasting a sunny afternoon.
And Dara's first to bat.
Let's see what he can do against the German attack.
Oh, that's a good first ball.
He just needs to find his line and length.
Just toying with him.
And Dara just needs to find where the wicket is.
-It's not there.
-Don't let them suck you in, Dara.
Yeah, I can see what he's doing.
Oh, bugger me! And a little cheeky hook goes for a four.
Well, he's got his eye, and this one goes sky high, over the boundary for a six.
Who'd have thought it?
We're going nowhere, Dara, today.
Get some sandwiches, folks. We're bedding in.
Bowler changes ends and McGrath faces his first ball,
and his second, his third and his fourth.
Well, no score there, but the first ball... Oh, that does the damage!
Out for ten.
-Watch out for Igor, that's all I'm saying.
Igor is the man who got me out.
OK, is your box in the right place?
-I don't know.
-Is it protecting everything you need to protect?
You've already got kids, so it's nothing major.
The fear has overcome me. Whatever was down there...
You're past breeding age, it's all right.
'So Rhys Jones at the crease to face his first ball.
'Look at the authority, show them who's boss.
'Down to McGrath. He makes contact.
'Oh, the Germans have caught him! Wunderbar.
'Das war wunderbar. McGrath is kaput.
'But Rhys Jones is making a stand. He's putting runs on the board.
'How long can he last in the midday sun?
'That's how long he lasts. He's out, he's out.
-'He's gone. One of the great innings is over.'
'He walks away with a four.
'O'Briain got ten.
'McGrath got nothing.
'Time for tea.'
It's interesting the way cricket is a great game for revealing the true nature of a man.
Griff was edgy and nervous, Rory was avuncular and predominantly static
and I was swashbuckling and ultimately doomed to tragic failure, but heroically.
And now we just sit in a field in the sun for the rest of the day.
You can see why the Irish have really taken to cricket.
-We're on blag alert.
-Are you going to Venice?
-No, no, no.
-'The race to find a boat to Venice gets desperate.'
I don't know if I can go through with this.
I'm just not made to beg for a lift.
'And so does Rory.'
-Do you speak English?
'Griff finds his idea of boating perfection.'
'And gets in the way of mine.' I can't see the sunset, because you're in the way!
'But whether on the water, under it, or even over it...'
You could be in Pula on Tuesday?
'..our chances of getting to Venice start to evaporate.'
OK, that might well be a problem.
'And alarmingly, so too do Griff's clothes.'
Subtitles by Red Bee Media
E-mail [email protected]
2011's Three Men in a Boat goes further than before. The trio of Rory McGrath, Griff Rhys Jones and Dara O Briain head to Montenegro, where they catch a lift on a military motor yacht that used to be used by Marshal Tito, the leader of the Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia. Rory finds plenty of clues as to what the charismatic Socialist leader got up to onboard.
In the Bay of Kotor they transfer to another military vessel, a naval sail training ship dating to 1931. With three masts and 21 sails, everything has to be done by hand. The trio are put to work alongside the cadets by the commander, but Griff gets stuck up the 150 foot mast as a storm comes in.
Crossing the border, into the Croatian city of Dubrovnik, they discover that the city and its people remember the recent wars all too well. They continue up the coast on a mini cruise boat, MS Magellan, arriving at the Island of Korcula. Famed for its Moreska sword dance. When they have a go with the local troupe, Dara turns out to have a natural talent for the dance and ends up staging a performance for the local school and passing tourists.
Next stop is the island of Viz, one of the most unspoilt islands on the coast. Because of its military importance it was closed to tourists until 1989. The three men have been entered into a cricket match with the local side against the MCC - the Munich Cricket Club. Dara's unconventional batting style is surprisingly successful.