15 Oct 2014

Croatia by abbieredmon

4/8

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I'd met a new friend on the ferry back from Palmižana, and after a series of happenstantial meetings on the main square this morning, this Frenchman and I ended up renting a scooter together for a day.

Upon our valiant, motorized steed, we rode for 45 minutes or so to the north side of the island. The landscape on the way there is interesting: Much more elevation gain than I had expected, and lots (LOTS) of little stone walls built into the countryside all over the place. I asked later, and they are for the reason I suspected: to curb erosion. We also passed a few lavender fields, but sadly, the harvest had already been picked.

We arrived in Vrboska, and it was at least ten minutes before we saw another living soul. The smaller villages on Hvar island are already out of tourist "mode" -- for them, now it is officially off-season.

We did manage to find, however, an open cafe on the harbor where we could sit outside, grab a bite, and enjoy the sunshine.

Afterward, we drove over a tiny bridge to reach the far side of the bay, and another few minutes left us at the entrance to a decent-sized beach. It still wasn't a sandy beach, but it had a cafe and a few lounge chairs for rent.

There was a long stretch of coastline just past the beach that had some nice rock ledges and places to perch -- we chose one to have to ourselves (not difficult since I believe we saw approximately six other people in the entire vicinity). The Frenchman went for a swim, and I read Paul Bowles in the sun. It was windy, but still enjoyable.

After leaving Vrboska, we had a quick look around Jelsa, another nearby village, and stayed long enough in Stari Grad to have a coffee (tea for me, por supuesto) before heading back to the south side of the island.

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Objectively the best (hidden) beach on Hvar island is Dobovica, our last destination on the scooter.

You park at the top, in some gravel by the road, and walk down the hill on a rocky path, which reveals nothing until you are almost upon this tiny village, nestled into the hillside in the small cove. It is empty now, at the tail end of tourist season, but we found the restaurant someone had recommended.

It is a few yards from the beach, the entryway almost obscured by a couple of decaying rowboats and piles of fishing nets. There is a black signboard out front that lists a few items (wine, fish, shrimp, ham & cheese), and upon closer inspection, the owner/chef/winemaker -- and only inhabitant of the town, one thinks -- was sitting at one of the picnic tables on the covered "patio," having his dinner alone, save for the three or five stray cats who kept trying to take his bread. He had one unruly eyebrow and welcomed us graciously.

After a quick bite, we wandered off to have a look. Next door to the restaurant (which is also this man's home, as well as his wine-making facility), is one of the smallest churches I have ever seen, with an absurd amount of overgrowth in the front yard.

If you walk around the cove to the south, there is a lovely view of this small, unassuming paradise. The sound the water makes as the waves crash on the pebbly beach and trickle back through to the Adriatic is a most sublime lullaby.

This might be one of my newest favorite places in the world.