Monday, 25 November 2019

Exploring the village of Supetar, Croatia

The great thing about arriving somewhere in the dark is that when you wake up the next day it is a revelation. We had fallen into bed tired and sleepy on our first night but that didn't stop us getting up early next morning to see the view from our terrace, and what a view it was.  Our large roof top terrace looked right out over the village of Supetar, down to the boat harbour and the sea and across to the mainland of Croatia.  With a spa pool, sun loungers and that stunning view we spent a lot of time up there taking spas, relaxing, watching the activities on the harbour, drinking wine and chatting.  It was magical.

The view from our terrace

But lovely and all as the view was we were keen to explore the village so set off to walk along the coastline. Supetar went through hard times when things were tough but has now reinvented itself as a holiday destination, popular with Croations, so a number of the houses have been restored as holiday homes or lets.  Many locals leave Brac for the worst of winter, when it is snowing and the famously strong, freezing winds batter the island, but this was late summer and it was clear the village was in its summer holiday mood. I enjoyed picking and poking at the little craft shops lining the harbour side and my delighted grandson spotted a lot of activities available to rent, including bumper cars, football, kayaks, pool and water slides. They were for later, though, for now we were heading towards St Nicholas cemetery.

St Nicholas cemetery - note the two large mausoleums on the right
I enjoy wandering through cemeteries.  They are peaceful places and you can learn a lot about a people and their culture there.  St Nicholas, nestled among whispering pines and cypress trees on a headland overlooking the sea, boasts a number of large, rather grandiose mausoleums and two tombs from early Christian times.  The ruins of Villa Rustica, from the early Roman settlement of the island can be seen near the cemetery. Some of the mausoleums and graves are embellished with carvings by Ivan Rendic, Croatia's most famous sculptor.  Interestingly his own grave is humble but fitting. I was particularly pleased to see surnames I recognised of people I knew in New Zealand. It was quite a thrill to note where my friends' ancestors had come from.

Left: The Petronovic family mausoleum
Above The grave of Ivan Rendic, 
Croatia's most famous sculptor

We wandered around  the cemetery for quite some time but the day was getting hotter so we headed for home, stopping off at a cool, shady beach side cabana for icy cold fruit drinks on our way.

That afternoon I took a stroll around the village following a well marked historic trail.  It is such a pretty, picturesque place where tumble down ruins covered in creepers, with a charm and beauty all their own, nestle among restored and tidy homes. I thoroughly enjoyed this walk despite the local drivers who belted along the narrow streets at break neck speed.  I decided it was preferable to stick to the quiet lanes, of which there are plenty, and enjoy the small vignettes of village life along the way.

Later we enjoyed a glass of wine and watched the sunset from the terrace as the church bells rang out vespers across the village. 

That evening my family took me to dinner at Konoba Vinotoka, as a belated birthday present.  Set in a pretty little square among olive trees, draped in fairy lights and overlooked by the Church of St Martin it was a delightful spot. We had authentic Croatian food, including the freshest of fish and vegetables, marinated olives, cheeses, nuts, local breads and pumpkin ice cream, all delicious and the perfect end to our first day in Croatia.

Restaurant Vinotoka - the perfect place to end the day

Monday, 11 November 2019

Croatia -Ticking an item off my bucket list

Split from the air
  I write my plans for the coming year in an exercise book. There are various headings such as Property Maintenance, Travel, Maintaining Friendships, Learning New Skills etc which I update as I achieve them. I find it is an excellent way of keeping things on track without letting a year simply slip by. I have to admit things tend to get a bit chaotic and busy towards the end of a year when I realise there is a lot still to be done and some things do tend to be carried forward to the next year, nevertheless it is a great motivator. At the back of the book I have made a list of Bucket List wishes. So far I have managed quite a few, including visiting Cuba, a safari in Africa, snorkeling Great barrier Reef, Australia and, just recently, I ticked off another item, visiting Croatia.
I had heard glowing reports about Croatia from friends who had been there and having grown up with many neighbours and class mates whose families had migrated from Croatia to New Zealand it had always interested me. It was my grandson's idea for us to take a family holiday there while I was visiting them in England.  I am so pleased he suggested it.

Our ferry at the boat harbour, Split
We were not wildly interested in visiting the main tourist hot spots of Croatia which tend to be packed and busy.  We were more interested  in a quieter, more authentic Croatian holiday, living among the locals, eating local food, drinking local wine etc. It turned out perfectly.

Perfect evening for a ferry to Brac
Our holiday started with our arrival at the brand spanking new, and very attractive, Split Airport, opened just a month before we arrived. Then it was a very scenic, 19 kilometre, trip along the mountain backed coastline to the city of Split where we were to catch the ferry to the island of Brac.   An hour long wait for the ferry gave us time to sample the local wine and enjoy the comings and goings on Split harbour.  Then it was onto the ferry for the 50 minute trip to the island. It was a perfect evening and we were all immediately captivated by the scenery, the sunset and lights dotting the hillsides as the day gradually turning to night. Our destination, the village of Supetar, looked magical and enticing in the sparkly evening when we arrived.

Our enticing first view of Supetar...looking forward to our morning exploration

Left: Traditional Croatian pastries 
baked especially for us

 Supetar is a pretty little village curved around a boat harbour lined with cafes and restaurants, an elegant, floodlit, church steeple keeping watch over all.  We  fell for its charms at first sight. Waiting in the village square was our apartment manager who led us up a steep flag stoned street to our accommodation. Harbour View apartment was perfect with its expansive view over the village and harbour and plenty of Croatian charm, including a basket of freshly baked Croatian pastries to greet us. We knew right away that this was going to be a fantastic holiday and fell into bed eager to start exploring the next day.