Pakleni Islands

Our last (and only, I guess) full day in Hvar we got up and rolled down the hill back to the town square to take care of some quick buisness. We need to buy ferry tickets back to Split for the next day before it sold out, effectively stranding us on the island for another day. We got tickets and kicked around the main square and old town area a bit because we hadn’t really done that yet. I also was looking for some art work to put in the newly re-modeled bathroom at home, but that didn’t last very long as I realized I was being completely ridiculous.

We regrouped and got food at Mama Leona’s Pizzeria on the harbor (the first place we found in Croatia that also serves breakfast…) and then decided to make the climb up to the Venetian castle on the side of the mountain that Hvar is built at the base of.

This place is old. The roots of the town can be traced back to 300-ish BC when the Greeks settled it. It then changed hands frequently throughout history as each new “big thing” happened. The Romans turned it into a Salt production port, the Turks sacked it, the Venetians controlled it, the Austrians controlled it, the French took it over, the British took it back, etc. Each left there own mark culturally and architectually on the area.

The castle was a little lack luster from a learn-about-the-area perspective (all of the above was regurgitated from the menu card at Carpe Diem) but offered tremendous views of the entire hillside and port. I tried out the 3-shot panorama functionality on my camera and failed unilaterally. We did however get some good shots. There is nothing preventing you from climbed up the embankments and castle walls (which we did), taking pictures of you with the entire bay in the background (which we did), and plumeting 800ft to your death (which we did not do). In fact the only visible sign of anyone being remotely concerned about your safety is a sign with the red line through a picture of a guy falling off the wall. This sign begs the question: Do they mean don’t climb the walls, or are they just requesting that you don’t launch yourself from them? The answer is still unclear.

We walked back down from the hill to our place to change into swimming gear. We had charted a 21′ sailboat to take us around the Pakleni Islands which are directly across from Hvar Town and we had to meet the captain at the dock at 1530. The boat was captained by a local guy named Eddie and his wife Yellena (sp?) and this was one of the highlights of the trip for me. We were able to catch some wind and sail around the islands, stopping once for a swim on the island of St. Klement. This experience was way off the beaten path. We spent most of the time talking with out hosts about life on Hvar and just generally relaxing. They both lived on Hvar their whole live and are fishermen; the sailing they only do once and a while to help out friends. Interestingly, their son is training to be Croatia’s participant in the sailing competition in the London Olympics. Yellena had qualified for Barcelona, but had been unable to go when she got pregnant.

The sailing excursion lasted for about 4 hours (I don’t have any pictures to post unfortunately because I didn’t bring my phone, but VJ got a lot of good ones) and when we got back to Hvar we went up to get changed for the night. Vince and Chris (from Dubrovnik) had made their way to Hvar by now, so we met up and went to dinner at a place tucked behind the main square a few blocks. It was an open garden restaurant, coincidentally, called Garten. The portions were ridiculous and the prices the same as along the harbor so this was easily the best meal deal we had found yet. (Hvar was no where near as expensive as Dubrovnik though). After our meal the waitress brought complimentary after dinner shots which she likened to schnapps. We obliged and took them.

Damn! We were tricked! It was rockia! Oh my god, holy crap I need a chaser.

After out throat-fires were put out, we filed down the alley to a little jazz bar on the sidewalk for a drink and a Gelato, and then down to Cafe Pjace for a coffee. Gelato and coffee, this is what you do. Well, that and chain smoke, it is gross how many people smoke and smoke and smoke and smoke….

We moved further down the dock back to Carpe Diem, which by night is THE place for nightlife. The sleepy little cafe by day turns into a roaring dance club/bar at night whose music echoes across the bay and up into the open windows of the houses on the hill. This is easily one if the coolest places I’ve ever been and here are some reasons why:

-The place had a DJ and a live saxophonist playing simultaneously. DJ plays a beat, saxophonist improves over it for a unique experience everytime.
-The bartender consistently set the bar on fire at 10 minute intervals.
-They served cauldrons (yes that’s the best word) of drinks that had sparklers attached.

After a few drinks and a lot of atmosphere, we went off to Kiva, a local bar that, while less world famous, was interesting in it’s own right. We had a drink and I bought a T-shirt.

Long day of travel tomorrow, spending the afternoon in Split and then catching the night train to Ljuljana, Slovenia. Two weeks down, one more (and change) to go…

Pictures:
– a shot from one of canons on the castle
– the garten restaurant and a portion of their menu…Never seen ‘squish’ before…bowman, you’re welcome
– carpe diem at night… On the right of the picture you kin of makenout the sax player and a sparklers cauldron
– The alley that Kiva is in and my t shirt

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