#6 Italy/Croatia, Oct. 22, 2009

Dear Everybody,

In Hvar I was up early to catch the 7:20 AM bus to Stari Grad, another town on the island of Hvar, from which the ferry went to the island of Korcula (pronounced kor-chu’-lah, kind of like a sneeze). On the ferry I had a wonderful conversation with a woman my age from Ireland who invited me to stay with her when I come that way. Since Ireland and Denmark are the only two western European countries that I have not visited, I just may! (Never invite Carol, unless you really want her to come!)

A woman at the ferry landing with bright red hair (in the German manner) offered me a room in her house. We bargained and made the deal: three nights at 130 hk ($26) per night. It was in the Old town (my backup was a hostel two km away, not in the Old Town) and good as her word, only two minutes walk from the ferry landing. The room was small but immaculate (she chided me for putting my backpack on the bed) with a fridge, small bathroom, a TV that didn’t work and a room heater that did, which was so nice as it turned quite cold that day.

I had a walkabout, looking for a promising-looking restaurant where I would later eat my main meal. Pickings were slim as much had closed down for the season. That morning at the ferry there was a temperature sign saying “9 degrees” which translates to 48 degrees Fahrenheit.

I bought a bottle of wine in the supermarket—Plavac Hvar 2007, Vinogoje Hvar—which I hoped was a cut above what I would spring for in the restaurant. I borrowed an opener and glass from my landlady and enjoyed some of the wine before going out to eat my lunch.

The restaurant I had chosen was plumb full with a group so I was seated outside. I asked if I could have the same meal as they were eating —luscious-looking salads when I arrived. I could, and did—the salad plus very good fish, potatoes, green beans, and dessert.

Sunday was still overcast, cool and windy but I ventured forth to look for breakfast. I also looked at the main Cathedral Square with a next-door house that is said to have been Marco Polo’s birthplace. Korcula is another delightful medieval village with Venetian winged lions on every other building.

Mass was being said in the Cathedral and when I thought it was over, the priest led the congregation outside in a procession. Several men wore green and white scapulas, as did some young boys; the men carried religious flags, incense, a statue of Jesus and other things. They processed around the church, around the square, and then back into the church again for more service. I don’t know if they always do this or if it was a special holiday.The Cathedral has two Tintorettos—a holdover from when they were an important Venetian outpost.

The next day I visited two museums, dodging raindrops. One was in the 15th century palace formerly owned by the Gabriellis family, the donors of the Tintorettos.

Tuesday I walked a few blocks in the dark to the bus station to catch the 6:45 AM bus to Dubrovnik. Again I made a deal with a lady who met the bus for a very strange apartment, but located just steps from the Old town. It has no windows and is underground but has a fresh air supply system; the landlord said that they stayed in it during the war and assured me that it is VERY safe! Since I arrived at 9:45 AM, I ducked out to a minimart and bought fixings for breakfast. There’s a whole kitchen set up in this huge room.

Dubrovnik was teeming with tourists—busloads of them. When I came in on the bus I noticed two enormous cruise ships in the harbor so I suppose that was most of it. The whole thing now is just too precious—every building in Old town (and they’re all medieval) is polished to a turn and the whole thing feels like a cross between a movie set and the state fair. Imagine what it would like in summer! It now costs $10 to walk on the city walls! Well, I can’t say that I blame them but it certainly is different from when I was here in ’79, but isn’t everything?

Dodging raindrops again this morning, but I shall visit some museums, and then send this off. I hope everybody is fine—I am.


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