Split For The Coast? Hvar de Hvar Hvar!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

I met a couple Brits on the train to Split, Luke and Joe. They were sharing my couchette and most importantly, shared beverages of a spiritual nation with me. We hit it off quite quickly. Together, we arrived in Split and together found a woman with a guest room for three through the travel agency. The room was quite pricey (these Brits have no concept of expense nor bargaining) but very nice and the woman there was great. We wandered around the old town a bit and also hit a little bit of a beach (aka a concrete pad) but the water was oily supposedly so I didn't end up going in. It was a cool place and rife with locals however, which is very nice. Otherwise, the makeup in Croatia so far has been two Italians for every other person.

Homes right in the ruins
We did take our time in Split and relax, which was nice, and also found a great restaurant with a mixed grill, nice fresh fries and salad that have been the closest I've come so far to home cooking at the lake. Which, I guess, would make it lake cooking. It's really great how they've built Split into the ruins, makes it quite an interesting place vs somewhere where the ruins are just a site. They still use them here. I should mention we stopped at the market and I picked up a new towel (to replace the Athens 2004 one I'd forgotten in Budapest), a pastry, and figs. Lots and lots of figs. MMMMMMMmmmmmmmm...

Welcome to Hvar (as seen from our balcony)
It wasn't a long time there, though, really just one night, and we caught the 3:00 ferry to Hvar Island, where we were quite fortunate. You see, we ran into a woman who wanted 300 Kuna ($60) a night from each of us and pretty much spat at us when we told her it was too much. $180 a night is a rip off for a room in someone's house, let's be honest. Another lady was standing there and looked like she might have something, so I walked up to her and, indeed, she did. 150 (aka $30), and right, literally, RIGHT on the harbour. A terrific spot for a really decent price. Balcony, kitchen, overlooking the harbour at sunset. We settled for two nights and again explored a bit.

Dusk and some massive yachts
Hvar town was a nice place to be situated. We found some expensive but decent food that we somehow thought was cheap when we perused the menu from outside. The best thing was an octopus salad, really well done. Funny how eating it as a kid made me insta-ill and now I quite love it. Next thing you know, I'll like mushrooms. Well, probably not. But anyway, after our pricey meal, we decided we'd be better off doing groceries. So, the next morning, I woke up at 9 AM, read til about 10:30, and decided that I'd just go and get groceries. I got us some yogurt, deli meat, cheese, and bread for a noon brunch, sausage, salsa, and tortellini for dinner, not to mention a few beer and some juice for the mornings. Cheaper and quite tasty.

Palmazana Beach
We went the next day to some of the small islands off the coast of Hvar, particularly a place called Palmazana, which was supposed to have nice sand beaches according to Luke's rough guide. At this point, I determined I hate all guide books (prior, only Lonely Planet), for not only was there no sand, but we were laughed at when we asked where the sand beaches were. Still, the water was beautiful, the weather was fantastic, and we had a great spot on the rocks. We had bought a snorkel set as well and all took turns snorkelling around, though there wasn't too much to see. We went out that night to Carpe Diem, which turned out to be rather snobbish, and left quickly enough for some more down to earthery. They had met a couple British girls on the train and we hung out with them for the evening, then all came back to our room, sat on the balcony overlooking the starlike lights on the masts below the moon, and chatted some more. It really was a great time.

The beautiful view from our taxi
Finally, today we left (we had a debate about staying/leaving, decided to stay one more night, then discovered our host had no room) for Stari Grad, a smaller town on the island. The taxi ride there revealed that the island is quite pretty and has some great beaches on the south side, which we really should've visited but didn't. The girls were with us again so the taxi wasn't too expensive, and they ate while we hunted out a room. It's quite difficult to find people willing to give you a room in their home for only one night. Most won't take the trouble, but we did find someone eventually. Then we went to a place north of town that also doesn't qualify as a beach - just a cement pad and some rocks leading into a beautiful but angry sea. But it wasn't too bad, even if the so-called Croatian beaches have been disappointing up until now.

Stari Grad's Party
Tomorrow, we head to Brac, and specifically Bol, which (we have photographic evidence) has a nice sand beach, and we'll stay for a couple days. I may make it to Sarajevo for a few days before Dubrovnik and then Italy and then Greece, but time will tell. I'm definitely behind schedule and John arrives in Athens on Sept 4. But Croatia's been great so far, and now I'm off to join the Feast of Assumption in the city square, where we were recently passed by a big religious parade. Internet's hard to get at here, but I'll hopefully see you soon and/or reply to emails.

<Dalmatian Coast Photos>

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