BootsnAll Travel Network

Hvar: Balcony, anyone?

The ferry ride across the Adriatic from Pescara to Stari Grad, on the Croatian island of Hvar, was fairly uneventful. It did, however bring back flashes of a nasty childhood memory. As the boat began to rock back and forth with the swell, slowly churning my stomach like a washing machine in slow motion, I thought of the time when I was about 11 years old, and went to Tasmania, off the Southern coast of Australia, with my family. We caught what was, at the time, a brand new huge catamaran ferry that turned the previously overnight trip across Bass Strait into a four hour cruise. The Sea Cat, it was called. An impressive looking vessel, for sure. The huge swells that day though turned the four hours into about seven. You know those scenes in movies when huge waves are crashing onto the boat, and you’re like, yeah, as if, well that actually happens – massive swells were smashing into the windows half way up the boat. The majority of the people on board, and I seriously mean the majority, were throwing up. My brother and I renamed the boat The Spew Cat.

The ferry to Stari Grad, thankfully, did not get that bad though, and four hours after leaving Italy, we docked in Croatia.

When we arrived, we had little idea what we were going to do for accomodation. We had heard that it was easy to get private rooms, but even so, there were a few nerves as we stepped off the boat. We knew that we wanted to get to Hvar town, about a twenty minute drive from Stari Grad. To our left as we got off the boat was a bus going to Hvar town, and mingling just beyond passport control was a bunch of ten or so people, mostly old ladies, holding signs advertising rooms in both Hvar and Stari Grad.

We grabbed our bags and lined up to get through passport control. Previously on this trip, at passport control we’ve been photographed and fingerprinted (thank you George Bush, nice to meet you too), and questioned heavily about our financial situation (Mr. Blair this time, cheers Tony). But at Stari Grad, in Croatia, passport control consisted of a guy standing at the end of a rope, taking a quick glance at your face, and hammering down his big, black stamp i nyour passport. That was it, welcome to Croatia.

Bec was a few people ahead in the line, and was through passport control before I. Our plan was to see how much the rooms were going for, and then see how much the bus was. Maybe there would be more people with rooms at the bus station in Hvar. As I got my passport stamped I heard a bit of a commotion up ahead. I looked up to see Bec being attacked by old ladies like sea gulls on a chip, her arms being pulled in three different directions. She turned back to me with a look of shock on her face, not knowing what to do. I quickly ran up to join her, and we managed to palm off the guy advertising a room in Stari Grad, sidestep the two dodgy looking younger guys with a room in Hvar, and got talking to an old lady who said she had a beautiful apartment in Hvar.

“How much?” I asked.

“Wait, wait, I get friend, she speak English better” she replied, and ran off to fetch her friend to talk money.

“How many nights?” she asked.

“Uh, three. Three nights.”

“Ok. For you, 20 Euros each.”

I looked to Bec, “Hmm, twenty euros, that’s probably more than we wanted to pay isn’t it”

“Does it have a kitchen?” Bec asked.

“Yes, yes. Kitchen. Very nice apartment. Very beautiful.”

Bec and i looked at each other. We didn’t really want a kitchen. “Maybe we should just get the bus” I said.

“17 euros.”

Hey, she just dropped the price. I didn’t even know we were negotiating. We just legitamately didn’t want to pay that much.

“Hmmm, 17 might still be a bit much, maybe we should try our luck in town,” Bec said.

“Yeah, I’m happy to get the bus.”

We said thanks but no thanks, turned, and started walking towards the bus.

“Ok. You pay 15 euros each. Very nice apartment.”

Well, now that was getting more affordable. We stopped, and did the maths to convert it back to Aussie dollars. As we did so, the bus fired up its engine, and drove straight past us, leaving us, the old ladies, and a couple of taxis.

“We’ll take it.”

The two old ladies were joined by an old man, and the five of us got into a dodgy looking old brown car. When you think of Eastern Europe during the communist years of the 80’s and 90’s, I reckon this is the car you think of. We squeezed in, and began driving across barren mountains, with wonderful sea views. The mountains came rising up, jutting out of the sea like ice at the top of a glass of water.

I thought of what we were doing – we’d just gotten into a car with three strangers who spoke very little english, and were driving us to who knows where with the promise of accomodation. When coupled with the task of trying to get to our ferry earlier that day back in Pescara, it was the first time since I’d left Australia six months earlier that I felt like I was really travelling. Sure, it was something that’s commonplace around the Croation islands, and it’s really only a minor thing in the grand scheme of travelling, but for this little redheaded kid from Australia, it was pretty darn cool.

We arrived at the apartment, the old ladies leading us up stairs on the outside of the building. Past one landing, then another, filled with travellers having a couple of beers. We went up the final flight, we had the penthouse, man. I smiled when I reached the balcony at our front door – the view out over the sea was beautiful. There were a couple of chairs and a table there, and I could see Bec and I sitting there with some beers watching the sun go down. But then, I was brought back down from the clouds with a thud.

“This balcony, not for you.”

Bugger. I knew it was too good.

We were led into the apartment, which had a huge bedroom, living area, bathroom, and kitchen. It was almost as big as the apartment we’d been living in when in Edinburgh, but then we were shsaring with another couple, this we had all to ourselves. It more than made up for missing out on the balcony.

The old lady went through the kitchen to a floor to ceiling window that had a bit of a view, but not much. Then, she slid the window back – it was no window you idiot, that’s a glass sliding door, leading to……. what would ya know, a bloody balcony.

We followed her out onto a private balcony running the length of the building, with a table and some chairs, and a 180 degree view over the island and one of its harbours. And like that, i was right back up in the clouds.

The next few days were spent lazing about, reading, and walking along the water and around the maze of back streets in the old town. Actually, trying to avoid the middle aged and elderly European tourists was what we did the most. Whilst it was a beautiful place, Hvar was way too touristy for my liking.

After three nights, we woke early for our 10am checkout. The hot sun of the last few days had been replaced by dark, threatening clouds. It seemd as though the weather from Rome had caught up to us. There were a few specks of rain about, but mostly, the clouds roared. A constant rumble of thunder rolled around the mountains. There was no lightning, just constant thunder. It made me understand how old civilisations believed in a god of thunder – because he was certainly angry on this day, friends.

We put on our rain jackets, loaded up our packs, and started walking into town to wait for our 4pm ferry to the next island, Korcula. A few minutes after leaving the apartment, and the rain came. It pelted down. And we had six hours to kill before the ferry. This wasn’t going to be fun.

But after an hour or two of sheltering at a fruit market, it stopped, the sky cleared, and we sat out under blue sky in the sun to wait for the ferry.

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2 Responses to “Hvar: Balcony, anyone?”

  1. Marc Says:

    Nice yarn, I am planning on doing something similar next year – renting a private room in Hvar, Bol etc

    I know this post is a couple of years ago, but what month of the year did you visit Hvar to get those kinds of prices?

    Room sounded nice.

  2. Posted from Australia Australia
  3. admin Says:

    Hey Marc,

    We were there in mid-late September. But it was a couple of years ago now (wow! where did the time go?!?) so I’m not really sure what the prices will be like. But it’s such a beautiful area of the world that I wouldn’t worry too much – whatever you pay for a place to stay would be worth it.

    Have fun!


  4. Posted from Australia Australia

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