Turns out our landlord in Korcula is an older white haired avuncular man who has a very hands on way of communicating. He constantly pats my shoulder as he ushers us into the apartment and describes the town.
Walking along the waterfront and climbing the steep stairs to the road of our apartment has settled Pam’s stomach. We are keen to find a restaurant and eat.
Our kindly landlord sings us a by now familiar tune, there is only one restaurant open in town. He thinks the name starts with an ‘M’ and that it is to the right of the large stairs leading into the old town.
An ‘M’ for Mystery restaurant tour in the night streets of a new town.
Kind of what travel is all about.
Old Korcula lies beside the harbour berth we have just walked from, the stairs we had recently climbed welcome us back and say ‘please come again’.
With no maps and no reference points for the town, we really have no idea where we are. We ask a lady in the street for help.
Hearing our accent she greets us with a genuine ‘G’day Mate’. She is an Australian of Croatian descent, lives in Sydney and is spending Christmas with her family who live in Korcula.
There are only 22 million Aussies in the world however we do like to spread ourselves around the globe.
She has no idea where the specific restaurant we are looking for is however advises there are at least two other restaurants nearby who are still open.
We make for the closest and have a tasty meal as the sole patrons.
Those cheeky stairs welcome us back with open arms.
Despite the grey skies the next morning, the view from the small balcony across the narrow strait to the mountainous mainland is spectacular. We breakfast on fruit I have carried from Hvar and plan our day.
I eat the last delicious of the delicious oranges donated by our landlord that I have been trekking with since Jelsa.
We leave simultaneously with our current landlord and have a chat at the base of the stairs that lead from the apartment to the road. He asks us regarding our plans for the day, we reply we plan to ‘walk around Old Korcula’ and ask if he knows any local longer walks. While frequently patting my shoulder he tells us ‘he was a strong runner until he had a stroke a few years ago, now his family won’t let him run any more’ and ‘that there is a long walk along the coastline to some beaches however it all follows bitumen roads’.
During our night tour I observed that the street our apartment lies on ended in a long staggered series of short staircases that I believe will take us directly down to the surrounds of the Old Town.
A new route always makes Pam happy.
The base of this road/stairs brings us out at the corner of the harbour. There are many teens loitering around which means ‘BANG’, bloody firecrackers.
We scuttle to the nearest cafe and Pam soothes her nerves with a morning coffee. We make a break for the tourist office, the friendly lady corrects our pronunciation of Korcula, ‘it is Kortchula not Dracula’, and shows us where we are on the town map.
Old Korcula is a small, partially walled, waterfront town full of winding streets that are mostly staircases, leading from the water level to the Cathedral sitting at the top of the central hill.
We decide to walk around the waterfront that almost encircles the Old Town and then climb the main stairs into the narrow streets.
I don’t usually comment on the photos we post however check for the large white eyed spider at the bottom right turret of the photo of the old town from the harbour.
Korcula streets are very narrow, we have read that this is to assist with protecting the inhabitants from the very strong winds that frequent the region.
Our walk is balmy, the sky is grey yet calm. We wander round the outskirts and meander back up through the streets to the cathedral as we had planned.
Streets/staircases radiate out from this central location.
From above the Old Korcula peninsula must present the rough appearance of an old cart wheel, with the Cathedral as the hub, the streets the wooden spokes and the coastline the metal rim.
We decide to have Linner in a pizza restaurant recommended by our new Aussie friend from last night.
Small worlds keep getting smaller, she is in the restaurant with a couple of friends when we arrive and we get another G’day Mate as we enter.
We have had some really sensational pizzas in Croatia, the cafe attached to the Peekaboo indoor kids playground in Pula springs to mind, and the lovely pizzas we are served in Korcula are right up there with the best.
After heavily loading up with supplies from the local supermarket we stagger back up the stairs to our apartment.
Double bunger echoes at our tails.
With nary a cloud in sight when we arise the next morning we decide that rather than do a long coastal walk we will redo the tour of the Old Korcula town, this time under the glorious deep blue.
Blue skies above, blue sea below.
We take a new route and follow the longer curved road ‘scenic route’ that passes beside a waterfront church before heading along the waterline towards the town.
The crystal waters of the Adriatic reflect the sky above between Korcula and the mountains of the mainland.
Old Korcula is small, intimate, gloriously beautiful. Full of architectural history.
While Korcula intimately draws you in, simultaneously it reminds you that the world is huge and round and waiting just outside the calm waters of the harbour.
After all, this is the birthplace of Marco Polo.
Today we find the ‘M’ for mystery restaurant right where our landlord had vaguely guided us on our first night in Korcula, to the right at the top of the main stairs into the old town.
The menu is not in English and the restaurant owner translates for us and advises us on local dishes. We are alone in the restaurant as our meal begins however we notice there is a large table set for a group lunch.
As we are eating our delicious meal a very large group come in and are seated.
The restaurant fills with local chatter.
Once again our kindly landlords have steered us well in a new town.
This is how we prefer to dine.
After our blue skies tour of Old Korcula the previous day I had purchased liberal quantities of the golden nectar with the intention of holing up for the late afternoon and evening and typing away in a semi-drunken frenzy to catch up with the blog.
I ended up typing way too much and drinking way too little which left me with the morning quandary of what to do with the one and a half liters of beer remaining in the fridge. We are moving on to Dubrovnik today and I can’t take it with me, I have already opened the 2L bottle and it would just go flat.
It wouldn’t be right to bin it?
Of course it wouldn’t.
I confirm my new found lush status and to Pam’s wry amusement find myself drinking bulk beer from a 2L PET bottle at 9:00am as we go through our pack, check, move routine.
Our landlord is out as we leave so I am sad to miss out on my final congratulatory pat on the shoulder as we climb the stairs to the road above.
As we come up the stairs we see our landlord coming up the street from town, he has gone to buy ‘what do you call chopped up meat’?
‘Mince’ I say.
‘Ahhh yes Mince’ he replies, patting my shoulder.
Descending with our full heavy packs will be much easier following the road route from the previous day, we had also seen large rubbish bins enroute that we will be able to use to ‘dispose of the evidence’.
We have just passed the waterfront church when a young lady walking the opposite direction asks us ‘if we are travelers’.
Given the fact that we must stand out like the tourists we are the question seems redundant. Perhaps she is just being rhetorically polite.
It turns out our new friend Esprit is from the USA and had set off traveling in Europe for a week after a very stressful period in her life.
That week had turned into a fortnight, which had turned into a month, which had turned into two months.
She is concerned that real life will swallow her on her inevitable return and having discovered the magic of travel she is determined to keep it as an open option.
Talking to a seasoned traveler like Pam is the reassurance she needs. As we stand on the roadside Esprit and Pam have a lovely conversation about Pam’s travels through Europe with Lexi as a child and as a pre-teen.
For the future stands unwritten and seeds of opportunity lay scattered, awaiting those with merely courage and humility enough to stoop.
With early morning alcoholic charm I chime in with some words of wisdom and encouragement that I would normally keep to myself until I had known someone for at least an hour.
Pam’s ‘honey don’t be weird’ stare goes unnoticed.
Esprit is traveling to Dubrovnik on the same bus we are later that afternoon and wants to walk to the beaches further up the road before leaving.
We wish her well and head off into town.
Pam is keen to get a bite to eat however by now the unaccustomed early morning nectar consumption combined with the pressure of the lower strap of my backpack has me filled with a much more pressing need.
We agree to split up and meet ‘at the cafe we were in yesterday’ after fulfilling our individual goals.
Of course Pam doesn’t bother to glance at me as I rapidly stride off.
I walk up to the cafe/restaurant where we had been a couple of times during our time in Korcula as I know the ‘facilities’ are good.
I decide to order Pam a coffee and myself a beer and sit down to wait for her to arrive.
Time is flowing by, the coffee grows cold. Where the heck is Pam?
I have no money, I finish my beer, leave my backpack as collateral and set off in search.
Fifty meters away, just around a slight bend I come across my darling wife seated at another of the cafes we have frequented during our stay in Korcula.
She is sitting in front of an empty cup of coffee and a warming beer.
At least twenty minutes have passed since we agreed to diverge paths. When I ask her ‘where she thought I was and why she didn’t come to find me’ she replies ‘I thought you were in the toilet here’.
‘Twenty minutes in the toilet, I am surprised you didn’t send in a search party’ I laugh.
‘I was thinking, should I come and check to see if you are OK’? she grins.
‘I just desperately needed to pee’ I say ‘I have drunk a beer, there is a cold cup of coffee waiting for you at the restaurant around the corner and I didn’t have any money to pay’.
‘I thought maybe you were bound up’ is her witty reply.
‘Which alternative would you prefer. Dead on the shitter, thank you Elvis or alive, hale and hearty in the cafe fifty meters away’?
‘You can’t have to much fibre in your diet kids’.
‘I live to tell the sorry tale of thirty years of miscommunication within an amicable partnership’ I laugh, now on the verge of hysterics.
Pam says ‘thanks for the high praise of our Love’ as we both start having a giggling fit.
In the words describing the death of King George the Second ‘pronounced dead from overexertions on the privy’.
I have fortuitously avoided a close call.
And saved myself ‘fifty cents’.
Pam and Mick