Splitting Split

Trip Start Jun 08, 2010
Trip End Aug 26, 2010

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Flag of Croatia  , Hvar Island,
Tuesday, July 6, 2010

This morning, I got up late and departed from Split. My destination was the nearby island of Hvar. The only way to reach Hvar was to take a ferry. I planned to take an 11:30am foot-passenger-only catamaran. However, when I got to the ticket booth at 10:30am, I was told the tickets were sold out. I had tried to buy a ticket the day before, but I was informed I had to buy it day-of. I suppose I could have gotten up early, but I knew that ferry wasn't my only chance to get out of Split, so I took the risk (although I didn't think it was risky at the time).

My new options were wait until the 3:00pm catamaran, or take the 11:00am car ferry. (Incidentally, Croatians like to call the car ferry "the ferry" and the passenger ferry "the catamaran" and get confused if you try to refer to the latter generically as a ferry.) I had seen all I needed to see in Split for now, and didn't feel like hanging around on the pier for 4 hours, so I bought a ticket for the car ferry.

The reason the car ferry wasn't my first choice was it arrived on the opposite side of Hvar Island from the town I needed to go to. So it involved an extra bus ride. Plus, even without the bus ride, the car boat was slower than the catamaran so the 11:30am catamaran would beat the 11:00am boat. In the end, I decided it would be more entertaining to spend an extra hour on the sea and some more time on a bus than to sit around Split harbor.

The ferry ride was pleasant. I sat outside, but in the shade. Usually, a breeze was blowing to keep things cool. Inside the boat, there was a small cafe serving food and drinks that were, surprisingly, reasonably priced. Occasionally, I napped, but usually I watched the scenery. Even though we were crossing to an island, there were so many relatively large islands in the area that it felt more like crossing a sizable bay. At just about all times we were surrounding by land in every direction. Of course, the land was non-contiguous, but the islands overlapped so I couldn't tell that by looking.

The bus ride was also fairly scenic. Hvar Island, at least the part the bus drove, was full of very rocky hills. It wasn't barren, but the vegetation was mostly scrubby trees. There were also quite a few cacti and other plants I associated with the desert. The sea around the island was a deep blue, and looked pretty clear. Someday I'll plan an island trip where I stay for a week and do a bunch of swimming and snorkeling, and probably learn to scuba dive or sail. There were some interesting sounding excursions from Hvar, but I wasn't going to be there long enough to do them.

Unlike getting to Hvar, finding my hotel was more hot and frustrating than pleasant. I stayed in a pension, up on a hill over town. My first attempt to locate it ended in failure. Even though there was only one street it could have been on, there were no name labels and no house numbers on the street. After a few passes of dragging my luggage back and forth along the road, I went back into town and asked the tourist bureau to call and get better directions.

The owner agreed to meet me at the top of the hill and take me to the house. I had no chance of finding it otherwise. The pension was indeed unlabeled. Even the placard marking it as a pension was not visible from the street. In fact, the only door was around back. If I had gone to plan C and knocked on every door on the street labeled as a pension, I still wouldn't have found it. Grrr. This is why I usually go on the internet and look at pictures when I change my hotel, but I had forgotten to this time, probably because I was in my Split hotel for so long I got rusty.

I was pretty tired after all that, especially since Croatia was still Texas-hot, but I did manage to find the energy to climb up to a small fort above the town. Construction began on the current incarnation in the 13th century with funding from the town's salt wealth. The fortress was called Španjola, probably because a team of Spanish engineers assisted with the project in the 14th century. It took a while to complete. Compared to Klis Fortress, it was not impressive. What it did have going for it were some great views of the harbor and a surprisingly nice dungeon (the cells had windows).

I'll see more of the town tomorrow, although I did grab a few pictures today on my way to my pension. I'm only staying one night in Hvar, but I've really got two days since the ferry (catamaran) to my next stop, Korčula. doesn't leave until 6pm tomorrow. I've already got a ticket.

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