Wednesday, 7 September 2016

The Caribbean of Europe - Day 7


Dalmatia Islands


Trogir                                                                                     Croatia

Friday 28th August 2015

I was woke up by my alarm at 6am and shot out of bed immediately to get myself ready as today I was going on my last big adventure to the blue and green caves of Vis, a trip to Hvar and then a trip to the cluster of islands of the blue lagoon. I was super excited as this was going to be fun plus the fact it was my last full day in Croatia so I thought it would be a nice day to end the adventure in such a great place. I freshened myself up and eventually grabbed my bag leaving the hotel. I headed across the northern bridge again to grab a pastry from the bakers and then walking to the east of the island to witness a beautiful warm glowing sun rise above the water. It was peaceful too but then I had to leave walking for the fortress to the west where my journey would start.

Morning Rise

As it was early in the morning there was practically no one around which made the place look like a ghost town. Anyway I had arrived at the fortress so I sat and waited for someone to show up. Yet again time had passed but this time I could see a small rubber speed boat heading towards me. It was the one that I would use to get to the islands so I was dead excited. The people on the boat greeted me and helped me onboard. They said I could sit at the front and so I did with a great view in front of me. In no time at all we were leaving Trogir heading for Split to pick up more passengers. We were going at a slow pace as we were leaving Trogir so the driver took the opportunity to have a talk about where I was from and what I did during my time in Croatia. He also told me of a new bridge the town was building as we passed a construction site on the water.

Quiet Harbour

All of a sudden the first mate accelerated and we were literally flying along the water towards Split. It was incredible the speed we were going and because I was used to the ferry going to Split and back which trundled along at a slow steady pace, it felt like I was being fast forwarded. In no time at all we were passing Slatine still continuing towards Split. The sea was very calm with no waves forming which resulted in cool runnings. The hill next to Split was rapidly becoming closer and then we slowed down as we were approaching the city of Split. We closed in to the harbour and found a small gap to squeeze into. We moored up and then told we were picking up 5 passengers. So I sat and waited on the boat bobbing around noticing the bad smell of the fishing boats nearby. I tried to block it out and then a recognisable face was along the harbour. It was the driver from yesterday’s trip to Mostar. He had seen me and I waved at him; I think it was becoming a habit that I would see the drivers the day after a trip. The skipper came back with the 5 passengers and when they took there seats we set off out of the harbour. There was a family of three lying on the flat surface of the boat in front of me and a couple sitting next to me.

Leaving Trogir

We were heading south straight for Vis to where the famous blue cave was. As soon as we left Split, we raced off to the south. As soon as the speed went up, the male passenger’s hat (who was lying in front of me with his family) flew off his head straight into the woman’s face sitting next to me. I held my laugh in as best as I could as she wasn’t expecting to be hit in the face. Anyway, the journey was amazing racing along the sea and the further we were in open water, the choppier the water became. It was still quite calm though and we were making good time. There were times a rouge wave would approach us which resulted in us getting jumped up, down and around. It added to the experience though and I was really happy and feeling free. The skipper had music playing on board which fitted in well with the journey as though we were having a boat party with strangers.

A long time had passed until we were approaching the island of Vis. We had been going along the islands of Brac, Solta and Hvar beforehand which had marvellous views so Vis was the furthest tiny island. We slowed down at this point to maintain the areas speed limits. It was short lived though as the skipper turned the throttle up and we were speeding along again heading for the blue cave which was actually the smaller island next to Vis. As we were nearing the island there were a lot of other speed boats close and far heading for the same direction so it was sort of a race to see who could get there first. We weren’t the fastest out of some of them but we were still keeping up. It didn’t take long for us to get there and we were soon arriving at the very small looking harbour and then mooring up with other boats. The area looked absolutely gorgeous as the water was clear as well as having a turquoise colour to it too. 

Croatian Beauty

We stepped off the boat and straight into a small queue to board the smaller wooden boats which would take us into the caves. We received our tickets from the skipper and immediately stepped aboard the wooden boat. We soon set off with everybody crammed in the boat as we headed around the corner of a rock face. I still couldn’t get over how clear the water was as I could see the bottom even at the deeper parts. In no time at all we were arriving at the entrance to the cave. The driver told us all to duck our heads because the entrance was lower than our sitting height. So we did as the edges of the entrance were just missing us. All of a sudden, everything went black and the boats little engine was turned off. Everything was silent except the faint rippling of the water hitting the boat softly. Then out of the blue came the blue luminous caverns and it was just spectacular. I was lost for words as we were slowly making our way around the cavern. It was to be short lived as the driver turned the engine back on and then we were heading out of the entrance hole so we had to duck our heads again. I actually thought the caves would be further on than the one cavern but I still wasn’t disappointed. 

Blue Cave
Blue Cave

We were shortly returned at the harbour area where we had about 10-15 minutes of free time so I took a quick look around the picturesque area. Time ran out though so I had to make my way back to the boat. As I got closer I could see one of the other passengers claimed my seat so I would have to sit somewhere else. So as I boarded, I sat on the rubber hull holding on to the bar and handles. As soon as we left, we speeded off heading for the next town on Vis called Komiza which was about 10 miles away or so. The journey across was slightly bumpy but to be honest I was having fun sitting on the side holding on as it was a thrill ride. It made me a bit more confident to loosen my grip a bit just going with the flow of the water.

Speeding Off
Approaching Komiza

A short time passed as we were approaching the town and then we were told that Komiza was a fishing village. As we got closer to the harbour I could tell by the look of the place that it was a fishing village set along the small area of coastline. It looked remarkably pretty and then we moored up at the harbour. We were told we had about an hour of free time to explore the town so with no time wasted I set off. I did however take a slow stroll along the seafront admiring the look of the place with all the small boats all moored up in a row. I then walked through a narrow street following the waterfront until I arrived at a medium sized pebble beach full of sun bathers. Along the way I came across a winding looking stairway so I climbed them in the hopes I would find a marvellous panoramic type view of the town and islands. I finally reached the top of the stairs and took a left turn catching sight of a couple of benches assuming they were facing a wondrous view. I wasn’t wrong as when I reached them the views were far and beautiful with the clear sea and village below me. I spent a bit of time up there before making my way back down to the beach area.

Fishing Village of Komiza
Komiza

I then walked back along the seafront to where I started and then veered off behind the large fishing museum. I arrived at narrow streets with left and right turns thinking that it wasn’t going anywhere. I was wrong though as I arrived at another beach area with yet more incredible views of the sea and islands. I was running out of time so I started making my way back but I was tempted to dip my feet in the clear sea. So I walked down a narrow stairway and then onto a little patch of pebbled beach. I only walked in as far as my ankles and I was overwhelmed with the feeling of the warm water on my feet. I could have stood there for a while but I had to make my way back to the boat. Along the way I noticed a lot of the cars on the island were not a modern type car as I came across old Mercedes and old Volkswagen golf cars which looked as though they had seen better days.

Croatian Beauty
Our Boat

Anyway, it was only a short walk and I arrived pretty soon as was the other passengers. The skipper told us where we were going next and he pointed at a bay at the south of Vis Island. He stated that the small bay we were going to was a secret exclusive type of bay and so when we all climbed aboard, we were soon heading south. The sea was slightly choppier which built the thrill factor up speeding across the coastline. We were making good time again and in no time at all we had arrived. It was secluded and it did look like a secret cove James bond would use. The shoreline was clear as crystal with a slight turquoise colour with a pebble beach and sharp jagged rocks. It looked like paradise too as we tied the boat to the rock face. The skipper told us he had snorkelling equipment with him so we could all see under the water. I took advantage of this and grabbed a set. I took my sandals and top off and jumped with no hesitation from the side of the boat into the water. It was an amazing feeling despite having salty water in my eyes and mouth.  The water was great so I placed my snorkel on and began to look under the water.

Secret Bay

I was speechless at the spectacular sight of tropical fish swimming right below me. There were some large fish in small groups, larges shoals of tiny colourful fish synchronising with each other and a few brightly coloured fish hiding along the coral. This was when I caught my eye on the coral along the jagged rocks below me so full of different coloured life even spiky sea urchins which I had to avoid with my feet. There were other times I would look down deep holes and come across spiral coral shells. I was going to take one away but I put it back as I didn’t want to take anything away from the sea. I continued swimming further out the bay and heading towards the smallish caves stretched across a large rock face facing the open sea. As I swam away from the bay the sea floor became very deep and as I looked down into the distance, it looked like a blue abyss and couldn’t see anything beyond. It was quite a weird feeling as there was a part of me thinking a shark was going to appear out of nowhere and have me for dinner. So I kept checking around but nothing came thank god. It was time I started making my way back but I would take my time enjoying nature underwater.

A long time passed until I was coming up to the boat where everyone was pretty much waiting for me. I climbed aboard and we were soon on our way. We were not going far maybe another 5 mile or so along the coastline and I had more confidence to stand up at the side riding the waves. It felt exhilarating as the wind was blowing hard against me with the speed we were going at. All of a sudden, the skipper called me over to have a go at the wheel. I was really excited as I took command at the wheel. I had a great big smile on my face and the skipper was impressed with my steering. He was giving me a few tips along the way about how to notice when the big waves were coming. We were nearing the next bay and the skipper told me to make a sharp left turn towards it. So I did and we were then slowly approaching the cove. This one though had a narrow entrance and had too many people swimming on the shoreline for the boat to moor up. So the skipper took back the wheel and asked his first mate to lower the small anchor. We had stopped and I was soon in the water.

I wanted to get onto the pebble beach so I swam towards it. As my feet finally touched the seabed, I was going for the whole James Bond coming out of the water again but I came out like a drunken pirate as the pebbles were quite large and hurting my feet; so much for the smooth arrival I thought as I finally got onto the beach. I had a quick look around the small area with a large slope in front of me before I decided to stumble my way back into the warm water and back to the boat. I grabbed the snorkelling kit again and was soon swimming around the area looking at more species of fish. I got right up to a jagged rock face at the right hand side of the cove and I came across a very deep dark looking hole. God knows what was down there I thought so I headed back to the boat as it was time to leave again.

Croatian Blue Sea

Our next stop was the green cave which was at the south east of the island of Vis. I didn’t steer at this point as it was only a few miles along from where we were. Before I knew it we were slowing down approaching the green cave. There were already a couple of boats inside the cave with people swimming around inside. We slowly manoeuvred passed the swimmers and boats as we were inside the cave. I couldn’t see what was green about the place as it was mostly dark. However, there was a small hole about the size of a manhole which let the suns light through. It was a real treasure though as it looked quite magical when the beam of light was coming through the hole and creating an emerald green spot at the bottom of the cave as though it was marking a location for treasure. We had a choice to swim around in the cave and the majority of the passengers did. However, I didn’t mainly because I was having problems with my ear. So I watched on as everyone was floating directly below the beam of light. Everyone soon returned to the boat and we were off to our next destination.

Green Cave

We were heading for the blue lagoon which was quite a long way so I stood up again on the boat as I was going with the flow of the water which actually became choppier than before. The skipper was concerned that I was standing at the side with the choppy waves so he asked me to stand next to him and the first mate at the wheel. It felt amazing standing at the wheel again but I wasn’t to steer it again which didn’t bother me as I wanted to take note of the scenery. We all began chatting again which passed the time too. I then noticed the water became calmer which meant we were approaching the blue lagoon.

Approaching Blue Lagoon

The blue lagoon had a cluster of very small islands close to each other with the clearest water I had ever seen on my travels. The water was a vibrant blue as well and I definitely wanted to get into the water despite my ear problem. There were quite a lot of boats moored up along the piers so the skipper weighed anchor once more quite a way from the shoreline. I grabbed the snorkelling kit again and jumped straight into the water. I swam around the area dodging boats moored up and coming in following the odd fish swimming under the water; I actually felt like a fish myself as I tried to keep up with them. I was having so much fun I didn’t want to leave the water but I had to return to the boat for our next location. I took the long swim back and as I climbed aboard my ear started playing up again. Great I thought as I was pressing inside my ear to get the water out.

Blue Lagoon

We got under way with me standing next to the wheel again letting the wind dry me off enjoying the thrill of going fast to our next destination called Hvar. It was a very long way to Hvar from the blue Lagoon so we headed out speeding as fast as we could. The sea was even choppier than the last time which meant we were getting thrown around a small bit but nothing too severe.

A very long time had passed racing to the north east riding the waves until Hvar was dead in our sights. As we got closer, I could see how busy it was and because we slowed down approaching the town, the wind was not there and I could feel how hot it was going to be. We were told by the skipper a bit about the history of the town and how a lot of young holiday makers come here for beaches and parties. The way he was describing it to us sounded a bit like Ibiza. We eventually moored up and we all stepped foot off the boat. The place looked very beautiful and I was looking forward to exploring it. However, we followed the skipper up a narrow street heading for a restaurant. It was less than 100 yards away and we were there straight away. The skipper recommended eating there so everyone began to sit down. The skipper turned to me and I asked him how long we were to have in Hvar and then said 3 hours. I was about to take my leave when he stopped me in my tracks. He explained that I was to get a free dinner at the restaurant which was included in the excursion price to my surprise. So I sat down at the table and read the menu given to me. The waitress arrived and I ordered a chicken fillet and waited for a short while until she came back with my food. It looked lovely so I wolfed it down and was soon on my way exploring the town of Hvar. 

Arriving to Hvar

It was really hot and I could feel the sun on my neck as I returned back along the harbour with its wide stretch of promenades with huge palm trees in a row. There was also a very large square with a large church at the far back end of it. In the square were dozens of billboards with aerial views of places around Croatia so I looked at some of them though it was really just an excuse to jump from shade to shade. I headed around the church and back on myself to head along the harbour. The area I was in had very large ships and ferries dropping hundreds of people off into the town. I continued passed the big ships heading in an easterly direction along the seafront to come across a lot of people sunbathing in a patch of shoreline. It looked quite beautiful with the crystal clear water and boats scattered around. I continued on walking until I ran out of views. So I made my way back as at the top of the town of Hvar was an old fortress which I could get up to. So when I returned to the harbour I began heading up the stairs towards it. There weren’t really any signs showing the way to go so I had just followed my instincts. I was doing well considering I had to weave through streets and climbing steep steps until finally I seen a very small gateway saying Hvar fortress.

Hvar
Hvar Fortress

After catching my breath with all the climbing, I headed up more steps and then onto a zig zagging rough footpath up the hillside. I was walking in between rows of trees and cactus with nobody around me whatsoever which was fantastic as it was very peaceful with the odd cricket sound. I continued the route I was taken for a good 15 minutes until I reached the base of the fortress and no doubt would have had to pay to get in; so I just stayed where I was. The outer wall towered above me with a few rusty cannons poking out from in between the gaps at the top. I then turned around to witness an incredible 180 degree view of the town below and the islands scattered in the distance as dozens of boats were approaching the harbour. All the aches and pains were worth it with the brilliant sight so I spent a long time sitting down taking in all the things I had done during the trip and what I was looking at. I felt at peace but than looking at the time made me get up and leave heading back down to the harbour.

Climbing the hill towards Hvar Fortress
Incredible view of Hvar

As I approached the harbour, I couldn’t see the boat where it was moored up making me think that they had left me. Then a relief came when I seen it moored to the side. I walked over talking to the first mate saying that I thought that they left as he laughed. I climbed aboard as did everybody else and we were heading for the long journey back to Split. The skipper had told us that the water was a lot choppier again so he asked most of the people sitting at the front to sit at the back seats and happily enough he asked me to stand in front of the steering wheel with him on my right and the first mate on my left. We were soon leaving the island of Hvar heading north to Split when the boat began to shake around with the waves. I was laughing with the thrill of getting some air on the boat and sometimes getting thrown around. It was great fun I thought and I didn’t want it to stop.

A long time of this brought us passed the islands of Brac and Solta and far in the distance I could see the city of Split. The skipper then asked me if I wanted to steer again and I was like hell yeah. I grabbed the wheel and he was giving me pointers about riding the waves and so I took on his advice and rode the waves. It made the journey a lot smoother but still had the thrill factor of jumping a few waves keeping on track. I could get used to this I thought as I felt like a child on Christmas morning. A long time had passed riding the waves until we were approaching Split. By this point the sun was in preparations to set. I handed the wheel back to the skipper as he moored up and dropped off the majority of the passengers leaving me and a couple behind me for Trogir.

Sunset to Trogir
A short time passed and we were underway once more. The water was a hell of a lot calmer at this point so I sat on the rubber hull at the starboard side as we sped off heading west. Right in front of us the sun was setting slowly behind the hill again which gave off the golden glow. No words could describe the feeling I experienced watching the sun going down racing along with the wind in my face as the water was calm. It was at this moment I felt truly free and enjoying life so I savoured the moment as we were closing in on Trogir thinking of how much fun I had today. Behind us was the purple sky with a full moon rising out of the horizon too as we slowed down approaching Trogir. It felt like a lifetime ago since we left Trogir in the morning as we passed under the southern bridge.

Old Large Vessels

I was shocked when I clapped my eyes on the harbour to see large vessels alongside each other taking up pretty much the whole harbour. We slowly made our way back to the fortress and I grabbed my things and shook hands with both the skipper and first mate giving them both a tip thanking them for the adventure and letting me steer the boat. We parted ways and I headed straight for the restaurants again as I was really hungry. I ended up back at La Dolce Vita again where the woman recognised me and sat me down talking about my adventure. She had to rush off though to do her job or the fact I was probably boring her. The waiter arrived and I ordered octopus again and tuna steak.

Old Large Vessels

As I waited I was looking on at the dozens of vessels at the harbour and I liked the ones with the old masts and rope ladders. Before I knew it my food arrived as I pretty much wolfed both plates down. I left with my belly full and began to do the typical gift buying. So I looked at each stall in Trogir and shops purchasing things along the way until I had the majority of what I wanted. I continued looking around when I bumped into the skipper. We shook hands and asked if I wanted to go for a beer. I said I would but I was still looking around for gifts. We parted ways with me still looking at shops. I started running out of options for gifts so I finally took my keys out my bag and headed for my room. By this time I was really tired so unfortunately I couldn’t go for that drink.

I finally got into my room but that wasn’t the end of it. I wanted to pack my bags so I wouldn’t have to do a lot the next morning; so I spent another 30 minutes or so packing making sure everything was in the right place. I eventually finished and lay on my bed thinking of the fantastic adventure I had. I thought to myself that this would be amongst the top activities I had ever done.

Croatia Selfie
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