I have heard Hvar Town called “Venice without the crowds” and there certainly is a strong Venetian influence, but we did not find that take accurate. We debated for a while whether to go to Hvar and Korcula, two popular Croatian islands between Split and Dubrovnik.
There is a similarity in all of these medieval towns in Dalmatia with their marble streets, fortresses, harbors and beaches and we were not sure if it was worth the effort as we already have seen a lot. We sure have not had any lack of beautiful islands, ferries, boats, ancient sites and such this summer, but we are really glad that we decided to jump at this opportunity.
It was quite a spontaneous decision, since we went back and forth for a few days as a certain inertia sets in when you are in a nice spot and we were close to a lot of things here. So once we made the decision, we only had about an hour to pack our little day bags with the barest essentials and go. We did not even bring Mozart’s bag on this one because we did not need much at all. We left our motorhome in our very inexpensive spot with the great sea view and headed off.
Nothing was booked ahead, but it all went smoothly. We have been waiting and waiting for something in the mail from our bank since we arrived in Croatia, so we needed a little movement, fast travel and adventure in our lives. Some people just love these islands, so I just hated the idea of missing them completely. Curiosity got us Soutravelin’ cats on the move again! It is perfectly lovely where we are, but we started feeling like we were waiting for Godot, so this was a way to move while not really moving,
We actually backtracked a little, in a way few travelers probably do. I feel lucky that we got to drive the coast by vehicle as well as take the famous ferry route. Having done both (and despite seeing a gorgeous sunset and sunrise on parts of the Split-Hvar-Korcula-Split route) I can say without hesitation, that in our experience the road route was superior and gives you a better sense of Croatia, although some boating is also necessary to really see and understand the culture.
We took the fast bus to Trogir, then caught the bus to Split from there which takes about an hour, but seemed to go fast this time. We bought our tickets at the harbor in Split and just relaxed in a cafe nearby until it was time to board. We took the fast cat ferry which was fairly comfortable and only an hour to Hvar.
We just talked to some ladies with signs and pictures waiting on the dock as we departed and found a cute little apartment with a sea view for about 30 euros for the night. It is hard to come to any of these towns and cities via boat and not be charmed and beguiled, but we found Hvar Town especially lively and inviting.
There seems to be something for everyone here and no one way to be. There were lots of young people and backpackers (many sounding Australian), fishermen, locals, and well dressed retired type tourists, some in their yachts in the harbor. Like Venice, just wandering around is half the fun and getting lost in narrow, labyrinth back streets is as much fun as people watching on the harbor.
The Romanesque walls, elaborate cathedrals and lovely Renaissance architecture makes for lots of atmosphere, combined with the bustle and beauty of the harbor and chic cafes. Mozart loved seeing the lamb on the spit at a waterfront restaurant as well as checking out their live lobsters and calamari tank where one can pick a fresh fish item and watch the chef cook it in the open. Melodic sounds of a good jazz singer filled the air in the evening as we checked out the night scene.
Hvar is famous for its lavender and the smell permeates the air as there are stands everywhere with every conceivable souvenir that can be made with them. Our old home was filled with many kinds of lavender in our gardens, so it is a scent we love and miss. Mozart, of course, succumbed to some sachets and oil, so people will probably smell us coming for months to come!