Sunday, 20 September 2015

Travel | Hvar, Croatia

A view of Hvar marina from the ancient castle above

Last week my family, as well as the family of one of my best friends, was part of a large flotilla (group of boats) on a sailing route around some of the Croatian islands. Being enthusiastic but amateur sailors, we weren't quite ready to take such a big (53-foot) Sunsail yacht into our own hands, so we hired a young skipper to help. This unfortunately meant that I learned literally nothing new about any of the procedures of the boat (I can tie a bowline knot, hook on a fender and that's about it) however it did give me loads of time - in between numerous swims and a lot of reading - to take photos.

Almost all of these are from the island of Hvar, as that one was my favourite and by far the most picturesque, but a couple are from a village called Trogir which I also really liked.

The cobbled streets (which reminded me a little of Italy):

An adorable street market:

I would absolutely recommend Croatia as a summer destination for people like me who always go to the same places on a loop (Italy, Greece, France etc.) and are looking for somewhere new, but not too expensive and exotic as that can be quite overwhelming. It's similar enough to Italy and Greece that you'll feel at home, but different enough (especially the language, which sounds to me like a mixture of Polish and Russian) that you get a bit of fresh change as well which can be interesting.
I can very safely say that every single Croatian we encountered did everything they could to make our vacation as comfortable and easy as possible - some people going very much out of their way to help (for example, one night I carelessly left my sunglasses in a taxi, and not only did the driver fish them out from wedged underneath the seats, he came all the way back to where he had dropped us to return them to me without protesting or asking for any money in return). 
The food there is sort of a cross between Greek taverna food and Italian food, mainly veering towards Italian; very pizza-pasta-gelato dominated (the pizzas there are great). Obviously as we were mostly on the coasts of islands and in fishing marinas, fresh seafood took up a big chunk of the menus as well. They had some specialities, but not that well advertised, so we didn't get the chance to try any.

As for the sailing, we'd been going to Greece and Turkey as obvious sailing hotspots in previous years, so weren't too sure if Croatia would match up. Actually I thought it was even better than both - a lot windier which obviously was a plus. It was also noticeably hotter and more humid (good for those who love mediterranean weather - I don't), but maybe that's just because of the season we went in. You don't really notice the heat when you're out on the water though.
Oh, and the views are spectacular - here's proof: