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Two Years & Twice Around the World...  

Croatian Flag CROATIA


October 19. HVAR - KORCULA  Our last morning in Hvar gave us some gray weather but, after several days of rest, I was up for hiking to the citadel that overlooked Hvar from the northern ridge.  We picked up the trail after visiting the tail end of the local market where we snacked on cheese made by a family that had been making cheese on Hvar for generation.  Supermarkets don't have anything like that.

The trail was well marketed for most of the way but towards the top we ended up in the wrong place and had to scramble a bit to get to the entrance.  My knee was holding up pretty well so that was encouraging.  The citadel was built by the Venetians and the telltale lion with his open book was perched on the front wall of the citadel, facing the sea.  The Venetian lion had been in nearly every city along the Dalmatian coast, starting as far up as Piran.  The lion, usually lying on its side, holds a book in its paws.  If the book was open it meant the times were peaceful.  If the book was closed it meant that it was a time of war.  All of the Venetian lions that we saw had open books.  The citadel was a rewarding hike and from the towers we could see the small islands of the Adriatic that looked like little stepping stones across a lake.  Unfortunately the staff in the citadel cafe decided the serene beauty and ambiance of the citadel needed some techno music which brought our visit to an abrupt end.

We had a lunch of ham and cheese in our room as we packed our bags.  The weather was improving and we looked forward to a nice ferry ride to Korcula island.  The ticket office only opened an hour before the departure so we bought our tickets and just waited with our bags.  When the ferry arrived a few tourist disembarked.  Our landlady was waiting.  We had said "good-bye" and told her that we left the key in our door.  She hesitatingly approached a new couple.  I tapped one of them on the shoulder and said that she had a really nice place.  When we last looked she was walking away with them.

On the ferry we sat next to a couple of young Australian women, Michelle and Gillian.  Somehow we never ran into them on Hvar but ended up chatting with them the entire way to Korcula island and on the bus across the island to Korcula town.  It was a lovely bus ride and the mountains that filled the island interior obscured the not-so-distant sea.  Korcula grew grapes and there were a few wineries on the island.  The unpopulated interior with relatively untouched villages (the window in the store of one tiny town had a coca cola decal) was wonderfully picturesque.  We were planning to spend a couple of nights in Korcula and make a visit the nearby wineries.  

As the bus descended the hill to Korcula town the perfect bulb shaped peninsula was in perfect view. The round little Venetian fortification was tightly packed over the small hill that protruded gradually from the bay.  The slope of the hill gave the town the look of having telescoped right out of the ground, with a church on top, and allowed the tiered rows of buildings to get some natural light.  It was getting dark but long narrow peninsula that connected to Croatia's mainland could be seen across the channel.

But for all of Korcula's scenic beauty it made Hvar seem like a metropolis.  There was nothing open when we arrived.  It was Sunday but the small size of the place meant there was not a whole lot there. The harbor had facilities set up for sailboats, much more extensive than Hvar, but the town was itty bitty.  Some touts greeted us at the bus and while I went off with Michelle and Gillian to look at one place Rob talked to another woman.  The guy we went with tried to get us to take an apartment but since Gillian and Michelle only wanted to stay one night and we were staying for two we ended up with a more expensive place on the second night.  Alternatively he had two double rooms but wanted the same for the one with a bathroom and the other with a bath in the hall.  In any event, they were nice places and I was ready to commit until we ran into Rob downstairs.  He had negotiated a better rate with the lady he was talking to but when we all met it became apparent that this old woman was related to the man we had been dealing with and when he found out that he was being undercut by his own mother-in-law he had her up her prices.  This didn't sit well with us and we just ended up walking away.  Gillian and Michelle stayed while we found a small hole in the wall around the corner.  It was quite a bit less money but still probably wasn't worth it. It could have been a storage closet.

We went out in search of a place to eat but all of the restaurants were closed.  The only place open was a place near the bus station and every young person in town was probably there - all ten of them.  We had some pizza and then walked around town.  Our room wasn't the hanging out kind of place so we needed to kill time doing something.  A tour office was open late, one of the only signs of life in the town, so we inquired about visiting the wineries.  But, they are only open in peak season, like everywhere else.  Why do Europeans have to be so predictable in their vacationing?  It all happens in the summer or it doesn't happen at all.  A stray dog started to follow us and we were entertained by the crazy mut teasing a feisty kitten.  Backing its hind end up to the cat the dog kept provoking the little thing.  I tried the intervene and get the cat away but it just scratched me.  So, we just watched as the dog backed that hissing cat, with its back arched and hair on end, right over the edge of a little wall.  The hissing came to an abrupt halt and the cat landed on the beach.  We ran into Gillian and Michelle again and ended up talking for some time in the town square.  By the end of the evening we were thinking that we would leave Korcula the next day as well.  There just didn't seem to be enough to do, especially with bad weather coming in, and two nights in a closet was too much.  

After Michelle and Gillian left to go to bed we returned to the restaurant and indulged in a beer and some Croatian prosecco before we were finally tired enough to try to sleep in our dingy room.

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