From Dubrovnik I got a bus back to Split to meet my friend Rup who had been staying on the party/ festival island of Obonjan. Not the best bus, the air con had broken, which didn’t make for the most comfortable journey. On the way we passed through the border of Bosnia Herzegovina.
In Split I met my friend and we had an early dinner at Zinfandel. I’d wanted to dine here when I was last in Split a couple of weeks ago, however it was fully booked at the time, so glad I got a chance to go this time. The food was excellent, worth the wait.
From Split the plan was to head to meet our other friends who were in Italy. We got the overnight ferry from Split to Ancona in the Le Marche region of Italy. We’d hired a villa together in the countryside near Mondavio.
The queue for the ferry was pretty horrendous, a packed no air conditioned departures building with a massive crowd of pushing people. Absolutely no sense of order and passport control was really slow.
As there was two of us we upgraded to a cabin. My expectations for the ferry would pretty low, but actually it was ok. In no sense was it luxurious, this was no cruise liner, but it was cheap and clean. No ice on board though, so after one round of warm G&Ts we retired early to bed. Despite setting off late, we arrived on time in Ancona the next morning at 9am.
Dubrovnik was the final stop on my Croatian adventure and one I was really looking forward to. The ferry from Hvar took me to the port which is on the outskirts of the city, from where I caught a bus into the centre quite quickly. The centre of the city is surrounded by beautiful medieval walls that overlook the sea. It really is stunning. If you’ve watched Game of Thrones you almost certainly recognise it as the location of King’s Landing. Though quite a lot is altered or added with CGI in the TV show including the Red Keep (which is actually a castle in Spain). If you are a Game of Thrones like me it’s worth doing one of the guided walking tours on offer that show you all the GoT sites used during the show. Our tour was even given by a local girl who actually played Darnery’s body double in the series.
While in Dubrovnik the already extreme heat got even hotter. It was literally almost impossible to go out during the middle of the day. One morning I walked to get breakfast at a local bakery and was so drenched in sweat by the time I got there and back I almost needed to shower again. To escape the heat I got a shuttle boat in the harbour over to Lokrum, a small island just off the coast. I’d read there was a gay beach there and was keen to check it out. It’s not the easiest to find, as you leave the landing point on the island bear directly left and head along the rocks following the signs for FKK, after a while you will see signs warning you of a nudist area. Continue through the nudist area and right at the end is the gay section. The route is very rocky underfoot, so I’d really recommend proper shoes. I wore flip flops and really bashed and cut my feet up. Also on the island is a small saltwater lake known as the Dead Sea, on account of the fact that like the famous sea you can float unaided in it because of the extremely high salt content. The island main centre is a medieval Benedictine monastery, which now houses a small restaurant and a museum about the history of Dubrovnik.
In the evening after coming back from Lokrum I met a lovely Italian boy who it turned out actually lived in London as well like me and was also on holiday. We went for dinner and afterwards to a amazing bar right on the walls overlooking the ocean called Bard. It’s pretty hard to find and we got a bit lost down the narrow backstreets, but the sunset from there was amazing as you can see from the photo below. After quite a lot more drinks we ended up at a nightclub called Revelin, a vast vaulted chamber of spaces housed within the city’s former fort.
After the craziness of Hvar I got a ferry to Korcula. I stayed at a lovely place called the Korcula Royal Apartments. The husband and wife owners were lovely and so friendly and helpful to me. They even came to pick me up from the ferry. They were looking to sell though, so sadly they may no longer be there. The apartment was great though, perfectly situated, so even if they have left I’d still recommend it.
From Brac I got a ferry down to the island of Hvar. The boat arrived right into the centre of Hvar Town on the West coast of the island. The town is renowned as the party capital of Croatia and because I didn’t book a place to stay I struggled to find a room and was in fact lucky to find somewhere in the end. It was pretty basic, but at least centrally located in Hvar Town, just a few streets back from the port, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend it. So book ahead unlike me.
Hvar Town itself is deceptively small, there’s a long and pretty promenade along the seafront full of bars and restaurants punctuated in the centre by the historic St Stephen’s Square. It’s one of largest squares in Dalmatia and the whole area around it is completely car free with lots of tiny lanes running off it. The square contains the town’s grand cathedral, a museum and also the old military arsenal, as well as lots of pretty umbrella shaded cafes. Next to it sitting high above the town at the top of a small hill is the medieval castellated Fortica. It’s a short gentle walk up from St Stephen’s Square and gives lovely views over Hvar Town and out to sea and across to the Pakleni islands. Definitely worth the gentle meander up.
While in Hvar had one of the most bizarre nights of my life. I was relaxing on the beach during the day and randomly got chatting to this guy and he invites me to a party that night on a yacht. It was kind of random and sounded a bit dodgy, so I wasn’t super keen, but I took his card anyway and thought nothing of it.
Later on I’m in Hula Hula, an open air bar/ club just outside Hvar Town, with some American girls I’d met and I can see the yacht anchored offshore. I mention to them that I was invited on board. By this point I’d had a couple of drinks and the girls were like we should totally go. I call the number on the card and before I know it I’m at the harbour waiting for a motor launch. A crew member clad in all white Ralph Lauren comes to pick us up in a speedboat. We’re shuttled over to this yacht, which looked pretty massive from far away, but is even bigger in reality. There is literally a friggin’ helicopter on the top deck and apparently the boat is some 80 metres long. We arrive at a dock on the side of the boat and we’re helped on by more crew. There’s a row of chairs and we’re instructed to take a seat and then one by one we’re called up, we have to show ID, have our photo taken and sign in. No phones or personal belongings allowed, we have to check them all in. The captain reads us a set of rules, we’re only allowed on the second deck, no going inside and finally have fun.
We’re lead up to the second deck at the back of the boat. It’s a huge terrace with a circular bar in the middle, maybe 50-60 people there, a mix of good looking guys and girls. Cool music playing, champagne flowing, free bar, we can order whatever we want. We mingle, some people are staying on the boat, other people like us were invited that day. We drink, we dance, we get pretty wasted and we party til like 3am and then the party finishes and we’re taken back to shore. I googled the boat name, Samar, afterwards and turns out the boat is owned by some billionaire Kuwaiti guy who just likes to party. Amazing night, but kind of surreal.
From Split I continued my adventure by sea and got a ferry to the island of Brač. It’s famous for its radiant white stone which was used to build the Diocletian’s Palace in Split, as well as for the White House in Washington DC. It’s other claim to fame is its stunning long pebble beaches. The ferry arrives into the small harbour of the sleepy old town of Bol on the southern coast of the island. It’s very pretty, but not a whole lot to do apart from relax so I only stayed for a few days and spent most of my time on the beach, but nice to chill for a bit.