Tourist First

Above, the daily flight from Managua at the San Carlos, Nicaragua, airstrip.

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Monday, August 5, 2019

Croatia: Away from the Madding Crowd on Hvar

Think you could hang out here for a few days? This terrace was the last in a string
of such lounging spots along a cove at Villa Jagodna. That's the open Adriatic in the distance.

One of the problems of visiting the Balkans during the summer is that everyone else is visiting the Balkans during the summer. The Acropolis was crowded in Athens. Narrow sidewalks on Santorini were more packed than New York subway cars. The old town in Dubrovnik had Disney World lines for just about everything. And the Rialto and St. Mark's Square in Venice, well, you get the idea.

On the little Croatian island of Hvar, however, the only crowd was in Hvar Town itself. There the restaurants, bars, waterfront promenade and the square had about as many people as could be shoehorned in. We went through town coming and going because that's where the ferries dock (we arrived on a ferry from Dubrovnik and left on a ferry to Split), and we went into town one evening for drinks and dinner. Other than that, we stayed at our little inn, Villa Jagodna, on a quiet cove with loads of privacy and excellent swimming.

For our Balkans itinerary and hotel information, click HERE.
For our visit to Athens, click HEREDelphi, HERE
Santorini, HEREHeraklion, HERE. Chania, HERE
Hydra, HERE. Thessaloniki, HERE. Kotor, HEREDubrovnik, HERE. Split, HERE.
Zagreb, HERE. Ljubljana, HERE. Piran, HERE. Trieste, HERE. Venice, HERE.

The family that owns Jagodna is part of a larger family group that owns other property around the cove, a mix of another inn or two and private homes. Most of Jagodna's rooms and its restaurant are in one multi-story building, with the top floor at parking-lot level and the bottom floor still a flight of stairs from the water.

Our first night there, we arrived rather late, after 8 p.m., and dinner was still available, a choice of fish or meat. I don't remember the meat choice, but the fish was a red snapper steak, not a fillet. It came from a red snapper so large that it could be cut into steaks. It was grilled very simply on a raised hearth in the dining room. It's difficult to imagine better fish.

Jagodna has a series of somewhat private waterfront terraces strung along the cove between the inn and the open sea. Swim ladders are mounted on either natural rock or concrete that has been used atop the rocks to create the terraces. The water is crystal clear and, well, as blue as the Adriatic Sea. It was also surprisingly warm, warmer than the water had been a week or two earlier in Crete and Hydra. Our time on Hvar remains a high point of our seven weeks in the Balkans.

Here are some photos.
Fresh seafood is grilled over charcoal at Villa Jagodna.

Ladders allow easy access to the surprisingly
warm water. There were some sea urchins, but
I saw them only on shallow rocks near the edges.
Go out two or three feet and the water is very
deep and there are no urchins.

Several boats such as this one came and went during
our time at Jagodna. Some stayed the night. Some
were used as bases for nude swimming and sunbathing,
just like the inn's terraces.

You don't have to be a geologist to know that there's been some serious movement
of the earth's crust here. 

Our inn had a small fleet of kayaks available for guests. The catamaran in the distance
was one of what must be hundreds on the Adriatic, probably most of them charters.

Meanwhile in Hvar Town, yachts line the harbor. 

Any spot that will accommodate a table for food
or drinks is put to use in Hvar Town.

Bars on each side of this street put out tables, leaving a narrow path in the middle.

This place specializes in "street food," but it must be from a very fancy street. We
had our one in-town dinner here: smoked lamb burritos, steam buns with
pulled pork, and spareribs. 


The Croatian flag flies above a fortress high above Hvar Town.