We sailed a windy path to Skardin and found it is a delightful town. The ACI Marina is just a few hundred yards away from the main square of town by path and bridge.
Swans sail in the harbour and in the waters nearby. They are regal, graceful and just as cheeky as seagulls.
We needed a view fix and walked up to the fortress, which is not very steep and took photos of the town from the hill. The town is small and a mix of old and new buildings.
It is the pick-up point for the boats that take you to Krka National Park. People either drive or come by boat to Skadrin to take the boat up to Krka and its incredible waterfalls and system of paths through rushing water and ponds under a roof of pines, chestnuts and figs.
The falls are majestic, a waterfall at one end (see in the photo) and a clear pool running into cascades. We walked up to the source and various look out points. There are rushing flows of water and the paths take you under a canopy of chestnuts, figs and pine. Pine and flowers and figs are all aromatic, very fresh and uplifting.
There are also historical artifacts – old churches and mills, rushing water or mill ponds everywhere you turn.
Lelsey, James and I wandered for hours.
We finished up by taking another excursion boat to the Franciscan Monastery on the man made island of Visovac. It was a small island, entirely picturesque and we enjoyed the grounds as well as the building. They only give you thirty minutes which is simply not enough. We’ll leave you with a photo of this tiny jewel.
Sibenek (pronounced Shibenik) is noted as the first Croatian City, because it was founded by the Croats in the 10th Century. We left Trogir with a 4 hour sail in front of us. There would be a stop in Primosten for lunch and a swim. With the exception of a day near Hvar, we hadn’t seen so many boats sailing and motoring, as we saw between Trogir and Sibenek.
We moored stern to on the Sibenek town quay and went wandering around the medival city. As with many towns there are a large number of churches. We really related to the Cathedral of St James. It was beautiful, with a gorgeous statute of Micheal the Archangel over the entry. More remarkable are the 74 faces on the Apse, who are said to be the realisation of the common man but ‘My Croatia’ says were the collective faces of the 74 prominent Sibenik citizens who refused to contribute to the building fund.
Lesley, James and I climbed to the Monastery garden of St Lawrence, which was very lovely. A classic medieval parterre garden, with herbs and medicinal plants in the shape of a cross. It was beautiful and peaceful.
We walked through a cemetery to get to St Michael’s Fortress, we had followed a monk in brown robes, but he disappeared and we couldn’t see how he entered the Fortress – the Da Vinci code sprang to mind. Sibenek was heavily bombed in the 1991-95 war, but it is recovering.
We were up early for the short trip to Skradin, through the beautiful, narrow channel which winds up the River Krka. Much of this part of the river is covered in mussel and oyster farms. See the photo for an idea of Eating Local.
Arriving at Skradin, we were left without a doubt that we were in the right place.
There has been a change in Croatia; the weather is changeable and the crowds seem to be diminishing as well.
Its been busy, Milna was very quiet but enjoyable, but we were too lazy to blog. Split was busy and our friend, Lesley joined us for the next sector of Mercier’s Voyage.
In Milna, we stayed at Marina Vlaska which is at the mouth of the harbour going into Milna. There were several benefits to staying here. Great showers, beautiful swimming beach right around the corner ( there could be no swimming in Milna Bay, too dirty) and the Illyrian Restaurant, which along with Croatian food, did a great Thai Curry and Sate. We did walk into Milna town, with its great chill out bars, but Marina Vlaska was the place to be.
From here it was an easy trip up to Split, which was a busy town but not as busy as the week earlier. Italian schools went back on Monday and we haven’t heard nearly as many Italian accents since then.
On Thursday evening, we visited the crew of Nick of Time, Gloria, Alan and Bill on board their very plush Moody 45. We hear about life in Adelaide and the competitive evening card games, where sheep stations are on the line. Before dark, we jump back into the zodiac and set a date for dinner Friday night.
On Friday morning, we take the zodiac out for a spin and do a complete tour of the Bay of Vis for a fish eye view of the beaches and houses along the water front. Some houses are stone walls standing roofless and you realise they would be snapped up in a heartbeat if it were on Sydney Harbour. The stone from this part of the world is a matt white, beautiful and enduring. You can see how white the rock is at each islands waterline.
Later in the afternoon, we decide to walk up the hill to Fort George, it’s a 2.5 kilometre walk up the hill to see this Bristish Fortress built in 1813. A quick aside, we see that Vis has a cricket team, left over from circa 1813 when the British introduced cricket and the locals took it up for spirited matches on the oval.
We aren’t sure that we will find anything at Fort George, just bastion walls that we can see from the water. The views would be worth the trip. We pass the turn offs for several nude beaches on the way up. The signage was very interesting.
We almost didn’t go into the Fort itself, it was so quiet and menacing. Merro being the intrepid traveller walks into the fort; so I follow past fallen wood and giant holes encased in safety nets. We turn a corner and there is a red carpet in the ruins. We follow the red carpet, seeing huge wooden doors up ahead we go further into this labyrinth to Vis’s latest Chill Out Bar.
We truly had no idea that this was here. They have music here and the young Taiwainese waitress, 19, told us that Fort George opened in June and they hoped to put in a full kitchen. It may have begun as a pop up bar for Yacht Week crews but was morphing into a inventive Chill out bar. 19 also mentioned that they have music and the views at Sunset were definitely worth a visit.
Friday evening brings Gloria, Alan and Bill back for a quick drink on Mercier and we decide to try a Trip Advisor tip, Konoba Lola’s. Twilight is fast turning into night. You walk up three stone streets via narrow laneways and stairs. You walk into a stone walled courtyard and the tables are separated in garden rooms. Here the ‘walls’ are 3 foot tall hedges of rosemary and lavender, bathed in candlelight. All the furniture seem to be charming little pieces from estate sales. The wine cooler was an old enamel pitcher. Food was imaginative, local produce and fish or beef. A gorgeous fountain in the middle hedge with a red Alice sofa – just magical.
Croatia has been a marvelous place, not the least for meeting sailors from home. We are really enjoying these pleasant interludes during our travel. We are in Brac now and looking forward to Lesley Sommerville’s visit. Friendships, new and old, are a highlight of travelling.
Wandering around the waterfront of Vis and Kut, we see pebbly, sea urchin riddled beaches. We thought it was interesting that instead of the crowded beaches of Bondi or the Jersey Shore, we saw solitary swimmers and sunbakers. We saw people in silent contemplation of the landscape and vistas.
Vis is a beautiful old town on an island near Hvar. Vis is just 60 miles to Italy and like Italy, Vis has been inhabited since about 3,000 BC. It is an island of wine growers and fishermen.
As we wandered around, we were enchanted with the azure blue of the water against the old stone buildings and the internal courtyards glimpsed through an open door.
Kut is a nearby village from which the town of Vis originated after merging with the village of Luka. Vis seems to be built on many levels, so we walk up and down hills and stairs and out towards the mouth of the bay. We see a few sun bakers becoming part of the scene, adorning the view of boats and pebbles.
We were having a late lunch on Mercier and fellow Aussies, Gloria, Allan and Bill came by to say hello. They are also sailing Croatia and have come from Adelaide. We chatted for awhile and realised that both Gloria and I are transplanted Americans thriving in Aussie soil for many years. They wandered off to their own lunch in a cafe in Kut and we wandered around looking at beautiful old buildings, gardens and churches. Exploring the back streets, we see a few more buildings of interest.
We motored over to Stari Grad; it seemed quiet. The only sign of activity are the yachts moorning on the quay. It was midday and taciturn Stari Grad seems to go home for lunch. We walked along the bay in the heat. The town is scenic but the walk toward the ferry quay is enticing. We wandered towards the shade of a pine covered path, we witnessed picnics virtually in the water.
We found a very nice cafe, under fragrant pine trees, with great music. You could jump down a few stairs and go for a swim, come up and have a shower and sit back down to your piccolo latte.
About 4PM, the town came to life and you could see its vitality return and Stari Grad became vibrant. Children, dogs and their minders were walking up and down the handsome white stoned Novo Riva, with yachts in the center of small fishing boats and giant day tripper boats. Music coming from boats and the chatter of friends enliven the atmoshpere, hard to believe that it is the same town we landed in four hours earlier.
Up at the top towards the Trig Stepjana Radica, we walk along the bay towards the market.
At the market, all the fruit and many of the veggies are covered in bees. The stall holders are stoical and set up sacrificial watermelons, so the bees will leave everyone alone but we think it is just successful in attracting more bees. Bees come back to Mercier, drunk on grapes. We take the grapes outside and send the staggering bees home.
Last night, we met up with the crew of Sarayu, Dennis, Bosjana and Caroline, the five of us went to a lovely restaurant, Jurin Podrum in one of the alleys parallel to the Quay. We talked about passages and directions, it has been great catching up with other Aussies. We are sharing the same experiences, it’s a powerful tonic.
We left Korcula early on Friday, thinking we would head over to Vela Luka for a nice anchorage. Well nice in every wind except a western Maestral.
Of course, as we are sailing the wind comes in strongly from the west, so we reassess our home for the evening. 777 harbours and anchorages is a book about sailing in Croatia and the Eastern Adriatic. The authors suggest Scedro Island as a lovely place to hide from a Maestral. We are looking for a nice quiet anchorage and so we select the bay of Carnjeni. As we approach, we mistake the bay alongside called Borova, which is very small and filled by the large cruiser that inhabited it. The autopilot guides us to Carnjeni and we find a beautiful anchorage; remote, enticing, a small beach at one end and shrubs and pines filling the shore. So natural, in fact, that we were barely finished anchoring before the boats was gently swarmed by bees and wasps. They weren’t aggressive but it was still disconcerting to have bees walking on the boat and on us. We think they like salt. Needless to say we ate indoors with screens covering every opening and our friends stayed with us til about 8:30pm, when we could finally venture outside.
The bees were back in the morning. After a quick swim, we motored out early to Hvar, along the south of the island, looking at the vertical agriculture and viniculture. At St Nedjelja, the winemaker understands the thirst sailing generates and has put in a jetty. Sailors can moor up, taste his wares and retire to their boats on the dock.
We sailed passed the beautiful city of Hvar, on our way to the ACI Marina at St Klement. We checked in and then took a water taxi to Hvar.
777 calls Hvar lively; it seems to me a great understatement. Hvar is lovely, crowded and frenetic as soon as the sun sets. There are dozens of tour boats, several ferries, many buses and each bring hordes of men and women ready to have fun. During the day they may go to historical sites, climb to fortresses and see the art in Cathedrals. After dark they swarm rather like our bees over the streets near the town quay and around the beach walk. The energy is palpable.
In fact, James and I managed to have a bit of social life in Hvar, luck would have it that Lauren Knight-Smith was going to be in Hvar and we managed to meet up for dinner. Lauren has been travelling in Croatia for two weeks so she had great information on places we haven’t reached yet. It was great to catch up and hear about her plans.
We also managed to catch up with Dennis and Bosjana and their daughter Caroline, as Sarayu managed to get a great mooring in Hvar Town Harbour. It is great to reconnect and hear about the ports they had been to and the adventures they had been having.
We opted for a quiet day on St Klements, a walk around the island brings you to gorgeous Palmizana bay, a rocky beach and several interesting restaurants.
After our energetic walk, we came back to a marina filling up with the party of The Yacht Week, the marina only a third full at lunch time was absolutely overflowing with the boats in this regatta – there are 50 of them crewed with 18 to 30 year olds. We think it may not be so quiet tonight, but perhaps more lively.
Korcula is a lovely island northwest of Dubrovnik, with a walled city fortress and history going back hundreds of years. Francesco Da Mosto did a documentary (Francesco’s Mediterranean Voyage Ep.3) including the Moreska Korcula or the traditional sword dance of Korcula. In this land narrated by its history of invaders, this story is about a lovely girl who is captured by the Black Prince and saved by the Korculean prince.
We were in Korcula on the night the Moreska was playing and had a most interesting evening. First people watching as every seat was taken in the ‘theatre’ space, the welcome by a CJ Craig* look alike MC in five languages, traditional songs sung acapella by the Korcula equivalent to the Circular Quay chorus and finally the Moreska itself. Here are a few photos.
Sparks fly off the swords, the good guys win but the interesting fact is that this is a family tradition. These men are following in the footsteps of their fathers, grandfathers and other ancestors. Croatia is a land of tradition and new beginnings.
Polace (Mljet) is a lovely harbour on a very very long island. Mljet is about 388 sq miles, comprised mostly of pine forests and a large national park.
In Polace, we went to Joseph’s Restaurant and tied stern to, we buy dinner and the mooring is free. In this case, the restaurant reminds me of a Mexican Cantina, the decor is rough and ready but the service is friendly and food is fresh and simply cooked. We can easily walk all of Polace which is in a national park and has its own Roman ruins of an ancient Palazzo.
We were moored next to a large gullet and it was amazing to see this ship ‘park’ next to us, with apparent ease.
We left the next morning and only motored for about 40 minutes, when we pulled into a protected bay almost enclosed by islands. It was too deep to anchor but we could have a swim because Mercier just drifted quietly. Refreshed, we proceed on to Korcula.
Otok Korcula is the island of Korcula and there is also an ancient fortress town of Korcula, smaller than Dubrovnik but still formidable.
You can look over the walls and see yachts, fishing boats, para-sailing, wind surfers, swimmers and divers. Lovely restaurants have a line of tables against the bastion wall, so you can look out to the island of Badjia and other towns on the coast.
It is now high season, Korcula is bustling, a veritable hive of activity. We walk the Bastion walk and it’s impossible to walk together, there are so many other tourists. We hear languages from dozens of countries, including quite a few Americans and Australians.