Hvar, the Queen of the Dalmatian islands
Considered the Queen of the Croatia’s Dalmatian islands, we knew Hvar was a place not to be missed. Heavily visited by tourists, Hvar is renowned as a beautifully scenic party town, which also has a rich and well-preserved culture. Even visiting in winter, the clear off season of the seaside town, it is easy to let your mind wander to warmer times when the streets would be buzzing, nearly bursting at the seams with the huge influx of people.
We nestled into Hvar town, venturing as far as our legs could take us. The beautiful architecture that we have appreciated throughout Croatia extends from the mainland onto the island. Hvar is a true beauty, cruising in on the ferry the white stone and orange tiled rooftops stood out impressively as the Hvar village sprawled across the hilltops. Even throughout the township olive groves, lavender trees and grape vines are easily visible. An ancient town that still follows many ancient traditions.
Continuing with the good thing we have going, we stayed in another Air BnB studio apartment. A short 5-minute walk from the centre, the apartment was perfect and yet again suited our needs. The host was incredible, both picking and dropping us in town at the beginning and end of our stay. She offered more help than was necessary, going beyond the call of duty as a host.
I know I have been raving on about the joys of home cooking in the last few posts but it is just so good! We have been over-indulging, enjoying the contrast after months of non-stop Asian cuisine. While the food was delicious and I miss the guesswork that comes with ordering, a good homemade spaghetti bolognese really hits the spot. I’m sure the time will come when we will revert to some of our favourites from our time in Southeast Asia, but in the meantime the European favourites are getting a good run.
ACTIVITIES & ATTRACTIONS
Much of the attraction to Hvar comes from the sapphire blue ocean that laps at the edges of the island. Unfortunately, exploring the island in winter means we didn’t venture into those waters. We did spend quite some time wandering the waters edges marvelling at the deep blue colour of the ocean and rocky white shores.
It is impossible to venture to Hvar and miss the Fortress Fortica (Spanjola) that looms above the town. Formidable and intimidating, the fortress was built in the 16th century and continues to hold many relics from the middle ages. Aside from the impressive architecture, the fortress allows visitors a unique panoramic view over Hvar town and the Pakleni islands. As always, we were charmed by the view and spent some time wandering the fortress. Another piece of history explored!
The old town of Hvar has a charm that cannot be described. The kind of place you instantly feel at home, we continued to appreciate the ancient buildings that are commonplace in Croatia but so foreign to us. So much effort must have been spent building these incredible complexes! The architects throughout the past were extremely ambitious with their creations.
PEOPLE & CULTURE
We had an amazing time in Hvar, made better by the extremely friendly locals. From the owner of the Air BnB apartment who went out of her way to make our time enjoyable, through to the young girl who came up to us in a café chatting away in Croatian; we were overwhelmed by the genuine kindness exhibited towards tourists. While it is clear the vast majority of the town’s income is from tourism, the people are kind and all too happy to help. These are traits we have noticed aren’t overly common.
While not something that we can control, we had initially planned on travelling from Hvar to Korcula via ferry, before continuing to Dubrovnik. Unfortunately, stormy weather meant the Catamaran ferries that run between Hvar and Korcula were cancelled which sent us back to the drawing board to come up with a new plan!
WHAT WE LEARNT
Perhaps not so much a new learning curve, more a continuation; I think it’s important to be able to step back and assess situations without stressing too much about the things you can’t change. There is no way we can change the weather, which gives us two options, either wait until the ferries resume or come up with an alternative plan.
Nothing too exciting to report with the budget, for once we are managing well! I think this may be because I over estimated how much accommodation would cost us as we initially planned on travelling later in the year (and closer to high season). No complaints though, it’s nice that the boss is happy when I tell him how much we have spent!
After the storm broke on Hvar we were faced with the tough decision; do we stay in Hvar and wait for the ferry service to resume, or do we head back to Split and catch a bus straight to Dubrovnik… We opted for the latter, deciding that we always had the option of hiring a car to explore Korcula as a day trip. We will have to see how we go once we arrive in Dubrovnik.
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