Chapter 51: Drunken Island Hopping

Trip Start Oct 01, 2003
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51
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Trip End Nov 2004


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Thursday, September 2, 2004

The Friday morning ferry to Korcula left at 8am, which was unfortunate but manageable. The boat was enormous and full of backpackers, which made me feel like I was back in Thailand! The trip was freezing and windy at first due to poor seat choices, but when we moved to the back deck and the sun came out it was pretty pleasant. At 11 we arrived in Korcula town on Korcula island, and a young guy at the marina told us he had a 3-bed room for 100 kuna each. We followed him through the town, which was immediately appealing. Korcula is much smaller than Dubrovnik (and less crowded), but it has plenty of tiny alleys, medeival buildings, cool town walls, little shops & restaurants, and clear blue water.

After settling in we walked around town, which took all of 10 minutes. Then we bought some bread, cheese, wine, and Barpy (poor man's Nutella), and sat by the water for a late lunch. The sun felt great, so we decided to go looking for a beach; after walking around a couple of bays north of town we gave up and perched ourselves on some rocks for some tanning action. Lunch was so good that we decided to sit on the town wall and repeat it for dinner, except this time we had a few extra ingredients (like ham and olives) and four times as much wine - one liter bottle each. At $2 per bottle, and with bottle caps instead of corks, the wine was predictably awful, but it didn't matter much after half a bottle. The sunset was amazing, and we ate far too much before heading back to the room to watch "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" on the TV in our room. I thought it was intriguing, even though my bootleg copy was poor.

Saturday we took the island bus down to the town of Lumbarda for a day of beach-going and wine-tasting. The beach was a little disappointing; it had brown-ish sand and too many unattractive old topless women, but at least it was a beautiful day and we got lots of sun. The wine-tasting was a good experience. We walked through the grapes to a little apartment/house, where a middle-aged Croatian woman greeted us and sat with us for 1/2 hour, even though the place wasn't technically open. She proudly told us about her family's wines and brandies, and seemed interested in our backgrounds. Scott and Rebecca each bought a bottle of the highly-regarded local white wine varietal "Grk," and I picked up a small bottle of sour cherry brandy. Slightly buzzed already, we grabbed some pizza in Lumbarda, made quick work of another liter of wine, and took the bus back to Korcula. That night we hung out in the one happening cocktail bar in Korcula, and I made small talk with a friendly Polish girl. I hope it was a two-sided conversation... she spoke to me in German, and I responded in German, but I'm not sure I actually understood her or made any sense. Scott and I each had 3 Long Island Iced Teas over the course of the night, which at least meant we slept well.

We had a 1:30pm ferry on Sunday to the island of Hvar, so we hung around Korcula town killing time until then. I didn't want to carry my brandy bottle to the next island (my backpack is heavy enough!) so "killing time" for me meant slipping cherry deliciousness into my orange juice at our breakfast cafe. Between that and Rebecca smuggling in yogurt and meusli, I'm sure we were the cafe's favorite customers. It was another 3 hours to Hvar, but the boat was much nicer than the last one, so we relaxed in the sun and Rebecca and I stalked a cute miscellaneous Euro-guy. The ferry dropped us off in the town of Stari Grad on Hvar, so we took a bus across the island to pretty Hvar town. The sisters who run the only hostel in town (The Green Lizard) were there to meet the bus, and they had just enough space to squeeze us in that night. It was a hike up to the hostel, but the place was great: clean and friendly with a decent kitchen and some good patio tables.

We met 4 English people from our bus (Joe, Dan, Jo, and Louise) and hit it off with them, so we all went down to the marina for a good pizza dinner. Hvar is a booming little tourist town full of international yachts, kitschy shops, and winding alleys and stairways. The waterfront is a great place to see and be seen, and the main town square, pebbly beaches, and old fort on the hill behind town all add up to a cool place to kick back for a while. Sunday night we bought some cheap vodka and sat out on the patio playing drinking games ("Kings" and "I Never") and listening to music. "Group DJ" was my first unofficial role while in Hvar ("token gay boy" being the second role), and I spun tunes on the CD player and iPod every time we congregated for alcohol. After we finished everything we'd bought, we moved the party down to the waterfront and hit a couple of bars. Two more (cute!) Brits joined us at the first bar, and then we all moved to Carpe Diem, which seemed to be the center of the action in Hvar. There was some kind of goofy fashion show (including breakdancers) going on that night, the cocktails were really expensive, and there was barely room to move... but the mood was great and we had a fun time until we crashed around 4.

Monday we woke up late, put in a few hours at the beach, and then explored the town for a while during the afternoon. The night was basically a replay of the previous one, with a few new characters thrown in: Mika from Finland, and Russell from Bristol, England. Both had excellent taste in music. We went to a seafood place for a real non-pizza sit-down dinner, and started on the wine early; just like every night, we eventually wound up at Carpe Diem until the wee hours of the morning.

Scott, Rebecca, and I had intended to stay two - maaaybe three - nights on Hvar, but we ended up staying four just because we'd met such a fun group of people and the town was such a chill and atmospheric place to relax. All the details of the stay would bore you, so here's a quick round-up of some other highlights: Rebecca found a small snake up at the fort, we went swimming in the Adriatic, we learned to mix the nasty cheap local red wine with Coke to make it drinkable, Joe wore pink leggings at the club, we had the best pina coladas ever at Carpe Diem, the rest of the group rented a boat (I saved money) for a day, and we discovered that the best hangover prevention is a big slab of "Balkan Pie" (cheese, noodles, pastry, grease) at 4am.

This morning we somehow pulled ourselves out of bed and took a one-hour catamaran at 7:45 to Split on the mainland. Split is a maze of clothing and jewelry stores and little cafes that only serve drinks; we walked around for about an hour looking for a place that served breakfast. Eventually we gave up and settled for lunch. Basically we're killing time today (hence the update) until we can take the 9pm train to Zagreb. From there Scott and I will head off to Ljubljana (say it 3 times fast), Slovenia, while Rebecca will carry on to Istanbul. I'll probably hit Salzburg next en route to Munich, where I'm meeting my friend Ben on Monday. We'll be running around together all next week, so it might be a while until my next update... in the meantime take care of yourself!

-Tim
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