June 23, 2015

Captivating Croatia Part 3.....HVAR

Our final stop on our tour of Croatia was Hvar, where we would be spending our last four nights before heading back to Frankfurt via Split. We had a choice of two ferry times, one at stupid o'clock (5.30am) or one in the afternoon. To maximise our time on the island, we of course chose stupid o'clock, getting us into Hvar at about 7.30am.

Again, we were staying in bed and breakfast type accommodation as all of the hotels I found online were rather expensive. Bed and Breakfast Luka is a short five minute stroll from Hvar, up high on the hill, relatively far away from the noise of the town. Anyone who has been to Hvar or researched staying there will know that it's best not to be staying right in the centre of town unless you have a really good pair of ear plugs, as it tends to turn into party town after dusk and unless you're involved in whats going on or a heavy sleeper, you won't be getting much rest.

It took awhile for us to get settled in our room due to a mix up with some other guests wanting to stay an extra night, but once we had sorted that out, the first thing for us to do was take a stroll around our surroundings and familiarise ourselves with the area. As we began walking around,  I came to the realisation that more so than anywhere else in Croatia we had stayed, I immediately felt like I was on the Croatian version of Rottnest Island. Smell of the pine trees, the sounds of the insects, the volume of boats on the water and boats rafting up together...it just made me think of home. I loved it. With all of these wonderful reminders and the warm temperatures and having the ability to swim everyday.....we soon realised that Croatia is our European happy place!

It was a beautiful, hot day so we soon found ourselves at the Hula Hula Bar, which is a beach club located on the water front with perfect views for sunset drinks. It was fairly tame whilst we sat there for lunch and decided that we would come back in a couple of hours to claim a prime position for afternoon sunset cocktails. When we came back later on, we were not disappointed. The tunes were pumping, people came in by the droves and Hvar put on a pretty spectacular sunset for us. We stayed until after the sun set and headed back to the bed and breakfast to freshen up before our evening meal.

By this stage, were pretty exhausted after such an early start but managed to (just!) pull through and finish our meal. We ate at Giaxa, a gorgeous sandstone style restaurant built within a 15th century palazzo, hidden down one of the lane ways close to St Stephen's square. This was another Lonely Planet recommendation and I have to say all the restaurants we ate in during our time in Croatia which came recommended by book all came up trumps. Chris ate a very traditional seafood and potato dish and I had a steak, which was one of the best steaks I've eaten anywhere. I was just disappointed that I was almost falling asleep at the table and didn't get to enjoy the experience as much as I would have liked.

The following day, Chris went diving early in the morning and I discovered Vita Health Food Bar, which was located along the wharf serving delicious, healthy breakfasts and smoothies. As previously mentioned, until we reached Korcula, it was difficult to find anywhere serving a 'normal' breakfast spread. I wandered the lane ways, checking out the shops where I found loads of small jewellery stores with ornate, one off, filagree hand crafted pieces. The work that the locals put into their jewellery is really something quite special. I wish I had bought some earrings and bracelets, maybe next time! In between Chris' diving, we met up at Falko Beach Bar for lunch. If you are looking for some where to eat that's a little low key, with a relaxed hippy-ish vibe this is the place to go. Later on, I headed back to Hula Hula Bar, where I spent the afternoon sunning & swimming until Chris was finished. We freshened up & headed into town for drinks overlooking the harbour at Adriana Spa Hotel. That evening, we ate at Dalmatino's, a really delicious seafood & steak restaurant. The octopus carpaccio is A-MAZING!

By Saturday, the bad weather that had been following us from Korcula finally arrived. Typically, this happened a short time after we had hired a double Kayak to paddle over to the Pakleni Islands. Heading out from the bay was magic, the water was relatively calm & I was pretty happy that we were able to make it across the channel before any catamarans or ferries came speeding past with waves in their wake. But by the time we made it over to one of the Islands, the skies were getting heavier & more ominous & I was starting to feel a tad bit sea sick (no change there). We were in a predicament. Try to paddle back as fast as we can or take refuge at one of the beach bars until the rain comes/and I stop feeling sea sick? We decided to go with Option A. Just over half way back across the channel you could see the rain coming. Sheets and sheets of rain approaching Armageddon style. Now, I don't know about you but getting caught in the rain is usually not a preference of mine so you can imagine how much fun I had discovering that rain falling that fast & heavy feels like bullets on your skin. And then realising that my lovely husband found the whole experience "so cool" that he stopped paddling & had the Go Pro out taking footage for a good five minutes. Just so you know, by this point; the rain is so heavy you can barely see 10m in front of you. F.A.N.T.A.S.T.I.C. Needless to say, I took the fun police badge for getting quite irate about the fact that I was soaking wet & we were still a good 15 minutes off reaching the shore. We got back to the shore (finally!) & basically dumped the blasted kayak where ever we could. The rain just wouldn't let up, so our wet & soggy adventures continued, all the way back to the B & B. Our towels were soaked.....the term drowned rats springs to mind. All was not lost, we found ourselves back at Adriana Spa Hotel later on that afternoon to have a massage & forget all about our adventure on the high seas.

Drowned Rats

Thankfully, the weather cleared up in the early evening as we headed back over to the Pakleni Islands (this time by water taxi!) to have dinner at Zori in one of the stunning bays of Palmizana. Another incredible recommendation of Bianca's; this place is special. Should we ever return to Hvar, we would definitely stay here. Reminiscent of one of the calm & sheltered bays of Rottnest Island, it had me feeling very nostalgic! We opted for the seafood tasting menu - which was just out of this world, one of the best meals I've had. Ever. That coupled with the scenery.....this is one place you simply can't miss. After a fun, fast & windy return back to Hvar in a pretty impressive speed boat, we made our way to Carpe Diem for a few cocktails. This is the place to be on a Saturday night in Hvar. From midnight onwards, they have a shuttle boat that takes you over to Stipanska Island where you can party until the wee hours of the morning. It's a really cool place to check out, with a few bars & DJ's playing amongst the trees. Unfortunately for this little nana & granddad, we didn't last too long over there but if you are visiting in a group or have the opportunity to go to one of their day club events, it's lots of fun!


On our last full day in paradise, we hired a scooter to see a bit more of the island. We drove through the countryside to Stari Grad & on to Jelsa where we stopped for ice-cream. Jelsa is a really pretty town, with a small protected sandy beach. On our way back, we came along the other side of the island, which had quite a dramatic coastline & more protected bays for swimming.


View of the Pakleni Islands

That evening, we ate at B's last recommendation, Divino. Located right at the tip of the harbour, this restaurant had spectacular views & amazing food. It was the perfect end to our holiday in Croatia!

I know it has been quite some time between these posts & looking through all of these images & thinking back on our time in Croatia has been wonderful. It truly is such a beautiful country, with genuine & warm people. I know this won't be the last time we visit......

We stayed at Bed & Breakfast Luka. The food at all of the restaurants we ate at in Hvar was incredible and I highly recommend everywhere we visited. Those restaurants are: Giaxa, Vita Health BarFalko Beach BarDalmatino, ZoriMama Leona (for delicious pizzas) & Divino
Beach clubs/Bars to visit include: Hula Hula Bar & Carpe Diem & Babo Wine Bar is also worth a visit.

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