Day 16: Swimming With A Chorus of Cicadas
I wish I could say Croatia is undiscovered, but it's not true. Although during the past three summers here we have seen very few Americans except in Dubrovnik, the rest of Europe is here and Australians too. Yet I still think Croatia retains a lot of the same charm it probably had years ago when this area was a popular place to visit in the former Yugoslavia. Old stone buildings with red tiled roofs and wrought iron trim have wooden shutters which are closed during the day to keep out the heat. Hidden winding alleyways with steep stone steps all connected by ancient stone streets give Hvar the feeling of a unique Adriatic seaside town.
Today we took a boat to Palmizana, an island about 20 minutes away. It was an old wooden boat tucked in between two sleek yachts with 21st century satellite systems. The captain's wheel looked like one from a picture book, but instead of a sea captain, the boat was driven by a college age student texting friends. The boat had many controls missing from the outdated control panel, but it got us there and we knew we had arrived when a chorus of cicadas filled the air.
Following a dusty rocky path from the dock which was lined with cactus, we found a tiny cove with a swimming area marked off. Croatia does not have sandy beaches. To get in the water you have to scramble over jagged rocks and then plunge in. The whole experience can feel quite treacherous on your bare feet, but our accommodation owner thoughtfully provided water shoes and they made all the difference in the world, especially since I spotted sea urchins hidden in the crevices of the rocks. Once you are in it is paradise. The water looks so purified you can see the bottom from way out deep.
Tonight we had dinner at a wonderful restaurant called Luna. It was on the rooftop of an old stone building and service was impeccable. We actually thought it was a better restaurant than the Gariful where we ate last night which is the restaurant where the stars and Prince Harry eat. Beside our hotel is an expensive resort, the Amfora. It looks like a hotel from the Tito era of Yugoslavia and it turns out it was built in 1970. Today it has an elaborate pool area with waterfalls. We decided to check out the bar area on the top floor and the view was incredible.
Yes, the word is out about Croatia and it's growing into a major tourist destination quickly. I imagine that as in other places, large resorts soon may take over what is now remote coastline. The good news is that the yachts of the rich and famous may now be arriving, but in the places we have visited, there are no Burger Kings or Starbucks and many independent shops, restaurants, and accommodations thrive. Generations of families are still living here. I hope it stays this way. If you come to Croatia, you must come now, before it is too late.