The Marco Polo was a nice Hotel and it certainly had one of the best breakfasts that I can remember for a long time that was served in a conservatory overlooking the sea.
The Hotel had a very Italianate feel about it which is not surprising really because the Dalmatian coast had a long period of Italian influence beginning in 1420 when the Venetian Republic began a period of nearly four hundred years of control of the region followed by the inclusion in Napoleon’s Kingdom of Italy in 1805 and direct rule from Rome in the period between the two world wars.
Easy to understand therefore that sometimes I had to remind myself that I was in Croatia and not in Italy. The hotel was the most expensive that we had stayed in all week and at checkout it nearly became even more expensive when Kim dismantled the bookshelves whilst examining the contents and brought things down with an almighty crash.
Yesterday had been quite tiring and had involved a lot of driving so we had thought about changing the planned itinerary and having an easy day in and around Gradac and the coast.
Even though Gradac has the longest beach on the eastern Adriatic we agreed that there didn’t seem quite enough to do in the small town to occupy a full day for two naturally restless people and as the drama of the long detour was now just a fading memory we reverted to the original plan to visit one of the Croatian islands. This was important because it fulfilled our original objective of visiting the countryside, the coast and the islands.
The Croatian archipelago is the second largest in the Mediterranean after the Greek and there are approximately one thousand two hundred and fifty Croatian islands in the Adriatic stretching all the way down the coast from Istria to Dubrovnik.
This compares to about one thousand four hundred Greek Islands but includes quite a lot of islets and reefs so although this sounds a lot only sixty-six are actually inhabited compared with almost four times as many, two hundred and twenty seven, in Greece.
We had seen a lot of these already as we had travelled down the coast but now it was time to visit one of them so we chose the fourth largest, Hvar, and the ten-thirty ferry crossing from Dvrenik about six miles north from Gradac.
The ferry was called the Laslovo and part of the Jadrolinija fleet, which is the largest in Croatia and carries nearly ten million passengers a year. It was named after a town in Slavonia in eastern Croatia just twelve miles from Serbia, which was an area fiercely fought over during the independence war that was completely destroyed by shelling on 1st October 1991 and was subsequently abandoned and remains uninhabited still today.
The short crossing took just about forty minutes to negotiate the narrow Neretvanski Kanal and we arrived in the small town of Sucaraj and took the only road out of the port that headed west to the main town of Hvar. This was a tedious process at first because it took time to get past the slow moving lorries and buses that managed to get off of the ferry in front of us added to which the quality of the road left a lot to be desired and it took almost an hour to get to the town of Stari Grad on the north coast of the island.
On the way the road rose and fell dramatically as it clung precariously to the side of the mountains. It wasn’t especially picturesque but this didn’t matter as I was on pothole alert again and watching attentively for blind bends and sheer drops. There were plenty of brake testing opportunities I can tell you.
At one point there were more burnt out trees, victims of the terrible fires and all along the route there were lazy little villages where people seemed to have nothing better to do than count the cars going by. One interesting feature was the dry stone walls that divided the land into individual plots and reminded me a little of Derbyshire.
We arrived in Stari Grad, which had a nice harbour and a couple of interesting buildings that were both closed. It was very quiet and the only real activity was a postman on his moped going back and forth to the post office to collect and deliver mail. He seemed to do one letter at a time, which was probably deliberate to try and string his day out. We had a Croatian Ožujsko beer at a bar next to the harbour and with nothing much else to keep us here we moved on and continued our journey to Hvar.
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The town square is rather bleak but even so it looks quite dramatic. I suppose these places were all built originally when they didn’t take cars into account.
I understand that it is usually quite busy so can’t explain why so quiet when we were there. I liked it that way.
Yeah. I liked it that way too.
That road sounds like the stuff nightmares are made of.
Your final image would make a lovely framed painting.
We complain about potholes but these were craters!
I like the old green door with the crosses on. No vampires in Croatia!
Thank you John.
Your photos don’t remind me of Derbyshire one bit! I guess it’s the views of that inviting sea …
I should have stopped the car and taken a picture of the dry stone walls.
I had no idea there were so many Croatian islands! Now I simply must add that to my travel goals. Thank goodness no additional expenses were added due to Kim’s unfortunate experience.
A journey through the islands is a very good itinerary.