Korčula: The Shy, Soothing Island
Korčula is cool by design. It’s old town was designed by the Venetians. The ocean breezes weave through the carefully laid out streets designed by the Venetians to optimize the natural cooling properties of the wind. Korčula is shy and laid back. She is the friend who takes care of you when you need to be soothed and comforted. She is not fancy or flashy. She is intimate and cares deeply about her home and her inhabitants
We ride to Korčula via the catamaran ferry. Riding the catamaran to the islands is like riding a Hop On Hop Off ferry. The line runs from Dubrovnik to Split everyday with stops at Mijet, Korčula, Hvar, Brac and Split. We buy all our tickets for all our island stops at the Jadrolinija office in the port of Dubrovnik the day we arrive. The tickets are very affordable and easy to purchase up front. Buying them in advance makes island hoping easy and stress free. The ferry is air-conditioned, has food and beverages and plenty of indoor seating. There are shelves at the entrance on which you can store your luggage.
We arrive in Korčula on Saturday night. My ankles are swollen. The skin on my shins glisten with the red raw meat look of a third degree burn. The entire island of Korčula is draped in red and white checkered banners and flags. Everyone is wearing a Croatian soccer jersey. In the square next to the port in an outdoor amphitheater a DJ is playing American pop music next to a giant screen. It is the day that Croatia plays Portugal in the Euro Cup in the sweat sixteen level. As we walk to our hotel, the dreary Hotel Park, dragging our rolling suitcases behind us, we pass outdoor restaurants and bars with television screens mounted on the exterior walls.
That night, we perch precariously on a wall in the square squeezed between the entire population of the island. All eyes are transfixed on the screen. It is less than three minutes in the game after two extra times and the score is nil, nil. Suddenly Croatian hits the post and the entire island erupts in shouts of joy thinking Croatia has scored. They cheers become stifled cries of anguish as Portugal rushes to the opposite end of the field and scores amidst the confusion. The island and all of her people hang their heads in unison. Silence and bitter disappointment engulf the crowd.
That night, the island’s soothing nature lulls us to sleep. Early the next morning, we head to the old town to explore. We climb to the top of the Revelin Tower to see the view from above the port. The tower contains a museum dedicated to the Moreška dance. This dance is a traditional sword dance which is performed in the courtyard of the Revelin every Thursday night. The dance centers around two battling kings and a veiled princess. Marco Polo is also said to have been born on this island. Claudia buys a compass at the Marco Polo Shop.
We eat lunch at Cafe Cupedo at outdoor tables lined up against the old town’s wall. Unlike the walls of Dubrovnik, the walls of Korčula have been lowered to half their original height in order to capitalize on the cooling breezes that flow through the town. Our fixed price lunch consists of bread, salad, swordfish, vegetables and fig cheese cake for the equivalent of $16.50. Korčula also has many fine wines that are made from grapes from the island. At a local wine shop, Tociona Vina, we test Popić Grk, a wonderfully light white wine, and Dingač, Croatia’s version of Zinfandel.
After lunch and wine tasting, we following the stairs from the wall down to the water. I dip my blistering legs in the cool, soothing waters. Everything about Korčula is refreshing, the breeze, the water, the food, the wine and the people. There are no hordes of tourists or laser pulsing discos. There is only quiet and tranquility. We wander back to the hotel, aimlessly drifting through the pedestrian only back streets. We turn a corner and above us fly dozens of colorful umbrellas held by invisible hands.
Life is an adventure, not a destination. Life it in soothing peace and tranquility.