A full day in Hvar

Dan and I separated for our free day. He was a crazy guy and got up early, along with Sandy and Alan, to do two walks up and down a hill that leads to a fortress that he found interesting. The dungeons were of particular interest with their balls, chains, and shackles. As they were walking through the small town on their way to the fortress, they passed the nunnery and heard the nuns singing during their morning service. Their voices in the quiet morning came as a special, sweet surprise. Dan came back from his jaunt to clean up, have a late breakfast, and then strolled around for a few hours. He visited a monestary with …wait for it… one monk. The monestery has a spectacular painting of the last supper and a small museum where he learned that back in the day, when shipping was king and Hvar was on the main east-west trade route, one out of 50 voyages ended in a shipwreck.

While Dan was exercising and soaking up culture, I took a cooking class along with our guide, Jasmina, and Christa, the granddaughter I mentioned, who just happens to be a culinary student. It was held in the small kitchen of the Golden Shell and was a wonderful experience. We went first to the market to choose our vegetables and to visit a fish stall and a shop specializing in cheeses, cured meats, oil, etc. Then we got to work. The owners of the restaurant (a dad, daughter, and son) demonstrated as well as involved us in making lunch. For starters we prepared artichokes, baba ganauch, and goat cheese jazzed up with fennel, pepper, mint olive oil, and oregano. For the main course we made gnocchi, a potato-zucchini dish, green bean salad, and a local fish stew called gredada. The day was loads of fun and to top it off we each got a certificate attesting to our culinary skills as well as a lovely gift bag with infused olive oil, local lavender, honey, oregano, and a couple of other things. As enjoyable as the cooking was, the real fun was in sharing the meal with the owners of the restaurant as well as getting a peek behind the scenes of how so much food can come out of a small space with  a four burner stove and no oven.

A sobering story they shared was about how rude, crude, obscene, and disrespectable some of the new tourists are. Some behavior (peeing and even dedicating in public) seems to be tied to drink or drugs, but much seems to be tied to a sense of entitlement and superiority. Croatia has nothing in place in terms of consequences so the fear is that behavior like this will get worse.

Before the tour group met for dinner, Dan and I strolled back to the city center, past the beautiful yachts, to take a look at the outside of the very first public (meaning commoners could attend alongside the nobility) theatre in Europe. We stopped at the nunnery to get a glimpse of their famous, ultra delicate lace which is made of agave (as in tequila) thread. Last stop of the day was at the Catholic Church to light a candle for Aunt Geri.

Sidebars: a) Sea urchins are one sign of a clean, healthy sea and are visible by the hundreds right from the shore here just like they were in  Korcula. b) Phone booths and laundromats are pretty easy to find. c) Smoking is common in public places. Lots of people roll their own. d) There is no requirement to have an hourglass figure to wear a bikini or give the impression in any way of time in the gym to wear a speedo. e) The headboard in our room was a ceiling to floor black and white of Gina Lolobrigida or her lookalike.


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