July 2021: The Dalmatia Coast. Jean and I explored Sibenik, Dubrovnik, Hvar, and Split in the past couple of weeks. For highlights, read on!
Croatia’s Dalmatia is undoubtedly stunning. We enjoyed the history, food, and views as we meandered up and down the coast by car and ferry. Each city shone in its unique way: Sibenik’s food, Dubrovnik’s Walled Fortress, Korchula’s seaside restaurants, and Split’s magnificent Roman Palace and Marjan Park. And of course, Hvar.
Who has ever heard of Sibenik? Not me. Who loves the food of Sibenik? ME!!! And Jean too. Our best food experiences (to date) were here, with a lovely café in a former monastery botanical garden, a rooftop view of the harbor, and Konoba (Tavern) Providenca. Providenca is a tiny place, seven tables total, all outdoors. Tony, the chef, personally takes your order, makes suggestions (follow them!), and cooks everything on the stone grill right there. Marina, the hostess, shares her homemade brandy. Local cats hang at the edge, hoping for a boon. Again, Jean has a wonderful write-up on CK. And finally, our BnB host, Branimir, at Pio’s, was great!
Tourists usually pack elbow-to-elbow in Dubrovnik in the summer. This year, children played in the mostly empty streets, and seniors swam off the rocky coast early in the morning. It was wonderful.
The fortified city impresses with massive bulwarks. A walk along its old walls rewards with great views, even as it exhausts you with the heat and hills. Dubrovnik has a “touristy” reputation, and I did not expect to like it, but I did (despite my souvenir scar!).
Fun fact: one of our most common words from 2020 was “quarantine.” The word derives from Venetian “quarantena,” meaning 40 days. This is the period traders in Dubrovnik (then a part of the Venetian Republic) had to isolate before entering the city during the plague.
Hvar brings the best memories from Dalmatia. We connected with my brother Doug and his wife Allie there! It was great to connect and explore together. Our favorite part, the food adventure Allie arranged for Wine, Food, and Blues! Jean did an excellent write-up on CK; follow the link for the details.
Split is Croatia’s “second capital.” The city has drawn visitors for centuries. Roman Emperor Diocletian, the only emperor to “retire,” built a massive palace here after 20 years in power. Visitors often ask, “where is the palace.” The answer is, “you are in it!” Most of the old town, built in the medieval period, lies within the old palace walls. The basements to the palace are still intact and make an interesting historical tour. I also loved Marjan Park. It is tough running up the hill, but it has stunning views across both harbors near the cross.
Fun Fact: The sculpture is not Dumbledor or Gandalf, but Grgur Ninski. Bishop Gregory of Nin strongly opposed the church in 926AD, insisting that priests use local language (Croatian) for mass rather than Latin so ordinary people could understand. He was 1000 years ahead of his time; Vatican II ratified us of vernacular in 1965. Gregory’s efforts effort helped spread Christianity in the Balkans, but he upset the establishment. As a result, the church abolished his Bishopric.
A friend from New Your sent me a text just as we left Dubrovnik. He and his family were sailing the Dalmatia Coast, stopping here and there. Another friend from Munich was on Instagram, doing the same just a few weeks prior. Next time, we need to go by yacht!