Thursday, 25 November 2021

VIDEO: Classic Island Vibes and Vistas of Spectacular Summertime on Hvar

November 25, 2021 – From the epic medieval harbour of Vrboska and the buzz of Hvar town to the historic streets of Stari Grad and 250 kilometres of brilliant beaches, this new footage of summertime on Hvar is making us yearn for next season.

DJI_0105_gradHvar.jpg© Goran Šafarek

Hvar Town is overflowing with life in summer. By day, families wander by the waterside or between restaurants in the old town. By night, bars and discos are vibrant and full. In Stari Grad, a constant stream of excited new visitors arriving by boat. Such scenes tell of the popularity of summertime on Hvar. Arguably, this is Croatia's most well-known island for holidaymakers.

_W6A8775_StariGrad.jpg© Goran Šafarek

But, away from the throngs of people in Hvar Town and Stari Grad, there's a distinctly different side to this island. Famously, Stari Grad Plain (Starogradsko polje) on the interior looks much the same now as it did over 2000 years ago. That's how long grapes and olives have been cultivated here. Pretty rows of vines and fields of olive trees or lavender colour the landscape all over Hvar. Passing by these agricultural endeavours gives a better reminder of just how much room there is for everyone on Hvar.

IMG_5362_DxO.jpgAs shown above, the long, ancient harbour at Vrboska © Goran Šafarek

With 250 kilometres of its own coastline, Hvar is not short of beaches. People love swimming in the island's crystal clear waters. Sailors love them too. In the ancient harbour of Vrboska, there's an altogether different feeling to arrivals by boat. Here, elegant yachts gracefully cruise into the long, thin harbour. They find temporary homes near small, traditional fishing boats. Inside, summertime sailors may have chosen this beautiful part of the island because of its famous restaurants. After the gastronomic joy of lunch, maybe they'll wander the historic promenade or visit one of the famous winemakers near here.

DJI_0991_Vrboska.jpgIn the background, sailors into Vrboska © Goran Šafarek

All these different aspects of summertime on Hvar and more have been captured in an all-new video made by Goran Šafarek. Goran, who is an independent biologist, publicist, photographer and filmmaker, was on the Adriatic working in summer 2021. His assignments included film work commissioned by Croatian National Parks. But, he took advantage of being on the coast and made time between assignments for a family sailing holiday. He visited Korčula island and Hvar island, using the opportunity to make new videos of each.

_W6A8752.jpg© Goran Šafarek

Total Croatia News has already published Goran's new video of Korčula, which you can watch here. This new one of Hvar has us pining for summer and making plans for next.

For more info about Hvar island, look here. And for the latest news from Hvar, bookmark Total Croatia News pages here

Tuesday, 9 November 2021

Team 45 Degrees Sailing Takes on Peškafondo 2021

Tuesday, November 9, 2021 - After a COVID-19 instigated break last year, the much-acclaimed Peškafondo 2021 was back to celebrate its 10th year as an international fishing and tourism event. 

365 GARIFUL HVAR

Organised by the “365 Gariful Hvar” association, 48 teams entered and competed in the waters of Hvar. Each team was comprised of four members, and registration was 500 kuna for each member. There was also an ongoing opportunity to donate in order to partake of the non-fishing festivities, money that will go to a local charity as chosen by the “365 Gariful Hvar” association. Read more here where Ivan Gospodnetić, owner of the much famed Gariful restaurant, talks to Paul Bradbury about why he started this festival in the first place and how he has watched it grow and evolve over the years.

KICK START CELEBRATIONS

Not having any idea what to expect, we were invited by Ivan via Paul to join in on the festivities and boarded the catamaran to Hvar town on Friday. The program officially started at 1 pm so we decided to catch the 10 am ferry to give us plenty of time to get settled before festivities kicked off. Little did we realise that the Šibenik Klapa group were on the same ferry, and they started things off early, pulling out their instruments and playing for all of us on the ferry. What a great way to kick off the weekend! 
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THE SQUID GAMES BEGIN

As the ferry pulled alongside the Hvar Riva, they continued to play as they disembarked the boat, being welcomed warmly by everyone already gathered and set up outside Gariful restaurant. Peškafondo and Big Game Fishing 2021 was off to a great start. Teams began to gather at the tables set up outside the restaurant, everyone was registering, getting their t-shirts, having a warm hearty lunch. The trumpet signaled at 3 pm and was the sign for all of the fishing boats and their teams to head out in search of the desired squid. They would disperse in the waters around Hvar and Pakleni islands and put their lines down hoping for a bountiful catch. 

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DAY ONE CELEBRATIONS

At 8 pm the boats returned amidst live music and the buzz of dinner beginning, and the catches were weighed and measured in full sight of everyone in attendance. Most teams were pretty successful and it was a great atmosphere for everyone to warm up and wind down after the hours spent out on the boat. The wine and beer were flowing, and the celebrations continued into the night. 

DAY TWO BEGINS

The next morning at about 8 am, the big game fishing boats departed the Hvar Riva and spent all day out fishing, in pursuit of the elusive big catch! After another very colourful departure of the squid fishers at 3 pm again, they spent another afternoon out to catch as many squids as they could find. It was a much harder day out, as rain impeded the time out for many, especially those in boats without shelter. Fishing is certainly a sport that is at the mercy of the weather 

RAIN, RAIN, RAIN

The rain continued as the days' catches were weighed and measured, and it certainly did not dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd that came out to support their friends and family members. A very wet award ceremony ensued, and it was great to see mixed teams, kids, and families having participated, as everyone came up to receive their prize and/or trophy. 

And then the final party began.  With the help of more delicious food, drinks, and live music, the vibrant and dynamic festivities continued into the night. An apt way to end the adult portion of a fantastic weekend celebrating the much-esteemed squid, in the quintessentially Dalmatian manner of celebration.
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SHOUT OUTS FOR THIS EVENT

We had a couple of take-aways and shoutouts from this event.

AMAZING FOOD

Oh my goodness the food. Warming, fill-your-boots, hearty, nourishing food for a large crowd of people is one thing that Croatians really excel at. And all teams gathered by 365 Gariful Hvar Association totally went above and beyond to ensure that not only did the food taste good, it tasted amazing and it also showcased specific Croatian traditional dishes from a couple of different regions. Like arambaši from Sinj and the famous Skradin risotto! As well as demonstrating how heart-warming and relevant traditional cuisine still is in the setting of modern events and festivities. 

Huge vats of slow-cooked meats and seafood wafted incredible smells that led you down the Riva. All chefs were engaging and got involved in the fun, all while they were cooking and serving. They took time out to talk to us and show us what they were cooking. They helped to make the atmosphere bright and warm, despite the persistent rain! 

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LACK OF RUBBISH

We were also very impressed by the lack of rubbish and the major lack of single-use plastic. Serving plates and utensils were paper and wood, cups were washable and reusable. And the staff working the event were fast, efficient and effective. There was no chance for any rubbish to blow onto the ground or into the sea because it was cleared away so fast. Full carafes of wine and bottles of sparkling water were brought to your table before you even realised that the existing bottles were running low. It was an incredibly clean, well-organised environment, which is an awesome achievement in normal circumstances and especially so given the incessant wet weather.

HIGH ENERGY ATMOSPHERE

The music was great. Even though it was all in Croatian, based on the enthusiasm from everyone else around us, they were clearly playing popular and classic Croatian songs. And we loved the variety. From the homespun acoustic style of the Šibenik Klapa to the powerful seasoned performance of Indira Vladić (Levak), it was all upbeat, enormously engaging, and great fun to be in the midst of.

The atmosphere was just great. The various elements, the music, the food, the staff, the logistics going on throughout the weekend, they all added up to a really enjoyable, wholesome event. 

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ALL-INCLUSIVE

We also loved the fact that you don’t have to be out on a fishing boat to enjoy this event. In addition to the 500 kuna fee to register as a member of a team on a fishing boat, you could also donate and participate in the on-land parts of the event. Which were aplenty! Everyone felt included no matter your age, nationality, or fishing and squid catching skills, or total lack of! This was especially true on Sunday, which was Kids Day. Complete with bouncy castles, balloons, games, and activities, thank goodness the sun came out to shine down upon what felt like the whole of Hvar and their kids! The sound of delight, laughter, and joy filled the main square of Hvar. 

Given that we were non-Croatian-speaking foreigners who knew very little about the event and pretty much knew no one at this event, we felt very welcome and included. We had the opportunity to meet some of the fishermen, many of whom also work in the marine tourism industry. We enjoyed chatting with the chefs as they described what they were cooking for us. As well as making some awesome connections with individuals from other areas of Croatia, like Monika from Sinj (see her article here).

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All in all, this was an event that we have heard nothing about during our five-year stay in Croatia. And now we have been, we can’t stop talking about it!

I think Ivan from Restaurant Gariful put it well when he said “I can't describe the happiness I feel knowing Peškafondo is no longer just about Hvar, it's becoming something that can be about all of Croatia.”

If you’re looking for an “authentic” experience in 2022 or beyond, this is one event you really need to check out. We highly recommend this event to any foreigners and Digital Nomads who find themselves in Croatia once the summer crowds have gone and are looking for real local events to take part in. This is all of those things in spades. 

If you have questions on anything sailing in Croatia, feel free to ask below in the comments or check out Total Croatia, Sailing in Croatia: Your One-Stop-Shop for everything sailing.

If you’re looking for a little more history around this event read Paul Bradbury’s interview with Ivan ‘Gariful’ Gospodnetić here: Celebrating 10 year of Peškafondo.

For more on the programme and reflections on the last ten years of Peskafondo, read Squid Games on Hvar.

Wednesday, 18 August 2021

Hvar Town: More Arrivals and Overnight Stays... But Less Income

August 18, 2021 - An in-depth look at the most recent numbers from the eVisitor system shows two realities in Hvar Town in terms of tourists arrivals and overnight stays.

According to the eVisitor system, in the last two weeks, Hvar Town has broken tourist records, reports HrTurizam. The numbers of arrivals and overnight stays on the days from 1 to 10 August are 5% better than the record 2019. Nautics records as much as 15% better results compared to 2019.

Unfortunately, looking only at the system, in the town of Hvar on August 12, on 12,059 registered beds, "only" 7,183 guests were registered. Therefore, as the Hvar Tourist Board points out, there should be a "catastrophic" tourist season in the town.

In order not to look at everything through numbers, the last week there has been a big rush to the free hotel or private accommodation in the town of Hvar, more last-minute rooms are needed, and to the great satisfaction of Hvar everything is filled for next week, and even Booking .com the city of Hvar declared SOLD OUT.

If we go back to the numbers, in July, Hvar Town saw 143,530 overnight stays and 30,032 arrivals, which is an increase of 150% in overnight stays and 100% in arrivals compared to 2020. Compared to 2019, 77% of tourist traffic was realized.

Americans, Germans, French, and Slovenes lead in nationalities at Hvar Town, while the number of arrivals of guests from Great Britain is expected to increase by the beginning of September.

According to Petar Razović, director of the Hvar Tourist Board, these results were achieved primarily through excellent cooperation between the Hvar Tourist Board and the Hvar Tourist Board, adherence to epidemiological measures, as well as jointly done marketing activities of all Hvar tourist boards.

"How important it is that the island of Hvar is finally moving in the direction of unification was shown by this challenging tourist year when we accurately predicted and later worked together to promote the entire island of Hvar as ''green'' in the ECDC map and a safe island in our emitting markets. Successful work by the end of September will result in the adoption of the Brand Strategy of the island of Hvar, which will be unique in Croatia and further development of the entire destination", Razović points out and adds that looking at the conditions of preparation this year and what else should be done for the tourist development of the whole island, the people of Hvar united in thinking that the time has come to have their islander in the system of the Ministry or the Croatian Tourist Board.

If you want to know more about Hvar, such as the best restaurants, beaches, and tours, be sure to read Total Croatia's complete guide, where you will find everything you need before planning your trip to Croatia's elite island. Now available in your language!

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated travel section.

Tuesday, 17 August 2021

Hvar Town 2021 Photo Essay: Warm August Morning Moments

August 17, 2021 - They say that a picture says a thousand words... TCN reporter Ivor Kruljac teamed up with photographer Nina Lelas to explore the once-again bustling Hvar town center in August. Check out our Hvar Town 2021 photo essay to see for yourself! 

It was August 12 and the morning was brutally hot. The world-renowned sunny days on Hvar showed their dark side as I sweat profusely, looking as if someone threw a bucket of water on me.

Leaving my cool room at Pharos for a photo essay on Hvar in the morning felt like a suicide mission. But, one that would be quickly over as I expected nobody would be crazy enough to hang around the town's centre. I figured they would either be at the beach or at the pool and wait for the sun to go down to maybe take a stroll and grab a bite to eat for dinner in one of Hvar's excellent restaurants.

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People resisting sun © Nina Lelas

But to my surprise, the town was packed with people. Every cafe seat was completely taken and the main square saw people walking around to see the town. From Hvar's churches, museums, city walls, historical sites, and waterfront promenade with lovely yachts that move your imagination to daydream about a different kind of life – it is a perfect postcard that triggers people's curiosity. Surprisingly enough, the narrow streets next to the main square, which provide much more shade and have their own romantic side, are mostly empty. The few people we came across were actually moving from these refreshing pockets towards the main square. Perhaps, because so many apartments are packed in those streets, they are just not as attractive as many reside there due to accommodation. Take a look at a typical August morning of Hvar and start planning for next season.

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Enjoying coffee and drinks © Nina Lelas

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Every bit of shade welcome © Nina Lelas

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Apart from joy, Hvar can provide healthcare if needed too © Nina Lelas

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The main square beauty attracts people from every direction © Nina Lelas

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Lovely side streets of Hvar town © Nina Lelas

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Shade and vegetation of chilled side streets © Nina Lelas

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Admiring details on every corner © Nina Lelas

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Back to the Adriatic © Nina Lelas

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Yachts are nice but you don't have to drive, only relax when on catamaran © Nina Lelas

Learn more about Hvar on our TC page.

For more about traveling Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 16 August 2021

Hvar Town Budget Restaurants: Yes, They're Real

August 16, 2021 - Finding himself in a luxury destination with a not so luxurious budget, TCN reporter Ivor Kruljac avoided starvation by locating Hvar Town budget restaurants. Here are his suggestions. 

The words ''cheap price'' are very relative. It's much easier to determine a high price but what qualifies as actually cheap is a much tougher question. In that spirit, Hvar Town, known as one of the more popular and therefore more expensive destinations, lives up to its reputation. Last week, the Croatian media landscape was stunned by the bill issued at one of Hvar's elite clubs. The undoubtebly fun night that featured loads of high-quality beverages such as four 4,800 kuna worth bottles of Don Julio tequila reached the total amount of 99,154 kuna.

A one night spending spree on that level is downright impossible from journalist's income.

So, for the week in Hvar, it was convenient for my paycheck to serve both to feed my stomach after a relaxing day of SCS (swimming, chilling, and sightseeing), and in the meantime, why not inform the public on Hvar Town budget restaurants. Again, ''cheap eats'' may be a hard to define term, but here are some solutions which will nevertheless see you well fed for a little over 200 kuna. Three restaurants after which you don't have to file for bankruptcy, but you'll still have an enjoyable and quite the in-style dining experience. Why only three, you may ask? Well, I can't confirm these are indeed the only three options, but, well, there was sort of a limited budget involved in the research.

1.) Alviž

With a bus not really being the top of the list of options for the high class, it's convenient that one on-budget restaurant is located right at the Hvar Town bus station. From the outside, Alviž looks like some small diner where you might have to bump into other guests crowded into a small place as you munch on wooden tables and chairs. You might feel hesitant to come in, but one look at the menu that promises delicious meals at much more affordable prices makes it worth visiting. Once inside, you realise that the space is actually luxurious as you're taken to the backyard with a real Dalmatian ambiance. Wooden tables underneath brick rooftops and wooden ledges make way for wine, and you are in for a fantastic dining experience. The red and white wine options are fantastically refreshing, but sadly, the beer options are scarce. The food is served quickly and cooked to perfection. You can find a variety of dishes for under 150 kuna, but as the sides are purchased separately and you need to add the drink, you're in for bill of just over 200 kuna usually. Tested and recommended: Fried squid and four types of cheese pizza. Sadly, the fried squid would have gone well the traditional Dalmatian blitva (chard), but one minus to the venue is that you can't order it as a separate side-dish. Still, the squid and fries go together very well.

 

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Fried squid and four types of cheese pizza © Nina Lelas

2.) Villa Dinka

Here's another restaurant with a strong Dalmatian vibe squeezed in between the Amfora and Pharos hotels. This time, there are no wine grapes growing above you, and it looks a bit more formal, but it is nevertheless a cozy place to dine with a stunning view of the Adriatic and the Paklenski islands to trigger your appetite. Again, the sides must be ordered additionally, but along with one drink, the bill doesn't hit higher than a little over 200 kuna. When dining with one more person, meat platas for two are definitely the best bet for meat lovers in Croatia to both get full and to save money. Villa Dinka is no exception to that rule, but they upped their game and topped the usual meat offer of Čevapi, shish kebab and steaks by also adding lamb chops and beefsteak. A delicious upgrade!

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Meat plata from Villa Dinka © Nina Lelas

3.) Đordota Vartal

Not too far from the Franciscan Monastery, Đordota Varta seems to have been crowned as the best on-budget restaurant in all of Hvar Town. The restaurant was completely filled, but people were persistent in waiting in line, hoping to get some food. Once inside, you could see why. Another typical Dalmatian restaurant, with the craftsmanship of Dalmatia being the leading theme as the restaurant is decorated with saws and other tools people on Hvar used in the past. The dishes are accompanied by sides, but you can order more if needed. The tuna steak is absolutely divine, with big portions cooked to perfection, perhaps one of the best-grilled tuna steak's I've had in all of Croatia. For meat lovers, the satisfactorily filled portion of the traditional Dalmatian Pašticada with gnocchi is a must. The beer and wine selection were alright, but not very memorable thanks to the restaurant's short but well-executed cocktail list, with 50-60 kuna per cocktail it obviously isn't the cheaper thrill to get, but these prices are quite standard for coastal Croatia and more accessible than many drinks from other cocktail bars Hvar has to offer. One sip of that delicious pina colada pays up a triple in pleasure.

If you're too hungry to remember to reserve your table and you're also too hungry to wait for the aforementioned goodies, you can also opt for the restaurant's beach terrace. Sadly, over there, you can only order pizza, but the dedication of the staff will nonetheless make sure that pizza, while affordable, is next level compared to your usual experience.

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Delicious Pašticada and tuna steak © Nina Lelas

Learn more about Hvar on our TC page.

For more about traveling Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 13 August 2021

Croatian Poet Hanibal Lucić: Renaissance Genius from Hvar

August 14, 2021 - Meet Croatian poet Hanibal Lucić, one of the most respected poets from the country's renaissance period and a noble man from the island of Hvar. This is his story.

The richness of Croatia's heritage is evident not only in its many breathtaking buildings, statues and sights but also in its literature. Sadly, Croatian literature doesn't attract as much global attention as it should when compared to the global impact and various language translations that names such as Shakespeare enjoy. Not to mention antic Greek poets and writers, Italian authors such as Dante, and the list goes on.

Things are changing for iconic writers from Croatian history, such as 20th-century writer Miroslav Krleža as well as many of the modern, still active writers, thanks to the Croatian Literature site powered by the Croatian Ministry of Culture.

Prose writing doesn't have too many challenges for a professional translator when it comes to shifting the story from its original language to another, but you can be sure poetry is another story. If you read an English translation of ''The Flowers of Evil“ by Charles Baudelaire, instead of the original French version, did you really read Baudelaire or an author who made an adaptation of the poem into English in as much as was possible?

Either way, not much work done by Croatian poets is widely translated and known globally, but the Croatian poets themselves are known, and their former residences venues carrying their names and statues dedicated to them are part of the cultural offer Croatian destinations have to offer to their visitors.

In Hvar town, not too far from Veneranda, where the former church and famous former Hvar weather station lies, you can find a bust of a bearded man facing the Adriatic sea, and his eyes look as if they have that filter of lyricism, that poet-style introspect in observing the world. That should come as no surprise as the portrayed citizen of Hvar is non-other than Croatian poet, Hanibal Lucić, a nobleman from Hvar.

The exact date of his birth in 1485 isn't clear, but his date of death, December 14, 1553, is well recorded. The Croatian poet Hanibal Lucić was a renaissance poet as well as a playwright who authored the first secular Croatian drama titled ''Robinja'' (the slave woman). He served the Hvar Municipality back in the time when it was part of the Venetian Republic as a judge and a lawyer. His writings feature the Croatian Čakavski dialect (which distinctly uses the word ča for ''what''), and he wrote love poetry under the heavy influence of the legendary love poet Francesco Petrarca. Lucić was notoriously self-critical, and he even burned his work. Thankfully, his son saved his work and it was published in 1556, after his death.

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Hanibal Lucić bust © Nina Lelas

In 2012, the National and University Library in Zagreb (NSK) posted an article in memory of Lucić, stating that he was the greatest writer of Croatian Renaissance poetry.

''We can gather from his literary works that he was exceptionally well-acquainted with classical literature, the Croatian Glagolitic and oral tradition, and the contemporary Italian and Croatian writing of his time. In his poetry, Lucić celebrated his love for women and for female beauty. In their aesthetic quality, Lucić’s poems represent a true masterpiece of Croatian renaissance lyric poetry. He describes beauty and love in the tradition of Petrarch, at the same time drawing on the oral tradition of Croatian love poetry,'' wrote NSK.

His poem „Jur ni Jedna na svit vila“ (No Other Nymph Upon This Earth), one of Lucić's most well-known poems, is an obligatory poem to read in the Croatian education system. You can learn more in this English version of a science paper by Tomislav Bodgan.

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Portrait of Hanibal Lucić © National and University Library in Zagreb (NSK)

On Hvar, his summer residence still stands, and it's open to tourists to visit as its now the headquarters of the Hvar Museum.

''His summer house, the headquarters of the Hvar Museum, is a well-preserved example of the country houses of the Renaissance period, but with clear Gothic influences. Included in the museum is a reception room dedicated to the memory of Hanibal. The museum is also home to the local branch of the Croatian state archives. The opening hours are as follows: 09:00 -13:00 and 17:00 – 23:00 in summer, 10:00 – 12:00 in winter (by appointment),'' wrote Paul Bradbury for Hvar's dedicated Total Croatia page.

So, when in Hvar, do find time to visit the house but also don't forget to visit his bust and seek one of his pick-up lines that can help your banter with that pretty girl on the beach.

Learn more about Hvar on our TC page.

For more about Croatian history, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 13 August 2021

Grgur Bučić: The Croatian Scientist Who Measured Hvar's Sunshine Hours

August 13, 2021 - You came to Hvar expecting sunny days and you weren't conned. Meet and thank Croatian scientist Grgur Bučić who started the weather station on Hvar, one of the first in Croatia, which measured how sunny Hvar really is. 

There's nothing worse than when a traveller on a short holiday on the Croatian coast ends up stuck in their hotel room because of bad weather. Unless you want to risk bad weather sabotaging your Adriatic swimming experience, and maybe if you're lucky to get rescued by indoor pools, you should definitely play it safe and go to Hvar. Known for years as the sunniest Croatian island, there couldn't be a safer place to count on a rain-free holiday.

During my time in Hvar town, the forecast showed rain and uncertain weather on the coast, but even the couple of clouds that formed over Hvar quickly dispersed and probably headed over to the mainland, to Split or elsewhere.

In addition to swimming in the Adriatic, Hvar has plenty of heritage and things to see, like the Spanish Fortress (Tvrđava Španjola), lots of churches (such as St. Stephen’s Cathedral), its historical theatre (the oldest municipal theatre in all of Europe, by the way), an archaeological collection in the former Dominican St. Mark’s Church, and the Natural History Cabinet in the Hanibal Lucić Summer Residence – to name a few. In fact, Hvar boasts more UNESCO heritage than any other island in the world.

One of the other interesting sites is also the Former Church and Monastery of St. Veneranda. As Hvar heritage writes, the church was built in 1561 for the needs of Greek Orthodox sailors who were in the service of Venice. Today, the site serves as an outdoor cinema.

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The former church tower, the former weather station © Nina Lelas

Right next to it, back in 1858, famous Croatian nature scientist Grgur Bučić established a weather station, one of the first in the entire country. Being part of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy at the time, the station was part of the Austrian network of meteorological stations. Thanks to the measures taken under Bučić's expertise, the sunny days of Hvar are not a market scheme to attract tourists in need of clear sunny weather, but an actually very well-advertised scientific fact. In addition, for his experiments with sponge development, Bučić received global recognition, and seven species of sponges, crabs, and fish were named after him. He published articles regarding meteorology and oceanography and also studied insects and marine life. He also pioneered numerous archaeological digs across Croatia, including on Hvar.

Back in 2018, as TCN wrote, the station marked 160 years of existence. Organised by the Hvar Town Library and State Meteorological and Hydrological Service, this celebratory event revealed some interesting historical moments from and about the station. These include polar lights, storms, falling meteors, earthquakes, vineyards destroyed by hail, sunken ships, and epidemics. In 1884, based on data from Bučić himself, climatologist Julius von Hann (often looked upon as the father of modern meteorology) published his work ''Klima von Lesina'' (The climate of Hvar town), the first-ever such book on a Croatian town or area.

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Grgur Bučić © MuzejHvar.com

Today, the Bučić tower is locked, and the path to the church now serves as an outdoor cinema, without that many interesting things to be seen. Could the tower be renovated and showcase the instruments this pioneer station used in the past? Perhaps, and it would certainly be a cool addition to the already extensive offer Hvar has for its visitors.

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Veneranda, location of the station, screenshot / Google maps

While waiting to see what the future may bring, it's worth taking a look at this station, not far from the waterfront and the nearby beaches. Express some gratitude and dedicate a refreshing swim to Bučić himself, a brilliant man whose findings gave us scientific, statistical reassurance that Hvar is the sunniest place in all of Croatia.

Learn more about Hvar on our TC page.

For more about Croatian history, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 26 July 2021

Peak Season Hvar Town 2021: a Destination Returning to High Quality

July 26, 2021 - A visit to peak season Hvar Town 2021, a pleasant experience very different to just a few years ago.

I met an American friend for a drink in Split the other day. A recent arrival in Croatia, he was just back from his first visit to Hvar Town and was waxing lyrical about the island that had been my home for 13 years.

I smiled. Not just as his obvious love and enthusiasm for what really is one of the most beautiful islands in the world, but also that his (correct) perception of elite Hvar Town was a sign that this magical place has once more found its focus after a rather turbulent few years.

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I too had been to Hvar Town last week, my first visit for a while. And it was... different, but in a very pleasant way.  

As I listened to my American friend talking about Hvar's beauty, I filled him in a little on the recent history, commenting just how far Hvar Town had come in such a short space of time. 

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I have been writing about Hvar for over a decade, and with over 9,000 articles written about the island over the years, there is little that I have not covered. And one topic has been the subject of much controversy over the years - Hvar Town and the party. 

Hvar Town is a destination which has it all. The Pakleni islands, a spectacular old town, UNESCO heritage, the oldest public theatre in the world, fabulous food and wine, lively nightlife, beaches to die for, and an outstanding adventure tourism offer. When they all work in tandem, the town is magnificent. 

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But something went badly wrong over the last decade, as the party - always an accepted and welcome part of the tourism makeup - took full control of tourism in Hvar Town. Rather than attracting global headlines for its beauty and culture, Hvar was appearing on lists such as top 7 stag destinations in Europe. The arrival of The Yacht Week brought with it drunken debauchery, The elite waterfront was often taken over by drunken Brits and Aussies, while early morning risers would sometimes have to step over sleeping bodies to go on with their daily business. So bad did things become that the Mayor Riki Novak introduced signs threatening huge fines for people eating, drinking and walking topless on the streets of the historic centre. It was a story which went around the globe.

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Was all that just a bad dream, I asked myself, as I strolled around last week, a question I asked myself again when talking to my American friend. 

Perhaps. 

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Hvar Town 2021 is magnificent! Those infamous signs are there as a reminder of the recent past, but that is all. The nightlife is still there, but now more contained as it used to be. And in its place, the return of quality on every level. No topless drunkards wandering through the main square carrying open cans of beer, just people relaxing in one of the Adriatic's most beautiful towns. 

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There have been a lot of positives in Hvar Town over the last few years, apart from the scaling back of the party. Europe's oldest public theatre reopened on the main square after a 20-year renovation. Opposite, and across Dalmatia's largest square, the island welcomed its first-ever five star hotel in 2019, as Hotel Palace Elisabeth, hvar heritage hotel, opened its doors on the very place where organised tourism began in Europe with the founding of the Hvar Health Society in 1868. 

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In front of the hotel, the iconic Loggia has also been through an upgrade, and the centre of the town has never looked as appealing as it does at the moment, especially in peak season. The numbers are not quite at pre-pandemic level, but the hotels are completely full, and there is a pleasant relaxed buzz about the place.

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Lunch was a chance to catch up on yet one more renovation and upgrade - the new Suncani Hvar Beach Club, located in the spectacular 1927 Bons les Bains colonnade. With every sunbed and cabana already rented out for the day, I had to console myself with a waterfront lunch instead.

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And rather tasty it was, with a shared table including tuna tartare, grilled tuna and shrimp, and lamb chops. 

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The view to the sea is always magnificent, but there is a real feeling that the town itself has recognised its quality offer and is moving on from the party era in search of more discerning guests looking for a more elegant experience that perhaps they have had in recent years. 

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Walking along the waterfront , which was not too busy, was a very pleasant experience, and there were plenty swimming in the little bay next to the 550-year-old Franciscan Monastery. My next meeeting was in Krizna Luka, which was once almost an afterthought compared to the more fashionable centre. But in recent years, it - like the rest of the town - has raised its game. New cafes and restaurants have emerged, and they seem to be growing in popularity with an excellent (and more affordable) offering than in the centre. Krizna Luka is also becoming more central to local life, with more apparently more cafes open there during the winter than in the centre. 

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The pandemic has wreaked much havoc and destruction to tourism all over the world. But  maybe, just maybe, it has also contrinbuted to a tourism mindset reset in certain quarters. Aided by a very focused strategy of the Hvar tourism chiefs, things are finally moving very much in the right direction. 

If you have never been to Hvar, now is the time. 

To learn more about Hvar Town, check out the TC Hvar Town in a Page guide

 

 

 

Saturday, 13 February 2021

Hvar Covered in Snow This Morning Again After Three Years

February 13, 2021 – Have you ever imagined the Croatian island of Hvar covered in snow? It sounds unbelievable for one of the sunniest islands in the Mediterranean, but today it snowed again in Hvar, just like three years ago.

The announced cold front arrived in Croatia, and even in its warmest parts. Even the Croatian island of Hvar was covered in snow this morning.

Three years ago, one of the sunniest islands in the Mediterranean was covered by snow for the first time in 25 years. This morning, the Hvar town people woke up just like in 2018 – seeing their city covered with a thin white blanket.

"It's always nice to see a little bit of winter joy because we don't see it often. We are not used to this, but let it last for a few days. We will endure the cold," said Vedran Dulčić, Hvar native, who sent us a photo from the town of Hvar.

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A view from Hvar Fortress (Fortica), an unavoidable place in Hvar, looks like this today. The Hvar port, perfect blue sea, and Pakleni islands in the background, which a beautiful view overlooks during the summer, are now barely even seen.

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It's also very cold. Hvar residents say that the stormy wind bura started to blow, and they predict (or at least hope) that the snow will not last long. By midday, it already almost melted. However, in 2018, the snow on Hvar stayed for more than a week.

For people who are used to temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius on Hvar, today's only one degree is not pleasant at all, but they try to endure it. Just a few more months and there will be summer, right? Although it is beautiful even in winter conditions, nothing can compare to the beauty that Hvar exudes in summer.

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Thursday, 21 January 2021

Hvar Clock Tower Gets New Attire, Soon Welcomes Its First Visitors

January 21, 2021 - The renovation of the Hvar clock tower, the so-called Leroj from the 15th century, is close to its completion. Once all works are finished, it will open to visitors for the first time.

In the final stage of renovation that started in 2016, the interior of the Hvar clock tower Leroj (meaning hour, clock), finally takes on a new look and acquires a new user value. Located in the very center of Hvar town, along with the city loggia, the clock tower is the only preserved part of the Governor's Palace complex. It was demolished in the early 20th century due to the Empress Elizabeth Hotel's construction, today's Palace Elizabeth Hotel, the first five-star hotel on Hvar.

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Palace Elizabeth Hotel, city loggia, and clock tower in the very center of Hvar / Donatella Pauković

As reported from the City of Hvar, after the completion of works on constructive repairs (according to the project of the engineering bureau Kulić from Split), the works on the interior decoration continued according to the project of the authorized architect Branka Petković.

As part of the project, a hitherto non-existent and much-needed infrastructure was introduced – electricity, water, drainage (sanitary facilities), and the internal walls were arranged. New mezzanine constructures were installed, connected by a complex suspended metal staircase with a continuous panel made of perforated sheet metal.

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The Hvar clock tower now received an exit to the roof terrace paved with stone, just like the ground floor, which has a new entrance door and glass walls.

The original bell from 1564 has been restored. Final works also include installing wooden floor coverings, final varnishing of all metal parts of the interior and staircase, installation of decorative interior lighting, and restoration of the original clock mechanism from the 19th century. The company Neir from Split performs constructive renovation and interior decoration works.

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The square clock tower built east of the city hall loggia was initially part of the Rector's Palace's defense system within the medieval southern walls. In 1564, it was converted into a tower – leroj – by installing a public city clock and bells. It was last restored in 1903, and after the completion of all works, it will be open to visitors for the first time.

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