Saturday, 10 October 2015

Hvar Island, day three and four: the Pebbled Territory of Personal Paradise

On our third day on Hvar Island, my morning shower gained some excitement when I saw that a green gecko had climbed in the bathroom window and affixed himself to the wall with his sticky little feet. We have very few lizards in New Zealand, and they almost never find themselves in your washroom. The morning was spent down at the rocky beach of Zavala, but due to popularity, the waters weren't super clear and there wasn't much interesting to see through he snorkel. We had already begun to grow spoilt at the amazingness of Gromin Dolac. So we went back!
This time the road was busier than the day before, and when we encountered a large truck coming the other way, we and two others following the truck had to do some serious reversing and manoeuvring among gravely verges and spiky bushes. The truck managed to get past, but a van that had reversed down a steep hill seemed unable to pick itself back up and get on the road. With no way of being able to help them (Denis is not so strong a vehicle) we carried on to the beach. With sadness in our hearts, we discovered that the beach was not as unknown as we suspected to day before, and several tourists had plonked themselves down on the pebbles. (Our pebbles! Gerroff!) So we walked around the little coves until we found a rocky inlet to ourselves and spent much of the day in the sun and the water. While snorkelling, I found what looked like a treasure chest! Yannick dove down a few times to touch it and determine what it really was - concrete and plastic, it was probably once used as a buoy anchor. 
I selected a pebble as a keepsake of the most amazing beach, though I'm sure I won't forget staring up at the cloudless sky with gnarled trees stretching above, the warm sun on my (sunscreened) skin and the waves lapping at my toes. Lizards and butterflies flitted past occasionally. Yannick sketched a bar of Toblerone, and we were entirely undisturbed the whole day except by a snorkeller who floated nearby a couple of times. It was the best day ever. 
Checking in to our apartment in the town of Stari Grad (which literally translates to 'old town'), we were bombarded with a huge terrace all to ourselves and a barbecue. The interior was spacious and modern. We couldn't believe our luck! We wandered around the town as the sun was setting and took stunning sunset photos (see title photo) with pine trees dangling down by the pink sea. I couldn't help thinking "how is this real life?" The supermarket wasn't well-equipped (though somehow it stocked chilled Orangina), but we found some strange sausages that we paired with sautéed potatoes and grilled capsicum. And the grilling went well!
Initially it was difficult to get the barbecue aflame, and I may have charcoaled the sausages too much, but we had a very tasty home-grilled meal. 
On the fourth day, quiet Stari Grad was properly explored and we all came under its spell. 
At one point I met a cat who wanted pats so feverishly that we decided he must have fleas. This was only after I'd thoroughly scratched his ears, but he was so cute! And I didn't become infested, so it all worked out.
We walked all the way around the harbour to find Eremitaž, a restaurant that was set up in what used to be a hermitage. Built in 1487 next to the church of Saint Jerome, it was a place for monks to live in isolation. Commencing with local red wine Plavač and smoked Dalmatian ham, the waiter told us that he likes to serve the thin cured meat with a splash of olive oil. We tried it and now I will never have prosciutto-type ham without. Yannick ordered the traditional meal pasticada, which is beef marinated and stewed for two days to bring out the flavour. We enjoyed listening to one of the only other customers: an elderly woman who in archetypical form was agedly flummoxed by her cellphone and didn't know how to answer it. It rang, she brought it up to her ear and demanded "allo", only for it to ring again. 
The views on the waterfront walk were wonderful, but it seems to be a Croatian thing that harbours smell like rotting eggs. When trying to figure out what could be causing it, I found information that the smell of sulphur repels flies as much as it does humans. Whatever the reason behind the smell, at least there are no flies. Just butterflies!
Returning to our abode for an after-lunch siesta, I was gently awakened at an indeterminable hour by Yannick and Fabienne saying they were going to drive to a much larger supermarket to find better dinner supplies than the haphazard ingredients we found the night before. I again dozed off, and when I heard the sound of the front door opening I thought it must be intruders as they hadn't been gone long. Without my contact lenses in I am mostly blind, but I was ready to unleash a vicious onslaught of harsh words in the case of robbers. Luckily for the robbers, it was only Yannick and Fabienne who told me that our car was stuck behind the other visitors' vehicles and we could not drive anywhere. And lo, we walked to the large supermarket and it eventuated that it was down a lovely coastal path.  
I barbecued chicken like a pro and we assembled some great tacos (note that the above photo contains pork and not chicken - I'm just using it as a demonstrative image). We sagely used pale capsicum in our salsa rather than chilli peppers, as the first time we made salsa I burned my eyeballs when putting in my contact lenses even after much hand washing. The evening was finished off with crepes accompanied by both chocolate and caramel sauce all thanks to Yannick and Fabienne. It was the best day ever. 

Today's post was almost called: Home Grilling and Luxury Living (Born to Barbecue - a Stari Graduate)