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Dalmatian Island highlights (with pretty pictures)

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Our recent trip took us to Dubrovnik, Croatia (after a 9+ hour flight, transfer, and additional 45-minute flight). We then took a one-week, small-ship cruise of the Dalmatian Islands, ending up back in Dubrovnik. From Dubrovnik, we took a short trip to nearby Lokrum Island.

Map of Dalmatian islands

Not our boat’s itinerary, exactly, but does point out the places we visited.

Each stop had its highlights.

Dubrovnik

The third-biggest city in Croatia, and where we flew into and out of, and spent the most time—probably more than we needed. Our hotel was in the Lapad port area, but most everything worth visiting was in the Old City, a 40-minute walk away.

The Old City is enclosed in stone walls, with only three entrances, which sometimes get extremely crowded! (And May is still relatively low season. Sounds unbearable in summer.) No cars are allowed inside. The main activity there is to pay to walk the surrounding walls. This can be brutally hot in summer, but was quite tolerable in May. And you do get nice views.

Dubrovnik Old City walls

Walking the Old City walls in the hat I bought there

To get yet more views, we also paid to take a tram up to (and down from) Mount Srd.

View from Mount Srd

View from Mount Srd

Other than that, we mainly ambled around the streets of the Old City which are, by the way, teeming with cats (perhaps because they never get mooshed by cars).

Old City Dubrovnik

Street in the Old City – remarkably cat-free, at this point

One day we enjoyed a drink at a neat bar on the side of the mountain, overlooking the sea. You literally had to go through a hole in the wall to get there. I ordered a pear cider, but Jean astonished the bartender by asking for an iced cappuccino. “How would even do that?” he asked. “Make a cappuccino,“ Jean replied, “Put ice in it.” “That’s a first in my bartending career!” he said, when he brought it over.

A drink on the patio

Enjoying cider and the first iced cappuccino ever served at this bar

We also had some nice meals in Dubrovnik, including one at a very good vegetarian restaurant, another at an oyster bar and sushi restaurant (rare in these parts), and one at Azure, which brought Asian flavors to Croatian cuisine. Great waiter there (but good service all around).

Azure shrimp coconut soup

Azure shrimp coconut soup

Mljet National Park

The main activity to do in this park seemed to be to take a boat (yes, yet another boat) to St. Mary Island, a tiny place that didn’t have a lot to it: an old church and monastery, and a couple donkeys. It was a beautiful harbour we were docked at, though.

Pomena harbour, Croatia

Pomena harbour, Croatia

And we found the little restaurant we ate at quite charming. (Though we had to split our meal into two parts when we realized they didn’t take credit cards, and we didn’t have all our cash with us.)

Hvar

Hvar’s claim to fame is being the sunniest island in Croatia. We got a tour there and learned about the island’s history and its current sustaining industries: tourism, olives, and wine—the lavendar market having declined in recent years. After the tour, we visited all the main sites: the fort you can climb up to and explore:

Fort in Hvar

Climbing up to the fort

The museum where Benedictine nuns, who never go outside, spend their days weaving lace made of agave:

Lace of Agave

Exhibit only; not for sale

And the Cathedral, with its three styles of architecture.

We also had a lovely dinner here, at a family-owned restaurant, where the waiter helped us put together an order that allowed us to sample the best on offer. Then we took a sunset walk.

Sunset in Hvar

Bol on Brach Island

This was a mid-morning stop that featured a longish walk to a beautiful beach. We also did a bit of shopping here.

Beautiful Bol beach

Beautiful Bol beach

Split

Split is the second-biggest city in Croatia after Zagreb, so this was more of an urban stop than the rest. We also had a tour here, where we learned that the city was built inside the palace of a former Roman emperor, who chose this site as his retirement spot. People to this day still live in some of the palace rooms!

Bell Tower in Dioclesian's Palace, Split

Bell Tower in Dioclesian’s Palace, Split

We then did our usual walking around and up, followed by another good dinner—even if service got slow once it was time to get our bill.

View of Split, Dioclesian's palace, and harbour

View of Split, Dioclesian’s palace, and harbour

Pusisca

Another beach town we stopped at in the morning.

Pusisca beach

Pusisca beach

Not loads to do after we walked around and back, so we decided to stop for a drink. We ordered fresh lemonade, only to spot our waitress dashing out shortly after we ordered. Seemed a bit strange, until she came back with a bag containing lemons!

I trust that we truly received fresh lemonade.

Markaska

Another beach town stop! It was a bit cold for swimming, so we did more walking. One of the more interesting sites were the many “locks of love” attached to a fence, overseen by a statue of St. Peter to keep them safe.

Markaska locks of love

Swim stop

I was too wimpy, but Jean and many others did take a dip off the back of the boat. I enjoyed the view. 🙂

Marc at the swim stop

Korcula

Our tour guide had a dry sense of humour as she informed us how cleverly built the city was, aligning buildings to best take advantage of the winds and to ensure privacy (by not lining up the windows). She also said the city corners were paved in to create a “backsplash” for any men inclined to urinate in them. I haven’t Googled to see if that’s true.

Mountain view of Korcula

Mountain view of Korcula (which was rivaling Havar for sun, this day)

Lokrum

Lokrum is an uninhabited island a 15-minute ferry ride away from Dubrovnik. It has some interesting ruins and gardens, some regular and some nude beaches (which are pretty private, except for the tour boats regularly sailing by 🙂 ), and peacocks everywhere! The peacocks were a surprise, as none of the guidebooks mentioned them. But it must have been close to mating season, as they were squawking and showing their tail feathers.

Making a move on my girl!

An impressive exemplar among a large flock

Our visit here ended abruptly with the only rainfall of the trip, but fortunately shelter wasn’t far away (and the rain was not long-lasting).

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