Due to the high winds on our way to Hvar town we stopped in Stari Grad. Stari Grad is used as a safe harbour by many boaters and sailors passing through the middle of Dalmatia. Hvar is the longest island in the Adriatic. I was extremely pleased with the stop as it is the oldest town in Europe, dating back to 384 BC, and the heart of the island of Hvar. The Tvrdalj is one of the most fascinating buildings in Stari Grad. It is a fort of defence built by Poet Petar Hktorovic to protect the town from the Turks in 1520. The only entrance is over a bascule bridge. There is a fishpond and park within the fort where villagers could fish without being seen. A number of inscriptions are engraved in the stones including one saying ‘Omnium Conditori’ where Hektorović dedicated his Tvrdalj to God, the Creator of everything.
After wandering the streets of Stari Grad, we took a taxi into Hvar town. The first thing we did was climb up to the Spanish Fortress originally built in the 13th century. The amazing view overlooking the entire town from the top of the hill was well worth the 15 minute hike up. To cool down we went to the Hula Hula beach bar. In the evening I had the most amazing steak I have ever eaten in my entire life at Kogos restaurant!!! Seriously, you could cut it with a butter knife. It was the perfect end to our day.
We now understand why Dubrovnik has been described as ‘the pearl of the Adriatic’! With marbled streets, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque style churches as well as fountains and the surrounding city walls, everywhere you look is something that will capture your attention. The shopping is also great in Dubrovnik with many jewelers demonstrating how to create coral beads. I picked up a hat unlike any design I’ve seen in a little independent shop down one of the side streets. For drinks you can head to a cliff bar, they can be seen from along the city walls.
We spent most of our day walking through the old town and around the 1,940 meter long medieval city walls that surrounded the city. The walls were constructed in the 10th century and fortified considerably in 1453. There are four fortresses around the Old Town; Miceta Tower, Revelin Fortress, St. John’s Fortress, and Bokar Bastion. From the walls you can oversee the entire Old Town and all the buildings within it. Also from the walls, you get an amazing view of the Lovrijenac Fortress. The fortress was built on a 37 meter high rock overlooking the sea and according to some chronologists, is dated back to 1018 or 1038. Above the entrance it reads ‘NON BENE PRO TOTO LIBERTAS VENDITUR AURO’, a saying from an Aesop fable meaning ‘freedom is not sold for all the gold in the world.’ Dubrovnik loves liberty and would use this phrase as a reminder to those on guard of why they were there.
Korcula was one of our favourite towns visited during our Croatia sailing adventure. This medieval walled Dalmatian city and said birth place of Marco Polo is one of the greenest islands in the Adriatic sea. The town is rich in arts and culture with many museums to see during the day and talented street performers to entertain throughout the night. We were fortunate enough to overhear a choir rehearsing for a concert in the center of the city for the upcoming weekend. We sat with our take out pizza on the steps of the building and talked to the singers during their break. They were practicing a mix of classical and modern music, different from anything we’ve heard before.
Like many of the towns visited throughout the trip you can walk everywhere and see everything within them. We stopped for gelato twice in Korcula and at £1.50 for a double scoop each, we could afford it! At sunset we went to a cocktail bar called Massimos. The bar is built in the turret of a 15th century tower and has beautiful views of both the town and the coast. We climbed up a steep ladder to get to the top and our drinks came up by pulley. Try not to have too many drinks at this height, as getting back down the ladder could be difficult.
David and I planned a last minute trip to Croatia, and I use the term ‘plan’ here very loosely. We actually booked it through True Traveler, a company that pulls a bunch of set trips that are currently available from various companies online to assist you while choosing your perfect adventure. We went with the Croatia Sailing trip via Topdeck Travel. There were 20 of us on the boat, all under 30 and a common interest in traveling all over the world. The majority were from Australia, however there were others from the USA, UK, New Zealand and Canada.
We landed in Split the morning after my final exam for the semester in perfect sunshine and set sail for the next week. Our first stop was for a swim break, jumping off the ship from either of the two levels. Of course David climbed up to the tallest point on the boat to jump. We set anchor in the sea just offshore as sea urchins cling to the rocks in the shallow areas. They are deceiving in that they look nice and fluffy from above the water, however they are like glass shears if you step on one. The first night we docked at Milna, a small fishermen village. We watched a beautiful sunset, the perfect kick off to our relaxing week of sailing around some of the islands of Croatia.