It’s no surprise that Dubrovnik is one of the locations that features in “The Game of Thrones”. It’s a stunning old walled city. But I must say, I still get the heebie geebies when I walk under some of these old Medieval town gates and remember that this was where people used to hurl boiling oil down on uninvited guests all those years ago.
We’d been advised to get into town early to walk around the walls of the old town before all the tourists arrived, so left the boat at 7:30am to beat the crowds. Alas, the cruise ships were already docked in Gruz harbour and the Port of Dubrovnik website informed us that the four ships carried in excess of 8,000 passengers! We managed a pleasant walk along the walls, but the town was overrun by 10am. The 14th century cloister within the walls of the Franciscan Monastery provided a pleasant respite from the hubbub outside. Thankfully the next day there was only one ship which arrived later in the morning, so we had a better opportunity to have a good look around.
It’s hard to believe that it was only 1991-1992 when this town was having the “bejesus” bombed out of it. We noticed one building where a local artist still has posters on the outside of his house sharing his experiences of the day the shelling started, including him in front of his bombed-out house wearing a kitchen pot on his head. Today the house is restored to it’s former glory, as is the rest of the town. Approximately two-thirds of the roofs have been replaced. Thankfully Dubrovnik has been rebuilt using traditional materials and techniques, so the grand old Gothic-Renaissance palaces and buildings are still there. We’ve also been enjoying the local food & wine, particularly “prsut” (the Croatian answer to Prosciutto).
We welcomed the Dowdneys aboard at Korcula and they got into relax mode fairly quickly. We found an anchorage at the top of the island of Scedro, which felt like it was in the middle of nowhere, where an enterprising fellow came around in his put-put boat with cheeses, wines, olive oils and some rather “interesting” liqueurs. After tasting a few samples we weren’t tempted to buy, but did place an order for some fresh bread and croissants, which Filip duly delivered to our boat the next morning. From there we headed out to Vis to catch up with Lyn and David M, who regularly cruise in Croatia. There was a good catch up had by all and it must have been very hot because there were rather a lot of refreshments drunk! Lyn and David very generously shared their local knowledge with us, including hidden restaurants in what sometimes look like unpopulated bays. Thanks guys!
We had some time in Split, the second largest city in Croatia, before we farewelled the Dowdneys. Best known for the fortified Roman Palace, constructed for the emperor Diocletian around 300AD, today it’s a living town with people, bars, shops and restaurants all packed inside what’s left of the Roman ruins. The Basement Halls mirror the floor plan of the original palace that was once above and are said to be the most complete, well-preserved Roman ruins of their size anywhere in Europe. Split is full of loads history, gorgeous old buildings, and some vibrant street art. Look into a darkened alley and you might also see a little cove with a votive candle where locals stop and take a moment for quiet reflection. The 10th century Gregarious of Nin is honoured with a massive statue and the view from the belfry of the Cathedral of Domnius is worth the climb.
Ernie & Maria caught up with us at Trogir. We had a few days cruising the islands nearby, including Brac and Hvar, the latter of which I’ve heard described as “the St Tropez of the Adriatic”. The mega-yacht with the helicopter on the upper deck certainly looked the part. Hvar Town is a small but seriously busy harbour. We were lucky to get one of the inner mooring boys after arriving mid-morning only to be told there was no space. Stooging around for a bit paid off and we swooped in when the opportunity presented itself.
After the hustle and bustle of Hvar we set off to the Kornati Islands for a few days. It’s hard to believe that these islands were once covered with thick forests given their barren, if not lunar, appearance today. There were a couple of disastrous fires in the 17th & 19th centuries which have destroyed all but a handful of remaining trees. We discovered that, here particularly, the Italians are very fond of getting their gear off. Unfortunately there’s not much eye candy about, as the people who most usually do so are the ones that probably should not! We then hooked up with Simon & Gabby at Sibenik, before we ventured inland up the Krka River to visit the National Park and famous Krka Falls. Just off the coast from Sibenik are a number of carless islands with small, stone-built fishing villages where it feels a little as if time has stood still. We farewelled Simon & Gabby at Kaprije.
We thought Greece could put on a pretty good light show, but found out that Croatia is right up there too when it comes to thunderstorms. We had an absolute doosey last night. The local weather site showed over 1,000 lightening strikes in half an hour, with a number of those in reasonably close proximity to us. We knew it was windy when the boat started heeling over and the chairs were sliding across the floor whilst were we at anchor! (We usually only bolt them in when we’re sailing). This time the dingy was lashed securely to the deck, so no further aeronautic displays there, thank goodness! Pleased to say the anchor held firm and we eventually got to sleep. We are now continuing north and have arrived in Zadar where we’ll catch up with the Bondy brothers. Hope everything is good at your end. Don’t forget to drop us a line and tell us what’s been happening with you.
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