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Wednesday, September 11: Day 142 – Hvar Faith

We had to leave early so our alarm sounded at 4:45am. (This time is not often set in retirement!) I went outside to retrieve my clothes that were drying on the line and was amazed at how quiet it was. I took a video, but if I shared it here, you would hear nothing!!

We quietly hustled down to meet our group at the dock. Here is our boat.

It took about 1½ hours. We arrived and settled into our room in a private home. They can reach out their window for the hanging grapes.

Then back to meet with the group and have a cup of tea and orientation walk of the city of Hvar.

The Cathedral of St. Stephens was finished in the late 17th century. It was started in 14th century, but due to many changes in the ownership of this island there were delays. Ottomans destroyed it in the 16th century, but obviously it was rebuilt.

Hvar Island is the longest island in Croatia and has a population of approximately 11,000. The first inhabited city, Stari Grad, is on the other side of the island. It was settled by Greeks in the third century BC.

In the 13th century the Venetians came to protect the islands from pirates as this was considered the gold period. Walls were built.

Hvar is home of agave lace made from the agave plant which looks like a giant aloe plant. The Benedictine nuns harvest the strings of the agave plant to use as the thread.

The lace is quite expensive as it takes approximately four months to complete a doily. Each one has no predetermined pattern.

The tradition started more than a century ago when local sailors brought some lace made from agave back to Hvar from Tenerife.

They don’t weave when ‘bora’ (the north wind) is blowing because it can break the lace. Instead, they wait for ‘jugo’ (the south wind) which has more moisture in it.

This rare process has been saved as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

We climbed steps to get to the top of the city of Hvar. Ivan said look above for windows and move from side to side as women pour their cleaning water out the windows.

Our group hiked through botanical gardens. The garden was started by a physician/tour director. Interesting combination! He encouraged anyone who traveled the world to bring back a plant. I asked Ivan if they were worried about bringing in invasive species. He laughed and said that back then, they never thought about that!!

The island of Hvar used to have a snake problem and they brought in the mongoose from Asia. They have no more snakes, but now there is a mongoose problem. The mongoose has no natural predator, and they have overrun the island.

Here are the views of the city of Hvar:

Good (overlooking the city)

Better (from the top of the Spanish fort)

Best (from the top of Napolean’s Fort)

The Spanish fort or Spanjola is so named as the builders were from Spain yet part of the Venetian empire at the time that it was built.

They started building it in 1282 and finished it in 1552. Just in time because in 1571 it was able to save all the lives of the local people when the Turks attacked, plundered, and set fire to the city.

Unfortunately, eight years later in 1579 lightening struck the gun powder magazine and exploded the fortress. Rocks went everywhere and destroyed half of the city.

The water of the Aegean Sea is beautiful. We swam in the cool clear water. The hard part is getting to the sea as the edge is either large slippery boulders or numerous shifting sharp pebbles. The pebbles are painful to our tender feet. If you don’t have water shoes, look for the ladder.

Apparently, there is a FKK beach at the North end. Frei-körper-kultur (FKK) is a German phrase meaning free body culture. It doesn’t mean clothing optional bathing; it means nude swimming and sunbathing. To me this makes sense to prevent clothed oglers!! I guess they don’t have to worry about doing laundry.

This Pilgrim’s Progress

The hikes today were truly a faith journey. Rob and I were determined to hike up even farther to Napolean’s fort. It was the road less traveled.

The way starts out easy.

Much like prayer and the Word, one needs guidance. Today it comes in the form of trail marks like this.

Then comes obstacles in your path.

Keep going. Straight ahead. Don’t go left or right.

Don’t get distracted. Look for confirmation that you are on the right path.

The top had an expected beautiful view, but then there was this unexpected rare find…a cactus flower!!! Isn’t that just like God?!?!?

Ivan took our group to a wonderful seaside restaurant called Dva Ribara which means Two Fishermen. The food AND the view were awesome.

The head chef showed us the fish that he would be preparing. Fresh fish always come with the head on…but, fortunately, he “guillotined” the fish at our table.

After dinner, Rob and I took a moonlight stroll. The moon is nearly full. We saw many expensive yachts moored in the harbor. We heard singing ahead at a Franciscan Monastery.

They were just finishing their vocal performance and we got in on their encore.

Funny Sign of the Day:

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