Thursday, 30 August 2012

My Adriatic Swimming Pool

We actually wanted to go to the south of Italy for the last week of our holidays this summer, but a combination of cheaper flights and some pretty pictures in the travel supplement of the newspaper tempted us further east so, with very little advance planning, we touched down in Dubrovnik airport on Monday of last week.

When I say very little advance planning, I mean neither of us had actually opened the guidebook before we got on the plane. We had, however, booked our accommodation in advance and, after a quick overnight stay in Dubrovnik, we were on the fast ferry to the island of Korcula, just as was intended in our very sketchy planning.

Had I paid a bit more attention to the guidebook, I might have been less surprised by how small the town of Korcula actually was. If Dubrovnik is the pearl of the Adriatic, Korcula is a tiny gem nestling  in the setting of its ramparts and surrounded by rolling green hills and azure sea. You could visit it in half a day but it's the kind of place where you can wander the same streets again and again and always find something new to notice.

Nevertheless, it's fair to say that the island is more suited to outdoor activities and there is plenty of gentle hiking and biking to do. One day we hired bikes in Korcula and cycled to Lumbarda, where there are a couple of the Dalmatian coast's rare sandy beaches, then got horribly lost trying to walk to a lighthouse with a very inadequate map, and on another we got the bus up to the inland town of Krnovo and hiked back down, enjoying stunning views of the town, the sea and the mainland on the way.

Mostly, though, it was a bit hot for walking and cycling, especially up steep hills, but that didn't mean that being active was out of the question, because the coast of Croatia is a swimmer's paradise. Like a visual reminder that coastline really is as long as you can measure it to be, it zigzags in and out, with tiny pebbled beaches hidden in every nook and cranny among the rocks. Because of the shingle and the sea-urchins, it's a good idea to wear plastic shoes, and a mat for lying on the rocky (or sometimes concrete) surfaces is a good idea, but the water is crystal clear and sparkling, then turning into the deepest blue as it stretches out in front of you like a genuine infinity swimming pool. There's barely any tide, and the waves tend to come from passing boats, but it mostly gets deep quickly, meaning that you can really swim, rather than just splashing around, and it's so salty that when you get tired you can just lie on your back and float and admire the scenery around you.

The other memorable thing we did on Korcula was watch a performance of Moreska, which is a type of traditional dancing/martial art combined with swords. The dancers/fighters were members of a local association and they were truly amazing. Sparks were flying from the blades of the sword as they struck right and left, with the dancers spinning in circles in the combat, and the weapons were definitely sharp because one of the performers was injured and had to discreetly wipe his bleeding hands on the white cloth they all wore as part of their costumes. That show was probably the one stressful moment in what was otherwise a very relaxing four days!


  1. Looks lovely! This is a part of Europe I don't know at all.

  2. Wow, looks great. A good friend of mine is Croatian (there's quite a big community in Auckland if you go to Catholic school like I did)and growing up in the days before the internet I always used to tease her that she came from a land of pine forests, eternal snow and howling wolves. Suffice it to say I've been proven wrong time and time again with people's amazing holiday photos, but I still wind her up with it sometimes!

  3. Oh my gosh - that water! *dreamy sigh*. It reminds me of the coastline around the east coast of Puglia - which makes sense ...