In stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of Dubrovnik, the island of Korčula was a breath of fresh air. Two hours from the mainland by catamaran, Korčula Town is the perfect place to get away from it all. Our visit came at the end of tourist season, so there were relatively few crowds. Aside from one or two cruise ships passing through, it felt like we had the place to ourselves. We had three days to explore the island, something most people seem to do in a single day. I don’t know about you, but I am happy to be stuck on an island in the middle of the Adriatic for a long time.
Visiting Korčula was like spending the weekend at your grandparent’s house. It was cozy and relaxing, and there was plenty of good food. It also helped that we were staying in a private room rented out by the most adorable Croatian couple ever. They made sure we had cold water every day, told us the best places to visit, and pointed out all of the good restaurants to try. We were even served a glass of their homemade brandy, something that reminded me an awful lot of rakia. Not to mention they had an adorable cat named Mitsko that I wanted to steal.
The town itself is very small, and it would probably take an hour to walk down every street and around every corner. There are plenty of souvenir and jewelry shops to peruse, and there’s also a museum dedicated to Marco Polo, the island’s most famous inhabitant. One street lined with dozens of restaurants surrounded the entire Old Town. On our first day, Devon and I found a staircase that led down from this street to a rocky outcrop below. It had an amazing view of the sea and surrounding islands. I could have sat there for hours. It is hard not to fall into a slow pace of life during an extended stay in Korčula. It really is a quintessential small town. During the quick tour our host gave us of the town, he seemed to greet someone every few seconds. Everyone knew each other.
Outside of Korčula Town itself, there is plenty more to see on the island. I actually convinced Devon to go to the beach with me on our second day (she doesn’t like sand or intense sun). At our host’s recommendation, we hopped on a bus to Lumbarda. The driver dropped us off at an intersection by a church with very little else around. He pointed down the road as we got off the bus, a gesture that we assumed was meant to indicate the direction of the beach. After a ten-minute walk down a country road surrounded by vineyards, we came upon a really nice sandy beach. We spent a few hours collecting sea glass and shells, taking photos, and enjoying the sun.
The weather took a turn for the worse during the next few days, but we were happy to café-hop, sipping on hot chocolate and eating cake as we went. I am definitely a fan of Croatian café culture. Our favourite spot was Café Arula. The terrace had the perfect view of the town beach and the sea. There was a tiny little football goal in the square just next to the café where kids would play games and terrorize pigeons.
Overall I was impressed with the amount of cheap, good food in Korčula compared to Dubrovnik. Konoba Komin made a mean veggie pasta, and we even found some decent Pad Thai at a place called Silk. We splurged one rainy day when few of the restaurants were open and got some fancy pasta at Bistro Filippi. Their pappardelle with truffles was a beautiful thing. The real MVP was Pizzeria Leut, a cheap pizza place with a killer Enrique Iglesias soundtrack (match made in heaven if I do say so myself). Freiburg’s Pizza Man definitely would have approved.
On our last day, just as Devon and I headed out in search of dinner, a dark, foreboding storm cloud swept towards the island. It slid silently across the sea, catching everyone off guard. We ducked into one of the restaurants just as it began to rain only to find that the power had been shut off on the whole island in preparation for the storm. We waited out the worst of it on the restaurants enclosed terrace, watching as lighting struck at the nearby islands. I ended up next to an older guy from Switzerland. I chatted to him about our time in Interlaken, and he showed us pictures of his hometown Lucerne.
In less than an hour we went from rumbling thunder, sheets of rain, and flooding streets to clearing skies, functioning electricity, and a working kitchen. I’ll never forget watching that storm come in. It was like a steadily advancing wall of fog, almost like the Nothing from the Never-Ending Story.
Luckily the weather cleared up the next day, just in time for our departure to Split. Our host came to see us off, and even Mitsko followed us down to the ferry. It seemed like every new destination in Croatia was getting better and better. I wish we had been able to see some of the other islands, but that is just another reason to go back again!