Friday, 13 November 2015

Two Days in the 'Little Dubrovnik' of Croatia

For the last leg of our Croatian adventure, we floated onto the island of Korcula, known as 'little Dubrovnik' for its stunning medieval UNESCO old walled

town cradling a serene harbour. On our hit list? A hike to a hilltop slow-food restaurant, some beach time and wine tasting at a local dive bar. We've only two days, so let's get moving...  

We head into the old town and check into yet ANOTHER perfect old-stone cottage we nabbed for just 45 Euros a night on Air BnB. Our host – Ana – gives us the lowdown, while toasting our arrival with a shot of deliciously potent homemade lemon liqueur (note: the rather large bottle is left in the fridge for guests). 

She tells us it's market day in the square so we set off to get our bearings in search of sustenance.

...before hunting down the town's renowned bakery, a fascinating little place called Cukarin just outside the old town walls, whose female owner is certainly one tough lady, baking delicious traditional cakes and biscuits herself, each and every day. 

When it comes to eating out, there are a few nice places in the old town (Filippe to name the best) but part of the holiday experience for us here at Ellie & Co involves hunting down those perfect secret spots, where it's guaranteed you'll enjoy an all-consuming memorable meal. So the next day, we set off through the countryside for lunch at a hidden slow-food restaurant with an unlikely location in the sleepy town of Pupnat, 11km west of Korcula Town.

On the way, we hit a storm so take shelter under a canopy in the grounds of Konoba Grubinjaca hilltop farmhouse restaurant we stumble upon my accident. It's a serene spot, surrounded by lush vineyards with a mesmerising view out over the hills down to the coast and Korcula Town. This was meant to be, for we find the owner inside watching the rain, who tells us that the farmhouse has been in his family for centuries, and how they lost all their precious vines during the Bosnian war. 

You'll just have to try to imagine it in the sun, the place packed with diners feasting on traditional dishes and homegrown wine...

Onwards, we pass though a tiny deserted-looking town (it's not...) full of curious-looking houses before we hit the hiking trail. 

A couple of hours and a rusty old Renault Four later (they're de rigour over here), we reach our destination! The town of Pupnat, home to Konoba Mate, a family-run restaurant serving thoughtful wholesome food made with produce they grow themselves. It's maybe one of the best restaurants I've ever been to. In the whole world. 

Could this be the prettiest food you've ever seen?

Early evening back in Korcula Town, the rain (minor flooding, soaking feet...) doesn't stop us hitting up the town in search of Vinum Bonum, a teeny tiny dive-y wine bar we spotted during our first-day explorations. It's in the perfect place, hidden up a narrow alleyway outside the old town, serving more of that excellent Croatian wine for around £1 a glass we'd become accustomed to on this trip, alongside tasty tapas dishes. We sample several wines... before staggering strolling home.

We wake up to sun on our last day! So we run for a bus to the beach town of Lumbarda, where we hire a kayak and enjoy our last few hours on this island with a traditional waterside lunch and a stroll along a promenade. 

Our time on Korcula was short and sweet but it won't be forgotten. We woke up to the sun peeping through the traditional stone houses in Korcula Old Town's narrow streets and fall asleep in Brighton the next day dreaming of our Croatian adventure. Croatia we are in love with you. I hope you enjoyed following our journey these last few weeks, and of course, Croatia, we'll be back very soon! 

If you missed part 1 and 2 of this Croatia guide, you can find them here:

The time we vacationed in a crumbling Roman palace.

Next stop Hvar: the party island with a secret side.

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