Hvar: Island of Hvarguments and Hvangovers (Part II)

(To read the gripping first part, click here.) 

We awoke the next sunny day, admitted how stupid the fight was, and moved on. We had big plans that involved laying in a cabana on a private beach club on a tiny uninhabited island. Carpe Diem not only has the most thumping open-air dance club in the Hvar harbor, they’ve also co-opted a small island nearby and turned it into a daytime beach club where one can rent loungers or cabanas and eat and drink all day while a DJ spins music.

We sent an email to reserve our cabana ages ago (a serious bargain at only $40 for the whole day) and received instructions on which water taxi to take and who to find once we reached Carpe Diem island.

Carpe Diem party island, Hvar Croatia
Our view of Carpe Diem beach from our cabana.

What they did not communicate to us, however, was the fact that (a) although this is a beach club, there will be no towels in your cabana and, therefore, you needed to bring your own, and (b) they only accepted cash. Oh, and obviously, there was no ATM.

We packed a bag with books, sunscreen, cameras, and hats. We paused in our packing to query as to whether we needed towels. Me, ever the pragmatist, said, “No, that’s silly, of course there will be towels. Surely they wouldn’t let us pay for one of their top-line cabanas at a remote beach club and not have a couple of towels sculpted into towel swans awaiting us. Pshaw. What kind of beach club wouldn’t have towels?”

Carpe Diem party island, Hvar Croatia
No towels, but pretty amazing views.

(In hindsight, I agree, that was quite silly of me to go to a beach with no towel, but in my defense, IT WAS A BEACH CLUB!!)

There were no towel swans. Nor were there any credit card machines. Which meant one of us—poor XFE graciously volunteered and I put up a mildly pitiful counter-offer—had to make the 20-minute trip back by water taxi and procure the essentials, then make the 20-minute return trip to Carpe Diem island. Which just freaking sucked. To put it mildly.

Water taxi to Carpe Diem party island, Croatia
One of the water taxi drivers. XFE became quite chummy with these guys on his multiple trips.

However, it was also during his multiple boat rides that XFE found out that the last water taxi from the island was at 7 pm. Again, something that was not conveyed to us in the numerous email exchanges. Kinda important information to know, since I had no desire to be abandoned on a scary remote island.

So, when XFE got back from his stupid excursions-in-bad-club-director communications, we proceeded to drink lots, and lots, and lots of lovely cold drinks, which led to a very jolly time all around. We read and sunbathed and participated in our favorite vacation activity: people watching. We tried again to dip our toes in the Adriatic (yep, still too cold for me). We had salads and a bottle of rose for lunch, then retired back in our cabana and drank more caipiroskas which are like caipirinhas but with vodka, and infinitely easier to pronounce.

Carpe Diem party beach, Croatia

We finally made our way back to the water taxi and Hvar Town, and decided to check out the beaches in town. A short, 10-minute walk from the harbor brought us to Hula Hula, a very popular outdoor beach club in Hvar.

Hvar Town, Croatia

Since the sun was slowly setting, we decided to hang out for a bit and found a small bench near a group of guys. Turns out we had stumbled into the private party areas, sorta of like the private bottle-service booths you see in Vegas. But no one kicked us out, so we just kept sipping our drinks and bopping along to the music while avoiding eye contact with our unwitting hosts.

Hula Hula, Hvar Town, Croatia
Absolutely we’re supposed to be creeping over here by the bottle service tables.

And that’s when it turned a bit into a scene straight out of a rap video. The wait staff kept bringing the various private bottle-service parties (VPBSPs) bottle after bottle of pink champagne, which the VPBSPs then proceeded to shake up and spray at each other in what can only be described at pink champagne fights.

Hula Hula, Hvar Town, Croatia

Each group would try to spray their champagne the farthest, douse the most people, and shoot the most bottles. At one point, I saw a guy in Gucci sunglasses and a popped collar shaking and shooting two bottles at the same time! And the wait staff just kept on bringing them more. We couldn’t believe it. It was insane.

It was also, clearly, time for us to go. Drenched in pink champagne and just a wee bit tipsy, we made our way back to our hotel, for pizza and French fries and bed.

The next morning we woke up ready to drive to Split. Now, the most direct route would be to catch the car ferry at Stari Grad, which is only a few minutes from Hvar Town. That ferry goes directly to Split. But we had had such a great time at our little lazy beach the day before we decided to drive back to the Sucuraj-Drvenik ferry so we could check out some of Hvar’s other, undiscovered beach areas.

Beaches of Hvar
Lot’s o’beaches.

Sunscreen applied and beach plan in hand, we liberated a few hotel towels, and got on the road just after 10 a.m. or so. About 45 minutes later, we ran into a road block with a lone construction worker leaning against a plastic orange temporary barrier. You see, that new asphalt we had so enjoyed the first day we drove through Hvar has to be laid at some point. And that point would be between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Daily. And, of course, there is no alternate road or route through the island. No more beaches for us that day.

When this information finally sunk in, we quickly backtracked to Stari Grad, disappointed and furious that no one had told us about the daily road closure. We drove up to the car ferry terminal just in time to be the first people to be refused entry on the already full 11:30 ferry that was just pulling out. We could be first in line for the next ferry at 2 p.m. Oh. Goody.

bye ferry
Please come back, Mr. Ferry Driver. Soon.

The ferry terminal at Stari Grad is not….let’s see…how would I put this? Glamorous? It’s not sketchy or anything (believe me…I’ve spent more than a fair amount of time in some bus terminals that should have been condemned), but it’s not very exciting either. Nor should it be. I mean, it’s where trapped people are killing time, waiting for their escape, ie: the next ferry. It’s not a destination hot spot.

Stari Grad ferry terminal, Hvar, Croatia

They have a couple of big box-type stores with very sad looking merchandise in them (cheap children’s toys and plastic shoes, primarily). There were, of course, several take-away ice cream shops, including one that did not have any plastic spoons, something that I would think would be an important feature for a take-away ice cream shop. Instead, she gave us metal spoons that we could borrow and bring back after eating our ice cream.

Honestly, if it had been me and I had run out of plastic spoons, I probably would have just closed up for the day, or just let people keep the metal spoons and closed when I ran out. Sorry, boss. I’m not doing dishes for 10 kuna ($1.76) scoops of ice cream.

There was also a pub-type place where we sat glumly and had large beers and hot dogs. Well, I had a hot dog. XFE had a despondent little burger. Quite a difference from our lovely fresh salads and rose of the day before, let me tell you.

Layover at Stari Grad ferry terminal, Hvar, Croatia

By the time our ferry had come, we were quite ready to shake off the Hvar Blues and get into the Split Spirits. The ferry ride was much longer and more boring than our previous short jaunt from Drvenik. There were also lots more rambunctious children on this ferry, or so it seemed to our Pity Party of Two.

Something had to be done to get us back into our cheerful vacation mood.

We were in luck. As we pulled into the Split harbor, a young man came slowly strolling through the cabin of ferry, spraying Ax Body Spray all over himself as he walked. It was seriously, just “psssst pssst pssssstttttttttttttttttt” as he walked through a crowded, enclosed cabin. Even children sitting nearby wrinkled their noses and fanned the air in front of their noses.

ax

Someone had serious plans for the afternoon and he needed to be FRESH.

XFE and I busted out laughing and like that, the mood was alleviated. We began making jokes about what the most popular Ax Body Spray scent might be in Croatia. Would it be Carpe Diem Party Musk? What about Hvar Lavender Slate? Maybe Split Sexiness?

Here’s the thing about vacations: you don’t want to waste a whole precious day with mundane things like getting from point A to point B. You’ve only got so many days and you want each one of them to be full of wonder, or relaxation, or special memories; and things like logistics and boat schedules and road crews and credit card machines just put dents in your bright, shiny holiday dreams. But they’re also a very real part of travel.

Not every day will be full of pink champagne sunsets and suntanned skin. Sometimes you’ll miss a ferry. Sometimes you’ll get a face full of Ax Body Spray (this actually is especially true in Italy, by the way).

Ice Fight

Sometimes you’ll get in a fight with your loved one over ice. ICE.

But. You’re still on vacation. And a vacation fight beats an average, ordinary at-home fight pretty much any day of the year.

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Hvar: Island of Hvarguments and Hvangovers (Part I)

Lest you think our vacation to Croatia was just sun-dappled blissfulness every single second, I bring you Hvar.

Hvar, Croatia

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.

Hvar Town
Hvar Town (not my picture, by the way)

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.)

Hvar map

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.

another-crazy-lady
“You cannot get through! You can’t! You cannot!”

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.

Hotel in Hvar, Croatia

Riva Hvar Yacht Harbor Hotel

Bathroom at Riva Hvar Yacht Harbor Hotel

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.

Balcony at Riva Hvar Yacht Harbor Hotel

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)

Bar below our room at Riva Hvar Yacht Harbor Hotel

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.

Croatian sailing hats
The ubiquitous hats. I, in full disclosure, may actually have one of those striped ones there.

Party in Hvar

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.

Gariful restaurant in Hvar, Croatia

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.

Gariful restaurant in Hvar, Croatia

(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…..)