İsland Hopping Croatia's Dalmatian Coast
28.08.2007 - 18.09.2007
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Away from the central European greenery we head, and into the striking marble and turquiose colours of the Croatian coast. As the weather begins to chill in the north of the continent (yep, the fleeces come out in September in Central Europe), Anouk and İ flee the cold like migrating birds and head south, seeking the mediterranean mildness and a light roasting under a quickly fading summer sun. We arrive in Split, choosing to skip the northern half of Croatia and concentrate on the islands of the Dalmatian Coast. Off the coast of Croatia is a veritable stepping stone of islands leading all the way down the Adriatic finally arriving in Dubrovnik. Our island life began in lovely Hvar... ahh, if only we had a yacht. The islands are a yachty's paradise, and the accumulated value of the boats moored in Hvar harbour would exceed most African countries GDP.
The croats really know how to mingle the simple stone village charms with sophisticated restaurants and waterside bars, and we began to understand that a sandy beach is actually an undesireable feature. When contrasted with the classy rockside cafe surrounded by people lounging on flat white rocks next to the piercing blue of a gently lapping water's edge, sand does seem like a inferior alternative.
So, just when we have reconciled ourselves to this Adriatic norm, we find what we didn't expect - a decent sandy beach! (and, please forgive us here, we preferred the rocks!).
This is the beach on our second island - Korcula.
What makes Croatia so photogenic is the mountainous topography, capped by light-coloured rock formations, contrasting with the blue, blue sea. This is Korcula Town harbour, a fortified stone village with a dramatic backdrop. Now, where did I park my yacht again?
One of the more unusual places we spent our evenings was atop one of the defensive turrents of Korcula's Town walls, conveniently converted into a very chic cocktail bar. And the great thing is that sports sandals are suitable evening wear, even at this place!
On the opposite side of Korcula Island, Anouk and I discovered a magical little bay that was made even more magical by the impressive high speed, steep descent into the bay, done over a dirt road on bicycles! If you look closely, you may be able to see Anouk's knuckles, still white!
After Korcula Island came Mljet Island, and a tranquil national park that encompassed a peaceful old ex-monastery set on an island in the centre of an inland lake... yep, an island on an island!
It's hard to capture, but remember those photogenic Croatian colours I was talking about, well, here's my best effort.
At Dubrovnik, we finally return to the mainland. The dramatic seaside cliffs on which Dubrovnik is built gives you an idea about how threatened these people must have felt at times, for they felt the need to built huge walls on top of these cliffs.
In those old days of pirates on the high seas, the guards must have had a tough job, standing out in all weather watching for threats. Fortunately, the wall designers were thoughtful enough to put up cute little turrents to shelter in, and hopefully a coffee machine and toaster!
Strangely enough, our favourite place in Dubrovnik was actually outside of Dubrovnik! By stumbling across a small unmarked doorway through the massive walls of the old town, Anouk and I found ourselves in another of those classic Croatian cafes perched in the rocks above a magical blue sea that invited swimming and sunbathing all day (stuff the sight-seeing!).