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Two Years & Twice Around the World...  
Fishermen, Hvar, Croatia
SLOVENIA Ljubljana Oct 7-8 Piran Oct 9-12

CROATIA Istra Peninsula Oct 13 Split Oct 14-15 Hvar Oct 16-18 Korcula Oct 19 Dubrovnik Oct 20-29


BOSNIA Sarajevo Oct 30 Oct 30 Nov 1

SERBIA Belgrade Nov 2-3

ROMANIA Bucharest Nov 4 Suceava Nov 5 Nov 6 Cluj Napoca Nov 7 Sighisoara Nov 8-9 Brasov Nov 10 Nov 11

BULGARIA Sofia Nov 12 Nov 13 Nov 14

MACEDONIA Lake Ohrid Nov 15 Nov 16-17

KOSOVO Prishtine Nov 18 Nov 19 Nov 20 Nov 21

GREECE Thessaloniki Nov 22 Athens Nov 23 Nov 24
Fishermen, Hvar, Croatia, October 16-18, 2003

Croatian Flag CROATIA

October 16. SPLIT - HVAR We survived our last night in Split but were reflecting on the merits of having children.  Visiting the nearby town of Trogir, a little UNESCO beauty on fortified island just off the coast, but the buses were more inconvenient than I was up to that day.  My knee was some how tweaked and only feeling marginally better.  It wasn't wise to walk great distances on it to catch a bus.  So, we resigned ourselves to another coffee in a swing on the promenade and some more walking around the Diocletian Palace.  The weather was great and it was worth it just to see those impressive ruins in better light.

In spite of my poor knee and sporadic fear of heights we did make a slow hike up the stairs of the church tower.  The view of the city on a sunny day was just too tempting so I took my time and made it to the top. The metal stairs that had been added to the tower interior felt like they were suspended by some magical force.  I tried not to think about but going so slowly made it challenging.  It was a grand view and the life that the nice weather had brought to the city gave the place a whole new feel.  People were clustered along the side of the Peristyle with coffee cups, lounging in the sun and talking.  Rooftops revealed lazy Dalmatian dogs and fresh laundry.  And, the sallow look of the palace in the gray light was turned into a warm white.

Before we caught our ferry to the island of Hvar we were willing to settle for a McDonald's lunch. It was cheap and easy.  We had to enter past a group of protestors which probably accounted for slow business that day.  The burgers on the rack didn't look fresh so Rob ordered a burger without pickles, a tactic to get a fresh burger made that usually worked.  But, in this case the "cook" blatantly took one of the cold burgers off of the rack, opened it, and peeled off the pickles with his fingers.  We went and had more pizza...

The ferry to Hvar was pretty full and the one hour ride went by quickly. We passed the island of Brac and pulled into the medieval Hvar Town on the island's western end.  The island was reputed to be the sunniest place in Croatia and the 13th century stone village looked lost in time.  When we pulled in a few touts came to greet the boat.  A young blonde woman who spoke good English approached us but we were feeling jaded after our Split experience.  We were prepared to go the accommodation office and book though them.  They were closed.  An older woman was hovering around us at a distance and gave us wishful looks.  When we turned away from the closed accommodation office we were confronted by both the blonde girl and the older woman.  There had been few prospects for them on the boat and they knew we needed a place to stay.  Rob initially went to take a look at the blonde girl's place since we had starting talking with her first but he thought it looked like it was in a noisy location and she didn't want to negotiate on price.  When she came back with the flip response that "this wasn't India" we went commented that "this wasn't Split and it was the off season".  Hvar was meant to be less expensive than Split according to the guidebook.   Rob went to see what the other woman had to offer and was more pleased with the privacy of the room and the fact that the house had a nice deck on top.  The second woman negotiated to what we felt was a fair price and we headed up the blocks of stairs to her house.      

Hvar Town clung to the waterfront and its surrounding slope with white stone buildings connected with steep stone staircases.  It made the town quaint and visually attractive but was a bummer for my unbendable knee.  I had it bandaged up at this point and tried to keep it as straight as possible, difficult to do on stairs.  

Once we settled ourselves in we went for a stroll on the waterfront and relaxed over a biela kava.  Hvar was sunny and sitting against the white stone wall on a sunny day was a bit of paradise but away from the walls it was windy and you were quickly chilled down.  The only other tourists we saw were a couple of young women at the other end of the cafe but as the afternoon went on sailboats pulled up along the waterfront to stay for the night.  The harbor master was hard to miss, a tall man with a red hat, that came to greet each boat and settle them in. 

For dinner we ate an Italian cafe with floor to ceiling glass that looked out onto towards the sailboats.  It was a good meal with a massive salad and tasty pasta but the wine was disappointing.  We'd heard good things about Croatian wine but this wine wasn't a poor example.  Dinner was followed by another biela kava at a different cafe since sitting in our room seemed pretty boring.

Our room was up about two "blocks" of stairs to the door of the building and then another flight of stairs inside the house.  We had a little window that looked out over the rooftops and the bathroom was down the hall.  We were the only people staying there so it was very quiet.  The room was decorated with lace doilies and a few small figurines.  I felt like I was staying at grandma's house.  The bathroom actually had a bath and I got pretty excited about it but unfortunately the size of the water heater didn't match the size of the tub.  When I sat in the tub the hot water ran out in no time.  The back half of the short tub was a bit higher than the end with the drain and my hot water barely came up over the higher part.  In desperation for any kind of a soak I tried to sit backwards but the water barely covered me to my waist and I had my knees in my chin, not to mention the awkward position of the drain.  So, I resorted to splashing myself a bit while I washed but quickly found myself freezing cold.  It was a big improvement over showers without curtains but it wasn't quite what I was hoping for.    

October 17-18. HVAR  With Hvar Town's traffic free streets it was an ideal place to wander around and explore, staying mostly on the flat bit.  The endless stairs around town were off limits to me while I rested my knee.  After sleeping in and grabbing some pastries for breakfast we walked the length of the waterfront to the north.  Around the harbor point we entered a second harbor dominated by an enormous hotel complex.  It was an unsightly structure and could have nearly engulfed the town of Hvar.  Fortunately development kept it out of view of the old town area.  Along the waterfront vendors were selling a myriad of products made from local lavender and rosemary, mostly oils and soaps.  I bought a mixtures of lavender and rosemary they were espousing was good for arthritis and figured it couldn't hurt my knee and it smelled nice. 

The central of Hvar's small old town was dominated by a large square the stretched away from the small harbor full of tiny fishing boats to a church.  Shops, restaurants and cafes lined the long sides of the narrow square. We bought some ham and cheese and made sandwiches for lunch that we ate on the stone benches along the waterfront of the square, watching a trickle of people and a gang of dogs go about their day.  The weather oscillated between warm in the sun to cool in the shade or downright cold when the sky became overcast.  We had to carefully pick our cafe time or carefully pick a cafe with indoor seating.  

With enough promising weather in the sky on our first day we chose to do some laundry and hang it on the roof of our house.  Our quiet lodging was joined by an Australian woman whose parents had immigrated from Croatia.  She was on an extended holiday in Croatia and Italy, having just come over from Italy on the ferry.  She joined us for a bit on the roof.  She smoked while we watched our laundry dry.  

In the evening we took another stroll into town and stumbled across a special service going on at the church on the square.  The church was packed and a neatly gowned choir of young children were singing in honor of some guests from France.  There were a number of French priests visiting, for reasons we couldn't figure out, and the service was being translated into French.  The young choir members were darling as they approached their guests and handed them red roses.  Whatever the purpose of their visit these people from France had given the community a nice reason to put on a special event.       

The number of sailboats docked along the shore had increased and there had been a couple of cruise ships drop off passengers for some sightseeing.  One ship was too big to dock and shuttled the people over on a dinghy while the other was a small enough to boat to tie up along shore but still a large feature to have looming over little Hvar.  We entertained ourselves by walking past the row of sailboats, most of the pretty massive, and looking for the flag that said where they were from.  Quite a few had American flags. That was a long sail. 

Being creatures of habit we ate at Leonardo's again on our second night.  For our third night we ventured to try another restaurant.  It was the weekend and the complexion of the town had changed as more vendors set up booths, more restaurants were open.  The restaurant we tried was well stocked with people and had a good looking menu but since these were all tourists as well there really wasn't any guarantee that it was a good place.  In fact, my seafood was disappointing but at least we had tried some place new.

We rotated coffee shops a bit as well but favored one shop on the eastern side of the square.  We generally spent time there in the morning drinking our biela kavas.  But the weather was getting colder and just sitting outside in Hvar could be a chilling experience.   We sought refuge in our room from time to time to warm up and while we were outside we tried to keep moving as much as possible.  We took another walk along the shore but this time we went to the south and visited the 15th century Renaissance Franciscan monastery just before they started an intimate mass.  Farther around the bend brought us to the new Hvar, a more built up area with a launder mat and a couple of good sized markets.  Things at these markets were much cheaper than the little markets in old town so we stocked up on some more ham and cheese for lunches.

Our stay in Hvar lasted an extra day because it was an easy going place for me to rest my leg and we really liked our room with a view.  The nights got a bit cold but raiding some of the other rooms in the house for more blankets had rectified that problem.  If the weather had been just a bit warmer it would have been hard to leave Hvar.