Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Croatia Bus Road Trip. Seventh Stop Vela Luka on Korcula

Walking through a tunnel of exotic looking bushes and conifers, smelling the scent of their needles. Hearing nothing but the cacophony of what seems to be a thousand cicadas. Passing a row of cactuses, turning left at the little field of olive trees and carefully climbing down some huge rocks.


My favorite spot - I can truly enjoy it bye:myself.

There I'm spreading my beach towel on the one that's shaped like a mattress - and that's my personal piece of paradise for the day.

Down here, the noise of the cicadas is not that loud and leaves room for the gurgle of the sea and the lapping of the waves against the rocks.


Some traffic.

From time to time, you hear one of the small boats chugging, then it's just the pretty regular ripple of the water again.

Twice a day, a ferry slides by, almost silently. Then I know it must be either around one or half past five in the afternoon. Still time to take a dip in the deep blue sea.


The clock is ticking: It must be around one.

To get there, I have to climb prudently across the rocks. I don't have swim shoes, so I'm wearing my flip flops to the very shore where I leave them behind on one of the rocks to just dive headlong into the clear water.

It's good that it's clear since I need to see what's on the ground: There are sea urchins - in incredible numbers and all sizes. Even paradise needs a little flaw, I guess.

Back on my cozy rock, I turn on my stomach and take a nap.

This is how I've spent the last days. In Vela Luka. On Korčula, an island south of the much more popular island of Hvar.


If it's not blue, it's green on Korčula island.

Croatians seem to be a bit chintzy when it comes to naming places: On the island of Cres*, there is a same-named town; and on the Korčula island is also a town called Korčula - and for this little jewel, I was willing to sacrifice a couple of my beach hours.

*Note: I'm writing many of the names in Croatian - and after I've heard someone pronouncing Cres like Kres, it might be helpful to explain some of the pronunciations.
To begin with the above example: A c is never pronounced k, it is pronounced like the ts in Tsar, so Cres is 'Tsres', Plitvice 'Plitvitse' etc.
Only when c is written č or ć, it is pronounced like a ch: 'Korchula', 'Porech'. Same goes for s: written š, it's pronounced sh. But only then. 
People tend to overdo it with the ch and the sh - if there is no accent, it's a simple c or s, no crackjaw there.

There is a bus going to Korčula town across the entire island - and this actually is a Garden Eden: Endless vineyards, huge olive groves, lavender fields - and in the backdrop always the sight of the mighty Adriatic sea.


They have olives in abundance - and make them into really nice and tasty souvenirs.

The historic old town of Korčula is architectonically very interesting with its long central road and narrow alleys which makes it a fishbone pattern.


The layout of the medieval cities is not only artistic and beautiful, it is also a sort of genius.

It is not only incredibly picturesque, it is also idyllically located - slightly uphill on a small peninsula.






A quick side-trip back in time VI

Come to think of it, it's quite surprising that after having suffered various Summers from my parents' road trips crisscross Europe, I got a hang of tripping myself. Actually, at the tender age of 17, I quit high school, packed a canvas bag, my boyfriend and we joined the Interrail bandwagon. Today, I wonder a bit that I had no difficulties travelling across Europe before reaching legal age, but somehow nobody really cared.


In Amsterdam, we had problems finding a hostel - it was Summer and many underaged couples had the same idea of travelling; somehow it did work out. 
In Rotterdam, I finally found the hard-boiled eggs I had packed a couple of days ago as a snack for our trip somewhere deep in my bag between some T-shirts; it was Summer - I tossed them in the trash, being grateful for having packed them in a tight plastic bag.
In Paris, my wallet got stolen by a group of little girls whose ethnicity I withhold in favor of political correctness; they wore pretty, very colorful dresses.
Eventually, the adventurous idea of sleeping on the lawn under the Eiffel tower turned out to be not as adventurous as going to the North Pole, but in the wee hours as cold.
Switzerland was Swiss - beautiful, but not very exciting.
In the beginning, Italy was not so bad until in Marina di Massa, I broke to my boyfriend that I wanted to break up; he was heartbroken.
In Pisa, he drowned his pain in lots of beer and some wine. Since his vomit was very red, I got worried and called the ambulance. As the Paramedics mentioned vino rosso, I remembered that we had had spaghetti with tomato sauce; I was too embarrassed to clarify the source of the red vomit, the paramedics took us to a hospital.
He spent the night in a comfy hospital bed, I spent it on a mattress on the floor of an exam room. In the morning, the paramedics gave me black coffee with sugar; that was very sweet - metaphorically and literally. I didn't drink it, I hate sweet hot beverages and I drink coffee only with milk. 

As we left, we had to promise to come back in the evening for the results of the blood tests. We didn't. We knew that the result was tomato sauce.
After Pisa, we decided to go back home.
In Milan, however, we had to get off once more since my now ex-boyfriend's wallet had been stolen while we were sleeping. Actually, I'm pretty sure that we had been victim of one of these train sleeping gas attacks.
However, the German embassy in Milan gave him a train ticket home and some money for the day.
I thought it was a brilliant idea to spend the money on a big plate of small assorted sandwiches. They had mayonnaise on them. It was Summer. In Italy. In the afternoon, I scraped the mayonnaise off and we ate what was not rancid.

Waiting for the train back home at a park, I noticed some guy jerking off on a park bench watching us playing cards.

Actually, it is very, very surprising that I still got a hang of road trips.



One of their most important marketing schemes is Korčula being Marco Polo's birthplace. While it's probable that his family was from Dalmatia - which at that time was ruled by Venice, some historians dispute Marco Polo being born in Korčula.

The Korčulanians are clever business people for sure: Not only can one visit what they claim to be Marco Polo's house, with the same amount of imagination they determine their prices for...everything. It's pretty expensive here.

But Croatia does not only share a glorious cultural past with Italy, Croatians also share their love for snacks rich in carbohydrates: At every bakery and even supermarket, there are uncountable variations of filled puff pastry - hearty and sweet alike. Many of the hearty snacks - filled with cheese and spinach - are called Burek which is funny since there is the same pastry in Turkey called Börek.
I guess the Ottomans did leave traces, after all.

Yes, this country is a cornucopia of cultures and heritages.



Note to the curious reader: Like I did during my former like e. g. Cambodia, while on the road, I'll be posting little stories and reflections. At the end of the entire tour, there will be an extended travel guide with all the relevant information including addresses, links etc. Until then, just share some thoughts and special moments with me. 



Wanna know about the former stops? Here is where I've been: 

Croatia Bus Road Trip. First Stop Poreč

Croatia Bus Road Trip. Second Stop Cres

Croatia Bus Road Trip. Third Stop Rijeka

Croatia Bus Road Trip. Fourth Stop Plitvice Lakes

Croatia Bus Road Trip. Fifth Stop Skradin and Krka National Park

Croatia Bus Road Trip. Sixth Stop Split



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