After a quick beer at The Flying Horse pub. We board easyJet 5429 and take off from LGW London Gatwick at 4:50pm. We land in DBV at 8:25pm. We hop in the rental van and drive towards Orebić, a town toward the far end of the Pelješac Peninsula. Near our destination, we pull over and have a fish dinner with potatoes and greens, paired with white wine. We arrive to Villa Carpe Diem, our Airbnb for the next six days, and check-in. It is a large house with many rooms, a large kitchen, a swimming pool and beach access. The place is perfect.
After breakfast at home, we take the Jadrolinija line MV Sveti Krševan to Korčula island. It is a perfect day, about 72° out with a slight sea breeze. The blue skies, azure and aqua ocean, sun-bleached orange terracotta rooftops and green mountains in the distance combine to make a kaleidoscope of Mediterranean colors. We tour the Marco Polo's house and climb a tower with superb views over over the town and bay beyond. Every building is made of faded white stone, covered with the classic orange roof tiles native to this region; each tile affected differently from the elements causing randomly different hues of orange. It is getting hotter so Kai, Eyza, Zac and I jump into the ocean. We all grab drinks at a local bar and watch the sunset. The ferry ride home is magical with the sky darkening every moment.
After brunch, we stroll up to the Korta Katarina winery for a tour and wine tasting. They recommend Nonno, Lesic Dimitri, Konoba Aterina on Korčula and Karako and Restaurant Stari Kapetan on Orebić. So much to do! At night we walk down the beach and visit the Hookah bar Orebić for drinks and nice night sea views.
After breakfast we drive down to the bay and grab our private boat for a cruise to Mljet National Park. We rent bike and pedal around the lake, stopping only for an ice-cold beer. We catch the small boat for St. Mary Island. We find Nick and have another round of cold beers. I take a quick underwater swim and see the giant fan mussels; they are over 12" long! The boat cruises to bay for lunch and snorkeling where I rescue some plastic trash sitting at the bottom of the ocean. After returning to Orebić we walk around town. I find a cafe serving local recipes and order squid, zucchini, and potato and greens. I wish I could have this type of food every day.
After breakfast, we take the van over to Korčula island. By chance we find the Konoba Mate around 10 kilometers down a small road. Luckily they have room for our big group. This turns out to be our best meal in Croatia. We have zucchini blossoms in marinara sauce, fish, chicken, greens, and Intrada red wine. We swim more and chill.
In the morning I take one last walk into town and find a local kitchen called Domaća Spiza. I try the seafood salad, two baked mussels and white fish. We reluctantly check out of our villa and drive towards Dubrovnik. For lunch we stop at Kapetanova kuca in the small town Mali Ston. The restaurant is across a water inlet. Fresh seafood, veggies and pasta are the theme. The rest of the dive along the coast is beautiful. Things get a tad hectic upon arriving to Dubrovnik. Our accommodation is in the old town, where you can't drive. We pull the van as close as possible to the western entrance of the old town, dump our gear, and find ridiculously overpriced parking nearby for the van. We lug our gear over a bridge, through the Pile Gate, down some stone stairs, along Stradun, the main drag of the old city, and finally arrive at Petra House Stradun, our Airbnb home for the next two days. Check-in is easy and my room is perfect. The ceilings are 5 meters high and my windows open onto the Stradun below where I can see countless tourists maneuvering about. I take a walk and memories of my visit 10 years earlier return. Evening approaches and I suddenly notice scores of Alpine Swift birds darting between all the buildings, all letting out a harmony of lights bird sounds. It is surreal and a bit eerie to watch all the birds dodge the many obstacles of the old town. What are they looking for? I could watch the birds for a while but diner awaits. Luckily we find a last-minute reservation at Proto for our large group, where we sit outside in the alleys of the old town. I order my usual grilled fish and vegetables and pair with a white Croatian wine. After dinner we all hit up La Bodega bar for a cocktail. The bar is near the large Luza Square and ancient Church of Saint Blaiseto. After drinks a select few hit up the Revelin Culture Club by the east Ploče Gate. The DJ plays great Euro-electronica and we dande into the wee hours. At one point Lizzy orders a rounds of Pepsi to pep us up a bit. Around 3am I head home and retire.
It was a late night, but I force myself out of bed early so I may walk the city walls. Morning is the best time as the weather is cool and the easterly sun illuminates the ancient village adding a golden hue to the orange clay roof tiles. The views are iconic. The deep blue Adriatic see beyond glistens and tempts my warm body that is heating up from the sun and climbing all these stairs along the walls. For two hours I walk around the entire old city taking in view after view. Perhaps late afternoon would be a nice time to view the city from the south side, but alas, my ticket is only good for one entry and I am getting too hot and hungry to hang out up here all day. I exit down and meet Jon, Rob and Violet at the Taj Mahal Bosnian restaurant on a small breezy side street named Nikole Gučetića. We sit outside and share a lunch of salad, soup, stuffed peppers, cevapi (traditional grilled minced meat) and other tasty dishes. After lunch I wander around the old town with the goal try and walk on every street in the old city. At one point I leave the western end of the old city and wander up the road I took 10 years earlier when I last visited. With the temperature rising, I return to the shade of the old side and walk along Ulica Ispod Mira, the road next to the southern wall of the old city. I find a hole in the wall and climb through. On the other side, perched on a cliff, I find the busy Bard Mala Buža bar. The views of the deep blue Adriatic are phenomenal. People are enjoying drinks, sun bathing and jumping off ledges, some 10 meters high, into the cool sea below. I jump in for a swim and everything is perfect. I realize I have to get more of the crew here so I head home, rally those I can find and suddenly Zac, April Wynn and I are back at the cliff side bar. Wynn takes a 10-meter jump over us while we swim in the water. He splash is like a cannonball. After some time in the water we head home and get ready for dinner. We have drinks before dinner at the cool Wine Bar Matuško. Around dusk I again notice hundreds of Alpine Swift birds flying haphazardly around. I try to follow one bird but they are too fast, and there are too many. We then walk across town to the tranquil Poljana Rudjera Boskovica square for an outside dinner at Kopun. I order the fresh Adriatic tuna carpaccio. Several of us grab some late night drinks at Above 5 rooftop bar, apparently one of only a few rooftop bars in the old town. The night views are nice. I take one last walk around the old town, hitting up the back streets where bars are hopping and 20- and 30-somethings are partying until dawn. At one point I give up and head home.
We drive our van rental to DBV. The line to check in is out the door. There appears to be some organization with different airlines counters, but a sign at the front of four lines in the center of the terminal say, ALL FLIGHTS. There are hundreds of people in line and it is unclear where to go. As our flight is approaching fast it would be great to know where to go. Eventually we check our bags, clear immigration and hurriedly board Norwegian Air Shuttle 1905, sit in seat 5f and we take off at 9:35am.