Written by Matt Rademacher

Korcula Fortress

On our way to Korcula we visit the Paklinski Islands. Recognized as one of the last pristine and undeveloped islands in the Mediterranean. The islands are very popular for swimming and snorkeling. The islands have many indented bay inlets that are ideal for sailboat anchoring.

We find a cove called Store Stone Beach that is vacant and anchor there for the night. Our guide book says this area is a good place for catching octopus. There are many fish swiming around our boat easily seen in the clear water.

We watch a distant passenger cruise ship pass as the sun sets. Jim plays Pink Floyd Meddle album as he experiments with different ingredients to mix with a Croatian plum liqueur. 

In the morning we gently sail down wind towards Korcula. As we leave the Palaski islands we can now see an old fortress on the side of hill above Hvar Town. It’s very impressive when viewed from the sea. Google search calls it Spanish Fort.

The wind is gentle but pointed just right for wing and wing, (main sail on one side of the boat, jib sail on the other side of the boat). We see a large open cavern at the base of a cliff on the south side of the Hvar Island. Google search calls it the Sveta Nedjelja Cave Monastery.

The cave has an impressive interior which was used in Neolithic times as a shelter. In the 16th century an Augustan monastery and church was built inside the cave. The church is dedicated to Our Lady of Snows. There is also a well with fresh water inside the cave.

Below the cave on the coast is the village of Sveta Nedjelja. Surrounding the old village are steep sloping south facing vineyards. The most famous grape variety grown here is Plavac mali. Wines made from this grape have a reputation as the best of the Croatian red wines.

We approach a long peninsula extending from the mainland as we leave Hvar. Paralleling the peninsula is Korcula Island. We spend night between small islet and Korcula island. Jim makes a good Hungarian goulash. That evening Jim helps Tony win first place at cards. Tony picks honorary loafer. I come in second and become Captain of all navigable Mediterranean waters. Jacque is third and picks admiral cook. Jim gets dishwasher and the title pathetic loser.

In the morning we make sail into the old fortress town of Korcula. Diana had days earlier reserved a Korcula marina slip for us.

The marina is directly next to the old fortress walls. Our marina boat slip is very close to the waterfront boardwalk making easy access to the fortress. After giving our boat papers to the marina office the 4 of us go explore the old fortress. Jim and I climb an extreamly narrow spiral staircase that takes us up into a bell tower that looks over the old red tiled roofs of the fortress. We notice some of the homes and apartments have lush open garden courtyards. There are various tourists signs boasting this is Marco Polo’s home town.

We sit down at an empty seaside cafe for lunch. The waiter recommends a selection of foods. Tony doesn’t like the quality of the menu paper and says, “If their menus look like this then what does the kitchen look like?” We are now doomed to only enjoy the finest so we apologize to the waiter and continue another seaside cafe that has better quality paper menus.

At another restaurant a young waitress hands us nice quality menus and recommends a local red wine she likes. She fumbles with the wine bottle corkscrew, breaks the cork it in half, explains she is newly hired from North Macedonia, still learning how to open a wine bottle. We enjoy her bouncy bubbly company and tell her we will continue to order bottles of wine from her so she can learn how to open them. It’s win win.

When we were up in the bell tower we saw a tall fortress gun turret that has tables and a beverage bar. We climb up narrow ladder to the top. I’m curious how they get all the bottles of wine up the narrow ladder. I see they have small pulley cart bolted to outside of the fortress wall. The waiter at the top phones for drinks at a bar lower in the tower which then place wine on the cart and hoisted up to the tower top.

Pulley wall cart to get wine up to top of tower

We cry for joy when Diana returns on the Split ferry. She brought some of the leftover wedding cake for us. Also brought some of her mothers home made apple strudel.

She makes us a Croatian cuttlefish dish. It’s completely black from squid ink. We have seen pictures of this black dish on the restaurant menus. We have been too frightened to order it. Since Diana prepared the meal we will certainly eat it. Anything Diana makes is delicious.

Cuttlefish in black squid ink

Tony wins first place again at cards. This time on his own. He chooses loafer. We complain he is no good at loafing and he must work harder at it.

The next day Jim and I rent little 50cc scooters. Top scooter speed 35 mph. Half of the sky to the north was black with clouds. Weather report was cold, windy with 80% chance of rain. Tony and Jacque has no interest joining us, too cold. We packed raincoats and warm clothes under the scooter seat and headed out to explore the island countryside. The day warmed up so we were comfortable. Didn’t rain on us.

We saw open vineyards on rolling hills. Wild olive tree groves. Lots of one lane twisty forested roads. Our tour book says this island has the densest forests and largest trees in Dalmatia. The name Korcula is derived from dark shaded forest.

The undergrowth is thick and almost impenetrable. Common roadside bush is the Bay Laurel. Laurel wreaths is what Greek and Romans wore on their heads for aromatic relaxing smell. Open clearings have a variety of wild edible and aromatic plants namely: sage, rosemary, lavender, mint, marjoram, basil, oregano and thyme. Climatic conditions allow oranges, lemons and tangerines to grow in residential yards.

We hiked up a hill to a church. Passed a large gathering of people eating in a courtyard. I notice their are no cars in the area so the people eating must live in the nearby homes.

We went through vineyard area. We stopped by a winery and introduced us to Grk wine (pronounced gurk). A fascinating wine that only grows here in this Lumbarda village. Grk has a long and storied history, dating back to the 5th century AD, when the Ancient Greeks colonized the Adriatic. The word Grk means Greek in Croatian. The grape vine only has female flowers. It must be cross-pollinated with male flowers, usually Plavac Mali. Grk is a full-bodied sweet white wine. The kind that stands strong on its own, announcing its presence. We buy a bottle to take with us.

We follow a road that takes us to a car ferry dock. This ferry makes many trips to the mainland each day.

Tony kept looking for good seafood restaurants. Tony’s restraunt picks have worked well. Tony found one he liked that had an open grill that filled the area appetizing smoky smell. Tony and Jim shared a fish plate. We enjoy more bottles of local wine.

Tomorrow we will sail to the national park on the island of Mljet. In Homer’s The Odyssey the Island of Mljet is where nymph Calypso seduces Ulysses into staying 7 years with her. The gods gives him tools to build a boat so he can escape.

Tomorrow I’m captain. I give instructions we will have early morning sea nymph safety training followed by vigorous calisthenics.

4 thoughts on “Korcula

  1. Hi. A old friend of Laura’s and then Jim. Just wanted to say, I LOVE the stories. I appreciate the detail, learning so much and of course, the humor. I wish you continued safe travels and plenty of adventures and memories! Enjoy!


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