Monday, May 9, 2022
We said goodbye to Montenegro (previous post here: Montenegro, a tiny country in the Balkans. It’s beautiful! Kotor
and previous to that this post: From Hungary to Serbia to Bosnia; Sarajevo and Mostar saving some time by taking the ferry across Kotor Bay and crossed the border into Croatia and the European Union.
Dubrovnik is the capital but still a small town. It was a kingdom for over 500 years and managed to avoid war until the 1990’s. Even then it was a refuge for many fleeing more targeted cities.
We visited the Planeterra project “Desa” that helped women find their way after the 90’s conflict and now also helps those fleeing abuse. Then we enjoyed a walking tour and quick lesson on the history of Dubrovnik. The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering the small old city, getting lost in the side streets, holes in the wall and having a hot chocolate on the square. A late dinner at a fish restaurant just outside the city walls was delicious.
Tuesday Sue and I were still dealing with sore legs. Who knew walking DOWN a mountain would cause such lasting effects? We’re both in decent shape and hike fairly often so it surprised us. After breakfast we took the bus into town, walked through the old city and took the ferry to Lokrum Island. It’s a Nature reserve very close to the city. There we spent the next several hours wandering, pestering peacocks and enjoying the view. We still managed to climb the hill to the fortress although “paradise lane” was HOT and just about killed us. Back in town we treated ourselves to an ice cream before catching the bus to the hotel. Dinner was on the walking street nearby. We found a “deal” on a tuna steak with fries. Food is NOT cheap in Dubrovnik.
Wednesday. There’s a 10 km stretch of Bosnia you have to drive through to get to Hvar, Croatia. They’re building a bridge so it can be avoided but it’s not finished yet so we got to go through border control. Thankfully it didn’t take too long. The ferry across takes about 1/2 hour and got us to the East end. Hvar town is on the other end so our van took us up, down and around the windy roads for the next two hours. The scenery was gorgeous.
Upon arrival we were surprised to find ourselves at the Amfora hotel, a 4 star resort with a beautiful pool and private beach. WOW. Too bad we’re only here 2 nights and likely won’t have time to enjoy it. Filip showed us around town and helped Sue and I set up a taxi to take us on the hike he recommended. He called it a “walk” and said it would take us around 3 hours. Right.
The taxi ride was about 20 minutes up an interior road that winded even more than the main road and the scenery was well worth the drive to the tiny town of Velo Grabje. The path followed a canyon down for about a km then met the paved road. At the town of Malo Grabje we went off the trail and had a look around as it’s an abandoned village that has barely been touched since the people left. No graffiti, just left to rot. One house has been rebuilt and someone has been trimming some of the weeds and grass.
“The village was evacuated in the 1960s, with the entire population moving to the coastal village Milna. The evacuation was so complete that some graves were exhumed and bodies moved to Milna as well. No property was ever made available for sale, despite potential interest. All families within the village had shared a single surname “Tudor” – it is both claimed and disputed that there is a link to Henry VIII.“. (Wikipedia)
Good thing we made time by walking as quickly as possible as the rest of the trails were not so much a “walk” as a good hike. There were parts that were large rocks that rolled under our feet, lots where we had to scramble over rocks and tree roots, parts where it was grown over so we had to avoid thorn bushes, a section over the rocky shoreline where we had to pick our way over large rocks, another where the rocks were sharp and uneven so again we couldn’t walk quickly and a couple good uphill sections. It was fun and a good hike, but certainly not a walk. I’d say it’s more of a moderate hike through the town of Milna, past Robinson’s beach to another beach closer to Hvar. After that was a cement path that took us all the way to Hvar. Total about 15 km. That was almost 4 hours, not 3 so we were hot and sweaty and supposed to meet everyone for dinner at 8 pm. In 15 minutes. No time to go to the hotel and change so that’s how we went to dinner. Oh well. I had a giant plate of mussels and all was good.
Today we treated ourselves to a leisurely start and didn’t go for breakfast till after 8. Breakfast at the Amfora hotel was amazing!! I could have stayed and eaten all day as there was so much choice. While that would have been fun, we had a boat tour booked and headed over to the dock where the “Joan” and her crew welcomed us aboard. We spent the day cruising the Pakleni islands, stopped for a swim and snorkel several times and enjoying a delicious lunch. The water was ….. refreshing. I managed to get myself slightly sunburnt. Ugh
Back on land we cleaned up, walked back to town and up the stairs to check out the fortress and the amazing view. Dinner was a few things we picked up a the grocery store and I broke down and bought chips. It was time.
Friday. Unfortunately we had to rush through the amazing breakfast in order to reach the ferry terminal on time for the 7:30 am departure to Split from Hvar. That took just over an hour. Luggage stored, we had a coffee and met Marija at the Diocletian’s Palace for the walking tour. This one was different having been originally constructed by the Romans. The history was interesting, the palace different and confusing and the architecture eclectic.
We found the bus station and purchased our tickets for Zadar then found some lunch before climbing the hill to Marjan park. It was HOT and it wore us out but the park is really nice and there’s lots to see. We took a gravel path back down to the city that ended up in a different part of town. I’m glad I had maps.me to guide me as the windy streets are hard to navigate, even though Marija says you can’t get lost. You just find the sea!
After enjoying coffee and cheesecake in the square we headed back to the hotel to check in, shower and meet the others for a final good bye dinner.
Next post: More of Split, Trogir and Zadar
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