Croatia Day 3: Bol (Brač) and Hvar

We have loved every moment of our 22.5 hours in the town of Bol on the island of Brač. We woke up this morning still feeling so happy about our wonderful evening, so before I continue with an account of today, I want to go back to yesterday and bring in Rachel for some additional commentary.

So. First. Bol. Wow. This island is beautiful, quaint, fun. Dinner last night blew our socks off. As we walked, searching for it along the coast, it was the last place we were going to check out before turning back. Lo and behold, the most affordable yet most beautiful restaurant on the water, the one we were looking for. From the view, to the food, to the free shots of grappa from the owner, we were home. They even asked if we were coming back the next day, and sadly we had to say no. Note to the family: we are all coming back to Bol for a week and eating here several nights.

After dinner we decided we’d see what else Bol had to offer and check out this cool/chill cocktail bar that at night became a cool/wild cocktail bar. We danced until we had said we would leave after this song a couple of times 🙂 this island is beyond. Now back to Kendra!

Yes, you might say we were Bol-ed over by Brač. 🙂

This morning the plan was to go up to the highest peak on the island and actually in all of Dalmatia. You can hike up there, but we were told it would take two hours each way, and we thought we probably couldn’t sacrifice the time since there is also a very famous beach here (and I for one am in desperate need of a tan). Our host Jelena told us we could rent a car or scooters to go up there, so for quite a while we’d been toying with the scooter idea. I’ve been a passenger on a number of scooters and have no idea how to drive one, but it seemed like exactly the sort of adventurous thing to do.

I’m glad we didn’t end up doing that. In the end, we learned it would be cheaper to take a taxi (not to mention significantly easier), so we went to the guy at the front of the taxi line, who was very happy to drive us up there and wait while we took our photos. More on him in a moment.

The route up to Vidova Gora was long and winding. Brač, Hvar, Korčula, and their neighbors in this area are all pretty big islands – they each have multiple towns and lots of unused space, plus they go pretty high up. The road took us along the coast for a while, then we went more inland while we worked our way up. We passed some vineyards and a couple of the half-finished/half-demolished houses that seem omnipresent on the mainland. We also passed a pop-up restaurant selling roast lamb! It took us all of 20 seconds to realize we’d never have made it up on foot, scooter, or bike. (But my brother would love the challenge. We saw a guy biking with his full backpack on!)

We couldn’t drive ALL the way to top, but our driver parked and told us he’d walk with us the rest of the way. He spoke a good amount of English (he’s apparently spent a bit of time working in the US and has family in California), so we chatted on the way up. I have long maintained that cab drivers are the key to a good experience while traveling. I love picking their brains about local culture and politics – you can learn so much from them! Emil was also more than happy to take some pictures of us, and we took a number of each other while he wandered on along the path. We caught up to him eventually, and he asked if we wanted to have a coffee, so we went to the little cafe (there is always a cafe in places like this, no matter how remote). I can’t drink coffee, but Emil asked if we liked cheese, and I told him I loved the cheese from Pag (an island north of here). “Ah, Pag cheese is very good, but Brač cheese is number one.” Emil explained that there’s a lot less Brač cheese to go around, so it’s much harder to find in restaurants – people mostly just have it at home. I found the two cheeses almost indistinguishable – perhaps the Brač cheese is slightly less sharp. It was an excellent late-morning snack, and we sat there continuing to talk to Emil for about half an hour. He was anxious to impress upon us the “number one” status of Brač in a number of categories, and for a while we were talking about available real estate on the island and starting a business to bring in more American tourists. We told Emil we wanted to bring our whole family back there for a week next summer. He then suggested that we buy a house that he knew of that was very reasonably priced. 🙂 We also learned that Emil spends his winters working in Chile – we didn’t get the back story as to how that got started, but it just goes to show how interesting people can be!

Anyway, we just felt so lucky to have ended up with Emil as our de facto tour guide for the morning. It was just so nice sitting there and having coffee together! He gave us his card, and I will look forward to seeing him again at some point. I will absolutely be returning to Brač.

Emil dropped us off at Zlatni Rat, the famous beach that apparently shows up on all the Croatian tourism literature. It’s a 200-meter strip of white pebbles extending out from the coast like a tiny peninsula, and the water is clear as can be and delightfully cool. (google it for now until I can post pictures.) Rachel and I grabbed two chaise lounges and joined the mostly Croatian people around us in soaking up the sun, which was very hot. We listened to the music playing at the big cocktail bar just a few meters inland (it was exactly like all the ones on Schevenigen beach in The Hague) and watched people windsurfing further south. Brač is the windsurfing capital of Croatia, and there were tons of people out there this afternoon.

We walked back into Bol on a wide sidewalk of smooth stones that seems to be the base of most sidewalks in Dalmatia. It was all in the shade of pine trees, and we got to take a closer look at all the windsurfers and the yachts anchored offshore. Everything we saw and experienced on the island was 100% charming.

Our catamaran to Hvar left at 5:50, and we arrived in Jelsa about 40 minutes later. Jelsa is another town on the island, and we’re staying in Hvar town, so we hopped on a bus for another 40 minutes to get over to this side of the island.

I’m going to write more about Hvar tomorrow – so far we’ve had dinner (seabass, YUM) and scope out all of the bars and clubs that have made Hvar the undisputed summer party headquarters of the Adriatic. We’re looking forward to settling in for the first time on this trip; we don’t leave until Thursday. Tomorrow we’re planning to do beaches and shopping during the day (there are lots of boutiques here) and then make tomorrow night our designated party night. Because I’m a 29-year-old who’s never been great at staying up/out all night, this will be a challenge for me, but I’m determined! 🙂 I’ll write again before we head out for the evening.

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