Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Croatia 2011

The trip to Croatia was incredible.  The beauty of the architecture, cleanliness of the country, quality of the food, friendliness of the people, and the striking contrasts of limestone cliffs and deep blue waters, all made for a wonderful adventure.

View of Hvar looking down from the fort
We took many, many photos and about 9 GB of video during the journey.  We divided the video into sections to make it a bit less overwhelming.

All the photos, arranged by city are posted on Photobucket - http://s1177.photobucket.com/albums/x355/EricEpstein/HSA%20Croatia%202011/ 


We arrived into Trogir by taxi from the Split airport. The town is an island that was once a walled city built in the 3rd century.  You can find the history here - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trogir  

Satellite view of Trogir

The Town Square after dark.

Ancient wine press

Clock at the entrance to the city

Ancient well in the city

We had dinner at the Hotel Trogir but stayed at the Trogir Palace Hotel that night.  Many of the others in our group stayed at a hotel nearby. 

Dinner of grilled squid at the Hotel Trogir

The next day we took a water taxi to Split, the second largest city in Croatia.


It was built about 200 BC and later the Roman Emperor Diocletian (305AD) built his palace there.   I can't do the history justice in a short summary, so here is the link to much greater detail - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Split,_Croatia

The Palace was quite incredible and we had a wonderful tour of it from Maria our tour guide.

Actors in the Palace

Eric and Bonnie along the waterfront

Some of the group, while waiting for the ferry
After touring Split, we picked up the taxi to the Sunsail marina in Kremek, checked out out our boats and then took a taxi to Primosten, a neighboring town, for dinner.  We slept on the boat in Kremek and bought supplies the next morning.

At about 10am  we cast off at headed to the island of Solta for our second night on the boat.

A summary of our first two days is on this YouTube link:


We arrived in Sesula Bay, Solta about 3pm.  We had thought they had a couple mooring balls for us to tie up to, but what was there were hybrid Med Moorings with long lines to the shore.  The restaurant tried to accommodate all the boats that arrived, and squeezed over a dozen boats on a set of moorings meant for perhaps six to eight.  It was quite a sight to watch the guy on the dinghy act as a tug to spread boats apart so more could fit in.
Squeezing into the moorings

A look down the row of boats

A view from the hill of most of the boats.  More were to the left.
We ate dinner at the restaurant that supplied the moorings.  The food was very fresh and good and we had a blast.

We left Solta at 7am to get an early start for Hvar.  Our hope was to tie up downtown, but we were told it gets crowded early.  The winds were calm again and we motor sailed all the way.


When we came around the turn from the channel into Hvar harbor, we were amazed at the beauty.  Even after seeing Trogir and Split, Hvar was quite a sight.

For a history of Hvar, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hvar_(city)

We decided to try to see if dock space was available on the main quay.  We came in between two large motor yachts - one of which had to be about 200'.  The harbor master let us in, and we and Komoa moored next to each other right on the main walk in front of the town.  It was really a blast to be there.  If we had not left Solta so early and arrived just about 10am, there probably would not have been any space.

Backing into the Mediterranean mooring along the town waterfront

Lunch in the town square

The long narrow walk up to the fortress on the hill

The fortress above Hvar

View of Hvar from the highest point above the city
That walk up to the fortress and back wasn't too bad, although it was pretty hot out.  Fortunately there were many nice Gelato ice cream stands in the town.

We had lunch in the main square and like all the meals we had, it was very good.  This time it was Italian food and the pizza dough was extraordinary.

For dinner, we dined at the Park Hotel's restaurant which had a great view of the harbor.  That night we walked around the streets and enjoyed the sights, music and people watching.

We provided the people passing with a short American musical compilation for the Fourth and had the boats adorned with red, white and blue banners.

Back on the boats, we enjoyed home made cheese cake dessert.  It rained late that night for a couple hours.

Here is a compiled video of Solta and Hvar.

We left about 9:30am to head for Lastovo.  It has a population of about 750 and is really just a small fishing village with a few restaurants. There is one dive shop as the surrounding waters boast an ancient wreck with urns still on the site, and a WWII German Torpedo boat.  

We tied up at the Restaurant/Bar (called Konoba in Croatian) named Augusta Insula.  They, like many waterfront restaurants in the smaller villages offer free mooring for the night if you eat in the restaurant.


They were able to squeeze about seven boats along the waterfront docks at the restaurant.  Lobster, which was their specialty, was kept in traps on the dock.  Here is the link to Trip Advisor (http://www.tripadvisor.ca/Restaurant_Review-g1175144-d1529818-Reviews-Augusta_Insula-Lastovo_Island.html) on the restaurant.  

We found the lobster pasta, octopus and everything else to be excellent.  The price was very reasonable and even with a 30 minute power outage to the entire island the dinner took only the normal three hours of a Croatian dinner.

Getting our lobster for dinner

They offer a place to sit on the waterfront and decent bathrooms

Boats moored Med style

Everyone at dinner

Much of the cooking is done outside

View of boats from the restaurant

Mark and Joelle

Everyone making their way to dinner

They also supplied electric for the boats

The first view of the city from the water was stunning.

We left Lastovo at about 9am and made the long run to Korcula were we had reservations at the ACI marina there. 

We stopped at a cove by the Raznjic light, about 3/4 of the way to Korcula for a swim and to explore the shore.  The shoreline was like a moonscape.  

Mark snorkeled while Joelle, Bonnie and I paddled to shore in the dinghy.
We met up our friends on Komoa II at the marina.

ACI Marina viewed from the walled portion of the city.

Boats moored off of the city wall

Mark and Joelle

Eric and Bonnie on the top of the tower

Supposedly the place where Marco Polo set out on his explorations

A bust of Marco Polo

A view from the top of the city wall

Hundreds of years of war, rebuilding, and growth have created unique structures in Korcula.
We always found great places to eat - with equally good views.

The entrance to the old city.

The docks for the local boats.
We found a large grocery store and a market in Korcula, so we stocked up on food, beverages, and some souvenirs. 

Here is a compiled video of Lastovo and Korcula.  

For more information on Korcula's history, here is the Wikipedia link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kor%C4%8Dula


We set out from Korcula about 10:15am as it was a short sail to Pomena.  We arrived a couple hours later at 12:45p at the restaurant 'Nine' (pronounced Ne na') which offered the customary free dockage for eating there.  Komoa II had beat us there as we spotted a large pod of dolphins and got distracted for a while.  We got some great video of them.

Komoa's crew was eating from a large pot of mussels and spaghetti.  So we felt inclined to order the same thing for the six of us.  The mussels came right from the bags hanging on the end of the dock by our boats.

BTW, all boats must close their holding tank thru-hulls when in port.  :-0

This symbol means cable crossing, do not anchor.
I have video of one cable crossing just a foot or two under the surface.
We hiked to the National Park to see the Fourth Century Basilica built as an island on one of two inland tidal lakes.  The hike was nice and the park was extraordinary.  We took a water taxi to the Basilica.

Inside the Basilica

View of the larger lake from the Basilica
 After the hike was all went for a swim off of the dock by the restaurants.  I did a bit of snorkeling which is on the video.

We combined ingredients with Komoa II and they made some great Painkillers which we drank before dinner.  We ate at Nine again and had a variety of wonderful seafood and pork dishes.

Here is the compiled video from Pomena and the cave on the eastern side of Mljet.


We left early from Pomena, about 7:15am so we could do a bit of sight seeing along the coast of the island of Mljet.  We were told the day before about a cave along the Adriatic side of the island.

We and Komoa found the cave about halfway down the island.  It was a pretty wild guess as to the spot, which Greg calculated from a topography map on his iPad that show the only walking trail to that part of the coast.

BTW, each of the two boats had an iPad and Navionics software on them.  I used it almost exclusively over the boats chartplotter as it could zoom in far more than the chip supplied with the boat's plotter.

View of the cave entrance from inside

I guess this is what happens when you get stuck in the cave during a storm
We arrived in Lopud about 1:15, and after making a pass of the waterfront, found a place shallow enough to anchor.  The bottom of a small area off of the town is sand and grass about 45' deep.  The rest is rock and is over 100' deep.

We took the dinghy to town and walked around.  There were quite a few ferries on the docks, and many tourists.  

We walked along the water front and up to the large fort/church on the north side.

Here is the link to more info on Lopud http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lopud

Many homes and restaurants used grape vines to cover outdoor seating.

In most towns we saw walled in areas to moor small boats.

Much of the Lopud waterfront was converted to rental units for tourists.

The hotel LaFodia was a unique structure and did not fit with the rest of the town.  It was the only large hotel we saw  outside of Dubrovnik that did not blend with the rest of the architecture.
 Here is more on the hotel: http://www.lafodiahotel.com/

Above the hotel along the waterfront was a large piece of land for sale.
Ancient ruins included...
The town has no grocery store and does not allow cars, except for the trash trucks that come in by barge to collect garbage.

We had decided to eat dinner aboard to finish up all the food we had.  To start, we collected up all the rum and combined with what Komoa had, to reduce what we had to carry off of the boat.  The happy hour did not end until well after dark, and we never did get to dinner.


Lopud is a short hop to Dubrovnik.  We left at about 8:15am and headed directly towards the city.  Rather than go directly to the marina, we sailed by the city waterfront and by the harbor entrance to get a good look at the city from the water.

It was a magnificent site.  The large city rising above the Adriatic was huge and beautiful.

Dubrovnik as we sailed past.
The six of us as we came about in front of Dubrovnik harbor.

A view from the upper wall.

The Northwest side of the city.

Dubrovnik Harbor

Our friends sailing into the harbor.
We spent the day sightseeing and took a lot of photos and video.  Our photos are on Photobucket at: http://s1177.photobucket.com/albums/x355/EricEpstein/HSA%20Croatia%202011/

We turned in the boat the evening before it was due and stayed on board for the night.  The next day we checked into the hotel and toured Dubrovnik again.  Bonnie made reservations in a very nice hotel with a great view of Dubrovnik.  To our surprise, the hotel was located adjacent to where the fireworks commemorating the start of the Summer Festival were to be held.  We ate dinner on the water front restaurant and watched the fireworks from the best vantage point I have ever had.

The partying in Dubrovnik that night was pretty wild.  When we woke up at 4:30am to get ready to head to the airport, the music and dancing was still going.

It was a tremendous trip and we had one of the best vacations ever.

((Video of Dubrovnik to come soon))


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