Korĉula was a charming little hideaway, frozen in time, and relatively unscathed by the wars of the last century that destroyed so many other Croatian coastal towns. Surrounded by mountains and sea it feels like you’re in a different world at a different time. I wish we had come a month earlier to experience the beaches and been able to scooter around the island without the rain but we were still dazzled and probably more relaxed.
Traveling to the islands in the off season certainly has some challenges. The normal catamarans mostly stop running which makes timing the few that remain difficult. And since most townies don’t want to pay for parking in old towns most of the food options are closed. And by most I mean like all but one or two. Unless you like eating the same pizza for every meal you’re probably going to be cooking for yourself a bit. Which is fine by me, it saves some money. But a workable kitchen is helpful.
But there are some advantages, mainly no crowds to fight. Often you’re the only tourists in town. So all the people you meet really are local. And the things going on aren’t fake. We’ve run across two weddings in a week or so. I’m starting to think they’re timed to miss the tourist hoards. And it’s fun to watch, if at a distance. Weddings here are a pretty exciting thing. Local traditional bands with harmonizing singers, waving flags, public dancing, drinking, a real street party.
We could hear the singing from our apartment so we raced down to see what was going on and came back after the ceremony to mill around the party in the square. The music is fantastic. It’s kind of like Mexican mariachi music, but different. Deep harmonizing male vocals, guitars and an accordion. I tried to minimize the gawking tourist factor by not snapping a bunch of pics but I got a couple stealth pics while pretending to use my phone.
Old town is pretty cool. It’s a small peninsula entirely covered by a walled medieval city complete with menacing towers. Originally the small city had 12 towers and a 60 foot wall all the way around. These days it’s down to like 3-4 with most of the tall wall taken down. But it’s still beautiful. The entire space packed with tall stone buildings where people actually live, a square at the top of the hill and a variety of beautiful community buildings, churches, and your normal medieval structures. You can walk the entire town in about a half hour. Pretty hard to get lost here. But it’s very charming.
Leaving old town
You exit old town down an impressive grand stairway. Most of the shops here are tourist oriented and closed for the season, save two townie restaurants that we enjoyed quite a bit and a little grocery store. The walk between here and the bus station is a maze of interesting bars and shops, almost entirely closed, leading to the main road up the hill which at the top sits a large Tommy “Hipermarket” which is somewhere between a super Walmart and a mall. Its a bit of a hike up the hill but has a good view. In addition to the large grocery store there’s an open restaurant, shoe store, furniture store, clothes store, pharmacy and other shops in a three story building. Katy was very excited to see a hipermarket.
Caffe Bar Step
Step is a great little townie coffee shop and pizza joint right over the market at the entrance to old town usually with a mix of locals of all ages. Pretty affordable place. I had a good sized pizza for our first meal in town for about 60kn. We later had lunch here too and I got a “pizza sandwich” which turned out to be a huge 18″ calzone for 28kn (~$4). Plus they have a full bar, draught beer, espresso, and good wifi.
We might not have found this place if our host had not pointed it out to us on a map. It’s only about 50 feet from Step near the old town entrance but it’s hidden in the middle of a cluster of buildings down a tight alley. This place felt entirely local. The menu was in Croatian-only and our thick moustached server struggled through to explain each dish in broken English. Very simple. Mixed meat (a common plate of beef, chicken, and sausage with fries), a risotta, a hand rolled pasta, octopus, a steak, and the daily special, which that day was roasted pork with a warm bean and onion salad for 40kn or about $6 (yes please!). Nothing pretentious about this place. We loved it!
Emulsified sausage (part 4)
Part 4 in my continuing series on delicious emulsified sausage products in Croatia: mystery tube meat. Ok, ok, I honestly hesitated in including this little experiment because I don’t think most people will fall in love with this product but it’s interesting to me so, I’ll make you suffer through as well.
In every Croatian supermarket, separate from the variety of sausages, you’ll find a section of brightly packaged plastic tubes, kind of what you might expect breakfast sausage to come in. Big ones, little ones, and none of it I recognize. Being adventuresome I picked one up on a whim assuming it was ready to go for sandwiches. I felt a little more confident with this particular one because it had some English on the packaging and a picture (most do not). And called out chicken and turkey and importantly cooked.
When I opened it up later it was exactly what I expected, a chicken and turkey emulsified sausage, very similar to bologna. I sliced it up with some cheese on a sandwich and it was as delicious as bologna, I know that description varies for some people, but it was really good. I had a second one.
Our apartment stairs
I also wanted to share what the stairs from our apartment to our sleeping loft looked like. This thing descends a little over 15 feet in the distance of 3-4 feet. It’s basically a ladder. Pretty treacherous for middle of the night groggy bathroom runs.