Got off the ferry this morning on the island of Korcula.....Wow, love it. A smaller, quieter island than Hvar and no party crowd here. We are once again staying in a Sobe (room) run by Nina and her son Mate, in the town of Korcula. We are on the third story of an old apartment building in the old town and our window opens facing the Adriatic Sea, spectacular views. Thankfully, Mate is a big burly guy and brought up our suitcases, no elevators in old towns. This is the second Sobe we stay in and they normally have a small fridge and a kettle so you can make tea/instant coffee, so quite convenient. This Sobe also offers breakfast which is not the norm. This family owns several apartment buildings converted into Sobes and they also own a farm on the island and have olive groves and some livestock. Mate was very informative as to what to do while on the island, where to eat and finally told us about a traditional dance performance that was happening tonight.
Above, is the view from our room.
Walked around the old town to get our bearings and spent some time on the beach and went for a very quick swim in the sea. There are several large hotels and sand beaches in the newer part of town that cater to Brits and Germans who come for a week of sun....will stay away from this area! Guide book says that Korcula is "a good place to take a vacation from your vacation".
Great seafood again, then off to see the Moreska sword dance performance. This is a traditional dance which depicts two waring factions fighting over a princess. They told us that this traditional dance has been performed in the village of Korcula for 400 years, passed on from generation to generation, and the troupe has performed all over Europe. It looks quite dangerous as two groups of men are dancing while circling one another while wielding and clashing their short swords. Very entertaining.
Picture below taken from our room about 5 a.m. this morning.
Marco Polo is said to be from the island of Korcula, although the Italians lay claim to him as well. Marco Polo Museum , Marco Polo Sobe, Marco Polo restaurant, Marco Polo t-shirts, key chains, bags.....you name it.....everything Marco Polo! We happen to be lucky enough to be right next door to the Marco Polo museum....not sure we will have time to take this in!
Can't say enough about the colours and cleanliness of the Adriatic Sea and the spectacular coastline and islands of Croatia. Absolutely beautiful.
Nice walk this morning then off to the small town of Lumbarda which is about 5 km's. out of Korcula. We took the local bus to get there and spent a few hours on a beautiful sandy beach. Went swimming, water so clear and nice temperature for swimming. Nice sandy beach with probably less than fifty people there.
Forgot to mention in my previous postings that when we were on the island of Hvar, we toured the Stari Grad Plain which is also a Unesco World Heritage site. I had posted a picture of the stone walls and the vineyards and olive groves on the hill, this was Stari Grad. These farming areas have been intact for 24 centuries. Oh my gosh.....how many have I ticked off on the Unesco list!
Also an update on the English drunks in Hvar. On the last night we were there, they showed up (again) at the restaurant next to the one we chose. The main guy was missing...too much drinking I guess. I was almost tempted to go over and ask the group if their drunken compatriot had finally had enough!
Also in Hvar, were the number of dogs all yapping and humping each other....do I really need to see this going on all the time! The owner of the Sobe told us that these stray dogs are really a problem on the island. He said "need to deal with the singing, happy dogs!". Think he wants a good review!
Off to Dubrovnik tomorrow by ferry, which will take a couple of hours and will spend the next couple of days there.
Dubrovnik is known as the pearl of the Adriatic. The old town juts out into the sea and Is ringed by thick medieval walks, still intact today. Traffic free and a jumble of small lanes filled with shops and cafes. The guide books talk about the sleepy charm of Dubrovnik. This may have been a few years ago, but is certainly not the case today....it has been discovered. During the five year war, Dubrovnik became the only coastal city drawn into the fighting. The city was devastated with explosions on the hillsides. The Serbs attacked Mount Srd, high above the old town. The large cross, communication towers and more than two-thirds of Dubrovnik's buildings were damaged and some 30,000 fled. Everything was quickly rebuilt including erecting a new cross and new communication tower atop Mount Srd. One can tell which houses were repaired by the bright new orange roof tiles.
Got off the ferry in Dubrovnik and we take a local bus into the old town. We have gone from a sleepy little island of Korcula to the TSUNAMI of Dubrovnik! That is how it felt. We had to push ourselves and our luggage onto the bus, Robin had to fight to keep a place for himself without being crushed, the bus driver is yelling at everyone to get back, and a load of very loud Italians that have just gotten off a cruise ship are on the bus headed into the old town. The bus driver also drove like a mad man and the 15 minutes we were on the bus seemed like a ride at a carnival trying to keep your balance. It's hot, sticky, noisy....yikes! We finally make it to the gates of the old town and start making our way to our Sobe in the old town.
Instructions to get to our Sobe. "Go through the gate, you will be on the Main Street Placa or Stradum. Go to the end of the Main Street, turn to the right to the Cathedral, go behind the Cathedral by the left side of the Cathedral and you will see the arch just behind the Cathedral, go through the arch and turn in the first street on the left side onto the side street". Well, we know our room is somewhere near the Cathedral! We finally make it after fighting our way through hundreds of tourists and tour groups. There were three cruise ships in the harbour when we arrived on the ferry. Everyone must have arrived in the old town as the same time we did.
Dubrovnik is an intact walled city on the Adriatic Sea coast of the extreme south of Croatia. Although its population barely exceeds 40,000, it's one of the most prominent tourist resorts of the Mediterranean and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979......Another check! We can attest to the tourists!
A lot of hype/tours centured around "The Game of Thrones". Part of the series was filmed in the old town and surrounding areas so needless to say they are capitalizing on this fact. Even people dressing in the parts to convince you to go on the tours! It's even on the local television.....with Croatian subtitles.
Well as in any place we have been where cruise ships have arrived, we know that come 3 or 4 in the afternoon, they disappear off the streets. We walk around the old town, stop for tea and some people watching and just relax and enjoy the less busier streets. We have enjoyed the most wonderful seafood and once again today we enjoyed cuttlefish (similar to squid) with black rice. We have had this dish on several occasions along with octupus in a bucara sauce (spicy tomato sauce); octopus/tomato salad and fresh tuna salad, all very good. Nice walk along the seaside after dinner enjoying the beautiful views.
Hvar had dogs, Dubrovnik has cats, especially at the seafood restaurants!
On our second day in Dubrovnik, we decide to take the cable car up to Mount Srd where the views of the walled old town are magnificent. Also great views of the new city along with views of the Adriatic and the many islands in the distance. We decide to walk down. Took us a while to find the beginning of the trail, they really don't seem to promote it, no signposts anywhere. At one point we even stopped a young Asian couple who we thought had climbed up....he had his cell phone and was looking for the trail as well. After asking a couple more people and one of the employees of the cable car, we finally set off down the trail. In the first few minutes, we run across a young Aussie couple who have just made it to the top. She says "be wary, there are some snakes on the trail, we ran across a couple and they were very fast, could be vipers, stay in the middle of the trail". Did she say SNAKES! I hate snakes, so I pick up three rocks....sorry perhaps more like small boulders. Look out snakes, here we come. It took us about one hour to get down the trail which zigzagged down the mountain and was very rocky. Newly erected bronze stations of the cross along the trail and great views all along...fortunately, we did not see any snakes.....I finally drop my rocks when we get back to a main road.
Walk back into the old town (Stari Grad) and walk down the Stradum (main street) and stop for a cool refreshment and lunch and more people watching. As yesterday, once again the streets in the old town are wall to wall people. At night both the Stradun is filled with tourists at the sidewalk cafes, quite the transition from daytime, not nearly the number of people. The old town is kept so clean. They pick up garbage in the streets and in the harbour constantly and no graffiti.
Nice walk out in the town and above the beach this afternoon. Drink along the harbour and just people watching. Our last night in Dubrovnik.
Due to flight schedules, we left Dubrovnik a day earlier than we wanted, but that happens, must be flexible when travelling. We are spending one last day in Rome before returning home on Wednesday, June 17th.
Must talk about the wonderful people we have met during our travels. A young couple from London who sat next to us at dinner one evening, a young Texan couple who were on a ten day getaway for their fifteenth anniversary leaving four kids with parents...an older New Zealand couple who we conversed with on a ferry for a couple of hours, a Scottish couple on a one week getaway to enjoy the sun in Korcula, a middle aged young Indian woman travelling on her own on a six month leave of absence, a newly wed couple on their honeymoon and an English couple on a five day getaway. Always great to meet fellow travellers and hear their experiences.
Also, all the kind Italian, Slovenian and Croatian people along the way. The waiters and owners of restaurants, the helpful people in the hotels and the Very hospitable owners of the apartments and Sobes we rented.
We would strongly recommend both Slovenia and Croatia as destinations for anyone who wishes to discover new parts of Europe. Very safe, good road systems and everyone speaks a little English. Our travels through Italy, Slovenia and Croatia have created many memorable experiences and will not be soon forgotten.
I always enjoy writing my blog (I used to keep journals when travelling) and doing research on the countries we visit and just remarking on life in general in these places. Ciao till the next time.....Claire.