‘I’m so ready to get off Korcula right now!’
I was complaining to Mark, my travel buddy, as we stopped for a beer at one of the bars close to the Old Town. The rain was pouring down outside and I stared miserably out wishing I was still back on Hvar, my island in the Adriatic. I had many good reasons why I wanted to get out of Korcula and the rain wasn’t one of them. We had only been on the island 24 hours and I was determined to get off within a few hours of my arrival. But alas, there would be no ferry until the next day. Maybe I am being a bit mean about the island and it was through no fault of its own. Perhaps it was down to circumstances and that Korcula and I didn’t bond. There were certain aspects of the island I enjoyed but not enough to make me stay. Let’s find out what I did in Korcula for 48 hours.
Korcula: An Overview
Korcula reportedly an island rich in vineyards, small villages and a booming olive trade, they were meant to compliment the Korcula Town, laden with marble streets and awe-inspiring architecture. This is where ‘Old Croatia’ could be found, far away from the tourist beaten track where in Korcula you can find gorgeous wine, age old traditions and a big religious following. In other words, Korcula would be quiet, hidden way in its status as the sixth largest island in the Adriatic.
This definitely appealed to Mark as he longed for peace and quiet after the hectic 10 days we’ve had backpacking throughout the length of Croatia. For me, it was another stop but I did want to relax. Slowly and surely, I was becoming part of the architecture appreciation society and I heard Korcula had immense and delicate stonework buildings thanks to its Venetian controlled times through quarrying before landing in Yugoslavian hands. Today, Korcula is one of the most prosperous islands in Croatia that yet to explode on the tourism map.
The Ferry Arrival in Korcula
Making the Jadrolinija ferry on time in Hvar after spending a wonderful few days there, I was enthused to get another brilliant island experience. After a quick hour and a half journey, we were deposited in Korcula Town, one of the island’s ports after Vela Luka. Absolutely no complaints and we were well looked after.
The scenery is the first to gob smack you. Grandiose islands ring around Korcula and the Adriatic Sea looks inviting. The second to please your eyes is Korcula Town but I’ll talk about this later on in the article.
The Worst Hostel I stayed in Croatia
Dropping off our bags at the travel agents just a couple minutes’ walk from the ferry, we told them that we had a booking at Dragan’s Den Hostel in Korcula. We weren’t looking forward to it. It was our fault, we left it until the last minute to book a hostel for the islands back in Split and to what we read reviews online, Dragan’s Den was pretty poor in comparison with the others we stayed in the rest of Croatia. In fact, Dragan’s Den was the only hostel available. But maybe, just maybe, the reviews were all wrong.
Sometimes, just hoping doesn’t work.
The travel agent was rude to us, annoyed at having to ring the hostel, which laid outside of Korcula town, 45 minutes walk, so we can get a car to come collect us and our bags. We waited for an hour and a half. We could have walked but out of politeness, we waited. A tall burly guy rocked up in his car and in a deep voice said ‘I’m Dragon,’ and didn’t even to attempt to talk to us and even apologise for the delay. We found out later that he had been sat in the hostel trying to chat up some girls.
Arriving at the hostel, the exterior of the hostel looked rusty, dirty and grimy. It didn’t look safe. Checking in, we were informed that we would be put into the ‘Dungeon Dorm’. Uh,oh, that didn’t sound good. We made our way downstairs to the Basement and I was utterly speechless. Thick layers of dust enveloped the air in the room, bed bugs could clearly be seen on the unwashed sheets and the stifling stench was strong. Just don’t get me started on the black mould that covered the walls. I couldn’t believe that this was advertised on reputable hostel booking sites. Don’t they check them fist?
Mark and I escaped from the dungeon to take stock of what we saw. We frantically tried to find other accommodation even it was a cheap hotel and we were prepared to pay more than needed. But only luxury hotels remained on the island and that went into the hundreds of pounds. The ferry wouldn’t be calling at the island again until the next day. We would have to stay here.
The apologetic hostel staff, volunteers who expected a great place to work at, took pity on us and allowed us to stay in their staff quarters, which were the cleanest part of the hostel. Thank god for them. They were our saviours. I felt sorry for the Australian dude who turned up not long after us and had to stay in the Dungeon dorm himself. Luckily, we didn’t have to stay except to sleep so with John, the Australian, we decided to get out of the hostel and check out Korcula.
Really, this was the worst hostel of our stay in Croatia. The kitchens were filthy, the pool was disgusting and the living areas were so dusty and grimy that I didn’t even want to sit in there.
Whatever, you do if you are reading this, you have been told about this hostel in Korcula. Be warned.
Climbing A Ladder To Get A Drink
Joined by our Australian friend, we escaped the hostel to find sustenance and recover from our shock. We walked 2km into Korcula Town alongside the sea front and found ourselves on the city defences walls. As Mark, picked this island to visit (Mine was Hvar), I entrusted him beforehand to be the planner. He was just telling us about this cocktail bar that he wanted us all to go to and hey presto, it magically appeared before us.
This is called Cocktail Bar Massimo and it’s unique. It’s lodged in a turret on the city defences and only accessible by a ladder. This was pretty surreal as I shakily climbed it, the ladder ricketing away as it groaned under my weight. But soon, at the top, we were afforded fantastic views of the coast and cathedral.
Cocktails were made to perfection and were delivered to the top by the use of a pulley system to the grumpy waitress who stood bored texting away.
An Evening In Korcula
After a quick walk around to grab our bearings of Korcula Town and remarked that it was deathly quiet (literally, only a few people were seen), Mark and I decided to have an early night and cook a meal in. We stopped off at the local supermarket and after deciphering (I mean, staring at the pictures and shaking it next to our ear), we got all the ingredients to make a delicious pasta meal.
The night was warm and pleasant as we played cards on the decking with the other residents of the hostel. Gritting our teeth, we braved the hostel inside and took to our beds. Oh, did I tell you there was a scorpion in the bathroom?
Of course, I made myself even more popular with my dorm mates at bedtime when to quench my thirst, I opened a bottle of coke and soon as the first gases escaped, it promptly exploded. I mean, TRULY exploded. It jumped out of my hand with such force pelting to the ground where it exploded again on impact raining down a whole bottle’s contents over everyone’s beds, the ceiling, the marble floor and the leather sofa. Only my bed escaped. Thus everyone had to strip their beds while I apologetically offered to help as I mopped the floor and the ceiling. Mark pretended he didn’t know me.
Korcula Town in Pictures
I came to the conclusion the next morning that Korcula Town is possibly my favourite part of Korcula. With a sludge of Gothic and Renaissance architecture thronging the marble laden streets, it’s impossible to keep your eyes on the ground as your head is constantly up, checking out the delicate stonework. What’s more, you may find that you can easily get lost as the streets are laid out in a quirky fishbone layout, which has been planned to ensure the comfort and safety of its residents. How do I mean? The western streets are built straight to receive the refreshing summer westerly winds, while the eastern streets are curved as to reduce the effects of the cold north easterly winds. Clever, eh? Perhaps the winning part of Korcula Town is the harbour, protected by old fortifications ready to bombard any pirates at a moment’s notice. The City defences are best viewed here or you could go up one of the big towers that breaks within the walls.
Let’s have a look at the pictures that I took. *warning: may contain handsome pictures of me*
Here’s a surprising fact. Did you know Marco Polo was born in Korcula in 1254? He was a very well known explorer in those times and there are many places in Korcula proclaiming his birthplace. However, one has triumphed over others by opening up a Marco polo Museum. Small and dark, you have to peer inside to look at the charts and maps of Marco polo’s voyages along with portraits of the stand up guy.
There are many beaches on the island but as the weather kept threatening to chuck rain on our heads, we opted to chill out on the very small beach at the tip of the old town. I took a dip in the cool water and was mesmerised by the shoal of fishes that swam around me. But watch yourself, there is a strong current there that caught me a few times as I drifted quickly from one end of the beach to the other.
Although the weather was rain-threatening, the humidity was sky high. Korcula has fantastic gelato and ice cream cafes ready to cool and refresh your body. Freshly made, you can’t help but groan in delight…
Beginning The Quest to Leave Korcula
We COULD have spent another day in Korcula as we had time on our backpacking trip. But as I started complaining in the bar where I promptly stated to Mark I wanted to leave, Mark couldn’t agree more. We needed to get out. We had already missed the ferry back to the mainland today and I was utterly determined that we would be leaving on the first one the next day. Yes, I was possibly a drama queen about all this and this probably why Mark said he would sort out the tickets when the bus ticket office opened. We could easily hop on a minibus, booked at a travel agency, back to the mainline to take us straight into the heart of our next destination but the prices were eye-wateringly expensive. So, we decided to get the public bus that would park up on the ferry across and drop us off at the next destination’s bus station. However, as we arrived at the quiet bus station, we were alarmed to discover that it was closed until later in the day for an hour as it was a Saturday. Uh-oh, we wanted to leave on the Sunday. Would there be any ferry services then?
So we waited in the bar as it rained until the ticket office opened, which Mark promptly went off to. He came back and as an afterthought, he claimed he got the tickets to leave the next day only that the bus would be at 6.30am. Fine by me, I thought, but I couldn’t help feeling that Mark wasn’t telling me the full story. I would find out the next morning…
But to celebrate, we decided to splash ourselves on a luxury meal at one of the luxury restaurants on offer. I can’t quite remember the name but pretty much every luxury restaurant looked alike. The Bruschetta was without a doubt one of my favourite starters ever. It nearly made up for my awful experience at the hostel. Tell me this picture doesn’t make your mouth water…
But with the knowledge that we had to wake up at the god-forsaken hour of 5am, we had to go back to the hostel and get our sleep for our booked taxi in the morning to go to the bus station. I still wasn’t the wiser when I woke up what Mark had got me into… but that’s another story…
I was just glad to get out of Korcula.
Have you been to Korcula?
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