Fresh Eire Blog
Kilmokea Country Manor and Gardens
Near Arthurstown, Kilmokea Country Manor and Garden, is a self-contained, yet modestly grand, family home. Expect homely bedrooms and a friendly welcome from genial husband-and-wife team Mark and Emma Hewlett. A small swimming pool, tasty home cooking and a charming Heritage Garden, including a Fairy Village, add to this one-of-a-kind destination.
Dubrody Country House and Hotel
Dubrody Country House and Hotel opened as a hotel 20 years ago by Kevin and Catherine Dundon. Rooms are very comfortable but the real draw here is everything else. The luxe country pile has grown to incorporate its own 'local bar', a cookery school, spa, and recently, a brewery - producing a very quaffable Pale Ale, "King's Bay", named after the small bay on which the charming and compact village of Arthurstown sits.
Opened by Billy Whitty and Joanne Harding, Aldridge Lodge offers luxury guesthouse accommodation. Food is a highlight here and the lodge had held a Michelin Bib Gourmand since 2007. Expect comfortable, en suite rooms and a cosy relaxing lounge, all tastefully and imaginatively decorated. Superb views of both the nearby beach, river estuary and the Comeragh Mountains.
Button and Spoon
A surprising find in Bridgetown, Button and Spoon is a tea room, restaurant and food store. Plenty of love and integrity about the place, mostly in the form of their very well-executed dishes. The "Fabulous Fish Platter" is a good choice: a symphony of the best of locally caught seafood - think ginger, lime and chilli prawn cocktail, hot-smoked trout and a delicious, well-balanced fishcake. Add a glass of chilled pinot grigio and a lunch sensation is born.
If you fancy a bite to eat after your Wexford town sauntering and browsing, lunch or dinner at Cistín Eile is a very good choice. Talented chef Warren Gilles has, understandably, gained something of a following in the Sunny Southeast for this clear grasp of flavour, seasoning and creative ingredient combinations. Try the unique Wexford Rissole, or almost anything else from his unashamedly Modern Irish menu.
Kevin Dundon has, rightly, gained international renown for his pitch-perfect dishes using the best of Irish ingredients. At Dunbrody House, experience that expression in the form of chef Nick Davey's executions of elegant, yet never prissy, dishes that give the freshest of ingredients plenty of room to sing. Try the classic Black Sole Meunière, pan-roasted on the bone, for the kind of dish memories are made of.
Islands of Kerry
Visit the islands of Co Kerry either before or after your Fresh Eire Adventures bike trip and you'll be rewarded by stunning landscapes, wild seacapes and a glimpse into Ireland's monastic past.
Blasket Islands- Na Blascaodaí lie some 6km beyond the most westerly tip of the Dingle peninsula in County Kerry, large humps of sandstone with awesome cliffs rise from the Atlantic Ocean. Surrounded by smaller rocks and reefs, these are Na Blascaodaí. The largest of the nine islands An Blascaod Mór was finally abandoned in 1953 when the last twenty people living on the island were moved to the mainland. The island’s population, which once boasted one hundred and seventy five residents, had steadily declined through emigration. No other island community of this size yielded such a literary wealth, producing world renowned writers who documented island life in their beloved Irish language and whose work have been translated into many languages. An Blascaod Mór remains uninhabited today but the island is open to visitor
Skellig Islands – Na Scealga
Skellig Islands – Na Scealga lie thirteen kilometres off the coast of South Kerry, like floating pyramids of sandstone. The most spectacular of these islands, Sceilg Mhichíl – Skellig Michael – is a peaceful spiritual idyll and a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Over five hundred steps up a 1000 year-old stone stairway leads you up to one of the most magnificent monastic sites in Europe. Stone beehive huts where monks lived and prayed centuries ago cling to the Church of St. Michael. An Sceilg Bheag is a seabird sanctuary and one of the world’s greatest gannetries. It is home to more than 30,000 pairs of gannets among many other seabirds.
Valentia Island is one of great beauty and contrast. The western part of the island is dominated by the barren, dramatic cliffs of Bray Head which command spectacular views of the Kerry coastline while the mild effect of the Gulf Streams result in Valentia’s balmy climate and lush, colourful vegetation. The island’s main village, Knightstown, is reminiscent of an Anglo-Irish Village with its many stately buildings and refined ambience
But the island’s historical lineage goes back much further than that. Tetra pod footprints were found on the northern part of the island. These magnificent imprints of history are thought to date from Devonian times between some 350 to 370 million years ago. An important quarry on the northern part of the island which opened in 1816 still flourishes today. The famous Valentia Slate has been used in many prominent buildings including the British House of Commons in London.
There is more to Cork than simply Cork City. If staying in the city we recommend the following day trips, including days trips to the stunning islands, which will give you a flavour of Co. Cork.
Blarney Castle & Gardens
This medieval Castle near the River Martin was built six hundred years ago by a famous chieftan, Cormac MacCarthy. Situated 8km from Cork City and 16km from Cork Airport, this historic castle is most famous for its stone. The Castle in now partially in ruins, you still have the opportunity to kiss the legendary Stone of Eloquence in order to receive the infamous "gift of the gab". The stone is set in the wall below the battlements, and to kiss it, one has to lean backwards. Continue your day walking in the Gardens to fully appreciate Bog, Poison and Irish gardens.
A classic example of a 17th century star-shaped fort, it is one of the largest and best preserved forts in the country. Charles Fort has been associated with some of th most momentous events in Irish history including the Williamite War 1689-91 and the Irish Civil War 1922-23. Visitors are advised to wear footwear suitable for uneven terrain.
The Queenstown Story
Discover Cobh's unique orirgins, its history and legacies, the story of Annie Moore the first emigrant processed at Ellis Island, and Cobh's special connections with the ill-fated Titanic all dramatically recalled at the Queenstown Story.
St. Colman's Cathedral
Titanic Experience Cobh
Retrace the footsteps of the 123 Queenstown passengers who boarded the Titanic from Cobh. Check-in at the White Star Line Ticket office, experience life on board and discover the facts surrounding the tragic sinking of Titanic
Fota Wildlife Park
Fota Wildlife Park is set on the scenic Fota Island in the heart of Cork Harbour, where you can come face to face with free roaming animals & birds from all parts of the world.
Islands off Co. Cork
Bere Island is rich in natural and cultural heritage and has a range of visitor sites to enjoy from archaeological sites of the Bronze Age to Nineteenth and Twentieth Century military installation. Situated at the entrance of the deepest harbour in Europe, the island offers breathtaking scenery, organised activities and great hospitality. The Bere Island Heritage Exhibition hosts a wealth of information on the story and history of Bere Island. Berehaven Harbour and Lawrence Cove are very safe and sheltered harbours for large and small boats and the marina has full facilities for visiting sailors. Ultimately Bere is a charming island away from the hustle and bustle of modern life
Oileán Chléire – Cape Clear Island
The Gaeltacht Island is Ireland’s southernmost inhabited island and is a paradise of solitude and inspiration. Its wild romantic scenery, sparkling harbours, cliffs, bogs and scenic pebble beaches all contribute to the island’s unspoilt charm. Heather, gorse and wild flowers cover the rugged hills between dry stone walls. Megalithic standing stones, a 5000 year old passage grave, a 12th century church ruin and a 14th century castle are testament to the island’s rich cultural heritage. You’ll be steeped in wildlife on the island: rare migratory birds, whale, leather-back turtles, sun fish and shark are spotted every year, as well as regular visitors, the dolphins. Its hilly landscape featuring magnificent high cliffs and lonely sheltered coves are a delight to explore on foot or from the bow of a sailing boat. Oileán Chléire offers relaxation, nature and peace, a friendly bilingual community removed from the hustle and bustle of the mainland life.
Dursey Island is the most westerly of the West Cork’s inhabited islands; Dursey lies across a narrow sound and is a great getaway from the fray of modern living. This rugged island is accessed via Ireland’s only cable-car, which runs about 250m above the sea and takes six people at a time. The island is part of the Beara Way walking trail and having no shops, pubs or restaurants offers the day visitor a unique experience of calm with spectacular views of the Beara peninsula. It is also a bird watcher’s paradise with rare birds from Siberia and America being spotted there. Monks from Skellig Rock are said to have founded the ancient church of Kilmichael on Dursey, now a ruin
Garinish Island or Ilnacullin is a tiny island with a big reputation. Stashed away in Glengarriff harbour, known to horticulturists and lovers of trees and shrubs all around the world as an island of garden and rare beauty. The gardens of Ilnacullin owe their existence to the creative partnership, over one hundred years ago, of Annan Bryce, then owner of the island an Harold Peto, architect and garden designer. Garinish Island is open form March to October and there is an island admission charge separate to that charged by ferry boats.
Sherkin Island, one of the Carbery’s Hundred Isles, in Roaringwater Bay, is the ancestral home of the O’Driscoll clan whose castle lies just above their pier. Nearby you can also see the ruins of a 15th century Fransiscan abby. Sherkin buzzes with activity during the summer months and locals are renowned for their warmth and hospitality. Come to hear great live traditional music or enjoy the activities of the Sherkin Family Regatta, a big splash in the island’s social calendar. Sherkin’s three sandy beaches make great secluded swimming areas and walking along the shore you may see seals, otters, schools of dolphins or the porpoises which gave the island its name.
Driving tips for your pre or post self-guided trip in Ireland
Drive on the left!
Yes, it's obvious. Yes, everyone is doing it. But if you're used to driving on the right, it's easy to fall into old habits first thing in the morning, after a lunch stop, or pulling back onto a quiet country road after taking that latest awesome photo.
Heed the speed limits
The speed limit on most regional (R) roads is 80kph/50mph, on national (N) roads 100kph/62mph, and on motorways (M) 120kph/75mph. In towns, the limit is 50kph/30mph.
Get a good map
Irish motorways are straightforward. Country roads ... not so much. That's why it's a good idea to have a reliable map (such as those availble for purchase in Tourist Information Offices) or GPS in the glove box before you set off on your Ireland road trip.
Whilst Ireland's roads are improving all the time, N and R routes can still be thin and bumpy, prone to ice in winter, and may not have hard shoulders. For many drivers, of course, that's all part of the charm. But it's wise to adapt your speed to the circumstances.
The tractor factor
No matter how meticulous your plans, the chance of chugging along at 20mph behind a tractor, or being held to a standstill by a herd of sheep or cattle, is always there. It's nothing to worry about (it may even make your trip), just be aware that it may occur! Remember to only pass when the road ahead is fully clear.
You'll rarely have to pay to park in the Irish countryside, but pay-and-display charges are commonplace in towns and cities. Keep some coins handy for the meters, and remember to check the signs indicating times during which on-street parking is charged. If you ignore the parking regulations expect to be clamped - that is, you'll return to find your car with a boot on one of the wheels and this can only be released upon payment of a hefty fine. Your car might even be towed!
Car rental tips
Most rental cars in Ireland are manual transmission, so if you prefer to drive automatic, stipulate this when booking. Rental companies provide numbers to call if you need breakdown assistance, and fuel tanks should be returned as full as you receive them. We recommend renting the smallest possible car to meet your needs. Our preferred rental car companies include Avis, Hertz, Budget/Sixt and Europcar. We do not recommend Dan Dooley Rent-A-Car. It is always advisable to take out full insurance with a zero-deductible.
When driving in Ireland, you need to carry a valid licence as well as insurance and vehicle registration documentation. It's also illegal to hold a mobile phone when driving, so keep those calls, tweets, texts and Facebook updates for when you're safely pulled in!
There are very few online services on Irish motorways, and petrol stations can be irregular between towns. Keep your tank topped up! Be sure to check what type of fuel your rental car requires; most of the smallest cars take petrol (gas) while frequently you may be assigned a car with a diesel engine. At the gas station you can identify easily which pump is which: yellow/black is diesel while green/black is petrol (gasoline).
Around Dublin you will very likely drive on the notorious M50 ring road from which you can access all roads heading north, south, east and west. There is an electronic toll on this road which must be paid within 48 hours. It can be paid at most gas stations and news agents. You simply notify the assistant of your registration number (e.g. 172-D-12345) and pay the toll for however many trips you have taken. Other toll roads exist around the country but these can be paid on the roads themselves.
Need to know
In case of accident or emergency, call 999 or 112.
Islands we visit
One of the unique features of our Croatia bike and sail trip is the fact that we stay on a luxurious 102 feet gulet for the duration. This allows us the opportunity to travel between some outstanding and interesting islands which we visit by day for point-to-point rides through some glorious scenery. Here we describe some of the islands we visit in some detail; however because of nautical challenges this list is neither set in stone nor exhaustive - we can't guarantee we will visit each of these islands on every tour.
Hvar is without a doubt, one of the most beautiful islands in the Adriatic. It extends out in an east-west direction and on its southern-south-western coast there are a number of small islets and islands. Along its northern side there are only two islands, Zecevo and Duga.
Amongst these islands, the most numerous are the Pakleni islands which are in the immediate vicinity of Hvar city. Due to its distinctive vegetation, these island landscapes are protected.
The Pakleni islands (Fiery Islands) got their interesting name from a little known fact...tar and resin used for coating the bottoms of boats used to be cooked there. The western side of Hvar is the widest and mostly contains fields and small towns. Hvar city bestows its beauty upon wide-eyed travellers with medieval fortresses Spanjol (from 1551) and Napoleon (built by the french in 1810) and their hilltop fortressed walls, located high above, atop St Nicolas, offering a splendid view of below. The Benedictine monastery in Hvar is well known for it's craftmanship of unique lace made from agave fibres. The scent within Hvar is difficult to miss with fields of lavender, heather and sage which offer a stunning visual and fragrant experience. The mountainous areas from Brusje to Hvar presents an exceptional view of the largest plantations of lavender on the island. Stari Grad (former greek colony of Pharos) is positioned on a route which passes alongside the island and today's ferry port. Jelsa is a town on the northern side of Hvar where the first hotel was built in 1911 bounded by the two highest points of the island; on the west St Nicholas and on the east, Hum. Only 7 km east of Jelsa, you'll find the abandoned village of Humac. The houses were built of polecat fur and stone and they're completely unique in their entirety of rural architecture. Below Humac is the Grapceva Cave, the most vital prehistoric findings from the Neolithic era, 5000-4000 B.C Close by Jelsa is Vrboska, which is hidden in the depth of the bay that contains a small islet in the centre. They call Vrboska "little Venice" due to it's small bridges with which it is connected. On the northern part of the island and near the city of Hvar is Lozna Beach, then Basina beach not far from Vrboska, and the beaches of Pokrivenik, Zaraca and Virak beside Gdinja. To head to the southern side of the island you must pass through a natural tunnel (hollowed out of the rock) beside a place called Pitve on the southern side up to Ivan Dolac. You'll come across a gorgeous view of the islands Scedro, Korcula and the Peljesac peninsula before exiting the tunnel. When you pass the tunnel you'll get to the southern side of the island which is beautiful and on which vineyards grow abundant with the Plavac Mali (small blue) grape, located in Sveta Nedalja, Zavala. On this southern side of the island you can bathe on the Jagodna and Bojanic beaches which are situated between Sveta Nedelja and Ivan Dolac, so too are the Jedra, Srhov Dolac, Skozanje and Vela Lucica beaches. On the island's eastern side lies the small port of Sucuraj which is also the starting point of the mainland ferry service (Sucuraj-Drvenik line). Hvar and the island of Vis are the hubs of winemaking in these areas, the history of which stretches back far into the past. Hvar possesses a number of local grape varieties Bogdanusa and Drenkusa which cannot be found anywhere else. The southern side of the island is ideal for the cultivation of Plavac Mali due to its sunny hillsides which give the wine a high quality. Renowned wine estates include Plenkovic, whose cellars provide the high quality wine Zlatan Plavac (Grown Cru, 2003), the Tomic wine estate where you can find Hektorovic prosek (sherry - Plavac Mali Barrique 2003), the Dubokovic estate, the Caric estate (Plavac Ploski Barrique 2005), the Plancic, Vujnovic and P.Z Svirce estates.
The island of Vis is one of the most interesting marine areas in the Adriatic. Due to its many years as a forbidden zone for foreigners in Communist Yugoslavia, the island has largely remained untouched and unmarred, surrounded by seas of indescribable beauty. The most attractive is the archipelago around the southeast coast of Vis, then around the western coast, the islets of Bisevo, Brusnik and Sveti Andrija (St Andrew), and in the east, Susac. Vis is one of the most valuable Hellenistic sites in Croatia. One of the most important Dalmatian cities of the Greek colony of Issa was located here in the 4th century BC. The ruins of the ancient city of Issa can still be seen in parts of the port, the Roman baths, the necropolis and theatre and you can also view artifacts from Issa at the Archaeological Museum of Vis which is located in the Austrian fortress Gospina Bataija (Our Lady's Battery) also known for its large collection of amphorae and more notably for its bronze head of the Greek goddess Artemis. The island Vis has a rich sacral heritage as seen in the churches of St Cyprian (Sv. Criprijana) and the Holy Spirit, the Franciscan manostery on the Prirovo peninsula and the sanctuary of Our Lady (Vele Gospe) in Podselja. Komiza is a fishing village located at the southern end of the islands which is dominated by the Grimaldi fortress, which also houses the Fishing museum. The main church in Komiza, the church of St. Mikule is positioned above the village offering a spectacular view of the below.
Small enough to be quaint and cozy but large enough to have extras like a disco or two, swimming pools and tennis courts, Solta is located about nineteen nautical miles from Split, just west of Brac. The island is another of those special places in Dalmatia where the traditional Croatian way of life has been largely maintained to the present day. This means that the principal industry on the island is fishing, donkeys are still a viable form of transportation and the locals in the eight villages on Solta might strike visitors as unusually kind, inviting and warm. It also means that the pace of life is markedly slower than in other places in Dalmatia, which is quite a feat in itself. This slow pace of life is an ideal environment in which to enjoy the benefits of the island, not the least of which is the main product of the island, fish. The island's fisherman can be seen leaving in the morning and returning with the day's catch, which is then prepared for the evening's meal and accompanied by some excellent homemade wine, both of which will be on hand for you to sample in abundance. As we know, however, man does not survive on bread (or fish) alone. We also need a little adventure from time to time and Solta has that to offer, as well. The tranquil coves and beaches around the island pay perfect host to swimming, sunbathing and even windsurfing, and the island itself is perfect for hiking through the olive groves and vineyards that supply the island's other principal products. In short, Solta is a nice mix of atmosphere, nature and local culture.
Brac, the Croatian Adriatic's third largest island, offers spectacular beautiful scenery. It has the highest mountain of any Croatian island and despite its proximity to Split, retains a rustic, rural atmosphere. Even the largest town, Supetar, is not very big. If you like to sunbathe or swim, check out Croatia's most famous beach, Zlatni Rat (Golden Cape). Its a point jutting out into the sea near to the town of Bol, on the south side of the Brac. However, this beach is liable to be crowded during the summer, especially by younger people. It's also a popular spot for windsurfing. If you'd prefer a less frenetic bathing experience you can go to the beach at Lovrencina Bay, which is 4 km east of Postira, in the middle of Brac's north side. There are great views of the mainland mountains from there as well as the ruins of a medieval basilica just above the beach. Skrip is unique in that structures spanning two millenia are located here. There are a Roman cistern, sculpture and mausoleum; medieval castles; and churches from the Middle Ages. Skrip's Museum of Brac contains many ancient artifacts recovered from archeological digs, including a relief of Hercules. There is a beautiful late 15th century Dominican Monastery (Dominikanski Samostan) in Bol. Its museum has a collection of ancient Greek and Cretan artifacts as well as a Tintoretto painting of the Madonna and Child dating from 1563. An even more interesting monastery to visit, especially if you like to hike, is the Hermitage of Blaca, founded in 1588 by monks fleeing the Turks. Perched on the side of a steep sided canyon about half way between the sea and the summit of Brac's highest peak, Vidova Gora, Blaca indeed is a perfect place to hike. You can hike to the monastery either up a trail that begins near the coastal village of Murvica, or down from another trail that starts from a dirt track on the flank of Vidova Gora. Allow several hours for the round trip hike and bring plenty of water. You will be rewarded with great views plus Blacas's ascetic architecture and splendid isolation.
Hikers also might want to climb to the 780 meter summit of Vidova Gora, the highest mountain of any Adriatic island, 2 hours on a well marked trail from Boll. Olive tree orchards and wild olive trees cover a significant portion of Brac, and there are many small-scale olive oil producers. Brac white marble has been exported all over the world. It's claimed that Brac marble is used in the construction of the American White House. And of course, it was used in the building of many local houses. There are two caves worth exploring on Brac: Zmajeva (dragon) and Kopacina. They're located between Supetar and Donji Humac
Mljet gets a growing share of tourists, but as one of the more remote and less developed Islands, with (thankfully!) a limited ferry service, it lacks the kind of mass tourism of much of the Dalmatian coast and some other more accessible islands. This isn't the place to come for late night bars, concerts or discos. One might hope it never will be. Be prepared to fall in love with nature all over again, for this island has a stunning quality waiting for you to discover. Croatia's 8th largest island is approximately 3km wide and 37km long making it attractive to explore. It has an area of roughly 100 square km with 131 km of coastline and many little niches and coves to discover, so you'd be forgiven for wanting to stay. With five distinct forest tree varieties, abundant fauna and lush vegetation, it's easy to see why Mljet is called The Green Island. Miljet offers a panorama of coastline, cliffs, reefs and numerous islets as well as the rich topography of the hills that rise steeply above the sea and plummet back into deep valleys sheltering ancient stone villages. The submarine world includes quite an array of fish and several types of corals. With fantastic weather, sailing, recreational sports, swimming, scuba diving, hiking and bicycle paths are only a fraction of the pleasures that you can enjoy here. The western end of Mljet has been protected as a National Park since 1960.
Mljet National Park is Mljet's top attraction. The park, encompasses 54 square kilometres at the western end of the island, with an astonishing interior and coastline beauty. Veliko Jezero and Malo Jezero (Big Lake and Small Lake), and the villages of Soline, Babine Kuce, Pomena, Polace and Govedari all lie within the park boundaries. Of interest, this park represents the first institutionalised attempt to protect the native eco-system in the Adriatic. The Benedictine Monastery on the islet of St Mary (Samostan Sv Marija) stands on a tiny island, in a lake on the island of Mljet and is the island's cultural and spiritual heart.
Polace is a village named after the ruin of a significant Roman palace and fortifications - one tower is 20m high - built between the 2nd century and the 5th century. Second in size to the palace of Diocletian in Split, you can't miss it: the road to Pomena slips right between its high walls.
Pomena is located on the western coast of Mljet in the National Park, about 200m from Malo Jezero. This village, built after World War II, has only about 50 inhabitants living among the charming thick forests and working in agriculture, fishing and tourism. The bay of Pomena is perfect for small yachts, which can pull up to the pier.
The Govedari settlement began here in the late 18th century when two families of land workers and fishermen from Babino Polje were given permission to settle by the Benedictines to work as cattle-breeders (goveda means cattle in Croatian). Located in the national park, 5km inland, this ethnologically interesting site is a great place to be surrounded by peace, serenity and lush vegetation. Babine Kuce is a picturesque little fishing village located on the shores of the Veliko jezero just beneath Govedari. It offers a splendid view of the islet of St Mary.
Babino Polje is the central and largest inhabited area with around 350 people. Babino Polje is the administrative centre of the island. Stretched along a ridge above the bypass road and a field (the name means Grandma's Fields), Babino Polje is surrounded with pine woods, groves of old, twisted olive trees and vineyards, and at 514m, Veliki Grad is the hightest hill on the island. Odysseus's Cave (Odisejeva Spilja), that technically would be Calypso’s cave, is a place where supposedly Odysseus was on his travels; Odysseus, shipwrecked on his home from the Trojan War, only stayed with the nymph for seven years, and most of the time he was pining for his wife and his home. After walking along a path lined with rock walls and wildflowers, which takes you out above a deep grotto and the crashing waves, you may wonder why he was in such a hurry to leave. Local fishermen now use the grotto as a harbour.
Prozura is a medieval village used by Ragusan nobles who were looking for a relaxing getaway. Perched on a hill over a Blato (an intermittent lake) and the sea, Prozura has a 17th century watch tower and three beautiful chruches; the church of the Holy Trinity, the church of St Martin and the church of St. Rocco. Maranovici is an 18th century Baroque house of the Pes family and is located in the middle of the town. The 19th century parish church of St Anton rests on the foundations of an older church and features Gothic architectural elements.
In nearby Korita, the ruined 14th century church of St Mary of the Hill mixes Gothic and Renaissance elements, and demonstrates features typical of the island’s churches. A roughly square plan with a deep porch extending to the front, and a picturesque belfry "na preslicu" (on a distaff, that is, the belfry has a split where the bel hangs, the way a distaff's end is cleft to hold wool). Some of the manor houses have Renaissance-Baroque elements. The town has its own 17th century defence tower with loopholes for firing. Korita is named for the stone troughs, common on the island, that are used to capture rainwater.
Korcula, birthplace of the renowned traveller, Marco Polo, is a compact jewel of Venetian architecture surrounded by the clear blue waters of the Peljesac channel and its terracotta rooftops at sunset are a sight to behold.
Korcula town, alongside Dubrovnik, is one of the Adriatic towns which hits the news from time to time with reports of rich, famous and notable types who buy up old town properties for heart-stopping sums. There is good reason for this - the tiny, almost circular old town occupying a rocky promontory is one of the most perfectly preserved and most romantic and historic towns you'll ever see with many opportunities for shutterbugs. It doesn't take long to wander through the atmospheric streets, where you'll come across Gothic details and balconies that make you feel like you've entered a Slavic version of Romeo and Juliet. Pay attention to the hidden architectural delights, such as relief figures on the cathedral of St. Mark and, as rumor has it, the interestingly sculpted menu of an old brothel near the main entrance or visit the town museum and the local galleries.
Many of the historical sights and landmarks are just a stone’s throw from the main square and you'll be bedazzled by the amount of history and culture that surrounds you. Take for instance the Tower of Marco Polo, believed to be the house in which the great world traveller and writer was born, whilst there head up to the tower for some breathtaking panoramic views of the islands. There is also a Marco Polo Museum which reflects on his life through seven vast and deep scenes which bring to life his amazing adventures. The Abbey Treasury of St. Mark is in the heart of the main square and features reliquaries, artworks, liturgical vestments and manuscripts with some dating as far back as the 12th century. The Icon Gallery features artworks of Byzantine paintings on wood and most of which were brought across by island sailors from the 13th to 17th century. The Revelin Tower with its descending steps is a majestic site in itself whilst the Maximilian Vanka Gallery hosts his astute paintings and portraits for which he is most known. All in all, it is a perfect place to recharge your batteries.
One of the other most prominent features of the island is its folk tradition which includes the Moreska, a dance with swords, which you can witness during the summer months, heralded by drumbeats as a parade of citizens in historical costume passes through prior to the performance.
With such material, Korcula has a long tradition of tourism and is one of the more commercialised of Croatia's Adriatic towns, so the town itself gets pretty busy during high season. But this is a relatively large island, there are plenty of other places to explore and get away from it all. Head towards the village of Lumbarda where you'll find picturesque vineyards. You must try the Grk wine, only produced in the surrounding area, and said to have been brought from ancient Greece after the fall of Troy. Wander the stone streets of the old village and feel miles and centuries away from everything else. Other destinations for wine connoisseurs are the villages of Cara and Smokvica, these two island gems also add to the Agricultural palate as they are known for the top quality white wine known as Posip, considered to be one of the most prestigious wines of the Croatian South.
Lastovo is not furthest away from coast, that honour goes to Vis. Maybe that's why the island culture is so different and well preserved. Like Vis, Lastovo was a military base until 1989, so access to the island was restricted. With not a great deal to do, the island became depopulated. But nature has been left pretty much undisturbed, so you could say it's an untouched ecological paradise.
Many people sense in Lastovo a spirit unlike anything else, a sense of breath of ages. Lastovo town sits uphill in a basin facing away from the sea to escape the attention of pirates. The mellow stone of the houses basking in the warm sunlight is captivating. Walking in the town's streets, those with a sense for the antique and the eccentric will wonder at a culture so very detached from modern urban life.
Lastovo is a town of chimneys. In times past, a sign of the wealth of a household was the size and ornateness of one's chimney, and many unusual examples still stand. Another vital aspect of Lastovo's heritage is the Poklad - the traditional pre-Lent carnival celebrating the island's deliverance from Catalan pirates. An effigy of the Catalan messenger takes centre stage, spectacularly released from a hilltop to slide on a rope to the town centre with firecrackers exploding at its feet. Humiliating indeed. At this time, as well as during summertime festivals, you can see the island's folk costume, where the men wear scarlet and black with embroidered braces and hats bedecked with colourful flowers.
With so little (except carnivals) to disturb them, fish adore Lastovo, and you can be sure of an excellent meal here.