Lest you think our vacation to Croatia was just sun-dappled blissfulness every single second, I bring you Hvar.
Actually, Hvar was really a nice little beach town. It was quaint, with narrow medieval streets, cute little square where throngs of young people sat in the shadow of a large church talking and eating ice cream, beautiful harbor full of ridiculous mega yachts that were close enough to give you a glimpse of how the fabulous live.
There were just a few hiccups in Hvar, and by this point we’d become quite spoiled (thanks a lot Villa Dubrovnik), so those hiccups felt like hemorrhages of pure annoyance.
There are approximately 1,000 islands in Croatia, so island hopping is a pretty easy feat. What’s not so easy is picking an island to go to. There are so, so many and they all have their reported charms. Should we go to Korcula, the reported birth place of Marco Polo? Or should we go to Vis, which was off limits to visitors for decades? Maybe we should go to Bisevo, which has a creepy yet beautiful blue cave?
In the end, we went with Hvar. It had lovely lavender fields, a twisty road running through it, and quite the cosmopolitan party scene. It was, we were told, where the rich go to play.
We took the car ferry from Drvenik (a bit north of Dubrovnik) over to Sucuraj, a tiny town on the tip of the island of Hvar. After a nice leisurely lunch in Sucuraj, we started along the twisty old road that snakes through Hvar island.
(Please notice I said, “road,” singular. There is only the one road running through the island. Sure, there are little trails shooting off from the main road, but they were largely unpaved. My point is: there is only one primary road. You can just make it out in the map below.)
About halfway across the island, we noticed that the road got significantly smoother and there were signs of new asphalt. How nice, we thought. Capital improvement projects at work in Croatia. Hooray!
We arrived on the outskirts of Hvar Town, carefully following the directions toward the place where we were allowed to park our car. You see, because Hvar Town is pedestrian (and yacht)-only, we had to park the car at a different hotel than the one we were staying at in the center of town.
We quickly hit a traffic jam on the tiny pedestrian street that led to our parking spot. A very frantic Croatian Good Samaritan came over and loudly proclaimed (with much gesticulating) that there had been a gas spill, that there was no way to get through and that we’d have to turn around. She estimated that the road would be open again in about 4 or 5 hours.
Unable to find an alternate route to the car park, we called the hotel, who directed us to a local paid parking lot. We then waited for the golf cart that would come and pick up our luggage to take it to the hotel. Just the luggage. We would have to walk. Which was fine, but just struck us as pretty funny.
The Riva Hvar Yacht Harbor Hotel was a typical European hotel in a great location. It had very sleek and modern interiors (think red lacquer and large, pixilated images of Hollywood icons), impossibly tiny rooms (we had to move ourselves and our luggage around like Tetris pieces to maneuver), and a hopping outdoor bar scene.
They had given us one of their best rooms, which had a tiny balcony overlooking the outdoor bar and the harbor packed with luxury yachts.
We knew that the Riva Hvar Yacht Harbor Hotel would be loud – it had an outdoor circular bar out front, for crying out loud. (That’s it below)
We’d been forewarned and we had read (and thoroughly believed) the reviews. Hvar’s main open-air dance club, Carpe Diem, was literally two doors/patios down. So the nonstop thumping club music didn’t bother us at all. In fact, when we got there in the late afternoon, there was quite the daytime party going on at Carpe Diem, complete with bikini tops, suspenders, and country flags worn as capes or cover ups. Along with the ubiquitous Croatian naval cap.
That’s Carpe Diem in that picture about three canopies over.
We had dinner reservations at one of Hvar Town’s best restaurants, Gariful, which certainly lived up to its excellent reputation.
The waterfront location was lovely, the service was superb and our grilled fish platter for two was so good, we went out and bought our own grill basket so we could grill whole fish at home. The server did an unbelievable job deboning the various fish on the platter (amberjack, sea bass, and one more, I think). We accompanied it with a wonderful bottle of crisp Tomic Chardonnay.
(Honestly, the lobster was overkill)
At around 10, Carpe Diem (which is next door to Gariful) started up again after a three-hour break/cleanup. We finished our dinner and were planning on making a quick stop at our hotel for an in-room pre-game drink before heading over to the club.
It is a universal truth that there comes a point in one’s vacation where one is quite touchy over the abundance – or lack thereof — of ice. Ice certainly is a very basic hotel amenity, and when your hotel converts into a bar at night, you’d certainly expect to be able to get a small bucket of ice.
Alas, the Riva Hvar Yacht Harbor Hotel was out of ice on this particular night, which led to what shall be forever known as “The Dumbest Vacation Fight in the History of the Known World,” and a cancelling of all evening festivities. Instead, we put in our earplugs and went to bed, the room vibrating around us.
Check back tomorrow for the gripping conclusion. Will either of us get any sleep? (surprisingly, yes) Will we break up after the DVFITHOTKW? (no, we did not) Will we ever find ice again? (yes) Will we ever get off the island of Hvar? (Now there’s a good question…..)