Tuesday 4 June: Hvar, Croatia
We spent a leisurely morning as the ship sailed south along the Croatian coast. Through the mist and clouds, the coastline looked very rugged. Indeed, there are almost 1200 islands and islets, of which only 66 are inhabited. It could have been a great haven for pirates, but I haven't read enough to know if this had been a problem in the Adriatic.
We disembarked on a wide promenade that rings the harbor and is the main commercial street. After purchasing a few kunas for spending today and tomorrow, we walked a short distance to the large town square. There isn't much to see here, just the Arsenal, the Cathedral of St Stjepan and the Bishop's Palace. The Arsenal was once used as a re-fitting station for war galleons but today is closed to the public except for some souvenir shops facing the square. Both the cathedral and the Bishop's Palace were closed. Traditionally most shops and tourist attractions are open in the morning, usually 9 to noon, and again in the late afternoon or early evening. I assume that is because of the afternoon heat in the summer. On the day of our visit, the town was very quiet, very laid back.
One site that was open was the Fortress Španjola citadel, built on the site of an medieval castle to defend the town against the Turks. To reach the citadel, one must walk through the main town gate, up narrow streets, past quaint old houses, and then wind through a park. It is a long but pleasant climb, and from the citadel one has a magnificent view of the harbor.
When we returned to the town, we split up. Al explored the western part of the harbor while I sat in a small park to rest a sore foot.
We then walked south and east along the waterfront to the 15th century Franciscan Monastery, which charges a small amount to view some paintings, coins, lace, and nautical charts. There is a quiet cloister garden with an ancient cypress. Very peaceful.
We returned to the ship for dinner and, although we would not sail until 11 PM, we did not return to town.