This morning (Friday Oct. 25) we had two activities, both of which we enjoyed a lot. At 9 AM our guide Juge (pronounced Yoo-Ga) gave us a lecture, with graphics and maps, to explain the history of the former Yugoslavia countries. There was a lot to keep track of, but she made it really understandable. It was especially interesting when she talked about living through the bombing of her hometown of Dubrovnik in the early 1990s, and her worries about whether her son would be home safe from school each afternoon.
While this was going on, the boat was heading northwest, until we simply stopped between two small islands, when the captain cut the engines so we could stop for a swim break. About 10 of the 26 passengers dove into the Adriatic Sea, including me. It was not cold at all, which surprised me. They even had pool noodles, if anyone wanted to use one. It had been several years since I last swam in salt water (in Thailand five years ago), and I had forgotten how salty it is, and how easy it is to swim. A nice surprise was that they had a freshwater hose and nozzle at the top of the steps, so we could rinse off right away. We relaxed for an hour on the sundeck (which has lots of shade if you want it), and then had a filling lunch.
By this time the boat was docking in Hvar Town, on the western end of Hvar Island. We had a guided walk of the old town - a lot of stone steps and churches. We also stopped into a convent with 6 cloistered nuns who make extremely delicate decorative lace from the fibers of the agave plant. There are some very narrow "streets" that consist of hundreds of steps. Later I took off by myself to explore the residential area. People who live here are in great shape!
Dinner was on our own tonight, so John & I found a restaurant where I got a veggie pizza and John ate a hamburger.
The weather continues to be spectacular - apparently this is unusual. Many of the shops have closed because this is the tail end of the tourist season. I can't imagine being here in the heart of the summer, but apparently many Europeans crave really hot weather. This is perfect as far as I'm concerned!
John writing now
One thing that we have noticed is how clean all of the towns are. There is not one piece of litter anywhere, and graffiti is nonexistent. We asked our guide about this, and she said it is that way in all Croatian towns. There are not many public toilets, and they all charge about a dollar to enter! These are in towns that require tourists to exist. You would think they would cater to their meal tickets. The Adriatic on this side is exceptionally clean because there is no industry, and no rivers that empty into the sea. There are mountains that drop precipitously into the sea along this coast so there is no watershed except rock.