I woke up early the next day and in the quietness that enveloped the hostel, I had something to eat in the terrace enjoying the stillness of the city at such an early hour. It was very peaceful that early in the morning as I walked myself to the docks of the nearby port to catch the ferry that will take me to the island of Hvar.
Now Hvar is sort of a party island and my Croatian friends weren’t really excited about me visiting but I kind of had to. See, the next location on my itinerary after Dubrovnik was Split and going there by land meant crossing the boarders with Bosnia & Herzegovina and given the restricted Schengen visa I had on my passport, I was reluctant to do so! And with the lack of direct ferries to Split I needed the layover in Hvar for a night or two.
The forecast for that day wasn’t promising, it was gloomy and grey. It rained most of the way and that got me worried about how the weather will be during my two-day stay. Surprisingly, it was sunny and breezy when the ferry dropped me off at the port. The cobble stone walkway, the shops and cafes, the palm trees, and various shades of blue added to the zesty feeling that was piling up inside of me once I stepped off the ferry. I walked myself to my accommodation and for the millionth time, the regret of over-packing loomed over me. The hostel greeted me with a shady hammock and the nice owner made it up for checking me in late by offering me with a free towel. Not that I minded waiting for my bed to get ready on a hammock 😀
Hvar, being the island that it is, is quite big and there are few things to be done around it if you can manage to find a proper means of transportation that is not public. I don’t know how to drive a Vespa, or any related “vehicle”, so I wasn’t planning on going anywhere far. I was simply staying in the town of Hvar for my short stay until I take the next ferry to Split. While being on an island meant that most popular activities during day time would be beach related, I wasn’t tempted to spend the rest of the afternoon by the beach under the scorching July sun. The heat was getting to me by that time and I couldn’t conceive the idea of more sun and heat. Therefor I decided to nap for a couple of hours in the comfort of the cool air-conditioned room and then go for a walk and a nice dinner later on.
Trg Sv Stjepana or the St Stephen Square was a walking distance from the hostel. So a couple of hours before sunset I walked myself there. There is nothing much to see there—just a massive number of cafes, restaurants, shops, and bars but the square is where you can find your way up the hill to the Fortica. The citadel was built by the Byzantines in the 6th century but it was the Venetians who started building the current fortress in 1278. It was later renovated by the Austrians in the 19th century. It is quite a hike to reach the top of the hill and into the fortress, takes around an hour give or take, not really difficult but a tad steep. The castle may not be that impressive but the views from up there are amazeballs. I had a full and uninterrupted view of the town, the port, and the Pakleni islands which were all shimmering under the golden rays of the setting sun. I stayed up there for more than an hour or something taking in the views from every possible angle.
I was getting hungry by the time I walked down the hill and into the square, so I went straight ahead to Dalmatino where my host suggested I should have dinner. I have taken pride in always being able to find a table for one almost anywhere, one of the perks of traveling solo I believe, but not that time unfortunately! It was dinner time, it was crowded everywhere and without previous reservations it was almost impossible to find somewhere to eat. So long were my plans for a nice dinner, huh? I walked around trying my best to figure something out and when my trials went unsuccessful, I walked myself into the nearest bakery, bought a sandwich for dinner and a few pastries for next morning’s breakfast. I sat in the square eating my sandwich while enjoying the night buzz of the town and since I’m not into partying, I picked myself some stuff for the next day and started walking back to the hostel. Spending some time swaying over that hammock with a book didn’t seem like a bad idea at all!
I woke up early the next day hoping to go on a day tour to the blue and green caves but unfortunately the weather wasn’t in my favor. Alternatively, I decided to spend the day by the beach but only after I get some laundry done first 😀 And what’s a better place to wait for laundry till it is finished than a shady hammock? I grabbed my book and happily waited for my laundry swinging on that hammock till it was time to put my clothes on the line to dry. Mission accomplished, beach time.
The recommendation I got from my host was to hop on a taxi boat to the island of Marinkovac, which is part of the gorgeous Pakleni islands to enjoy the beaches there and that’s exactly what I did. I grabbed a taxi boat from Riva, booked a round ticket and within a matter of minutes I was stepping foot on the island. I must admit I was quite reluctant to go to the beach and swim after the unpleasant experiences I had a week earlier in Corfu. Luckily, I encountered the total opposite in Croatia. Intuitively I tried to find a commodious spot, which was quite impossible given the fact that it was the month of July, so I kept on walking till I reached Mlini beach. It wasn’t that commodious but it was gorgeous. The rocky shore with the tiny rocky island a couple of meters ahead of the shoreline and all those shades of greenish blue waters swept me off my feet!
I found myself a shady spot, packed my valuables in a dry tank, and went for a swim. The water was so transparent that I was able to see clearly the bottom of the shallow sea where I was bathing. It reminded me of the clarity of the sea in Taba, one of my absolute favorite places in the Sinai Peninsula. I swam to the nearby rocky islet, walked the whole round of it and before I swam back to the shore, I took a quick dip in the deep deep-blue water of the back-side of the tiny island. When I was in Corfu, going for a swim was so very uncomfortable every single time. Aggressive unwelcoming looks followed me around that I never felt at ease and always left right away once I got out of the water. That day in Mlini beach I felt I was hardly being noticed, as if I wasn’t even there. People passed me by and didn’t even glance at me, they were indifferent to what I was wearing and that was totally reassuring. I stayed for like a couple of hours by the beach snacking, reading, and waiting for myself to dry. I only had to pack up and leave just to catch the last taxi boat back to Hvar and not because I was compelled to take a hike!
Back to Hvar, I was super hungry, so I thought I would give it another shot with Dalmatino. Bingo! I got lucky that time, woo hoo. It wasn’t even 5 pm yet and I didn’t face any problems finding a table for one without any previous bookings. I ordered a local dish, Adriatic tuna steak that came with a hummus base. And while waiting for my dish, I was offered dried bananas and homemade bread with olive oil as appetizers. For desserts I ordered Granny’s homemade cake with walnuts and ice cream, those cakes were indeed homemade by granny and were absolutely delish.
All stuffed up and ready to walk the food off, I started on my way to the second beach of the day which was Hvar Beach. It took me a little less than an hour to walk to the beach but I enjoyed strolling by the seaside in the company of trees on either sides of the road. By the time I was there, the sun shied itself away behind the clouds and a grey shade invaded the scene. It was an hour or so before the sun, or what left of it, to set and despite the cold feel of the water I decided to go for a quick dip. I didn’t walk all the way to the pebbly beach, instead I found my way through the rocks that led to the water and using a couple of rusty steps I delved into the deep blue. It was such a refreshing swim after the walking I have been doing over the past hour and I was able to enjoy the clarity of that perfectly blue water even when day light was almost fading.
After that quick and refreshing swim, I walked myself back to the hostel ready to call it a day. I had an early ferry to Split the following morning so the idea of an early night sleep was very appealing. I showered, packed my stuff and decided to spend the couple of hours I still had on my hand swinging on that hammock outside the hostel building for one last time.
I ended up spending those couple of hours conversing with some of the guests; an avid Australian traveler and a group of Dutch young men, and our host. We talked about travel, what we do in our lives and Croatia. I was offered a free ride to Split by the Dutch guys but flattered as I was, I had to decline the proposition despite their insistence. We said goodbye and wished ourselves a good night around midnight and as some of us were on their way to bed, the rest were heading out to party. We were in Hvar after all, an island famous for partying. But hay, partying is not my scene at all but I was able to enjoy my time. You can still have fun even if you don’t want to go club-ing every night so don’t let that fact discourage you.
My transit time was coming to an end. Split, here I come 🙂 ❤