God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Heavenly Hvar

Hvar--a magnet for all sorts of people—backpacking, little monied young people; run of the mill travelers like us; Croatians savoring their freedom and land; the millionaires with beautiful boats, sailing in from around Europe and the billionaires with huge yachts, complete with crews scrubbing the sides of the boat, polishing chrome and waiting on the laid-back owners who sit and watch the rest of us enjoying the sights and mystic of a new place to explore. I vacillate between thinking how nice it would be to share that life for a while and thinking how glad I am to be me and have the life I have. In the final analysis, I am satisfied with life as it is and believe I would not trade it in for another.

Hvar, if you have not heard, is beautiful and charming and old—as is just about anyplace in Europe. Its history is not unusual, having been governed by a vast variety of countries and royal houses as it has changed hands over the centuries. The seaport is lively and gorgeous. The Balkan conflicts have not seemed to have left visual reminders as in other places in Croatia. Fishing is a lifestyle for much of the population. There is a small wine making tradition and much profit from tourism and the businesses it generates. It appears that many people earn money by renting rooms (sobes) in their homes, meeting the ferries with signs and promises of a sobe to rent.

Hvar town is the main place to be with its glitz, restaurants, sea walk, nightclubs, resorts and glamour; however, for us, taking our car and touring the island became our favorite time here. There are many small villages to be explored—some taking no more than a few minutes, others worth two or three hours, all of them picturesque, lively, clearly having a life of their own beyond the onslaught of tourists.

Our best find was down a road that makes the white roads of Italy (which I have written about) seem like major thoroughfares. In order to reach it, you must travel through a very dark, very narrow, one way, 1.2 km, hewn rock tunnel emptying out to a high road looking down on the Adriatic far below. From there it is a winding, twisty, hairpin curved road to the village of Zavala where there are small beaches and the lovely Hotel Skalinada and its friendly owner Tonci Anticevic.

We ate lunch here, overlooking the bougainvilleas framing the sea—beautiful! Mr. Anticevic has his own vineyards and winery so we ordered his house white wine but when he came and talked with us, we learned that his red is the better one so, of course, we needed to sample that. It was good and a little different from other wines. When we asked if we could buy a bottle to take to our friend in Tuscany who has a winery, he told us it wasn’t for sale. He has other vintages that go to restaurants and the public but what we had he reserved for his own hotel and restaurant guests.

We talked together some more, telling him about where we lived in Tuscany and a little about Alessandro and his wines, giving him our card with Fattoria Viticcio’s e-mail address.

A little later Tonci came back to our table and presented us with a bottle of his special wine and a CD of Croatian music—as gifts—but, the real gift he gave us is the memory of the place, the man and a special serendipity travel moment.

It is these moments that, in the long run, make travel memorable.


Jerry said...

Jane - Hvar looks and sounds beautiful! Who knew you could find roads that would make white roads look like thoroughfares!

Terry (teaberry) said...

What a lovely day! It sounds like you both are getting a real "taste" of the island and all it has to offer. It also sounds much more crowded in July than when we were there in June. What a difference a month makes! It is quite beautiful, though, isn't it?

I, too, thought that the Croatian people were just wonderful.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful, heartwarming story. Think of you daily. So happy your days are full of adventure and wonder. Barb Cabot