Friday 11th – Tuesday 15th May 2018
Bad midge bites for us both this morning, up and sprayed ourselves with citronella essential oil spray hoping to prevent any more attacks! There’s a Camp Vira mini bus at 9.30am that takes us into Hvar, costs 25kn, £3 per person one way, it’s too far and hilly to walk and we are sharing with a friendly Dutch couple. In Hvar at the bus station and we are looking at the town map and we hear “hiya Cathy” we turn around and see Kate who we met on Camping Krka, what a coincidence! We have a quick catch up chat as her husband Dave and children Poppy and Tom are going on a boat trip to one of the islands in a few minutes.
We make our way to the centre, the old square, next to the marina with the usual food and drink places dotted around the edges. A stage is being erected in the square for a festival or maybe a concert in a day or two’s time. The town is overlooked by the impressive fortica castle high up on the hillside. Walking from the old square we slowly climb up through the narrow steep steps of the old town towards the fortica, it’s best to do this in the cooler morning rather than in the afternoon. There are pretty flowers, colourful shrubs and trees with blossom lining the pathways outside the houses. There’s a mediterranean park that we stroll through on our way upwards to the fortica that provides shade and protection from the heat of the morning sun and with plenty of great views over the town of Hvar, the marina and the other islands, all around the island of Hvar there are stalls selling Lavender oil and Lavender pockets, Cathy loves lavender and the smell lingers as we walk past.
Once at the top we sit and enjoy the moment and take in the views, peaceful up here and there’s blue water everywhere you look. Sometime later a chap sits next to us and we got chatting, Ken is from Philadelphia, USA and touring Croatia with his wife Nancy and a group of other couples, he told us he has the day off from his wife today! We have a really humorous time with him exchanging stories about travelling in different parts of the world. It was a pleasure to have met him.
We head back after an hour down to the square and it’s time for some refreshments, we pick a bar in the shade, drinks ordered, we noticed the atmosphere of loud laughing and joking flowing across the gentle air from inside the bar through a window, outside there are two local ladies sat nearby chatting, they are having a very expressive talk with the waiter! the Croatians are not the quietest people when talking, they are very expressive and we love the buzzy atmosphere they create as we try to listen to the words there’s no chance we will understand but we wish we did!.
It’s time to explore Hvar and get lost in the town, we came across the 15th century Franciscan Monastery built in 1461, we go inside to explore we see the Last Supper painting by Venetian Matteo Ingoli from the 16th century, it measures 8 metres x 2.5 metres. In the courtyard there is a tree believed to be 500 years old with elliptical shaped branches which is very unusual apparently and it’s the oldest Cyprus tree in Croatia. In the museum there is a small number of artefacts including lots of Roman urns discovered on the sea beds near Hvar, we can’t believe how intact they are.
The branches are supported with posts and the shape of branches look odd.
My legs are becoming hot & irritable from the bites and I want to cool my legs off in the sea, we stroll around the promenade which stretches for miles in both directions from both sides of the town.
Once cooled off we sit and watch the paying customers alight from their boat trips, most look a bit ill and they certainly don’t look like happy paying customers, in fact they look like they haven’t had a good time at all! The boats are like rubber speed boats, Cathy says no way would you get me on one of those, not for a big gold clock! One of her mums’ sayings apparently.
Cathedral of St Stephen was built on the remains of a 6th Century church, we went inside and saw a glass coffin raised high up on a mount, it looked like a body was actually in it? allegedly the tomb still has the remains of one of the bishops, behind a Perspex screen, urrgg – other than that there wasn’t much to see to be honest.
We’ve not eaten today and were watching the budget so it’s a cheap lunch/dinner of French fries and they were very satisfying and good ketchup too, caught the 6pm mini bus back to the site and it’s a very warm evening so we go for a swim in the coves warm sea water, this time with our water shoes! Watch out for those spiky sea urchins there’s many of them but easy to spot as the water is crystal clear.
We woke up and discovered the water pump isn’t working, I spent a few hours trying to fix it, actually hoping from my earlier experience that I’ll have it sorted pronto. No success so I called Dad for advice and help as you do, thanks Dad! We didn’t fix it although, I did get it working with a separate 12 volt supply from the cigarette lighter and aux. point but it only worked for a few minutes.
There’s no running water in any of the taps or toilet flush, it’s not a big problem as we easily adjust to using less water and being economical & practical. We filled our bottles and 5 litre plastic containers with fresh drinking water before we left.
A few hours have passed now and we are planned to move 35 km to Jelsa today, I went to pay the sites fees at Camp Vira Hvar and I asked for a discount because nothing was open on the site, no restaurant, no bar, no shop, no wifi. The receptionist called her boss and permission was given for a reduced bill, there’s no ACSI discount here as well. We were on an A grade pitch, so she gave us the B pitch price and a 5% discount and I was satisfied with that 374kn (€50.50) saving about 70kn (€9.50), Cathy was impressed as I never bargain she is the one who barters.
Cathy met a couple from Bury near Manchester, not far from us at home only about 10 miles, Cath & Adrian, we got chatting as you do and we left a little while later for Camp Grebisce in Jelsa 35kms away.
It’s again a lovely well run family business in another super location with plenty of terracing and access right on to the small beach, the first one we have seen with sand. Reception says it’s a short walk 3.5kms to Jelsa and to try the restaurant Me & Mrs Jones, as we walk along the promenade at Jelsa we hear loud car horns behind us, we see a long line of cars, vans and one truck behind us, driving slowly for maximum effect, headlights and hazards flashing, guys leaning out of their car window, everybody is cheering and shouting, then we see bright red flares held out of the cars! Apparently, the football team in a neighbouring town has won the League title for Croatian Islands League and they want everybody in Jelsa to know this! Its all friendly banter and laughing as they drive through a non-vehicle access and non-driving section of the town, later we see them up at the church on the hill overlooking the town with flares, smoke booms and flags, they really know how to celebrate! and 15 mins later they all appear at the marina again driving slowly through the town!
After our meal at the restaurant Cathy asked the lady manager about walking back to the camp site and maybe it’s not lit? it’s not lit, ok is it possible to get a taxi maybe we asked? Don’t worry my cousin will come & take you home, amazing! ok let’s have another glass while we wait, there’s no rush, 2 glasses of the local red wine arrive, and they are free, really they are great people.
The cousin arrives and well you can’t miss him, he is very tall and well built, we walk to the car with him, we find that he’s 2.3 metres tall, 7ft 6’’, he used to play basketball professionally in Split and now after training for 10 years he sings classical and opera music, check out me on you tube he says, I couldn’t find him though. We tried to pay him for the lift and wouldn’t take it, so we told him please give the money to his cousin the lady at the restaurant, he finally agreed. He was so pleased to have helped us, he came out of his home on Saturday at 10pm to drive us home, the Croatians really are the most kind and loving, helpful people we have come across.
We buy a huge loaf of brown bread from reception at Camp Grebisce 14kn, £1.66 makes super toast topped with locally made fig jam we bought at a stall in Krka. Another hot day and it’s a stay at home admin, (note home is now our van pogo) laundry day kind of day, we have free Wi-Fi here so we make use of it. Cathy is on the phone to her sister when the couple we met yesterday go cycling past, Cathy gets their attention and Cath & Adrian come and meet us. Kettles on and we have a great couple of hours with them, such a lovely couple, friendly, warm, funny with many travellers’ tales to tell, it was great finding out what they have done and where they had been in the world. Wine and salted roasted almonds also from Krka come out and a few hours pass, we agree to meet up again tomorrow and the arrangements will be finalised via texts, well no admin or laundry was done today, thanks guys! There’s always tomorrow and the water pump is still not working.
Facetimed our son in Toronto in the evening and that was really good to “see him” and catch up. It will not be long before he flies home in October for a 2-week holiday.
Next day is admin day and as I write a blog, Split & The Tower of Terror, we received a text from our new friends – they are moving to this site for one night and we should get together for a few drinks, so that the evening organised for later, really looking forward to it. Walked to Jelsa for bits and bobs for tonight and we comment on the beauty of Croatia, the raw nature, the simplicity of our surroundings and the fact that there is not a lot of development and commercialisation, it’s fantastic the way it is at the moment. There’s always some kind of maintenance happening but is for constant small improvements to enhance the area.
The colours of the water with the sunlight on it is a mixture of many blues, greens and near the shallows it’s a combination of greys and little browns leading to crystal clear water where you see maybe to 3 feet depth. We constantly admire the colours, the locations, safe areas for families to enjoy themselves by the sea, swimming pools naturally created in the quiet bays and coves.
Down at Adrian & Cath’s van we sit outside eating their homemade minestrone soup, how good is their soup, well its very tasty washed down with a bottle of sparkly they had chilling! Perfect! They have been saving it for a special occasion, we feel honoured, after a while another couple join us, Alexandra and Frank from Kastle in Germany, they brought out a speciality sausage from their home town followed by stollen and chocs! We had a great night with them all! Thank you, Adrian, Cath, Alexandra & Frank.
Last night Frank offered to help with the pump and he appears this morning with his tool kit and a pump in his hand, it’s a spare he carries he says! Multi meter out and confirms there is no 12v supply to the pump, checked the fuses and electroblok EBL 99 as well, nothing is happening.
Cathy thinks something isn’t right as some things were working last night before bed and now nothing working in the van on 12 v.
As we sit outside Alexandra and Frank both say we should go to Split to have it fixed, there’s a better chance there than at Dubrovnik. They know Croatia well and we heed their advice, Alexandra gives us a contact for a repair chap on the mainland through facebook, We research repair shops, garages etc in the Split area, we go to reception and they kindly ring the garages for us but no one can fit us in as they are all too busy.
We decide to go back to Split but on the 2-hour ferry rather than drive easterly to ferry at Sururaj. Now the electric step will not retract, well we can’t drive with the step out, off Cathy goes to find Frank and I get the handbook out! Frank and Alexandra come along, Frank is testing the fuses on the EBL 99 block and at the same time Cathy tries the 12 v rocker switch on the panel, flicked it on and the step works along with the other 12v supplied equipment! It must have been pressed down where it breaks the circuit at some point, oops feel silly now, however the pumps still not working.
Quickly settle the site bill 544kn for 3 nights, €24 or £21 a night and leave for the ferry to Split, it leaves in 30 mins and it’s 20 min drive from here, we turn up at the end of the queue, nip in to the ticket office, paid €90 and drove on, we were lucky as it set sail literally 4 mins later. Its been a rush and Cathy forgot to take her tablets an hour earlier so it’s no good now, the two hours pass, she says she didn’t need the tablet she was ok, we dock and make our way to our night parking spot.
In Split we drove 9kms to our free beach parking spot that we have stayed at previously, we might need a few free nights to pay the water pump repair bill. Whilst sat here Cathy makes contact with Camper repair people and we get a bit of luck with Croatia Camper Split depot (they do hire campers) Goran arranged for us to go to a garage that they use for repairs where they might be able to help, 12 kms away tomorrow at 3pm, we agreed to this, how helpful are these people! We are amazed at their generosity.
We sit in darkness in our free parking spot and watch the lightening illuminate the skies over the headland before bed.
Hopefully we will have the water pump fixed tomorrow.