Wednesday, May 17, 2017
We had our alarms set for 4:30 am and after a shower for Brian and packing we were ready to meet the rest of the group outside at 6:40 am. It was already light outside and so quiet - actually quite nice to be outside this early in the morning! We walked down to the dock where the ferry came in and at exactly 7:00 am we left for an hour and a half boat ride to the island Hvar - our next stop.
After a pleasant boat ride with a cup of tea for Eke, a cup of coffee and a croissant for Brian, we arrived at Hvar before 9 am. Our group had accommodations in two different places. We had to walk at least 10 minutes with our heavy backpacks through town and a few stairs to our "apartment" . We two had a bedroom, bathroom and a kitchen with a small balcony. So nice to be able to make a cup of tea! The only drawback was that the WiFi didn't work inside - we had to go out on the street to make an internet connection.
After getting our stuff settled a bit, we met de group for a "real" breakfast at a patio on the town square. Eke had her favourite: yoghurt with fruit and granola. Brian had bacon and eggs! After breakfast the group went to climb up to the Spanish Fort on top of the hill. Brian's knees were definitely not up for that after the biking adventure of the day before and we decided that a nice walk to the park was more to our liking. We did just that and enjoyed the quiet, the birds, and the smells of the pine trees. We ended up at a Grand Beach Resort where the luxury of the whole place with it's private beach, chairs, pools, etc. jumped out at us. We decided that we prefer staying in the back street where the people really live and make a living by renting out a few rooms.
It was getting very hot and Brian decided it was time for him to have a nap and take it easy. Eke decided that she would do a bit more walking around - which she did. She explored a few more side streets with little shops and restaurants; got some money from the ATM and then saw Prim at a patio. She joined him for a cold drink and had a nice chat with him. After that she bought some groceries at the super market and a dessert at the bakery. We had lunch on the balcony and then enjoyed a quiet afternoon sitting there, and rested a bit before we met everyone at the town square for our dinner experience - prepared for us by Ivan, our tour leader.
Our group was picked up at the bus station in a "purple party bus". We were driven out of town over the island which was very picturesque with a rugged coastline, hills and valleys with small villages and a winding road through it all. With the top down, loud thumping music blaring, we ended up at a farm in Stari Grad. It was extremely picturesque with vineyards, olive oil trees, lavender fields, a garden with lots of vegetables plus chickens and donkeys. At the farm they make their own wine, olive oil and lavender products. We had a tour through the garden, the winery (where we were treated to the private, new wine of the owner), a visit with the chickens and donkeys and saw the processing of lavender oil . They also operate an outdoor restaurant where we were treated to three different kinds of wine by Ana, our hostess. We had an appetiser of a plate with cheese, salami, anchovies and olives. We were also taught about the different kinds of olive oil and the different processing methods for traditional olive oil, the virgin olive oil and the extra virgin olive oil. The virgin olive oil is good for cooking because it has already been processed under high heat.
The dinner was freshly harvested potatoes with lamb meat roasted in a bell-shaped oven for hours so everything was cooked very well, served with a green salad. It tasted very good. Neither one of us is a real fan of lamb meat, but it tasted good. For dessert there were three different kinds of grappa. Grappa is made of the solid remains of grapes after the pressing, containing skins, pulp, seeds and stems of the fruit.It is neither aged nor coloured. It is 35 - 60% alcohol by volume. They had the original one, a fig infused one and a honey infused one. We also had pieces of very light pastry covered with icing sugar. Again, it was a wonderful experience to eat a good meal, being taught all about the farm, the business, the wine, the olive oil, lavender by a very engaging, professional hostess. We learned a lot and had a wonderful time.
The drive back in our party bus was quiet. Another interesting day!