Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Korcula-Birthplace of Marco Polo Don't you Know?!

Korcula is one of the largest and greenest islands of the Dalmatian Coast.   It is an extremely fertile territory, well known for its olive oil as well as for winemaking, particularly dessert wines made from the grk grape.   During my numerous walks within the interior countryside of the island I spotted figs, butternut squash, tomatoes, citrus fruits and various other produce growing in the fields.  

The parameter of the island is made up of secluded coves, quiet strands and beaches, both rocky and of fine sand.  Swimming, kayaking, snorkelling and wind surfing are all popular activities. 

A little known fact, until you visit Korcula that is, is that the famous Venetian explorer Marco Polo, was actually born in Korcula.  A huge amount of shops, restaurants and hotels carry his name, so if a visitor is unaware of this fact on arrival, they certainly won't be on departure.  The island was controlled by Venice from the 14th to the 18th century, as is evident from the Venetian coats of arms adorning official buildings.

Korcula Old Town sits on a small hilly peninsula on the Northeastern side of the island.  The inside is made up of old churches, red roof houses and narrow winding streets.  It is often referred to as 'Little Dubrovnik'.  When you  look at its old walls, paved streets and historical structures it is easy to see why.  

There are of course noticeable differences to Dubrovnik Old Town.  Korcula is more compact and nowhere near as busy; you may even find yourself alone on a street or small square.  It does not possess the same elegance and sense of space of Dubrovnik, rather it appears slightly grubbier, less grand.  But this makes it feel older almost.  Compared to Dubrovnik, where the hun of restaurants, bars and cafes are located within the city's walls, the Old Town of Korcula is relatively quiet, with very little happening inside at night time.  

A strip of restaurants run the circumference of the exterior walls, offering views out onto the Adriatic.  They offer the same tourist priced fare as Dubrovnik, with local seafood, grilled meats and pizza homogenous to all menus.  There is also a good few bars and eateries in the new town, which is also nice to walk around.   One bar we wanted to visit, but were to early for is this terrace bar with a fantastic view of the sea and the Old town.  The cocktail bar allows visitors onto the terrace via a rather steep ladder.  Once a top they will send up your drinks via pulley system.  Probably best to visit here at the start of the night :)   It opens at 6 PM.  

As far as shopping is concerned I found that Korcula Old Town (and some stores outside) has the upper-hand on Dubrovnik.  But then I am a jewellery girl.  There are lots of good quality jewellery shops around, many specialising in turquoise and other stones. They can be expensive and the abundance of trinkets on offer can become overwhelming, but if you have the patience and purse to treat yourself you will find something nice.  if you are looking for a cheap fix then the usual junk is available on market stalls at the entrance to the Old Town.     

What I like most about Korcula is its relaxed island living.  Dubrovnik is for sightseeing, but Korcula is for holidaying.  For me a visit to the Old Town is merely a day trip to break up sleep days on the beach or more energetic walking/boating excursions.  You don't need to stay near to the old town.  Vela Luka and Lumbarda are both popular tourist destinations on the island, offering accommodation, activites, beaches and more.  

I wiled away a full week in Lumbarda, where the below photograph was taken, filling my days with countless swims, ice-creams, beers and afternoon snoozes.   

During our last few days in Korcula the weather began to get cloudy and slightly cold.  Without the sun the island loses a little of its charm so make sue to visit in the height of summer.  That goes for Croatia as a whole :)

1 comment:

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