In January when I was arranging this trip I really wanted to fit in some time on the islands somewhere. There are so many (1200 I think?) but in the off season the ferries run less frequently or not at all, and I wasn’t sure what we would find there. Seeing how the Croatian coast really shuts down for the winter, I’m happy with my choice. Even the mainland towns are silent and closed.
But a visit to Croatia isn’t complete without a trip to the islands so when our friends Masha and Rob gave us the name of a friendly boat tour company in Trogir we thought about it hard. It was a bit expensive for our budget ($600 for a private day trip on a cruiser.) But we had the time and it did seem crazy to get all the way to croatia and not be on the ocean. (As I write that sentence it seems even crazier.)
We said ‘yes’ and booked yesterday with Providenca Charters Marija the co-owner met us near the boat, just a few feet from the Fortress Kamalr. She’s adorable and very pregnant. We agree to meet for drinks later after our day on the water.
Although it’s chilly, it’s not cold. We stay inside the cabin mostly though. We chat about Emma’s college choice – Boston University or Fordham. We are visiting both again later this month. Lily talks about her plans to spend junior year in China. She’s going to start learning Mandarin next year. We’re a family.
At Amanda’s suggestion we all left our phones behind at the apartment. (I keep mine for emergencies, but it’s in the bag.) It’s kind of an experiment. We of course remember when travel was completely disconnected from anything.
Shit, I sent telegraphs back to the USA from the USSR in 1989. We can’t turn back time and don’t want to, but sometimes phones are too easy and unnecessarily distracting.
He does his best to smooth out the ride. We’ve all been in far worse, but she gets spooked easily. She buries herself in her book, Harry Potter “The Half Blood Prince”.
It’s kind of grey but we expected that. We’re just happy it’s not raining. The first stop are the Paklini islands, a small group
of islands across from Brac and Hvar the big ones. There is some light construction going on – cement, chains, rope, rebar.
They are clearly getting ready to open. We hike a paved path through a cacti garden and down to a cove that has a beach. It’s pebbly sand at best, not the soft stuff, but it’s a cute area. We grab some sand for the sand collection we have at home. (Sahara, Gobi, Iceland black, two tone from Tunisia, Black Hawaii, pink Indonesian and a few others I can’t remember!)
Hvar town is a lot more quaint that I expected. From the Lonely Planet guidebook, I expected something like Cancun. It’s the biggest island town of the Dalmatian coast but it’s not like that. Yes, we are in off-season, and I’m sure it gets packed with young, barely-dressed, mostly drunk tourists, but there is no way this place gets as trashy as the Yucatan.
Right now it’s a sweet little place with a few coffee shops and a couple of different restaurants that serve the exact same menu. We walk through the main square and then up the hill to the impressive fort above the town.
The Hvar harbor with it’s little island is just perfect. There is no one at the fort charging the entrance fee and we see just a handful of mostly Asian tourists roaming around. The sun and blue sky come out making this a gorgeous day – one we will remember.
After a nice lunch of the same basic fare (risotto, pizza, greek or caprese salad), Spiro takes us to Milna, an even quieter town in the afternoon. Amanda and I roam alone along the docks. A few kids and some older folk walk by. They seem like locals, I dunno. The sun starts to set and we get that beautiful orange glow.
When we get back to the cafe, the girls are sleeping in their chairs. Amanda wakes them by tossing each a Kinder Bueno. (Lily has announced that she intends to eat a Kinder Bueno on every day of this trip.)
Amanda and I move to the rear seats and let the sun warm our faces. We get hit by a few drops of salt spray here and there but the ride is much calmer on the way back.
It’s officially the start of the season. Marija and Maro tell us that we are the first customers of the new season. They are locals, born here on the tiny island in a hospital that doesn’t exist anymore. It’s fun to meet them. Thanks Masha and Rob! Thanks Maro and Marija!
We grab a few pizzas from the ;late night open restaurant and return to the girls. We eat pretty ravenously after a great but long day. We all are so glad we went.