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On the flight out to Croatia I had a seat next to a small nun who was nursing a very large guitar. "It could have been worse" she quipped, in a delightful Irish accent

"I might have had a harp!"

 

During the flight she leaned over to share my little table for the meal and we were good friends by the time we flew in over the Dalmation islands to land at Split.

There are 1,185 islands off Croatia and I visited the long and the short of them.

Hvar, the longest, which, with it's seemingly endless sunshine, has been called the 'Croatian Madeira,' and, by contrast the  smallest is  Lokrum, a ten minute boat ride from Dubrovnik.

Either is easily visited using a package holiday or travelling independently. As to the others, a ferry pass  will give you unlimited Island hopping. You can also take a sailing holiday and surround yourself with them.

 

We drove down the Dalmatian Rivera and, before catching the ferry, stopped overnight at Maksara. We joined the locals at the outdoor cafés and watched fashion conscious young people promenading and posing. Their chatter and laughter echoed, like noisy starlings, around the square. To be fair, they really did look good, like a new breed of super models. Tall willowy girls trod the polished stone piazza as though it were a catwalk.

The only time the glorious white stone pavements get really quiet is when the sun shines hot and the afternoon siesta kicks in.

 

When I woke in the morning I opened the window at the Hotel Biokovo and watched a flotilla of boats leaving harbour and move round the headland towards the outlying islands.

 

At Drvenik, (most of the place names looked like a bad hand at scrabble!) We took our ferry for the short crossing to Hvar.

 

The narrow road climbed up through hillsides covered with lavender, fig trees and olive groves.  In the stone terraces on the steep slopes, a man worked at his vines while his donkey munched thistles.

Occasionally below us,  as the road twisted through the trees, we caught a glimpse of beautiful bays and the flotilla yachts on glassy clear blue water.

 

Hvar town, lies at the end of the long island and most of the twenty thousand visitors who swell the population in the summer come by ferry either from Split or Dubrovnik.

In the autumn sunshine we were bowled over by the magnificent Venetian architecture. It was noon and Hvar's huge square was empty. A lone tourist looked out from the great long balcony, like a misplaced Evita. The silence of the siesta-laden afternoon was briefly shattered by the sound of a scooter. It was ridden by a granddad with an infant on knee, no doubt bound for the land of nod.

 

The clang of a bell-chiming noon echoed around and it seemed that little had changed since the days when Venetian fleet spent the winter there. Their rope marks are still worn into the ancient stone bollards but now it's holiday yachts that tie up at Europe's oldest working wharf.

 

It seemed appropriate to find a clock that went backwards, nothing to do with time travel, it just 'worked backwards.' It was in the museum of 15th century Franciscan Monastery, which also contains a massive wall size painting of The Last Supper, painted in 1585 and donated by one of the commanders of the Venetian fleet.

 

A visit is worthwhile even if it is just to sit under the huge Cyprus tree. It's the 4th largest in the Adriatic and it acts as a massive umbrella practically shading the whole of the monastery garden. You can look out from there to Hellas island where the Venetians once collected resin from pine trees to build their ships.

 

There is an archipelago of islands just off Hvar town and if 'the land of beyond' draws you, a boatman can take you out and collect you or you can hire a little motorboat for the day.

 

At Hvar I walked along the coastal path by the pine trees that line the coast. People lay in the sun or slid from the rock slabs to swim in the still warm water. A grinning boy came up from the sea with a fish on a harpoon in one hand and a wriggling squid in the other. His sister hurried to meet him with a kitten in her arms. They all seemed happy, especially the kitten.

At night we explored the warren of little lanes that climbed the hill below the fort. I checked out the cafés and set about developing a taste for Ožujsko the very reasonably priced local beer. I took a sip and without any warning the room was filled with the most beautiful music as six men harmonised and sang traditional 'clappa' songs.

 

The whole atmosphere was so absorbing although, the next morning, I could have wished for less of it when the bell on the 15th century clock tower outside my balcony clanged into life. The hotel had been a palace that served once as courthouse of Venice Republic.

 

Major ferries run to the island from Split and Dubrovnik and the smaller ones also call at Starigrad, which seems a perfect place to own a little boat. Many lined the waters edge, white and bright in the sun. We explored the shady and labyrinth of passages that lead back from the quayside, occasionally we paused as once when the sound of the music of La Boheme swelled through a brown shuttered window above our heads, it added a touch of magic. By contrast it was 'Heavy Metal' that was playing from a house near the pavement café where we were joined lunch for by three locals, a couple of cats and an old dog called Rocky. The latter gave us a great welcome and seem to enjoy helping us deal with a large plate of fish, but they quickly disappeared when the food was finished.

 

Well worth a visit is the building that once was the summer home Petra Hektotovica, a famous 16th century Croatian poet. It is plain on the outside and the only clue that something rather grand my lay beyond its walls was the channel full of small fish that swam in from the sea. They emerged in the garden in and elegant colonnaded pool where they stay to be fed and grow to become too large to return to the sea.

 

 

The water in the pond is a mixture of spring water and water from the sea and the mullet thrive now just as they did five-hundred years ago. There are doves in the garden which is heady with the scent of plants and trees collected from around the world.

 

Inscriptions from the poet's work are carved I stone. one of them is

"Heu Fugiunt Fluxu Non Redunte Dies"  which means means

"Alas the days flow by like the waves and do not return"

 

 

 

 

 

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Allan Rogers visits

Hvar in  Croatia

On the flight out to Croatia I had a seat next to a small nun who was nursing a very large guitar. "It could have been worse" she quipped, in a delightful Irish accent

"I might have had a harp!"

 

During the flight she leaned over to share my little table for the meal and we were good friends by the time we flew in over the Dalmation islands to land at Split.

There are 1,185 islands off Croatia and I visited the long and the short of them.

Hvar, the longest, which, with it's seemingly endless sunshine, has been called the 'Croatian Madeira,' and, by contrast the  smallest is  Lokrum, a ten minute boat ride from Dubrovnik.

Either is easily visited using a package holiday or travelling independently. As to the others, a ferry pass  will give you unlimited Island hopping. You can also take a sailing holiday and surround yourself with them.

 

We drove down the Dalmatian Rivera and, before catching the ferry, stopped overnight at Maksara. We joined the locals at the outdoor cafés and watched fashion conscious young people promenading and posing. Their chatter and laughter echoed, like noisy starlings, around the square. To be fair, they really did look good, like a new breed of super models. Tall willowy girls trod the polished stone piazza as though it were a catwalk.

The only time the glorious white stone pavements get really quiet is when the sun shines hot and the afternoon siesta kicks in.

 

When I woke in the morning I opened the window at the Hotel Biokovo and watched a flotilla of boats leaving harbour and move round the headland towards the outlying islands.

 

At Drvenik, (most of the place names looked like a bad hand at scrabble!) We took our ferry for the short crossing to Hvar.

 

The narrow road climbed up through hillsides covered with lavender, fig trees and olive groves.  In the stone terraces on the steep slopes, a man worked at his vines while his donkey munched thistles.

Occasionally below us,  as the road twisted through the trees, we caught a glimpse of beautiful bays and the flotilla yachts on glassy clear blue water.

 

Hvar town, lies at the end of the long island and most of the twenty thousand visitors who swell the population in the summer come by ferry either from Split or Dubrovnik.

In the autumn sunshine we were bowled over by the magnificent Venetian architecture. It was noon and Hvar's huge square was empty. A lone tourist looked out from the great long balcony, like a misplaced Evita. The silence of the siesta-laden afternoon was briefly shattered by the sound of a scooter. It was ridden by a granddad with an infant on knee, no doubt bound for the land of nod.

 

The clang of a bell-chiming noon echoed around and it seemed that little had changed since the days when Venetian fleet spent the winter there. Their rope marks are still worn into the ancient stone bollards but now it's holiday yachts that tie up at Europe's oldest working wharf.

 

It seemed appropriate to find a clock that went backwards, nothing to do with time travel, it just 'worked backwards.' It was in the museum of 15th century Franciscan Monastery, which also contains a massive wall size painting of The Last Supper, painted in 1585 and donated by one of the commanders of the Venetian fleet.

 

A visit is worthwhile even if it is just to sit under the huge Cyprus tree. It's the 4th largest in the Adriatic and it acts as a massive umbrella practically shading the whole of the monastery garden. You can look out from there to Hellas island where the Venetians once collected resin from pine trees to build their ships.

 

There is an archipelago of islands just off Hvar town and if 'the land of beyond' draws you, a boatman can take you out and collect you or you can hire a little motorboat for the day.

 

At Hvar I walked along the coastal path by the pine trees that line the coast. People lay in the sun or slid from the rock slabs to swim in the still warm water. A grinning boy came up from the sea with a fish on a harpoon in one hand and a wriggling squid in the other. His sister hurried to meet him with a kitten in her arms. They all seemed happy, especially the kitten.

At night we explored the warren of little lanes that climbed the hill below the fort. I checked out the cafés and set about developing a taste for Ožujsko the very reasonably priced local beer. I took a sip and without any warning the room was filled with the most beautiful music as six men harmonised and sang traditional 'clappa' songs.

 

The whole atmosphere was so absorbing although, the next morning, I could have wished for less it when the bell on the 15th century clock tower outside my balcony clanged into life. The hotel had been a palace that served once as courthouse of Venice Republic.

 

Major ferries run to the island from Split and Dubrovnik and the smaller ones also call at Starigrad, which seems a perfect place to own a little boat. Many lined the waters edge, white and bright in the sun. We explored the shady and labyrinth of passages that lead back from the quayside, occasionally we paused as once when the sound of the music of La Boheme swelled through a brown shuttered window above our heads, it added a touch of magic. By contrast it was 'Heavy Metal' that was playing from a house near the pavement café where we were joined lunch for by three locals, a couple of cats and an old dog called Rocky. The latter gave us a great welcome and seem to enjoy helping us deal with a large plate of fish, but they quickly disappeared when the food was finished.

 

Well worth a visit is the building that once was the summer home Petra Hektotovica, a famous 16th century Croatian poet. It is plain on the outside and the only clue that something rather grand my lay beyond its walls was the channel full of small fish that swam in from the sea. They emerged in the garden in and elegant colonnaded pool where they stay to be fed and grow to become too large to return to the sea.

 

 

The water in the pond is a mixture of spring water and water from the sea and the mullet thrive now just as they did five-hundred years ago. There are doves in the garden which is heady with the scent of plants and trees collected from around the world.

 

Inscriptions from the poet's work are carved I stone. one of them is

"Heu Fugiunt Fluxu Non Redunte Dies"  which means means

 

 

 

 

 

.