Yes, folks, Team Sebo have been checking out Hvar Town’s reputation as The Party Town but, before I spill the beans on all that, I suppose I should fill you in on how we actually got here! Hvar Town is, not surprisingly, the main town on Hvar island – no medals for working THAT one out! So, it being an island, one has to get a ferry over. We had two choices – drive to Split and get the ferry to Stari Grad (2 hours, cost, to our reckoning, was an inordinate amount of money PLUS we would miss out on the Malarska Riviera) or drive down the coast to Drvenik for a much cheaper 1 hour crossing to Sućuraj, on the southern tip of Hvar island which would allow us to enjoy the coast drive down AND see more of Hvar island on the drive up to our campsite just outside Hvar Town in the north of the island. A lot of driving but, to our minds, well worth it. Downside of this being that Team Sebo HAD to be off our pitch at the ungodly hour of 9am on Sunday morning if we were to make the 1pm (as the Jadrolinja website informed us!) ferry (the next one being after 5pm and we didn’t want to be arriving too late in the evening). So it was that we packed everything away on Saturday night and hauled ourselves out of bed, even foregoing breakfast (!) and we were, indeed, emptied of waste, refilled with freshwater and paid up before 9am! A record for Team Sebo!
We also needed to do a food shop, top up Sebo’s wine stores and replenish Harley’s food bin before getting to Hvar as stuff would be more expensive there than on the mainland. I’d put in the co-ordinates for a Plodine supermarket on the outskirts of Split which, on the map, appeared to be on our route – unfortunately, it turned it not to be so, involving a 15 minute detour and, when we got there, there was a height restriction on the car park! Grrrrr! No matter, there was a Lidl next door, without a height restricted car park, so we popped in there, did our food shop but, unfortunately, no boxes of vino and no suitable food for The Pup! We hit the road again but, by this stage, time was getting on and our ETA was getting a tad too close to ferry departure time for our liking. Nonetheless, we had to stop at Konzum further down the road and managed to get both dog food and wine boxes, in what must’ve looked like a “supermarket sweep” to any unsuspecting bystander! Despite CoPilot’s constant bleating that we were driving in excess of the speed limit, we managed to make up a bit of time and were confident that we’d make the ferry……until we hit roadworks!! Uuuuuugh! 15 minutes it took us to get through them and, once again, we were convinced we’d miss it. Despite all this, we had THE most amazing drive down through the Malarska Riviera – stunning coastline, pretty villages, pine clad hillsides, winding roads – it has the lot! Unfortunately, by this stage, we were driving due South, with the sun dead ahead and, with me sitting in the “middle of the road” as it were, I couldn’t get any decent photos of it! Hopefully, I’ll get them on the way back up from Dubrovnik if we opt to return by the same route. Just take my word for it – it was stunning!
As the minutes ticked by, we became slightly hopeful that we would, actually, make the port and get chance to buy the ticket before the ferry departed. On arrival, with less than 10 minutes to spare, we couldn’t see the ferry actually in the harbour! A chat with the ticket office guy revealed that the next ferry was due to depart at 1.30pm, not 1pm as per the website timetable! Never believe what you read on a Croatian public transport company’s website……clearly their timetables are merely guidelines and not meant to be taken as read!
Anyhow, we joined the queue of cars waiting and watched the ferry dock. We were quite excited – and a little nervous- as folk we’d spoken to had warned that one has to reverse on to ferries here. Gulp! We needn’t have worried – this particular one was a Ro-Ro ferry so it was easy enough. No tricky reversing manoeuvres required, thank goodness!
35 minutes after boarding, we were driving off at Sućuraj, intending to park up and have a bit of lunch before heading up the island road. Bearing in mind, we’d had no breakfast, other than a pecan pastry each that we’d grabbed whilst in Lidl – more importantly, I had had no coffee and, by this stage, was in the throes of acute caffeine withdrawal! We cleared the village, confident that we’d find a lay-by in which to stop and have lunch and coffee – Sod’s Law kicked-in! Not a single lay-by or place to stop did we find for ages! Unbelievable! We wended our way over the island, marvelling at the beauty of it all, whilst trying to avoid oncoming traffic taking bends on OUR side of the road – one guy we met on a particularly bad bend was clearly over the white line and, as Roy jammed his foot down even harder on Sebo’s brake pedal, we both closed our eyes and, with a collective sharp intake of breath, waited for the impact! By some miracle, yer man managed to avoid us! To this day we don’t know how but thank God and all the saints in Heaven that he did! Last we saw of him, through our rear view camera, he was tootling off down the road like nothing had happened! Thankfully, a few kms further and we found a village, with a car parking area! Lunch, finally and, more importantly, COFFEE!!
The rest of the drive was, thankfully, uneventful and, as we skirted our way around Hvar Town, and up the steep hill up to the fortress, then back down what seemed to be an even steeper downhill towards Camping Vira, we realised that our “big hill” from Ciovo to Trogir paled into insignificance compared to what lay ahead for us walking to Hvar Town! Or maybe we were just tired and it just appeared that way. We’ll worry about that later and, anyhow, the campsite runs a shuttle service to town – or so they say!
We chose our pitch at Camp Vira – we had plenty to choose from since the place is pretty much empty – fab view over the bay and so peaceful, the only sounds audible being the gentle lapping of the waves and birdsong. Not a cheap site though – at €30/night it’s the most expensive we’ve ever stayed at but, since it’s the only one here, we have no choice, Have to admit, I was a bit miffed when the pleasant young man on Reception, when asked about the shuttle service, confessed, albeit very apologetically, that it only runs in high season due to lack of demand. Heyho, looks like we’ll be walking so!
The weather has become much more stable over the last week or so – with temperatures rising markedly. Downside of this? Both Roy and I are now walking buffets for any mosquito within a 50km radius and we have the huge, itchy, red spots to prove it! As Monday morning dawned, we had breakfast whilst counting how many bites we’d managed to “collect” through the night. I managed to wreak revenge on two of the blighters which I found indulging in a post-prandial nap above our bed! Time to break out the insect repellent, antihistamines and steroid cream, preferably before we both need blood transfusions! Unlike the infamous Finnish mozzies which, being the size of a B52 bomber with a comparable “engine” sound, give you at least a tiny chance of getting them before they get you, their Croatian counterparts employ stealth mode – much smaller and quieter and, seemingly, with the ability to deploy some kind of Harry Potteresque Invisibility Cloak, they’ve been and gone before you know it, just leaving a calling card requiring antihistamine/steroid cream treatment! There’s one in here now, as I’m writing this – I can hear the beggar but damned if I can see him (or her, let’s not be sexist!)
After breakfast, we ventured down to the campsite beach – not a sinner around, other than a couple of guys painting a kayak or two and one fella painting the camp bar (no, that’s not open either!) so we blatantly ignored the “no dogs” sign and threw Harley’s ball in the water. He had a great time – so inviting did the cooling water appear that we threw caution to the wind and joined him! I have to admit, for me, it was more a case of cooling my throbbing mozzie bites and it worked a treat! Unfortunately, we only had one pair of neoprene beach shoes between us (Roy’s!) and, with the abundance of sea urchins lurking beneath the surface, it’s really not wise to venture in barefooted – as Roy discovered when, like the gent that he is, he kindly gave me his shoes to wear, resulting in him requiring tweezers to remove the urchin’s spikes out of the soles of his feet later! Mental note to make the purchase of my beach shoes a priority!
We were discussing a walk into Hvar Town later in the afternoon – and pondering the schlepp up the “even bigger hill than Trogir”- when Jukka phoned from their Lagoon 450, aka “Smile” (what a fab name for a boat?) to say they were heading into a marina just around the corner from Hvar Town then getting a water taxi (how exotic!) into town later and would we care to join them for dinner at a very nice local restaurant of his acquaintance, renowned for it’s Dalmatian specialities. Is The Pope Argentinian??? Hell, yeah! Needless to say, showers were taken, glad rags donned (this IS The Party Town, after all!), Harley was emptied, fed and watered and only too happy to be allowed to get into bed inside a cool, shady Sebo.
Attempting the “bigger hill than Trogir” was one thing – attempting it when wearing long trousers (in Roy’s case – I was lucky enough to be wearing a dress!) in searing heat without a breath of wind, was another! I’m sure if we were to do it again, in cooler weather, it wouldn’t have been a problem but, by the time we managed to reach the top of the hill, we were both saturated with perspiration and gagging for rehydration! Having said that, the view over the town, it’s harbour and The Pakleni Islands, from the fortress was breathtaking and made the schlepp worthwhile.
We had a meander around the town, marvelling at it’s stunning architecture, location etc. We even found a shop selling my-size beach shoes at an affordable price! Result!
Then, we did what all thirsty travellers do whilst waiting for their dinner dates to make it ashore – we found a waterfront bar advertising 50kn cocktails and indulged ourselves in our favourite pastime – no, not drinking – people watching! Well, OK, we did have a drink as well – sure, we were dehydrated after all that walking, weren’t we?? Gotta admit, there’s something uber cool about sitting on the waterfront, wearing a flouncy summer dress, Summer Breeze (a heady mix of Finlandia vodka, grapefruit juice and blueberry juice – served in a very large glass too!) in hand, watching the small cruise ships lining up to park side by side in the harbour and listening to the somewhat over-loud rantings of various English holidaymakers! Soooooo many English voices here! No slick yacht parking to watch here though – the harbour is already full to bursting! Pity about that!
Thankfully, Team Smile eventually made it ashore and, following another Sea Breeze and comparing notes as to where we’d all been and what we’d all seen (in their case, Krka National Park and an uber good value purchase of 5kg of mussels from a local mussel man for 100 kn (€13) which fed all eight of them for dinner, making the four man hours they’d spent scrubbing and prepping the things before cooking kinda worthwhile!
Dinner beckoned and we headed off up the steps to Konoba Menego, where we were given a warm welcome by the waiter who, by the way, spoke absolutely perfect English, with an American accent (I’d swear they pick it up from the numerous American TV programmes they show on Croatian TV!). We’d actually looked at the menu here on the way down into town, ignorant to the fact that Jukka knew the place and had booked a table – small menu, “no spaghetti, chips or Coca Cola” is their USP- and it looked an interesting place so we were delighted when it turned-out to be our eatery for the night.
It didn’t disappoint either! We were brought huge platters of food to be shared between us. First off, cold platters – octopus salad (yes, we both tried it and yes, we both LOVED it! We’ll be ordering it in future!), hake, sardines, shark, prosciutto, sheeps cheese, goats cheese, olives (they were to-die-for!), salads, anchovy and tomato flatbreads then, just when we thought we were full, the hot platters came out! Tuna and shrimp gnocchi, slow-cooked goat, chicken with rosemary and white wine, polenta. A veritable feast and all of it locally produced and cooked to perfection! Carafes of red and white wine were refilled when necessary (quite often in fact!) and a jug of homemade lemonade was produced for the non-alcohol drinkers (of which there were only two – the teenagers!) and then came dessert…… a collection of bite-sized samples of the house desserts, along with their specialities – “drunken figs” (absolutely scrumptious) and honeyed goats cheese (which Roy assured me was equally scrumptious). All in all, a mega feed with excellent service. Cost per head? €30! Unbelievable value!
Naturally, since we were all now well and truly “in the holiday spirit”, the evening didn’t end with the meal. Jukka headed back to Smile with his daughters and his in-laws whilst the remaining members of Team Smile headed for Kiva Bar to continue the festivities. A hip place, playing good music and rapidly filling-up with a much younger crowd than us – I’m assuming that our fellow revellers were working in the resort or on the numerous cruise boats stacked-up against the harbour wall, judging by the time they were starting their night out. Anyhow, more cocktails were ordered and we had a good dance (like you do!) Photos ARE available on Facebook for those who really need to see them……Reality, along with a sense of parental guilt, set-in eventually and we bade our final farewells to Team Smile and headed for the taxi rank, it being a more sensible option than trying to zig zag our way back up the hill and down the other side on an unlit perilous road (despite the 150kn the taxi driver wanted for driving us a whole 4km – more fool us for not haggling!)
Not surprisingly, we’ve had a lazy day today – not even venturing down to the beach to try out my new beach shoes. Actually, I tell a lie – we gave Harley a good going over with his de-shedding comb to give him a thinner coat then Roy took him down for a swim. Other than a bit of washing and hoovering of Sebo then spending half the afternoon trying to sort out our Internet connection (which we’d paid extra for here and which refused to work for several hours this afternoon!) with the pleasant and extremely patient young man on Reception, we’ve done nothing but lounge around in the shade of our awning – it hit 27C this afternoon so I think we were justified in taking a day off.
We’ll hit the road again tomorrow – gonna try stay in Stari Grad just down the road from here, though the only campsite there went bankrupt last October so we’re not sure if it’s actually open! Our back-up plan is Jelsa, where we have a couple of options. Meanwhile, I’m off to try seek out the mozzie that’s been buzzing around my head – I can still hear him but I can’t see him! Invisibility Cloak? Wish me luck!