Earlier this summer, when my long time buddy L. invited me to join him and a couple of his friends on vacation in Croatia, I jumped at the chance of going someplace new. My friend B. felt the same way, so she joined in as well. On July 2nd, we boarded our flight, more than a little ready to escape the dreary Norwegian summer weather in search for warmer and sunnier pastures. After visiting Dubrovnik, we took the ferry along the coast for a scenic ride, visiting the beautiful islands of Korcula and Hvar before ending up in Split and returning home from there on July 13th. These are my holiday memories:
The old town in early morning light (~7AM)
The road into the town center: steep, narrow and one-way only, but lined with colorful flowers and medieval sights
Our hotel for the first night was a tiny, family-run pension, close to the gates of Dubrovnik's old town. Although quite basic it was cheap, clean and the location was excellent. It's called Kortizija, and the homepage is here. L. had bought a bottle of bubbly and some fresh fruit which he had put in our room as a surprise - a pretty nice way of being met on our first day there, don't you think?
Lunch in one of the numerous restaurants in the old town
The five star Excelsior hotel, where we spent the other two nights in Dubrovnik
B. and L. admiring a lovely, old stone house and it's impressive garden
Medieval buildings and streets in the old town
By the famous Onofrio's fountain from the 15th century
While the buildings might be medieval, the shops are modern enough - the girls trying out Havaianas in one of the numerous stores in the old town
The five of us all dressed up for dinner in one of the posh restaurants by the old town's waterfront
My absolute favorite spot in Dubronvik: The Buza Bar
Buza means "hole" in Croatian - and the entrance is just a hole in the city's fortress walls
Situated on top of the cliffs outside the wall...
...the view of the endless horizon is stunning, especially at sunset
At the other side of the old town is the Dubrovnik Harbour
Quite the number of lovely old houses here too
This is where the ferries to the islands leave from...so goodbye for now Dubrovnik, and welcome...
...beautiful scenery on the four hour ferry ride to Korcula...
via a short stop at the city of Sobra on the island of Mljet, where the ancient greek god of Odysseus is said to have spent several years of his life....
and passing the city of Orebic on the mainland on the way.
Arriving at the island of Korcula, with it's tiny fortress by the harbour, we almost felt like we had come to a miniature version of Dubrovnik. Not just much smaller, but more quiet too. While there being a number of tourists on the island, partly due to it's popularity as a safe overnight haven for sailors, clearly this idyllic gem is nowhere near being as commercialized as many of the other Croatian islands. The harbour was tiny and quiet, the number of shops and pubs limited and the larger hotels scattered and few. There were a good number of dining restaurants on the inside of the fortress walls though, as visible here by the green umbrellas behind the trees:
Life here was really quiet and relaxing, and the little Korcula city beach, situated right in the middle of town, was all pebbles, just like the one, albeit larger, in Dubrovnik:
My favourite beach activity - floating around in the calm water
We had booked accomodation in a private house before we arrived, and the friendly owner came down the hill from where he lived to collect us all in his car. The accomodation was quite basic, but at least it was cheap, 100 HRK (~USD18) per person per night. As we were there for two nights only, we chose to stay in where we were, even if it was lacking much needed air condition.
However, while walking from our place at the top of the hill to the centre of town, halfway down I found a large house with the most beautiful flower garden, with air conditioned two storey sea view apartments for rent at only the double of what we had paid for a small room. Had we stayed for longer, I would have instantly moved. The place unfortunately doesn't have a web site as of yet, but it's called the Villa Farac. Local phone numbers are 020-711-825 and cell: 091-542-9040. If I'm ever going back to Korcula, looking for fantastic value for money accomodation, I'll definitely be trying to book a room at that place.
Our first day there was spent in the city and on the city beach. The second day, three of us decided to follow the advice of the personell at the tourist agency and visit a supposedly wonderful beach called Lumbarda. One can get there by bus, but also by taxi boat, which is a much nicer way of travelling the distance of 7 km when the temperature rises above 30 C.
L. and B. sitting in the shade in the taxi boat waiting to be taken to Lumbarda from Korcula city
While the three of us were the first ones to enter the boat, we soon got company by a group of Maltese pensioners from a large cruise ship. They were taking the taxi boat just for sightseeing, and were obviously in a very jolly mood, as they were all singing and cheering all the way. I've visited Malta twice, but I never did get the impression that a couple of stiff drinks was a regular feature on Maltese breakfast menus. Maybe it's different when they're on holiday? ;)
The 15 minute walk from the taxi boat terminal out to the actual beach was scenic experience:
Local fishermen's small boats dotted in the harbour of Lumbarda town
Crystal clear, calm sea set against a backdrop of dramatic mountains on the mainland peninsula
Tiny geckos, which we don't have in Norway, all over the stone walls on the way to the beach
And then, the view from the rooftop of the only restaurant at Lumbarda beach:
The beach in itself, however, was kind of a disappointment to us. We had expected a more lively place, and with the pebbles that we favored instead of the sand that would stick to us all over, and that was way too hot to walk on barefoot:
We had brought our beloved floating devices though, so we did have a great time in the water as always, here represented by my friend L.:
Due to it being so hot that day, in the afternoon we retreated back into the shade of the trees in the restaurant close to the taxi boat terminal. A lovely place, with the best sandwiches we ever experienced during the whole holiday:
Right below the restaurant was another, quite small beach. This one was pebbly and with a very cool beach bar. We all agreed that had we stayed for longer, we would have chosen this one the next time:
After two days at Korcula, we had to get up extremely early the next morning. The little less than two hours express catamaran ride to the island of Hvar left at 6 AM to cater to the working locals commuting between the islands. I would have loved to stay an extra day at Korcula, though. If it's wild nightlife and action you're after, this island is definitely not the right place. But for tranquility, relaxation and beauty, it's simply fantastic.
Hvar and Split
To be continued in The Croatian holiday, Part two here.