Supertar, Brac 14-21 June 2017
Our trip from Trogir to the island of Brac involved two ferry trips, the little Baru Line boat from Trogir to Split then a big car ferry over to Supertar, on the island of Brac. Each trip took about 50 minutes and we only had about 30 minutes between them and a short walk of around half a kilometer of so. We docked in Supertar on time and we set off on foot to find our apartment. Fortunately, Antonija, our host, had given us excellent photo instructions and we managed to find our place with little trouble. Supertar is not a big place anyway, more of a small town really with a population of around 3000.
The apartment proved very comfortable and certainly well located, a mere 150m to the water and much the same to a well stocked supermarket. Antonija and her mother live above us. The house is set on a small block with an area of garden, as do most of the houses surrounding us. Some grow vegetables and fruit trees and ours has quite a number of plum trees, mostly purple but one that is a golden colour. Antonija’s mother brought us a bowl of the golden ones and they proved to be very sweet and quite delicious. Another point of interest was the presence of several small tortoises in the yard, cute little things called Hermann’s Tortoise and native to the area. They don’t really do much more than crawl around the yard but its good to know they are there.
All the walking with the backpacks on must have taken its toll because we didn’t do much more after arrival than lie around and read and drop off for a bit of a nap. Our second day on Brac was not much more energetic because it rained most of the day. This was the first rain we had experienced in Croatia and the country looked like it could do with it. It wasn’t heavy, but it was steady and we eventually headed out to explore the town and do some shopping, just accepting that we would get a little wet. When it is cool and wet you would swear that there was no one here but when the bad weather clears and the sun comes out, so do the people. The umbrellas go up, the al fresco tables are set and the gelato sellers get into full swing.
To be honest, we were pretty lazy during our week in Supertar, falling into a habit of doing very little in the afternoons. The local television seems to consist of 10 stations, of which three or four are in English at any one time. This is a big change from NO ENGLISH, which is what we have had for weeks at a time. The down side is that a lot of the English shows are very old and I have to admit to watching an episode of Gunsmoke and a few old NCIS re-runs. We also thoroughly enjoyed the old 70s movie “Papermoon” for which the brilliant 9 year old Tatum O’Neal won an Oscar. We have made up for the laziness by going for a walk every evening after dinner. The sun does not set until around 9pm and the time between 8 and 9 is simply charming, the setting sun casting a gorgeous orange glow on the white limestone buildings of the harbour front. It is a popular time for a stroll with families, couples and hopefuls all doing the walk along the waterfront taking in the atmosphere.
There are some reasonable swimming beaches locally and not too far from the house at that. The beaches here are stony rather than sand based but the one near us at least has some lovely clean white sand underfoot once you are in the water. The water temperature has come up and is not bad once in and wet. With the beach being a little hard to lie on, there is always a paddock full of sun lounges out for hire and there are plenty of sun loving Europeans ready to ignore the sun safe message and tan themselves to a point where they resemble a cooked chook.
One day we hopped on a bus and visited Bol, which claims the best beach in the Adriatic in the form of a spot called Zlatni Rat. As the crow flies, it is only about 10km across the island from Supertar to Bol but the bus route is 33kms because it makes quite a few side trips to other villages and has to negotiate the difficult trip up and over the central mountain spine. At $A10 each for the return journey, the fare is quite expensive by local bus standards but the trip is really worth it for the drive alone. The views across the highlands and out to the mainland or the neighbouring island of Hvar are nothing short of spectacular and the hairpin bends and switchback narrow roads are adrenaline raising, especially when bus meets bus on a bend. All the little towns and villages were picture perfect. Bol itself is lovely with a cute little harbor and a waterfront line of gorgeous stone buildings. The bus stops right in the heart of the town and Zlatni Rat is about 1.5kms along the coast, necessitating a walk or an expensive taxi. The walk is easy and interesting with market stalls being spread out for around half of the distance. There are also a lot of small coves suitable for swimming along the way.
Zlatni Rat is the main objective. It is a spit that extends almost perpendicular to the coast with a broad white beach of fine pebbles around its length. Beautiful open pine forest borders the beach, providing a welcome relief from the sun and heat if needed and the water is crystal clear with a gorgeous aquamarine colour. The great thing about the long spit is that it is easy to find a calm place out of the wind. The Western side, where we went, is a little deeper and I found myself out of my depth after only 15 metres of so. We also found that the Western side is a clothing optional area, even though the sign says “No Nudists” and points to a path leading further away as being a nudist beach. I have no issue with the clothing optional places but the slip slop slap seems to have gone out the window. There were some very brown people and brown all over at that. We swam for a while (with bathers on) before walking back to the town.
Back in Bol we had what would have to be the best hamburger in Croatia, or maybe Europe. A little sandwich place near the bus stop advertised a hamburger for 25HRK ($A5) which looked appealing. The girl at the counter called us in to select our toppings from a big selection and everything was crammed into an enormous fresh bun atop a good mince patty. With pickles, corn kernels, crisp salads and a great ketchup it really hit the spot. I just shows you what can happen when a country doesn’t have Maccas.
There is a small village about 3kms to the west of Supertar called Mirca and we took a walk, following the main road and some small trails. It is a pretty little spot set on a small cove. It seems that any small cove or rare piece of flat land has developed into a settlement on Brac, where arable or livable land is rare. Most arable land is used for olive growing with the small stunted trees being grown in soil that is extremely rocky. Over the centuries, the rocks have been cleared to some extent and piled into mounds or incorporated in the endless network of dry-stone walls. Where a valley forms that will hold some actual soil, market gardens flourish, with tomatoes, grapes, zucchinis and cabbages being commonly grown.
For most of our time in Croatia, the wind has been absent and the seas glassy calm. However, we did have a couple of days of a nasty northerly wind that locally is called a Bora. The warnings went out for winds of around 40km/hr with gusts to 90km/hr. The large number of mountainous islands in this part of the world can produce some rather extreme variations in the winds. While the worst of the forecast Bora wind never actually materialized, we saw enough to know that a Bora prediction needs to be taken seriously. Just as with the rain, the crowds disappeared again, presumably holed up inside. The boats tied up in the various little harbours dotted around Supertar were all jumping around on their lines and the few boats we saw that had ventured out were making heavy going of it. One evening when it was blowing hard we saw a flotilla of five yachts tied up inside the breakwater. They were bouncing around in their berths quite a bit but better than being outside. What attracted us was that they were flying pennants advertising “Sail Croatia” and sported flags of various nations. Three flew Australian flags so we wandered over. Sail Croatia is a charter company that offers cruises for under 35s and there were young people in abundance. Part of their web site promotion promises “every night a party” and the party had started early. Despite the bouncy conditions, everyone seemed to be having a great time and the drinks flowed freely. We figured they didn’t want to talk to old farts and went away again. The next morning, we watched the fleet put to sea in heavy conditions and wondered at just how the crews were holding up.
The week in Supertar has probably been the least energetic of our stays so far but the place does lull you into a relaxed mood. The town appears capable of catering for at least five times the current crowd and I gather that things will get like that in July and August. It must be quite frenetic, especially over at Bol, which is already very busy. However, if getting away from the rat race of commuting to work and living in busy crowded cities is your need then a week or so on Brac Island would be a most welcome escape.
From here we move on through the islands to Korcula. More ferries, more beaches. It’s a hard life.