Korčula is like a scaled down version of Dubrovnik with the same white Dalmatian stone buildings and red tiled roofs but sadly it is completely eclipsed by its more famous close neighbour and there has been little investment since the 1990s war that split old Yugoslavia apart. Dubrovnik was the priority after that but the local authorities are now campaigning for Korčula Old Town, which is a gem of Venetian architecture to be awarded UNESCO World Heritage status.
The flights to Pula were an irresistible bargain at only £16 return, which effectively meant that they were being subsidised by Ryanair because we didn’t even have to pay the full Government flight taxes. Sitting next to us was a couple from Kenilworth who had an impressive capacity for drinks from the sky-bar. They loaded up with beers and whiskey on its first pass down the aisle and they restocked when it returned back the other way. I like a gin and tonic to help pass the flight but I couldn’t possibly compete with these two heavyweight boozers.
As usual the Easyjet flight was late taking off and also arriving so added to its statistic on late or delayed flights that Michael O’Leary delights in gloating over when he provides benchmark statistics in the Ryanair in-flight magazine each month. Easyjet are frustratingly relaxed about flight times and I think on the whole I prefer the Ryanair approach.
A week or two after returning from Riga there had been a very minor snow fall over the south of England, certainly no more than a flake or two, but predictably this had resulted in total travel chaos and the motorways and the airports had been brought to a ridiculous standstill. I had contrasted this with the heavy snowfall in Riga on the day that we arrived that had been dealt with quickly, efficiently and caused no disruption to transport arrangements at all.
We had to find some accommodation so we went to the tourist information office to see what was available. Here there was a bit of a scam because the lady at the desk told us that the only hotel available was the Hotel Adriana that had rooms for €280. This was obviously way beyond our budget and while this devastating piece of news sunk in she skilfully moved in with the alternative offer of a simple room in the town, with car parking thrown in for 400 Kuna (about £50). This was obviously her sister or her best friend but there was no contest and we took it.
The Croatian archipelago is the second largest in the Mediterranean after the Greek and there are approximately one thousand two hundred and fifty Croatian islands in the Adriatic stretching all the way down the coast from Istria to Dubrovnik. This compares to about one thousand four hundred Greek Islands but includes quite a lot of islets and reefs so although this sounds a lot only sixty-six are actually inhabited compared with almost four times as many, two hundred and twenty seven, in Greece.
In the morning the anticipated improvement in the weather did not materialise and we were greeted again with the lump of cloud sticking to the mountain over the Pelješac canal like a giant zeppelin whilst all around there was blue sky. The cloud cast a giant shadow over the town of Korčula and that was a shame because we had hoped to see the red tiled roofs under blue skies and sunshine but it seemed that it was not to be.
Booking a ticket for the six-kilometre crossing was very straightforward and didn’t involve the same administrative arrangements of providing passenger names that there are in Greece. I suppose that because Croatia isn’t in the European Union yet then it can safely manage without some of its bureaucratic procedures. The ferryboat was part of the Jadrolinija fleet, which is the largest in Croatia and carries nearly ten million passengers a year. It was called the Sveti Krševan, which is the name of the beautiful Romanesque church in Zadar that we had visited the previous year.