CROATIA PHOTO JOURNAL, PART 2: Washing Ashore in Korcula

From the ancient city and Roman ruins of Split, which you can read about in Part One of my Croatian photo journal, our Insight Vacations group made its way along the Dalmatian Coast to the enchanting island of Korčula, the only island in the country that is solely accessible by ferry. Originally settled between the 10th and fifth millennia BC, Korčula is almost as rich in history as the surrounding Adriatic is with fish and we were sure to sample both as we stepped off the ferry onto one of the most picturesque and historic island getaways you’ll ever find.

Scroll through the pages that follow for all of the pictures from the second leg of our trip.

The View

EDITKorčula19

After a long ferry ride into Korčula – okay, so it wasn’t that long and they served us wine during the trip – we arrived at the Hotel Marko Polo. I dropped my bags, pulled back the window curtains, opened the shutters and took in the view above. The hotel pool in the foreground gives way to the blue of the Adriatic, the breathtaking mountains across the water and the red roofs of the Old City visible in the distance. Take my word for it — a view like this, combined with the fresh sea breeze, every morning is better than coffee.

The Old City

EDITKorčula09

A short stroll down the hill from our hotel toward the Old City brings me to the base of the 13th century Veliki Revelin Tower, the southern entrance to the historic island centre. A climb up the stairs and beneath the tower, inscribed with the winged lion symbol of St. Mark, leads visitors into a labyrinth of centuries-old sun-drenched streets, lined with houses and churches and local shops. If you follow some long enough you’ll find yourself in a town square, where you can sip coffee, enjoy an authentic meal or snap a few pics. Other streets lead you down to the edge of the island, where stunning views of a different variety await.

EDITKorčula11

The Coast

EDITKorčula15

There isn’t a spot along Korčula’s beautiful coast that doesn’t stop travellers in their tracks, whether you’re walking the island, taking a cycling tour or preparing to dive into the Adriatic for an afternoon snorkel. Two of my favourite coastal locales, however, bookend the Old City. Above, a shot of the harbor and picturesque promenade lined with palm trees and benches, taken from the rooftop of a Korčulan home. And below, on the coast outside of the island’s ancient ramparts, you can catch a glimpse of the mountains that lay just a skip across the sea. Oh, and that guard tower on the wall? Yeah, that’s now a bar. So head up there and toast some of the most beautiful scenery in Europe.

EDITKorčula17

War and Peace

EDITKorčula05

From the Romans to the Venetians to the Hungarians, French and the Italians again, Korčula has a history of being conquered over the centuries. And with it’s beauty and position along the Adriatic trade route, it’s not difficult to understand why. It hasn’t always been easy for the island to maintain its independence, but the cannons that line the side of the island that faces the wide-open sea are remnants of a time when Korčula fought back.

The ancient churches on the island, however, speak to the peace that Korčula currently enjoys. There’s a certain serenity – spirituality even – that visitors experience as they casually explore the island, walking in the footsteps of history with the music of the sea ever-present in the background.

EDITKorčula12

Faces in the Architecture

EDITKorčula03

In many ways, Korčula boasts an almost monastic aesthetic – humble, not overtly flashy or extravagant. There are no Eiffel Tower or Coliseum-like attractions here. In fact, truth be told, the streets are rather simple. It’s a tourist haven but also home to folks who live in the heart of the Old City. There’s laundry hanging from windows in public squares, kids playing in the streets and locals around every corner. In many ways this historic Old City retains the feel of a rural village. And yet, if you look for it, you’ll find faces in the architecture — even looking down on you from the underside of a balcony — and the remains of stunning architecture that reminds visitors of both the history, and the elegance, that this island offers.

EDITKorčula18

The Food

EDITKorčula08

Speaking of what this island offers, the food here is magnificent. Sure, you can score some succulent lamb or other meats, yummy veggies, great pizza and delicious desserts. But when you’re steps from the sea at almost every turn, it’s the fish you want to sample. From squid to cuttlefish to full seafood platters, when in Korčula be sure to indulge in the fruits of the sea. And with views like the one above from the restaurant patios, every meal is an experience.

The Final Lap

EDITCoastAfterKorcula

Like seemingly every locale along the Dalmatian Coast, it’s so difficult to pack up and move on. After all, with the unmatched scenery, centuries of history and bountiful seafood dishes, what place could top Korčula? I wasn’t convinced that anywhere else in Croatia could, but when I heard that we were travelling next to the city known as “the Jewel of the Adriatic” I had a feeling we were in for a treat …

For more on Mike’s travels along the Dalmatian Coast, see the May 2016 issue of Zoomer magazine, on newsstands now. Part Three of Mike’s Dalmatian Coast photo journal coming soon …

For more on Insight Vacations and their luxury trips to the Dalmatian Coast, visit www.insightvacations.com/ca