Getting a taste of Croatian island life


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Europe » Croatia » Dalmatia » Hvar
November 4th 2016
Published: May 22nd 2017
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Since the first ferry to Hvar was leaving only at 2pm we had plenty of time to hang around Split once again. We took our time in the morning, had a nice breakfast by the sea and enjoyed the sunny weather – yes, the sky was all blue again! We went up to the ferry piers to get our tickets and I have to say I'm still puzzled as to why we weren’t able to buy the ferry tickets in advance and had to get them on the day of departure only... obviously no return tickets either... very odd system, I guess it works though... Once we bought the tickets, we still had a few hours to spare. To take as much sun as we could (forecast for the next days wasn't too optimistic at all!), we decided to walk along the Riva promenade. As you go further, there are more little cafes scattered along the shore, many boats all around and a very interesting pavement... as on the pavement you could find little planks with Croatian Olympic medalists, starting from 1948 Olympics all the way to Rio Olympics. Nice to see the city was so proud of their sportsmen!

After that we found a nice, sunny and relatively cheap place to have a few drinks and we spent there the next two hours waiting for the boat, while Millie was chasing around all the doggies, either with my help or Grant's of course... Since she just started walking on her own, sitting in one spot for a longer period of time wasn’t exactly an option anymore. So incredible seeing her becoming more and more independent... Growing up so fast!

The ferry turned out to be much more busy than I thought it was going to be, but the weekend was coming up so maybe the locals were simply going back home after a week of work? It was a bit of a sauna inside as well, did they put the heating up?? Anyway, it was going to be a short trip so we'd just need to endure it. Millie was of course interacting with everyone around, waving and blowing kisses all around and trying to pull the hair of the people sitting in front of us... oops! Trip was pretty intense because of that but thankfully went by very quick. As we were approaching the port of Hvar, suddenly it became quite crowded on the water, it looked as if all the small boats were leaving Hvar at the same time... We tried to figure out why that would happen but all we could come up with was that maybe they had to make space for our ferry? Who knows... We were in Hvar now and at the first sight it looked like a really beautiful place. So far so good!

After a short walk (up the hill!), we got to our accommodation. We rang the bell but no one came out... Hmmm... Then we noticed some arrows pointing around the building, I followed them and rang the bell at the door. Possibly close to 100 years old, a granny opened the door and as I was thinking that probably it was the wrong door, she only nodded and waved at me to follow her. She led us to our room, gave us some blankets, showed us how the stove worked and left... ok then... as we started looking around the room I couldn't help but notice how dirty the floor was... Not again! Lots and lots of hair everywhere! Complaining to a 100 year old granny who didn’t speak any English seemed quite pointless, so there was no other option than to mop the floor with Millie's wipes again... Seriously I wasn't impressed! We had more or less another hour of daylight left, so just decided to head off to town and inspect the room once again when we came back. It seemed like a good idea to get out and let the steam off a bit...

Hvar is apparently unique in the area for having fertile ground. You can most certainly see that when walking around as there are lots of citrus trees everywhere – full off fruit as well!, olive trees, lavender and many other herbs - sage, rosemary you name it... Nice for the eye and for the nose! We walked back to the port as the sun was setting on the horizon, it was actually one of the better sunsets of the trip so far! I really loved this town already, even despite the shitty accommodation... Old buildings all around, red rooftops, a big fortress up on the hill, boats slowly rocking on the water – really lovely spot! We walked around trying to find some place to eat, but very few places were open and out of those even less served food... we settled for pizza once again... I think I still had enough after Zadar as I felt as if it was about to slowly come out of my ears... Who would've thought you can get tired of eating pizza?

Once the sun was gone, the temperature quickly dropped a good few degrees, it was time to head back to our accommodation. We took the main road, but regretted that decision very quickly as there was no pavements and the streets were very narrow. Seriously at one point I thought one car would actually run us over, it went so close to us and the pram!!!! I was just petrified! Last time we took that road for sure! Once we got to our room we tidied up a bit, thankfully the sheets were clean and just called it a day.

The following morning it wasn't looking too promising outside. Still we wanted to get out of the room as soon as possible. Quick shower first... well kind of... as it turned out to be a bit of a mission! Millie's shower first which ended up being a few splashes only – water wasn't exactly too hot, not even warm actually and the bathroom basically was flooded in no time at all... Well I could see a few problems here, where do I start? Maybe with the mouldy and too short shower curtain? Or the wrongly built shower basin? To be honest the longer we were staying in this place, the more broken and disgusting things we were discovering all around... Think this place actually might have beat London! Thankfully it was the last night... Good weather or not we needed to get out of there!

Since we left just before 9am we were wondering what we were going to do for the next 7+ hours of sunlight in a small town like Hvar in a totally dead season... Still even if it meant sitting on the bench somewhere for the next 7 hours, I was fine with that, as long as we weren't stuck in our room... First a breakfast of course, thankfully the bakery didn't shut for the off-season, couple of pastries and a coffee to keep us going and we were ready to explore. Even though it looked kind of stormy with pretty rough, murky sea, it actually wasn't too bad at all - if it stayed like this the whole day, without rain, we would be more than happy.

We thought we would check out the fortress first. We knew straight away that there was no point taking the pram that day as quite a few steps were ahead of us... Grant read some reviews and you'd think you'd have to climb Everest after reading them! 'Too many steps', 'take a taxi instead' and all that, while in the end it was a very pleasant and short stroll, yes there were some steps at the beginning, but after that it was zig-zagging all the way up, not steep at all... First we checked out the little church next to the fortress, which surprisingly had a very new wooden door - obviously it was still in use but was shut at that time... Then it was a bit further up to the fortress, which actually was shut as well! We looked at the time... It was just getting close to 10, would it be possible that it opened later? We saw a car pulling in front of the fortress, thought that maybe the door would open soon after, but it stayed closed still, probably some maintenance guy... As we started walking down we saw another path leading to the other side of the fortress. As we went up, we saw a gardener working away in front of it. Grant went to ask him about the opening times and soon after waved me in to follow him. Well, the fortress was actually closed during off-season but the gardener told us we could look around inside if we wanted to... How about that? Not only we had the whole fortress to ourselves, but it was free as well! The fortress dates back to the 16th century and is known as Fortica or Spanjola and from here you have a beautiful panorama of Hvar and nearby islands. Definitely worth a look!

Well now we only had approximately 6 hours of daylight left... As we entered the main square I was surprised to see so many people around... Where did they all come from? Some boat was just leaving the promenade, was that the new shipment of tourists to the island? We decided to stick around the square for a while and sat at one of the cafes, ordered some overpriced coffee and tea – 36HRK for both! Once again I ordered a large coffee, only to be served a cup which I basically gulped down in 3 sips – can anyone make some BIG coffees around here? I guess that’s the way they have their coffees all over Croatia, I better get used to it! We sat around there for a while, letting Millie explore the square a bit until we were basically kicked out – the waiter wasn't going to wait for sure, as soon as Grant took the last sip of his tea, the cups were off the table and we were handed a bill... Yes, we have noticed the place was busy, but still...

I guess it was time to get some supplies form the supermarket and find a place to chill for a while, a place where we wouldn’t be rushed to leave... And we did exactly that, we followed the path along the port, through some park, until we found a few closed beach bars and decided to chill at one of their gazebos... It started drizzling a bit so we were happy to be sitting in a hut with a roof on it, or something resembling it at least... We just sat there watching waves crashing into the shores and wondered how this place looked like in the high season. This part of town looked actually quite exclusive – some gigantic hotel on one side, private little bay with bars next to it... Seeing the amount of cigarette buds on the rocks, you would think that this place attracted quite a few smokers at least... Not sure why no one bothered to clean it though? From what we have noticed, smoking in Croatia is still a very ‘cool’ thing to do as lots of smokers around...

Later on we decided to walk along the shore but in the opposite direction. Since we passed some bigger hotel with a 'bar with a top view', we thought we might as well check their prices and maybe have a drink there at least. I thought it was going to be a bit out of our range, but didn't expect it to be by so much! Main courses starting from 400HRK, with the main delicacy - platter with lobster tail with a whooping price of 2500HRK (over 300EUR)... Don't think we would be eating there that evening... As we walked along the promenade, we noticed they were preparing the terrace for another party (the day before there were some preparations going on as well), champagne glasses on the tables, a fresh supply of pastries just arrived from the bakery... What was going on here? Grant went to check it out and it turned out that they were having a squid competition that weekend. Boats were sailing off at 3pm and they had time until 8pm to catch as much squid as possible, after which their lot would be weighed and the winner announced. After that it was party time – free drinks and grilled squid of course! Everyone could join them actually, for 150HRK per person. We thought that it was actually a pretty good deal and for a second started considering it, but quickly gave up on that idea as first of all Millie should have been in bed by then and besides it was still a good few hours until 8pm as the competition hasn’t even started yet! I doubt we would’ve lasted until then anyway... not to mention that probably there would be quite a few drunkies around... Ah well... We did come for the start though. I seriously doubted there would be anyone participating in the competition seeing the weather was getting stormier by the minute and yet I was wrong... Plenty of boats and it looked like some of them were taking onboard anyone who wanted to come along... I thought some people were a bit too eager to take part in it... I watched in horror as two girls jumped into a tiny open boat... I wondered whether they noticed the waves crashing onto the shore or that it started drizzling - there was no doubt they were going to be totally soaked... and it wasn't that warm that day at all! Having said that, the atmosphere was fantastic! So many different boats around - from small boats with tiny motor to proper fishing boats and even speedboats... You'd wonder whether the size and speed would matter in this case... I would say the skills were probably more important... or just pure luck would do! One moment everyone was getting ready and the next the boats were all gone! It would be interesting to see how much each of them caught... but we knew there was no chance we were going to last another 5 hours around there... It was getting colder and it looked like our luck with no rain might have just been running out, so instead of eating pizza once again, we went to the supermarket, got some cheese, ham, salad and bread and just had some sandwiches for dinner! It was time to call it a day...

It was a really short stop in Hvar but still we were quite eager to move on to another place, mostly due to our disappointing accommodation of course. Thankfully on the first day we had a bit of sunshine and could truly appreciate the beauty of this island, or at least the beauty of this town as we saw only a tiny part of the island itself. It probably would’ve been nice to explore it a bit more, but in a totally dead season and miserable weather it just didn’t make much sense. Despite the weather and horrible accommodation, we actually enjoyed our time here, I think seeing a part of the fishing competition made it just a bit more exciting. It was time to head further along the coast. Next stop: Dubrovnik!


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22nd May 2017

Millie's on the move...
Wow Millie has started walking? This will add another new dimension to the way you travel :) That apartment sounds totally gross, and I think they use granny as the front person so people would be less likely to complain. I hope you complained, or at least wrote a stinker of a review :)
29th May 2017

Millie's on the move...
Yes Millie started walking almost straight after her first birthday - definitely more difficult to keep her in one place since then... ;) I'm getting goosebumps thinking about that accommodation again... And totally agree - the granny was there on purpose! Very sneaky ;)
28th May 2017

Beauty of the Dalmation Coast
People talk about the beauty of this area and your photos show us why. Great architecture and scenic views.
19th June 2017

Tired of eating Pizza??
Surely not?? It is so hard travelling on a budget when it comes to eating and the cheapest thing you can get is either pizza, pasta or burgers and you would just love a huge steak. Shelley always craves a proper salad but alas ends up with a cheesy pizza. Mouldy shower screens, particularly in small showers was Shelleys biggest travel hate, so she shares your pain/anger. So glad you took us to Hvar as we wanted to go there but just ran out of time and we also read that it was expensive, it does look amazing.
28th June 2017

Tired of eating Pizza??
The island was really lovely, even though we only saw a tiny part of it... Thankfully the crappy accommodation didn't ruin the experience for us. I guess you can get tired of pizza, but only for a little while ;)

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