Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Korcula and Dubrovnik.

We were looking forward to a return to the island of Korcula. After so many years how would it have changed and what would we remember? We arrived in the afternoon as it started to rain - talk about making us feel at home!  The rain was over in a matter of minutes, however, although for a while the sky was overcast. (Trusty Brits, we had our macs at the ready!)


The explorer Marco Polo was born here in 1254 and a sign down this side street pointed to Marco Polo's tower. We climbed the rickety stairs to see what we could see.
A view out to sea
and the fascinating remnants of the house next door.
We could have climbed the much taller tower of St Mark's but chose to stay at ground level and admire the stonework.  Korcula was well known for stone masonry and carving, using the clean, white stone quarried from nearby Vrnik. Beautiful examples are all about the town.





At night this simple church and Marco Polo's tower were spotlit and looked like a stage set.
We walked along the waterfront towards Put Sv. Nikole to see if we could recognise the house where we had stayed in 1968.

But memory failed us. Time for a cooling drink
and to enjoy looking back at the town in the evening light.

As the sun set
it just got better
and better.
The town felt different again in the evening, the buildings theatrically lit and street musicians entertaining the tourists; we listened to both classical and modern music as we strolled around the old walled town.
The stone paving is polished by centuries of use.
The following morning we sat sail for Dubrovnik where our holiday had started,


with plenty of time on deck to lie in the sun or to loll in the shade.
In Dubrovnik it was HOT. Even a downpour of rain did little to lower the temperature. The wet stone paving in town was treacherously slippy and I had to take off my sandals and walk in my bare feet. A cruise ship had docked and the streets were crowded with people. I found it far too busy to be pleasurable.
In front of the church of St. Blaise was a statue of Orlando, nephew of Charlemagne. Not even an image of a troubadour could lift my spirits - and he didn't look too happy himself!
People were walking the old city walls, defensive structures built between the 8th and 16th centuries.
We explored the narrow streets
then walked to the Porporela to catch a breeze from the sea. There we saw a marvellous sight, something of a performance. A man and wife came along with their old labrador dog. The dog went down to the water's edge and barked to his owners as they undressed getting ready to swim. The man told the dog to start swimming without them and it did. But when the man got in the water he and the dog swam together in perfect formation. When the man dived deep into the sea the dog swam in a circle above him until he resurfaced. It was fantastic to see. When they got out of the water the man put on his wife's large straw hat with it's flowery, floating band and sat happily in the sun - someone quite happy to be the centre of attention! I wish that I had managed to take some photos that properly show what a special relationship was on display.
We ate in town and returned to the harbour in the dark. Our boat wasn't there! What to do? Passports and travel documents were in the cabin! Calm down, walk around a bit. Oh, there it is, they've moved it. What a relief!
Last night on board. A knock on the cabin door, Come on, group photo! (Have I mentioned that everyone else on the boat was French? Au secours!) There should be twenty four of us. Not everyone was there, some must be in bed.
On our last day the captain invited us to have lunch with the crew. Thank you, Captain!
We had a calm sea throughout our holiday. Thank goodness, because the captain's orders were fixed to a wall of our cabin warning us of 'big wives and wind' in rough weather! 
(Photo of the boat from the holiday firm.)
Then it was time to leave Dubrovnik for our flight back home. 

(Aah, looking forward to a bath and our big bed!)

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Hvar


What an attractive place Hvar is, with it's castle overlooking the town and it's many narrow, winding little streets.



We wandered along the waterfront on our way to the museum

where we saw these beautiful amphora, the photos displayed on the wall behind showing where they had been found on the sea bed.
What a lovely patina of sea-life left on the pottery surface!
Himself was delighted to find the work of one of his favourite artists on display.
Then he was horrified to discover that it was full of woodworm, with wood dust on the floor demonstrating that the beetles were still busy eating! You can see the line of light-coloured holes all down the centre of the carving. He went to the ticket office to inform them and to suggest immediate treatment. Oh, they knew all about it, they would get round to it in the winter when the tourists had gone. What! It would take only a few minutes to take the carving from the wall and inject it with fluid. It's such a beautiful object, I hope they get their act together soon.
Otherwise!
The museum garden was a tranquil place to be, shaded by trees and with a good view out to sea.
The old stone table is inscribed with board games which must have entertained generations of local people.




Other stone fragments are on display in the courtyard
and ancient tombstones in the cloisters.
Around the town, as on the other islands, the Venetian lion is much in evidence
and the main square in town is very Venetian in style,
a good place to see and be seen!
In the evening we climbed up to the castle. It was steep. By the time we got to the top there wasn't much of a view. Our boat's down there somewhere!
We left Hvar in the morning after breakfast, first having to wait for those boats tied up alongside us to stow their ropes and leave.
Each night in harbour we were stacked like a multi-decked sandwich, with long ropes looped through each boat tying us all together. 

If you are late into harbour you have to jump from boat to boat to get ashore. If you are first in then all the other holidaymakers trail through your boat. Not exactly ideal! On other holidays the boats were moored end-on (not a nautical term!) to the harbour side so that you could just hop ashore, and you were also assured of a far greater degree of privacy on board.

Once we are at sea the door of our cabin can be left open for a bit of fresh air.
Then it's just a question of sitting back and enjoying the passing landscape 

as we travel towards Korcula.
(Did I mention that the shops were rather nice in Hvar? What do tourists do? This one bought a t-shirt from the Blue Gallery.) 
What does it say?
It's from Modesty Blaise - my era!
"I have something for you, 
something that will fix your mood
....Indigo."

At least, that's what the shop girl told me.