Friday, May 4, 2012

Hvar

Dobar Dan! A thousand apologies for the slow posts, time seems to be flying past at a frightening rate. Here is the blog about my time so far on Hvar:
Quick facts:
- Croatia was formally part of Yugoslavia, but declared independence in June 1991, the war broke out shortly after. 
- Croatia is set to join the European Union 2013
- Currency, Croatian Kuna
- Language, Croatian (Mix of Hungarian and Italian, but has various dialects) to me it just sounds angry. 
- Hvar is the sunniest place in Croatia and is a VERY popular tourist destination in summer. Specially for celebrities; Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, George Clooney, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sean Connery, Kevin Spacey and even Prince Harry got into a bit of trouble at one of the famous night clubs here. The list goes on..
I decided to leave from Dubrovnik and head to Hvar a day earlier than originally planned as I had already seen what I wanted. I took one of the hourly buses leaving for Split along the Dalmatian coast (like the dog, the name originated here). 
The mountains have a very Jurassic Park feel to them..

 Dubrovnik is in Croatia, but it's cut off from the rest of the country by the Neum pocket which is part of Bosnia. Wasn't a particularly nice in Neum day but still nice views.
I timed my bus perfectly with the ferries to Hvar, so I left the bus and basically walked straight onto the ferry.


Hvar

The fast catamaran ferry (It's kind of claustrophobic because you can't get outside for fresh air)
The 'Riva' which is just Croatian for waterfront/seafront 

The hostel I'm working at

It's a very small hostel, the best kind. 

Croatian flag



Work mates,  Left to Right, Doris the cleaner, Marinko the receptionist and Jozo (Yozo) Manager. 
Doris didn't speak English so we had interesting hand conversations. Marinko is from the northern part of Croatia near Zagreb, while Jozo is from just outside Split but has worked on Hvar for a few years. 
Marinko and Jozo have quite different dialects and Jozo has trouble understanding Doris as she has a very strong accent. I can't tell the difference of course, It always just sounds like they are arguing or talking very seriously. I was sitting outside having lunch under the balcony one afternoon when a guy down on the road starts asking me something in Croatian. I quickly run inside and grab Jozo who starts talking to the guy. To me the conversation sounded serious as there was no smiles and little change in tone. It made me a bit nervous listening. They continued frantically talking making pointing gestures and my mind had drawn a conclusion that a deranged gunman was down the street. Jozo turns to walk inside but I'm a little freaked out;
"Jozo what did he say?!"
"Oh he wanted to know how to get to the supermarket"
"....ah"

I think I'd better learn some Croatian.


Over Easter we had a few guests (still a very quiet time of year) so we had a pancake party. As you can see I'm busy chatting while my pancakes burn. But the guy I'm talking to is telling me about how he had just hitchhiked from London to Croatia in 4 days with his girlfriend. Good effort I thought. 
Also note how we have an outdoor kitchen and dining area, then also note how rugged up I am. 

Marinko, Jozo and I's 7 bed dorm. That's my bed with the black blanket. 


The outdoor area

The weather for the first 2 weeks was quite cold. Everyday was just rain and thunderstorms, with the odd clear day or half-day. This made cooking virtually impossible so many nights it was bread and spread or pre-cooked chicken from the supermarket. 

My Jobs at the hostel vary. Before Doris arrived I was doing some really basic cleaning. Once she had arrived I was just making sure the kitchen area was clean and tending to the gardens. I planted a lawn and fresh herbs and cleared the weeds away from around the hostel. When it was raining I wouldn't do anything, just lie around or walk into town. 


This was one of the few beaches in Hvar, it's all pebbles but only a few minutes walk from the hostel. Later on during my stay we went out with a bunch of guests to a bar for Saturday night. 2am on the way home we decide to just strip down into our underwear and go swimming, okay so less swimming, more like jump in jump out, the water wasn't quite up to swimming temperature. 

Most 'Beaches' are just ladders off the surrounding rocks. Sometimes it's nice not to get sand everywhere. 
The cathedral in the main square


Amazing sunsets in Hvar





Hvar has the largest square in Dalmatia



On the stormy nights I would come down to this spot and watch the waves smash over the waterfront and crash up against the restaurants and bars. Strangely entertaining watching tourists get stranded or flooded shoes.

Posing in the afternoon sun. 
As I mentioned Hvar is a huge party destination in summer with huge clubs. One of which involves a taxi trip to the surrounding island for more partying and drinking, called Carpe Diem. The one above is Hula Hula bar which is right on the water front, boasts the best sunsets and you can jump straight into the sea from the bar. Unfortunately they all shut down until late June/July. 


Jozo knows many people on the island, a close friend of his, Maria, had us round for dinner one night and cooked us pasta carbonara and flooded us with her family's homemade wine which is grown on the island. Maria always brought round her red wine, for 15 Kuna (3NZD) we could buy a 1L bottle. Such a delicious and light wine. She would regularly bring round also her homegrown olives, oranges, lemons and olive oil as well.

Split
I caught the ferry across to Split one day so I could have a quick look and do some clothes shopping. Maria was also one the same boat and she showed me where to buy the best chocolate covered donuts for breakfast before she had to go and get her wisdom teeth pulled.

Not the best weather.






Split has a huge market selling all sorts of homemade goodies. This one obviously sells honey products. 

I spent most of the day on the outskirts of the city in a shopping mall mainly in H&M (a massive clothing brand throughout Europe and America, that is very cheap) trying to find some nice clothes as my wardrobe was looking pretty worn. My cardigan also shrunk in the wash so I needed another one desperately

About halfway through my stay the weather started to clear and the thermometer was reaching mid 20
s to 30 degrees.
Back to Hvar...


The walkway up to the Fort




Me Britney and Marinko about to head out. Britney stayed for a while and will be returning shortly after I leave to take my position for a few weeks before teaching English in Poland. So happy to not be wearing my saggy travel pants. Bright blue chinos and a cardigan, I feel like I have my personality back!!

Sitting on a cannon in the Fort above Hvar






I felt really bad for this Donkey because it looked so sad tied up in the scorching sun. But I'm not really sure whether it was actually sad or whether A.A Milne has brainwashed me in to thinking all donkeys are sad and depressed.  
The oldest Communal theater in Europe built 1612

I gave myself a haircut while I was on the island. I don't think it looks to bad. 


I walked over to the other side of the island to a closed motor camp. I didn't realise it was closed till I was asked to leave. Spent a great couple hours just chilling out on their private beach though.

View from the observatory looking towards Pakleni Islands and Vis island in the distance. 
HEAPS of olive trees. They are such beautiful plants with their twisting umbrella like branches. 

Me Marinko and Katy having dinner. Katy was supposed to stay for 1 or 2 nights and ended up staying 6. We had quite a few guests through that week but Katy went out of her way and cooked for everyone for several nights and was teaching me as she went. Before she left she spent most of a morning writing out all of the delicious recipes she had cooked in my journal, Chicken, various salads, and Risottos. What a legend!

Very little room for walking...
Me Jozo and Marinko atop the very fancy Adriana hotel enjoying a cocktail

Me overlooking the main square and Riva with my Long Beach Iced tea cocktail on a balmy evening. 

 The last 1.5 weeks of my stay I think I did virtually nothing. I would make beds for arriving guests (3 minute job) hang the washing out occasionally, pull some weeds when I felt like it, or run to the supermarket. I'd do the odd job here and there throughout the day but if I added it all up I don't think it would be more than an hour a day! Most of my time was sitting around in the sun or walking around the town. It's been such a great  stay in Hvar, but it's always really sad to say goodbye to guests and even sadder when you have to say goodbye to your friends after a month living and working with them for almost every hour of everyday. I'll miss Jozo and Marinko, but who knows, may have to trip back in the summer to see the busy season.



2 comments:

  1. Great to get an update - looks like summer is finally happening :) Love the lightning shot.
    What an amazing place.
    So it has now been two months since you left- no wonder you needed new clothes and a haircut :) Looking good ! Think stopping for a while was sensible - recharged the batteries.

    Off for more reading on the next two posts ...
    xx

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  2. It's a hard life but I suppose someone has to do it! Just catching up. Great to see such pics of places I know of but have never visited.

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