Our Croatian road trip takes us from Split over to the beautiful island of Korcula. An island made for lazy days and lazier evenings.
It’s another bright and sunny morning in Croatia. The clouds and drizzle of our first week seem a lifetime away as we prepare to leave the mainland behind and at last get out onto the islands. I looked at a whole bunch of islands when planning this trip, but kept on coming back to Korcula. And when I spotted an apartment which would give us our own private beach, I was sold. Tickets for the ferry were purchased online – I had a mild panic about missing one of the two daily ferries from Split to Vela Luka – and today is the day of our move.
We check out the parking situation. Whilst the car park is still ominously full, it looks like we may have room to manoeuvre as long as no-one comes in and parks behind us. Just to be on the safe side, Man from Hotel arranges for one of his friends to park his golf buggy type vehicle behind our car, so that he can move it when we’re about to leave. Truly nothing is too much trouble for the staff at Villa Diana. They wave us off as we drive the short distance to the ferry port.
We have a good idea which dock our ferry will leave from but the signs seems to disappear as we get closer. A lady in a baseball cap rushes over to help, enquiring “Vela Luka? Vela Luka?” at us. We confirm that, yes, we are certainly looking for the ferry to Vela Luka. She guides us into a queue of cars…and then frantically starts washing our windscreen – at which point we realise that her kindness and assistance is going to come at a cost. Mr Fletche scrabbles around for some small change whilst I check that we are actually in the Vela Luka ferry queue. We are.
We’re there in plenty of time, and my fears about the ferry being full and not letting us on are unfounded. In fact, we soon discover that we could quite easily rattle around the huge boat and not see another soul. Mr Fletche guides the Fletchemobile #3 onto the boat and then we join the queue of people all blindly following each other up the stairwell where we all emerge blinking on the top deck. We lose the trail of people behind us, and descend another stairwell, where we find a nice big shady area below deck. With Wi-Fi. Bonus.
The three and a half hour journey passes surprisingly quickly, and soon we are carefully driving off the ferry and joining the road which will take us from Vela Luka all the way across the island to Korcula Town. The drive is all inland, with only the occasional flash of sea to our left or right. It really doesn’t feel like we’re on an island. Eventually though we emerge with the Old Town in front of us, jutting out into the sea with the Peljesac Peninsula beyond.
Our apartment is reasonably easy to find thanks to our host’s e-mailed directions. Bero shows us down the steps at the side of the house and a beautiful bay with crystal clear waters comes into view. This will be our back yard for the next couple of days. And it is beautiful. Our studio apartment is light and bright, with a double bed facing towards the glass doors. We can see the boats sailing past from the comfort of our bed. Bero brings us bread, ham, cheese, cherry tomatoes and wine to enjoy on our terrace. That’s some welcome. He also guides us to a short cut down to the town, cutting through the gardens of the neighbouring Hotel Liburna. There seems to be another short cut to the right; but Bero is not keen to shown us that one. We will explore this short-cut in the next couple of days. Let’s just say that this leads to a clothes-optional section of the beach…
Korcula Town is beautiful, and does indeed bring to mind a miniature Dubrovnik. There are tiny alleyways to explore, a photographer’s dream as Mr Fletche soon discovers. Each is prettier than the last, and most end with a glimpse of the incredible turquoise sea. It is however extremely windy, leaving half of the bars and restaurants on the one side of town almost completely empty as tables, chairs and parasols are battened down. Even Bero has said that these winds were unusual…We find a slightly less windy spot at the ice cream bar Caramel, and we have our first drink in Korcula (welcome wine excepted) overlooking the sea. We have fallen in love with this island already. Despite the wind. We make a quick stop for supplies at Konzum before returning to our apartment. This is the first time since Dubrovnik that we have a proper kitchen and a space for us to enjoy an al-fresco breakfast. Our supplies, unsurprisingly, include beer and bananas.
Cupboards stocked with breakfast goodies, we take a little time to relax. It’s been a whirlwind of a holiday, moving from one place to another, trying to fit everything in and see everything we “should” be seeing. So it’s nice that for the next two days we have pretty much nothing planned. We can actually have time to unwind before returning to the rat race. I snooze in the apartment, and sleepily watch the boats bob up and down in the water. Mr Fletche is testing out the loungers in our “back garden”. We eventually leave our peaceful little home and head back down into town. It’s only a 10 minute walk – although coming back up it’s a deceptively steep incline.
All the restaurants are very busy tonight. Partly because a) no-one is eating in those on the windy side; and b) Croatia are playing Spain shortly and everyone is wolfing down their food so that they can find a prime spot for the football. Wanting to eat reasonably quickly and cheaply tonight we opt for Pizzeria Doris by the marina. The food is simple but nothing special – I opt for the grilled pork and chips – but it hits the spot and and we’re out in time to find a spot for the football. It seems like the whole town is out, but we find a spot perched on the edge of a table outside Café Bar Servantes. We can sort of see the TV in the distance if we squint, but we’re able to soak up the atmosphere anyway. However there are a succession of people who insist on dragging their high stools in front of our table. The chap at the neighbouring table spends most of the match gesticulating and tugging at people’s clothing to get them to move. Some do. Some shrug. I spend the time I can’t see the telly looking at what appears to be a small deer playing with the cats on the grass. No-one else seems particularly phased by this so I think I may be hallucinating. Croatia win, everyone is in high spirits, and we decide to head back to our lovely apartment.
We wake up to the natural sunlight pouring into our bedroom. Mr Fletche prepares a breakfast fit for a king – there’s ham and cheese, cereal and fruit, and even toast and jam, all eaten on the terrace overlooking the bay. I declare this the best breakfast ever. The temperatures have crept up again, and are nudging 30 degrees at 9am. If we are going to do anything even remotely energetic today, then we need to do it early. And this is how we find ourselves on a leisurely 6km walk to Lumbarda. It seemed like a good idea when we started. It didn’t seem like such a good idea an hour later, when I’m a hot, dehydrated and slightly sunburned mess. It doesn’t help that we appear to have walked up into the hills above Lumbarda, and then have to scramble through (what seems like) people’s backyards to get down to the seafront. Once we’ve settled down for a coffee at Caffe Bar Maestral though it all seems worth it. We’re not ready to move anytime soon, except to meander on down to the beach and settle down on the rocks watching the paddleboarders go by.
Walking back is not an option, although at this point in time we’re not sure exactly what our return options are. We saw a bus once but never saw another one. Occasionally a water taxi arrives, and we consider spending every last penny we have on arriving back in Korcula town in style on a speedboat. We mull it over during a particularly strong cocktail at Prvi zal. We opt for the regular four-wheeled type taxi, which deposits us quickly back in Korcula town, in air-conditioned bliss, for 100HRK. Just as the bus also arrives. We opt for the lunchtime special at Fish n Go, 80HRK for a huge portion of fish, chips and a drink. It’s most welcome after the energy we’ve expended this morning.
It’s another lazy afternoon. Not much can be written about three hours lazily surfing the internet, flicking through a book or snoozing, spread-eagled like a starfish under the air-conditioning which has been ramped up to Arctic blast. We head down towards the Zakerjan promenade for food; despite the prime location we had seen some restaurants offering well priced set menus when we walked past yesterday. We opted for Cupido, where we had wine and beer, salad, bread, a swordfish main course and tiramisu type dessert – all for about £30. This was my favourite meal of the whole holiday. The location, the food (especially the dessert…) and the service were all fabulous. And all for what you’d pay for pub grub back home. After last night’s football, when the whole town was out, tonight seems particularly quiet. We watch the Italy v Ireland match at Arka, where we are the only people in the place for much of the match. In fact, the waiters hover around, snatching our glasses away as soon as they are empty…they’re clearly hoping for an early night. Until a huge group of Australians turn up just as we’re about to leave….
Our heads are turned on the way back to our apartment by a bar offering glasses of white wine for 8HRK…who turns down a glass of wine for £1?
Coming up next – Our final day in Korcula and our final day in Croatia 🙁