We left Rome in a mad dash and somehow just made it as usual onto our train. After the stress, the three hour train trip from Rome to Ancona was bliss- we sat back and relaxed after all the running around and chaos of Rome. As much as l enjoyed Rome l don't think l could live in a place so overrun with tourists, smog and chaos! I think it was thanks to Ryan that we had such an amazing stay.
But now l am out of the chaos and surrounded by sun and the Adratic sea and beautiful sandstone buildings with red tiled roofs dotting the hills filled with olive trees and budding lavender bushes. I am in Hvar- one of the Dalmatian coasts and Croatia's prettiest islands. To get here to this jewel of the Adriatic we had to catch the overnight ferry from Ancona in Italy to Split (Blue line ferries)- the main port of Croatia
. That was an experience in itself! Walking up to our booked chair seats (which you can get for half price with a student card) we were surrounded by Italian men who had already taken all the lovely looking couches. So l went exploring and found on the other side of the massive ferry that there was a room full of couches. So me and Sarz dumped our bags on two of them next to each other and didn't move for the next couple of hours. Luckily a few more backpacker girls from Australia and Canada came in to save us from the dodgy Italian men walking past and making sneer remarks and also the constant Madonna and Anastasia soundtrack on in the background. We talked to them for awhile and then l got changed, hopped into my silky sleeping bag liner, put my eye mask and earplugs in and fell asleep unbelievably quickly! I awoke after an amazing nights sleep on the most comfortable couch l have ever been on! Bring on the overnight ferries!!
We arrived at Split at 7am and went and brought our tickets to Hvar straight away (which was only 33 Kuna for a spectacular two hour trip- bargain as that equals about 7 Euro!). I love the Kuna, especially because l didn't budget so well for this trip! We ate our Croatian raspberry pastries, strong coffee (you need A LOT of sugar in your coffee here!) and yogurts on board the ferry as we sat outside underneath the canopy enjoying the morning warmth and admiring the turquoise coloured water along the way
. (Our ferry left at 8am and arrived at 10.15am). Arriving at Stari Grad (the main port on Hvar island) we had to catch a bus to Hvar town and onboard we met some fellow aussies and a guy from Melbourne called Matt who we arranged to meet up with the following day to perhaps rent a boat and tour around the island.
So we caught our bus (which meets all ferries, just look for bus saying HVAR on the front) which took us up into the mountains, past spectacular coastal views and into the lovely town of Hvar. I had arranged pre booked accommodation in all our Croatian towns we stayed in however at this time of year it is very possible to just turn up and take up one of the apartments the old ladies at the ports are offering. Our apartment owner arrived, greeting us by saying to me "you the Chief? You pay? You Pyman???!!" and whisked us up the hill to our little two bedroom amazing apartment with two balconies overlooking the Hvar hill and castle! It was just perfect for us and was amazing to have a double bed each- l felt like l was back in my bed at home in Melbourne and it made me a bit homesick for a moment. Leaving our apartment we walked down and past the sandstone stairways and houses to the main town (only a 5 minute downhill walk) and walked around the pretty harbour side for a couple of hours and around the coastal track trying to find a nice beach not filled with topless old women or construction workers
! It felt like the whole of Hvar was under construction- and would soon be the 'it' place in Europe to visit or have a Summer house. We were lucky l think that we came when it was still reasonable untouched and natural- you could see the new seaside villas were going to be very beautiful but also very out of character to the islands old world charm.
Sarz and l settled onto a concrete slab which seemed to represent a jetty, threw out our towels and sunbaked and swam in the Adriatic for the next couple of hours (in which l taught Sarz how to float!!- was pretty funny when she could finally do it she was so excited!). Sarz floated the afternoon away on her back in the water and l was just happy swimming in the sea for the first time in at least six months! Its was wonderful! We were so happy- laughing, talking and talking and a crab even decided to join in the fun as he climbed up my leg!
We walked back into town past amazing flowering cactus's and bought our dinner at the supermarket to cook back at our apartment. We had a feast of cannon bear cheese, a huge loaf of bread, egg noddle pasta, napoli sauce and white and milk chocolate kit kats for dinner! We ate our feast as we sat on our balcony watching the locals walk up and down the hill, children meeting and gathering on a corner side and a lady ironing on her balcony in the setting sun
. It was lovely- we ate too much and decided to have a long hot shower to relax. Only l had accidentally turned the boiler off (which our apartment owner had failed to tell us looked like a light switch- as they all do in Croatia) so we had cold showers for the night until Sarz realised what l had done. I was so relaxed for the first time in months! We were sitting on my massive bed and l was telling Sarz how l was dreaming of watching a movie in English on the TV in my room- but so far the TV had only been playing Croatian language channels and shows. We decided to give it one more try and switched on the TV and shouted with joy in unison when we heard Gweneth Paltrow speaking English before our eyes! We didn't really understand what was going on in the movie or really like it but we were happy sitting on the double bed, eating our halved kit kats, drinking coffee and just relaxing! We sat, laughed and watched for a couple of hours before having a blissful nights sleep!
We awoke after a lovely sleep in, ate our museli and cannon bear and vegemite sandwich which we also made for lunch and headed off into town to meet up with Matt and his friend Laura (from NSW). We decided after trying to bargain with the rent a boat men that we would hire a small 5 horsepower white boat (350 Kuna for a day). We all hopped in all having no idea where we were really going or how to drive the little thing
! Matt drove very cautiously and slowly out of the harbour, though it was hard not to go slow in the little boat! We knew one thing- we were in pursuit of the only sandy beach in the islands and Hvar area which had been suggested by the locals- called and located on Parmajama Island. Unfortunately none of us read the map very well (which didn't actually pin point the beach) and we ended up driving for 40 minutes past our destination, getting completely soaked in the water due to the huge choppy waves we were riding against in our tiny boat! We decided after all getting grouchy and soaked through that we would give up (after having driven for over 2 hours!) and we decided to drive back into a harbour l had driven into about 40 minutes earlier. We anchored (which was a funny task in itself as we really had no idea what we were doing) and tied up our little boat up and sopping with water we were all glad to get off the thing and be on dry and solid land! We were about to walk in pursuit of this sandy beach we had been told about, only to discover upon asking some sunbakers to discover that we were standing on it!! We couldn't believe that this was the so called sandy beach- the main beach destination for all tourists to Hvar!! Yes it was pretty and the colour and clearness of the water was spectacular- but the sand was almost none existent! There were two tiny coves of it- with most or half of each cove covered in pebbles. We walked to the other cove which we claimed as our own for the next three hours.
We sunbaked on the sand with the water lapping at our feet as the tide was so far in, but we didn't want to sunbake on the pebbles! We all went swimming in the beautiful clear water surrounded by people sunbaking on their giant yachts and we ate grapes (thanks to Laura!) and our sandwiches whilst having skimming rock competitions in which Sarz won and l came second...l didn't even know that l could skim rocks!! It was such a relaying afternoon, but we had to return on our slow little boat much to the disappointment of us all as we had l think all fallen in love with this little sandy/pebbly cove!
It had been an adventurous and fun day, we returned by 3.30pm to go back up our sandstone cliffs one more time to collect our bags and make our way to catch our ferry to Korcula on which lam now smoothly travelling on. I feel tired- but happy, salty yet sun kissed and completely over the moon that lam in Croatia and about to stay in another apartment and beautiful island called Korcula for two nights!