Published: May 8th 2009May 4th 2009
Booking cheap flights that leave ridiculously early in the morning can seem appealing, but when you're alarm goes off at 2am and you then have to take a bus and train to the airport you start to wonder whether it could possibly be worth it - and thankfully it was! Our weekend on the Dalmatian Coast in Croatia definitely left us wanting more. We arrived in Split, Croatia's second largest city at 10am and after checking ferry timetables to Hvar Island spent the morning sitting on the Riva in the sunshine people-watching. After an early lunch and a quick look at Diocletian's Palace we boarded a ferry to Hvar.
Neither of us remember much of the ferry ride as we were having serious trouble staying awake after our 2am wakeup but thankfully we were met at the ferry and taken to our private apartment right in the centre of the town by the cutest little old lady. She was very sweet but as we didn't share a common language there was a lot of smiling and nodding involved in our communications!
Our apartment included a bedroom, kitchen and bathroom as well as the most amazing little roof-top
terrace that had views over the harbour and as far as the castle over the terracotta roof tiles in the old town. After admiring the view and dumping our bags we headed in to the main square of Hvar Town and walked around the harbour.
Hvar Island is beautiful, a craggy island surrounded by coves and bays of amazingly clear aqua water and Hvar Town is its historic centre. A small fishing village turned popular resort, the location was originally a haven for medieval pirates and was first settled in the thirteenth century AD. Thankfully the village has managed to keep much of its rustic charm and the town has a lovely old Cathedral, little stone cottages with terracotta tiles and a harbour full of yachts and speedboats that would be at home in Monaco.
We sat in the square and had drinks watching some boys playing football in the square before continuing with our exploration. We were both fading quickly so decided to keep active and walked along the walkway that runs along the ocean's edge called the Riva
. We barely made it to sunset before having dinner on the balcony of a restaurant overlooking
the harbour. It was an amazing meal: we had a starter of pate made with salmon, sardines and crab, mains of salmon and the local delicacy of black risotto which is risotto cooked in squid ink and served with more squid. We drank some Croatian beers and watched the sun set. The friendly local that was serving us gave Lara a glass of Croatian dessert wine and Al a glass of grappa and by this stage our eyelids were getting extremely heavy and we headed straight back to our apartment to bed!
The next morning we were both surprised to discover that we had slept in and had ended up having more than 12 hours sleep! After a quick breakfast bought from the local supermarket we headed up the hill to the castle. The castle was built by the Venetians in the 1550s and has amazing views over Hvar Town and the outlying islands. We were also blessed with lovely weather so the views and the walk was really lovely. We continued walking to one of the bays further along the coast and it was so warm that we dipped our feet in the bay. Unfortunately it was
For the rest of the afternoon we continued our exploration of the town and stayed outside in the great weather. We watched the sunset from our rooftop terrace with a few sundowners before going to a local pizza place.
The next morning it was time to head back to the mainland and we both felt as if we hadn't spent enough time on the island. We had whole conversations about hiring yachts and coming back again soon. It was just so great.
The ferry ride back was fine except for the distinct lack of air-conditioning and the little boy throwing up directly behind Lara. She couldn't get off the ferry fast enough! We hadn't booked accommodation for our last night in Split as we thought we'd have plenty of time to find something decent. We followed a man back to his apartment where he tried to convince us to stay in a child's bedroom for a whopping £60. It was dingy and far too expensive. So after a quick trip to the internet cafe we found a lovely apartment in the old town which was much cheaper! It was a newly renovated apartment
in a 400yr old house and was very nice. After we'd settled in we headed for the Marjan Peninsula. A National Park overlooking Split and Diocletian's Palace. We walked around the Palace and soaked up the last of the sun and had one last amazing meal and some gelati before we had to head back to the UK.
It was an amazing long weekend and was definitely far too short - we will try and visit the Croatian Islands again before we leave Europe!
There are more photos below