Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Monday, June 15, 2015 – Korcula, Croatia – Mostly Cloudy 75 F

Background Information.  The Island of Korcula (with its main city of the same name) is a small one by 10 mile island about 20 km from the large cities of mainland Croatia (it is about 1 mile from the Peljesac Peninsula, which is part of the Croatian Mainland).  Pine forests originally covered the entire island giving Korcula and dark appearance and resulting it the name “Korkyra Melaina” – “Black Corfu”.  The island has a population of about 3000 people.  Legend has it that explorer Marco Polo was born here.  The city of Korcula is surrounded by walls and fortifications (towers) built between the 14th and 16th centuries.  The island has been under the control of several nations, most notably the Venetians, who influenced both the architecture and language of this island.

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Location Map of the museum

Korcula Town

It’s a cloudy but warm day on the island paradise of Korcula.  The little symbol over the C gives it a “ch” (kor-chu – la).

We are at anchor today in the sound separating Korcula from the mainland.

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Queen Victoria at Anchor

We are both on tour today.  I am on a bus tour through the center of the island ending up at a Winery for some wine tasting.  Ellen is taking a boat tour of the coastal area.

From the anchor point, we can get views of both Korcula Island and the Croatian mainland.

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The tender ride in was pretty smooth and reasonably short. 

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Queen Victoria from Tender

We did get there a little early and had about an hour until the tour started.  Fortunately for me, the Hotel Korcula right down the street from the pickup point had facilities.  I don’t know if they were for the public (I doubt it) but I walked fast and looked like I knew what I was doing.  The hotel was recently renovated and the bathrooms were clean and modern.  Note for future visits to this island – Hotel Korcula has super nice washrooms.

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Hotel Korcula – Very Nice

The extra time gave me a chance to stroll around the Old Town and check out the walled city and its many shops.  The streets are very narrow and restaurants are tucked in some tight spots. 

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View from the Tender Pier

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20150615_Korcula fort (Small)

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One interesting building that I did not have time to walk in to was the “Marco Polo” Museum and Shop.  This building is next door to the supposed birthplace of explorer Marco Polo (although Italians might disagree).

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“Marco”  “Polo”

My tour – “The Best of Korcula and Wine Tasting” (I think that was the name) -  started off in Korcula Town on the Eastern Side of the island. Our first photo op – taken from a moving bus – was of Korcula Town from a nearby hill. 


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Korcula Town from Above

The tour took us through the countryside of fields and hills.  The first notable village we encountered was Blato.  Blato is set along the foothills and is known for its tunnel made of Linden Trees.  They form a long archway which runs almost the length of the town.

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20150615_Blato linden trees (Small)

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Blato and Linden Trees

Korcula is a wine producing area and vineyards were visible from the bus.


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Pupna is a small village in the interior of the island.  A few miles from Pupna is a secluded beach (Pupnatska Luka) very popular with both locals and tourists.  We were able to get a good view of the small bay and beach from the hills above.

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Beach at Pupnatska Luka

The bus reached the far northwestern part of the island, which afforded a nice shot of mainland Croatia.

20150615_NW Corner of island and mainland Croatia (Small)

Our next stop was the large village (population approximately 4000) of Vela Luka (“Big Harbor”).  This was our lunch stop and some of the passengers went off to find food.  My goal was to walk around the town and find facilities and try the local beer.

Vela Luka is a very scenic village complete with marina and harbor.  Various shops and restaurants line the harbor area.

20150615_ Vela Luka (Small)

20150615_Vela Luka (Small)

Vela Luka Harbor and Village

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Small Park and Statue

A few years ago, Vela Luka hosted a mosaic exposition – I wonder if the mosaic below was part of that show.

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Central Square with Statue

It was warm and time for a beer.  I found a harbor side bar with both beer and facilities (not too bad) and a waiter who spoke English.  He recommended Karlovacko Beer and it was a good rec because it hit the spot on a hot and muggy Croatian day.

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After all of the passengers made it to the meeting point, the bus headed East toward Korcula.  It had one more stop to make.

Smokvica is a small town (population 1,125) about 6 miles east of Blato and known for its winery – Toreta Vineyards.  The bus stopped just off the main road in the town and we walked a few hundred feet to the Winery entrance.

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Heading to the Winery

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Asinus Pizza (Loved the Name)

At the winery, we were told about the winery and its products and had a chance to try some wine along with cheese and meats.  The wine was pretty good as was the cheese.

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I was amused by the label on their wine – I wonder if putting a Croatian girl on the label helps sell wine in this country. 

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Marketing Toreta Wine

From the winery, the bus headed back to Korcula Town.  I spent a few minutes looking for another Croatia cap but there were none that matched the cool one I bought some years ago.

The pictures below are from Ellen’s boat tour of the island

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Ellen got some great pictures of windsurfers on the sound

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Windsurfers and Queen Victoria

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Queen Victoria (Port Side View)

Most of the day was spent on tour so there was little time left for hanging out on the open deck.

We had another terrific dinner in the Britannia Room – Grilled Tuna and Baked Potato with Cesar Salad.  No mantra this time about the tuna having to be nearly sushi to be OK – this tuna was grilled to perfection.

The headliner tonight was Mike Doyle – Comedian and Singer – from the UK.  He was a major hoot – he was funny the entire time he was on stage and when I couldn’t understand what he was saying, I still found him funny. 

A very nice day in Korcula…

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Sunday, June 14, 2015 – At Sea – Partly Cloudy – 80s

The good weather continues…

Another very good breakfast in the Lido Restaurant Buffet.  I am becoming totally hooked on the freshly made pancakes.  Not everyone has discovered them as the line in still pretty short if non-existent. 

Spent a little bit of the morning sipping a decaf mocha latte and going over my lecture for today.

Lecture 2 - “Search for the Unknown Titanic Child” – is in the Royal Court Theater at 12:15 PM.  This cannot be the best time slot as it interferes with lunch plans.  However, the presentation drew another – good turnout – more than 200 attendees.  Ellen roamed around the cavernous theater and got some nice shots of me presenting.

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“Search for the Unknown Titanic Child”

This talk is a long one but I managed to keep it to 54 minutes.  I got some good feedback on the presentation.

We had the whole afternoon off to read and hang out on the open deck.  That’s exactly what we did.

Tonight is Formal Night.  We ate dinner in the Britannia Restaurant – this evening we were seated at a nice table for two in the corner with an Ocean View.  We had the pan fried halibut and shared the pasta dish (both were terrific).  Dessert consisted of Cherries Jubilee over a mini-buttermilk pancake and ice cream – a different take on a classic but very good.  Another excellent dinner aboard QV.

Showtime tonight is the production show - “Dance Passion”.   Although the Programme did not say so, this show featured the Royal Cunard Singers and Dancers.  It was a very enjoyable show with high energy dancing and acrobatics. 

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Bollywood Time – High Energy

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“That’s Life”

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Dance Passion

A few moments in the Commodore Room to settle down.