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A “Decent” Proposal – Croatian Trip Report Sep./Oct. 2006

A “Decent” Proposal – Croatian Trip Report Sep./Oct. 2006

Oct 26th, 2006, 08:25 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Jul 2006
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A “Decent” Proposal – Croatian Trip Report Sep./Oct. 2006

I have been meaning to write a few words about our trip to Croatia for some time, to try to “pay back” all the trip reports of previous posters I used so extensively in researching what turned out to be a fantastic trip, in late September/early October. Thanks to all those folks who posted such detailed trip reports and/or photos—tripgirl, Images2, bobthenavigator are just a few that come to mind, but there are many others—this message board was by far the most valuable resource I had in planning! Hopefully I can add a little to the wealth of information already out there—though I don’t hope to do it as well as the many well-written trip reports that have recently been posted! I just hope I can remember it all, as we have been back over three weeks now, and most of my brain power these days is devoted to wedding planning …

ARRIVAL / HVAR

I would have to agree with ckwald that getting to Croatia ain’t exactly easy. We flew on Delta from Tampa to JFK (which could be the subject of another post entirely, as it must be the worst airport in the US—inconvenient, run down, HOT, unfriendly personnel, etc.), then on Czech Air to Prague and on to Split. Other than almost missing our flight to Prague (due to spending too much layover time watching the Ohio State-Penn State game—GF is a Buckeye), the flights were uneventful, just long. We arrived at Split airport anxious to catch the ferry to Hvar, though after waiting half an hour for the Croatian Airlines bus we were told repeatedly was to arrive any minute, we finally gave up and split a cab to the ferry port with two French women who let me practice my rusty high school French. I suppose this was a good thing, as we heard far more French than any other language during our entire week in Croatia …Once at the port, the Jadrolinija ferry process was well-run and very easy to manage, even with our overstuffed suitcases (a result of (i) not knowing exactly whether the weather would be hot or cool; (ii) self-deceptive thoughts such as “it’s got wheels, so who cares how heavy it is—we’ll be rolling it, right?”; and (iii) GF packing ten (10) pairs of shoes. I’m not exaggerating.) Guess who carried her bag the whole trip?

Anyway, back to the point. We arrived at Hvar around 4pm, and met our landlady, Natasa Caric, at our prearranged meeting point in front of the palace. Natasa runs the Apartments Badoljo, which were fabulous. Her website is http://www.hvar.hr/badoljo. I had originally booked the slightly cheaper studio with her several months before, but she later emailed me back that there was a problem with the studio, and she would either give me the larger, more expensive two bedroom apartment for the price of the studio, or help find me another place with a view (the larger apt. lacked the terrace the studio had). I won’t go into all the details, but Natasa was extremely helpful with the whole process. I must admit that I did slightly envy the studio terrace, but our apartment was squeaky clean and extremely well located, about 75m directly up the stairs from the harbor. And here’s the best part—after huffing up those stairs with both suitcases, I remarked to Natasa on the grapes growing on the trellis over our front patio (we saw this everywhere in Croatia, by the way). She smiled, mentioned that it was currently the harvest time, and shortly produced a large bunch of grapes from their stash which were about to be pressed for making wine (we noticed the next day that the pressing left the smell of fresh grapes hanging around the door to our “compound”—this was nice, as over the next few days, we always knew that we were near the end of our uphill climb when we could smell the grapes!). So we sat on the porch for a while eating our “homemade” grapes and looking up at the ancient city walls, very content to be done with our 23 hour journey, and glad to finally be in Croatia!

We told ourselves that we wouldn’t sleep until that night in order to get over our jet lag, so we forwent the nap and headed down to the riva for a drink and the first of much people-watching. There were plenty of nice yachts in the harbor as it was a Sunday (there were fewer during the coming week), and everyone was taking advantage of the nice weather before the clouds that were predicted for the coming days. We had a drink and our first taste of Croatian prsut (prosciutto) at one of the many cafés lining the riva, and took advantage of the comfy lounge chairs at the café. Other than the persistent flies that we found to be a bit of a nuisance in most Hvar cafés, it was delightful. After the sun set over the harbor, we realized we were too tired for a formal sit down meal, so we settled for a walk around the harbor and a day-old burek (pastry filled with various meat, potatoes, etc.) from the harborside bakery. It was all we could do to climb the stairs back up to the apartment and fall into bed!

The next morning, we woke up early, no doubt due to our jet lag, and climbed up to the Spanish Fort overlooking Hvar Town. It was a beautiful walk—all paved—through shady pines, and not terribly strenuous. The views of the harbor from the top were great, which was good, considering that the fort itself didn’t open at 8am like my guidebook said. Since we were anxious to do more exploring, we didn’t wait around to see if the custodian was simply late (we later found out it opened at 8:30, not 8), and headed back down. We had a very light breakfast at one of the cafés on Trg Sv. Stefan (St. Stephen’s Square), and people-watched. And people-watched. And people-watched. It was Monday morning, and the parade of people coming through the square on their various morning agendas was a feast for the eyes and imagination: What is that he’s carrying? Why does she walk like that? Do you think they’re Swedish, or German? Oh, they’re those guys from that boat we saw!, etc. etc. We played this game often on our trip, but for some reason I don’t think it was ever as amusing as that first morning on Hvar. It certainly made our skimpy “ham on toast”—the only breakfast-y item offered by that particular café—a little more palatable!

After breakfast, we decided that we needed to see some of the island, so we rented a car from the Hertz desk at the Pelegrini travel agency on the riva. Though we had no reservation, they said they would have the car for us in an hour, so we went back to the apartment to pack our swimsuits, and stopped by the big Konzum supermarket to buy picnic fixings, before heading back to pick up the car. It was a little pricey (around $90 for the day), but we gave it a “you only live once” shrug and off we went. After looking at the map that morning, I had secretly decided to take the old, winding road to Stari Grad which runs up over the mountains, though I knew that GF might object to the hairy driving required! Though GF wasn’t exactly amused at this choice once the precariousness of the road revealed itself, she eventually grew more comfortable as she grew more interested in the scenery. And the scenery was magnificent—hill upon hill with stone walls and stone piles as far as the eye could see. We both marveled at this sight and the centuries of labor it must have taken to produce those walls and piles, all in an effort to clear small plots of land for agriculture. The road didn’t end up being too bad, and since it took us through a few smaller towns that were definitely off the beaten tourist track, I’d recommend it for at least one way between HT and SG.

We pulled into Stari Grad just before lunchtime, and strolled around a bit. It was a beautiful town, with a more laid back feel to it than Hvar. We contemplated checking out the palace or one of the few other “attractions” in town, but decided that the town itself was attraction enough for us, and moved on to find our beach. I should note that on the way out of Stari Grad, as well as all over most of the island, there were people harvesting grapes literally everywhere, off the sides of the roads. This was a really cool dimension that we didn’t expect. Also, though I’ve seen harvests in several other areas of the world, this seemed more unique— instead of day laborers picking to earn a wage from the local co-op or owner of the vineyard, nearly all of the grape pickers on Hvar seemed to be simply tending their own small plot, in order to fill up their trunk and make some homemade wine. Now I’m not sure that this was indeed the case, but the sheer number of small cars parked on the roadside (and sometimes rather IN the road!) being filled by family members seemed to validate my theory. It was a great sight, whatever the case.

I was dying to find a spot to jump into the Adriatic, so we followed some great directions (thanks, Images2!!) to a small cove called Uvala Rapa. It was located just past the turnoff for Vrboska, if I remember correctly (Note—if you reach the FKK nudist camp, you’ve gone too far!). We parked the car on the other side of the road near a brown sign indicating the beach, and hiked a couple hundred yards on a red clay path, up over a small hill and down toward the water. There is a fork in the small path once you near the shore, and we decided to take the right hand path down to wherever it led us. Thankfully, it led us to a beautiful little cove with several large rocks to sit on. The location, which we had completely to ourselves, was really fantastic—sparkling clear water, overlooking a small island a mile away, the island of Brac past that, and then the Makarska Riviera (on the mainland) past that. We picnicked and swam there for several hours, interrupted only by a pair of 60-ish nude hikers from the camp down the beach. It was admittedly pretty funny to me to see them walk through our cove wearing only birthday suits and hiking boots, but hey—to each his own—so I waved, and they walked on through and disappeared into the forest.

We stopped briefly for a Karlovacko beer in a small outdoor café in Vrboska, which was a picturesque little town. I was a little curious about the south side of the island, so with the little daylight we had left, we made for Pitve and Zavala. The tunnel through the mountainside to Zavala proved to be a little much for GF who is a bit claustrophobic, and it didn’t help my reassurances when, while waiting for the stoplight, a local zoomed by without much hesitation and ran the red light into the tunnel!! I’m sure he knew that no one was coming if he didn’t see any headlights, but I don’t think that comforted GF too much!! Once we got through without incident, we headed down the hill to Zavala. It looked like a nice place, but with the sun setting and the weather turning for the worse, we didn’t get out and decided to head back through the tunnel to the new road and Hvar Town.

That evening, we had our first true meal in Croatia at Macondo, after reading so much about it on several posts. The outdoor setting was very pleasant, as were all the servers. We arrived without a reservation and were seated immediately, even though we felt like we were literally seated on top of our neighbors at the next table, six inches away! As for the food, we were honestly a little disappointed. GF had the lobster spaghetti, and I had seafood pasta, with mussels, clams, etc. GF reported that hers was nothing special, and mine, well, the mussels were fairly gritty, and the risotto wasn’t really risotto, but more like rice in broth. It was a decent first Croatian meal, but not excellent. Thankfully, we decided to have a nightcap elsewhere, and stumbled upon a cool little bar called the Jazz Bar, in the winding alleys between the square and the riva. It was filled with attractive young Scandinavians, so we drank Carlsberg beer and listened to the great music that the bartender kept playing. Most of it was folksy/jazzy guitar, though when I asked him if it was some American jazz guitarists I am familiar with, he replied that it was actually Macedonian. Who knew??

The next morning, we tried to repeat our people watching game over breakfast on the square, but it wasn’t quite as interesting, as Tuesday morning just didn’t seem as bustling as the previous day. And the clouds and rain had finally moved in, so everything seemed a bit more hushed. Maybe it was the weather, but we felt that we had seen Hvar (though I’m sure we could have easily spent several more days), and were ready to move on to Dubrovnik. So we gathered up our stuff, huffed down the stairs to the riva, and hopped the ferry back to Split. I’ll take a break here, and hope to keep my next post on Dubrovnik a lot shorter!!

Hvar photos:
http://share.shutterfly.com/action/w...2AZs2jVy2YsWKg

More to come …
Tampa_Wahoo is offline  
Oct 26th, 2006, 08:51 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 314
Beautiful trip report, so far. What a romantic spot of the world for a marriage proposal. I will be checking back.
FlyingMaltese is offline  
Oct 26th, 2006, 11:01 PM
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Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 461
really good report so far.. thanks for sharing your journey with us.. looking forward to more .. and no need to shorten it on our account.. we (mostly) love long reports!
callalilli is offline  
Oct 27th, 2006, 10:54 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,288
Thanks for posting the TR Tampa Wahoo - Good job so far! Do not cut out a word.....
HappyCheesehead is offline  
Oct 27th, 2006, 11:30 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,472
Great report. It's helping me to relive my trip and has also convinced me to try Hvar next trip. Don't condense, keep it coming!
Barb is offline  
Oct 30th, 2006, 10:49 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 2,478
Hey Tampa!

So glad to read your trip report (I know, I still need to get mine started!)...and sorry we weren't able to connect in Dubrovnik, but a "little fodorite bird" clued me into the "proposal plan"...how exciting!

Sounds like you were in Hvar just before I was. We got lucky there and missed the rain and had 4 gloriously sunny beautiful days!

Please continue...I love reading the posts about Croatia, it helps me relive my trip all over again!
LowCountryIslander is offline  
Nov 18th, 2006, 09:46 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2005
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Waiting to hear the rest of your trip report.
teacher33 is offline  
Nov 21st, 2006, 07:08 AM
  #8  
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Sorry for the long delay in this trip report-- been crazy busy both at work and wedding planning! Hopefully this long weekend will give me a little time to continue! More to come.
Tampa_Wahoo is offline  
Nov 21st, 2006, 06:33 PM
  #9  
Syl
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 496
Tampa Wahoo,
Congrats again.After 41 years together,we're still enjoying each other's company.I wish you the same.Two rules for a good marriage:
1) Never go to bed angry.Talk it over.
2) If you must fight, do it in the
nude.
Sorry we missed getting together with you guys in Dubrovnik. Ciao
Syl is offline  

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