No, it's pronounced xv̞âːr

Trip Start Apr 01, 2011
Trip End Jan 26, 2012

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Flag of Croatia  , Hvar Island,
Sunday, June 26, 2011

After a week, I still can't pronounce the name of this place properly but my sister in law Tara, helpful like she is, looked up the pronunciation on Wikipedia and emailed it to us...  xv̞ːr.  Thank you, that is so much clearer now :-)  Even listening to the locals pronounce it doesn't really help because I don't think I have the correct muscles in my tongue for it to make those sounds.  I have been faking it by just mumbling "whuar" and smiling like an idiot (I have that move mastered!)  Hvar is an island on the Dalmatia coast of Croatia and is about an hour by ferry from Split.  I was all excited to go on a catamaran ferry because it looked really fast.  Unfortunately it also bounces over the tops of waves like a rock skipping across the water which made for a rough trip but I did (just) manage to keep my breakfast down and I am sure everyone sitting around me was happy about that.  We arrived in Hvar, not a moment too soon for my liking and found Gordana, the lady who we were renting an apartment from, waiting for us at the dock.  After a quick drive of about 600 meters, we were at the apartment and Gordana offered us some refreshments of fresh lemonade, candied orange peels, fresh figs and almonds all of which she grew either in her yard at the apartment or at their property in the village down the road.  We had never seen fresh figs before and I had just assumed that they were only ever eaten once they had been dried, but they are very good when they are fresh.  There are actually a lot of fig trees growing in peoples yards around the town as well as olives, grapes, capers and various citrus fruits. 

The Dalmatia coast of Croatia has almost 700 islands and of those, 66 of them have some sort of settlement on them.  Hvar is one of the larger of these inhabited islands and the total island population is just over 11,000 people.  There are a number of other islands that are very close to Hvar and we can see 4 of them from the balcony of our apartment.  One of the islands we can see from our balcony just seems to have a small restaurant/bar on it and a donkey who hangs out on the island.  A couple of the other islands are quite close together and form a bit of a protected bay so there are a lot of large yachts and sailboats that spend the night there before continuing on the next day.  On the topic of yachts...  We have seen more massive yachts in the week we spent in Hvar than I could have ever imagined.  These things are immense and I found out that you can rent them for anywhere between $31,000 a week for the "little" 60 foot yacht up to $910,000 a week for a 258 foot monster with a crew of 26 (fuel costs not included).

Since the rental yacht prices were well outside of our budget, we decided to book a day trip on a boat that took us out to a couple of different small islands that had caves on them.  Both caves were in the water and the first one, called the Green Cave, had a large opening that we could swim into.  Once we were inside the cave, there was a small hole in the top of the cave that let sunlight in, creating a bright green ray of light through the water.  Unfortunately we don't have a waterproof camera and you could not see the effect of the light coming in to the cave from the entrance so I don't have a picture of it.  We swam around in the green cave for a bit then headed out to the second cave, the Blue Cave.  We were not able to swim inside the blue cave which had a much smaller entrance so we grabbed our camera, switched to a small boat, ducked down and went in.  The Blue Cave has an underwater opening on the side of it and sunlight shines through the opening causing all of the water inside the cave to glow blue.  We had lunch and wine on the boat, and then stopped off at the beach on another small island to swim a bit more before heading back to Hvar. 

In the town of Hvar, there is a Benedictine monastery where the nuns make delicate lace decorations out of the fibers from agave leaves.  This one monastery is the only place in the world where agave fiber is woven into thread and made into lace.  Each lace item that the nuns make is unique because they use no patterns.  When you go into the monastery, you are not allowed to take any pictures however I did find a picture on the Internet that I have included below.  

Another cool thing that we saw in Hvar was an old fortress that was built on the hillside above the town.  The walls around the fortress come all the way down the hill on two sides of the town and the fortress above was used until the late 19th century as a military fort.  The best part of the fortress was the dungeon in it which had stalactites forming on the ceiling and creepy little cells with tiny windows that have a wonderful view of the Adriatic sea below.  Imagine the torture of not just being locked in a dark dungeon but having your only view of freedom be a bright blue sea just a few hundred meters down the hill.  It might be enough to drive a person crazy!

We spent a week in Hvar and since it is a relatively small place, we were not in a big rush to see everything right away, we paced ourselves and would explore a bit more of the town each morning, then go for a swim, have lunch, find a shady place to read for a while and head back to the apartment for supper.  The beaches are similar to Split where they are either "pebbles" (AKA big sharp stones) large slabs of rock covered in algae and spiny sea urchins or cement piers so, cement piers it is!  We have heard that a couple of the islands out in the bay beyond Hvar have nice beaches on them but for a quick swim to cool off, we were more than happy to jump off the piers so we didn't head out to the beach islands but I guess with 700 islands along the coastline, we can't visit them all :-)

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lydija dahl on

Actually we grew up pronouncing it HVAR - each letter phonetically and my parents grew up in the country :)

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