Cities / Towns Visited: 54
Countries Visited: 16
Steps Taken Today: 27,029
Steps Taken Around the World: 1,955,912
Another early morning was, once again, on the books, but all for a good cause; we were off to go on a boat tour to the Blue Cave and a few of the Dalmatian Islands. For those of you who are unaware, the Blue Cave, is a small cavern you can go into by boat, and due to the way the light refracts through the water from a small hole in the roof, despite the darkness of the cave, the water appears to be glowing bright blue. We had made the effort to pay for the premium boat tour, meaning while a large group were being led to a much smaller, and somewhat more uncomfortable boat, our small group boarded our speedboat, complete with cabin with comfortable seating and a bathroom.
Settling into our seats, we were soon skittering off across the sea. Now we were soon to find out that the waves were quite choppy today, and nothing tells you that better than jetting across the top of them in a speedboat and becoming airborne, only to crash back down onto the surface. Trust me, I was incredibly grateful to be in my comfortable race car-esque seat, as oppose to the bench seating of the basic tour. Music blaring and the knots picking up, it was certainly one of the more eventful ways to wake up for this trip.
After about an hour we arrived at the island of Vis. Happy to be alighting the boat, and taking a rest from the battering of the seas, we spent another hour wandering around the old town of this island. Much like the other old towns we’d seen in Croatia thus far, Vis has your usual collection of red brick rooved, stone houses, narrow stone streets, and green shuttered windows. Complete with a boat filled bay, and the ever present stray cats, it was everything you’d expect of an island in this part of the world.
Back on the boat we hopped, and it wasn’t long before we were arriving at a small island just off the coast of Vis, to visit a more unusual sight. As we rounded the corner, we were informed that during the communist era, these islands were off limits as they were military property. That’s when we saw it, a semi hidden opening into the mountain of this tiny spit of land. This used to be a secret dock for battleships and submarines, but nowadays it is abandoned and is free to be visited by us tourists. As we tucked into the shelter and cool of the harbour, we disembarked, just as a large Sail Croatia ship followed us in and docked behind our boat. I guess we were staying until they left. Our guide led us through some secret side tunnels, which would have been used to house the military officers and armaments during its official usage. Popping out through a doorway, party shrouded in lush green foliage, we were able to walk around and get a better look at the ship entrance to the shelter. With the opening standing some 15 or so metres high, and with a boat full of testosterone charged school leavers disembarking the cruise boat, I’m sure you’ve guessed by now we were in for a solid 15–20 minutes of idiots jumping off the top into the water, despite the warning signs calling for no diving. Luckily no one injured themselves more than a misplaced belly flop or the damaged ego of a less than graceful dive.
Heading back out, we are informed that at the moment the Blue Cave was closed due to the choppy waves, as rough seas make visiting the low roofed cave impossible for safety reasons, but we would be heading to a swim spot to kill some time in case it opened a little later. Thus off we sped, until we reached at the Blue Lagoon, an unsurprisingly calm azure bay, beside Drvenik Veli, an island apparently commandeered by a man who now just inhabits the land and claims it as his own, but has a small cafe and bar on the shore to cater to the tourists who come to swim beside it. Once we’d tied our boat to a buoy, we were free to spend the next hour or so splashing and cooling off in the crystal clear Adriatic; a refreshing break from the heat.
By the time we went to leave, it was clear we would not be able to see the Blue Cave, but our guide was hopeful he could instead take us to the Green Cave, the same concept at the Blue cave, but the cave is a big enough to not need to be moved into smaller boats to enter. Alas, as was our luck, when we arrived that cave was also closed due to the hectic ocean. As much as I wanted to be angry, seeing the white capped waves thrashing hard against the rocks around the entrance to the cave, it was easy to see why that was a no-go.
It’s okay, our guide assured us, we could go to Stiniva beach, voted one of Europe’s most beautiful beaches, for another swim. Now, they say bad luck comes in threes, and as we arrived at the narrow bay which houses the secluded beach we were forced to carry on, as the water was too unsteady to drop an anchor and bathe. Sigh. This tour wasn’t quite what we had in mind, but the scenery is beautiful right?
Jetting off once more, and after another bumpy ride that left us feeling as though we were being thrown around like rag dolls, having to tense up the entire ride to make sure we weren’t thrown from our seats, we arrived at Milna; a small town on the shore of the island Hvar. Our guide had booked us seats at a seafood restaurant for lunch, and thus we anchored just offshore, and were ferried to land by a young man on a small metal dinghy. Granted the island had island priced food, the grilled seafood platter we ordered was decent value and quite delicious. We were however quickly discovering that no one in the Balkans seems to know how to cook or seasons chips properly. The larger group on our boat had decided to order entrees as well, thus despite us having a departure time, there was no way they were going to be done by then, so we wandered along the shore, and bought an ice cream while we waited.
Eventually they managed to finish and we headed out for the short trip along the shore to the main port of Hvar. As we docked it was clear that this was a heavily visited part of the world, with boats end to end, double and even triple parked along the pier. Small tour boats squeezed in between the plethora of Sail Croatia cruise ships, and that only meant one thing; the beautiful old town is absolutely pulsating with hoards of young English speaking tourists from the cheap and almost ‘right of passage’ party cruises. Regardless, we disembarked and made the decision to make a mad dash up to the stunning stone fortress on the hill to get a view down over the town before we headed home. What can I tell you other than on that path up to the fortress we passed nothing but young Australians talking crap. There was a few points there that we rolled our eyes at the flippant bullshit they were spurting in the nasal and annoying sound that is the Australian accent, and hoping we don’t sound like that when we walk around. Sweating like hell we managed to reach the summit with time to spare, and took a long moment to drink in the view and take a few snaps for prosperity sake.
Back in the boat we scrambled, and off we drove. The trip back to Split was only broken by another quick swim stop, and ironically the trip was alot smoother as the waves had settled, all a bit too little too late. At least when we reached home, the guide refunded the entrance fee to the Blue Cave. By the time we collapsed into bed after a home cooked meal, there was much to think about. It had been a day of ups and downs, both figuratively and literally. We had seen some beautiful things, but we had missed the main reason we had headed on the tour in the first place. It was the epitome of travel, and everything it teaches you. Plan as much as you like, weather cares nought for your wants. Travelling forces you to accept that nothing is assured or permanent, it forces you to be more easygoing, because if you try and swim upstream instead of just going with the flow, you’re going to find it to be more hard work than enjoyment. You’ll be too busy forcing the river in the direction you want, to realise that the path it’s already on it just as, if not more, beautiful. You might not be able to see everything, but take the time to appreciate the wondrous sights you do. Ride the waves; who knows where you might end up.