Friday, 25 July 2014

Friday Skywatch - Korcula sunset.

We visited Korcula in 1968, when it was then in Yugoslavia, and loved it. We'd been married for just over a year and had been working apart in different areas of the country for the last three months of the year because Himself had started a new job in the west country, on the strength of which we had bought our first house.  I was working out my notice as a lecturer in drawing and analytical studies at a small art school in the Midlands. We had very little money (and very little furniture in the house!) but felt that a celebratory holiday was due. We caught the train to Venice, my favourite city, and after a few days there got on a ferry that took us down the coast of Yugoslavia. We slept on deck and were able to hop on and off the boat as it stopped at the various ports. We stayed in several places, a memorable time on the small island of Drevnik, but it was Korcula that remained in our memories as being a lovely place. A return visit was long overdue. Last week, for our wedding anniversary, we returned.  It did not disappoint. Just look at the sunset it gave us!

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

All at sea!

We've just returned from a week pootling about the Croatian coast, our route marked in red on the map above. The cabin was very small. Himself was like a cat in a bag; when he was in the  bathroom things clattered to the floor, he couldn't sit in the top bunk bed without hitting his head - yes, we were in bunk beds on our wedding anniversary! The food was basic. Okay, that's the end of the moaning, the islands were delightful and the sea was warm.
DAY 1. We left Dubrovnik in the morning
traveling up the coast to Slano,
going first to the museum

where we saw these beautiful old gravestones.

Then we had a wander round the town, looking at what was growing

and peering through a crack in this beautiful door
to see what was inside.
It wasn't the only place that was derelict in Slano.
We were told that the town was attacked during the Balkan war and the small beach-front hotel bombed out of existence. A monstrously large replacement now ruins the shore line. I hadn't the heart to photograph it.
We got on bikes to explore.

All went well until I discovered that my brakes didn't work! A change of bike and we were off, following the purple route.

There were lovely carvings tucked all over the place.

I do like exploring!
DAY 2 we set off for the island of Mljet,

stopping en route for a swim in the sea. 
This looks a good spot.
Weigh anchor!
The western part of Mljet is a national park with extensive Aleppo pine forests and two lakes, small and great, connected to the sea by canals. There are cycling and walking trails and we choose to walk. We fell into step with a young man from Czechoslovakia as we walked to a viewpoint over the Great Lake, Veliko Jezero. He was very pleasant company and we had an interesting conversation. The small island of St Mary with it's Benedictine monastery was visible through the trees.

Then we walked down to the lakeside.
The small lake, Malo Jezero, is several degrees warmer than the sea, so I had to have a swim. We found an isolated spot and swam in the warm, green water.
Then it was on to the small boat that would take us to the island.
Photos are at a bit of a list as by now I was swaying gently to the movement of boats!

It felt very serene on the island, just a scattering of people quietly looking around and enjoying the atmosphere.

At the back of the church there was this beautiful minstrels' gallery.

Our boat was berthed overnight in Pomena
where the sunset
just got better
and better.

DAY 3 We arrived in Split at dusk
to another lovely sunset.
The city was noisy and very crowded.

Some of the sounds were pleasant, such as this group of traditional dancers performing on the Riva outside the old fortress walls.

The women's costumes were lovely but they moved too quickly for me to get a proper photo of them.
We wandered into the old fortress area to explore.

The buildings were dramatically lit,
and more music was being performed, with people sitting on the stones to listen.
It looked beautiful.
And it looked just as good the following day. 
(Did we get any sleep? Not much. The 'Yoof' of Europe and Australia obviously had a great time at the disco on the harbour front. It seemed to go on all night!)

The produce in the fruit and veg market looked good

and there were equally delicious looking things in the fish market.

But most beautiful of all were the old fortress walls,

all equally lovely.

The spotlight posts rather got in the way.
I photographed these elegant young women,
 then noticed the house in the background.

I walked up some narrow steps to get a photo of these Venetian style windows
and found myself at the entrance to the tiny church of St Martin located in the cavity of the west wall above the Gold Door of Diocletian's Palace.
This space during the time of the emperor Diocletian (284-305) was a narrow corridor, used as a guardhouse, with small windows on the south from which the guards could see anyone entering the palace. The later windows on the north side date from the Middle Ages.
We were welcomed by a diminutive, white-clad nun who showed us a beautiful icon and surprised us by saying that she had once lived in Chicago. She gave us a blessing as we left. This little place was the highlight of my stay in Split and I could so easily have missed it.
There is a mixture of architectural periods all about the city,

right next to this shabby little window
an Art Nouveau hospital!
Back on the boat we waved 'hello' to Rainbow Warrior.
Next stop the island of Hvar.