|Bonj Les Bain, Hvar, Hvar Island|
|Hvar Island, Croatia|
All of these positives do have a down side though.... there a far more people going to Hvar now and I was glad we headed over later in the season, September, when the crowds have mostly gone and the weather is still fabulous - around 30 degrees. We stayed in an AirBnB stone cottage close to the town centre which had a marathon of stairs to get to, very much needed due to the amount of eating and drinking one enjoys whilst being on Hvar.
Incidentally I will be making a short video of the Hvar trip so stay tuned, and in case you haven't seen other clips, here's one from the Wilderness Festival I made a few months back.
|Looking up toward the tower and fortress, Hvar Town, Hvar Island - Croatia|
This was our first time using AirBnB and I can't say I enjoyed the experience, nothing to do with the company AirBnB itself but more with the actual place we rented. It cost 120 pounds a night and was shown to be a lovely stone one bedroom villa - we were there for seven nights, and although nicely decorated it was a dark and damp, humid, basement dwelling. Worms and other bugs were appearing out of cracks in the wall, the bedding and towels were damp for the duration of the stay. There were lots of transient folk upstairs coming and going and cleaning/noise going on at all hours (it appears we were surrounded by other AirBnB dwellings), no lighting in the bathroom. yada yada yada. From what I can gather - it's really pot luck what you end up with and you can't go on the reviews alone, so with that you need to do a bit of research.
|Small Boats in Stari Grad, Hvar Island, Croatia|
In Hvar the cuisine is mainly seafood, and being so close to Italy the influences are certainly there with prawn risottos on most menus and enough saffron to feed London. Fish, octopus, lobster and shell fish is served everywhere. There have been a few westernised imposters (Hamburger and Pizza joints) since our last visit but thankfully the traditional quality of the food is still fantastic, in fact it was better than I remember. You will initially avoid the western places like the plague when you first get to Hvar but after sometime, if you are staying there longer than a week, it is more than probable you will be craving a burger so feel free to cave in to these desires.
|End of the day in Hvar, Hvar Island, Croatia|
My favourite spots to eat in Hvar are Lucullus, Gaxia, Juniors, Gariful and although we didn't make it this time, Divino Restaurant is also good for fine dining. Juniors is very stripped back, unpretentious and a humble place that I enjoy because they do a wonderful platter of whole fish. Gariful are in a great spot near main ferry port and have gorgeous views to the sea, they also grill their seafood direct on an outdoor grill built into a wall next to the water, have a nosey indoors too and you'll be surprised by what you walk on. There are plenty of things to do on the Island, if you love to swim and want that little bit of luxury, head down to Bonj Les Bain by the Amfora Hotel where you can book a cabana or sun loungers next to the sea. From there you can order drinks and food and enjoy the full day sun whilst swimming in the sea. It is a definite 'treat yourself' place because a cabana can set you back 2,000 Kuna (250 quid) and the sun loungers are around 60 quid a pair (you can see what these look like on my video coming soon). Alternatively, there are many wonderful swimming spots around the Island you can enjoy for free but make sure you have something to protect your feet if you are heading off grid, there are sea urchins in the water.
|Lobster Linguine, Gaxia Restaurant, Hvar|
There are a number of water taxis and boats to hire at the main port to the other Islands that are near, even head over to Carpe Diem nightclub on Marinkovac Island at midnight by water taxi if you are feeling adventurous. There two are 24hr bar and eating spots open for when you head back around dawn for the late night ravers. For something a little more laid back and cultivated you can drop by Hvar Tours who run wine tours on the Island, they have been well worth it - you can do one for half a day that includes Tomic winery which is a must for wine lovers. Also a day trip to Stari Grad is worth it as well, it is very good to pick up items from here as they are cheaper and it is a more laid back pace - you can catch a bus from behind the fruit market in Hvar town. They have souvenirs made from the same ancient stone originating from the Island of Brac that was used to build the White House in USA. The bus also takes you to some lovely beaches on the Island not far from Milna (well you get dropped off at the side of the road) and often folk spend the day there.
|Prawn Risotto, Lucullus Restaurant, Hvar|
Exercise is fantastic on the Island, there are stairways everywhere and walking around the town and up to the fortress that overlooks the town is always a popular trek for folk. I would recommend heading up before 9.30am to avoid the crowds and the heat. Its costs a few pounds to get into the actual fort at the top. You can also take a run from the main port area around the coast past the Amfora Hotel and Hula Hula beach bar to a lovely bay and back for around 30 minutes - I love to do this run. You can also spend time just chilling by the main port at Carpe Diem, service and drinks options are minimal but it is a lovely spot to kill time and watch the boats come in and out of the port.
|Wine Tours, Tomic Winery, Jelsa, Hvar Island|
Into the evenings they have terrific alley-way wine bars in Hvar Town. There is one wine bar right next to Lucullus restaurant where the chap serves vino in huge glasses to some classic ambient sounds from The Rolling Stones, Bowie and even the Sex Pistols. Its hard to imagine anyone not loving Hvar, all the folk we know who come to Hvar love it, as do we. In my video I'll be showing much more so be sure to check back for that. Now we are heading into winter it is probably good time to book for next years trip to beat those winter blues knowing you going somewhere special. BA do direct flights to Split from Heathrow and Easy Jet and Norwegian also do direct from Gatwick.
|Un-rushed med style veges and wine in the sunshine, Stari Grad, Hvar Island|
Hvar Town: Lucullus, Gaxia, Juniors, Gariful, Divino
Stari Grad: Odisej (Odyssey) - go for the stuffed squid
Stari Grad is much cheaper for those momentos from Hvar
Croatia use their own currency (Kuna) even though they are part of the EU