Saturday in Korčula

The water taxi leaves from the hotel beach taxi stand every half an hour. We get a hop on-hop off ticket and join the beach hoppers. Twenty minutes on the water taxi and we reach our first island. 

Korčula archipelago or Skoji is made up of 18 islands and islets. Badija with an area of one square mile is the biggest of the group and our first stop. A 14th century Franciscan monastery is the dominating building as the island comes into view. The Church of Our Lady of Mercy is situated inside the monastery. Built in Gothic-Renaissance style the church was completed in 1533. Church bells chime as we enter the building and an overwhelming sense of calm descends. The bells ring out and the ensuing silence is interrupted by distant sounds of crickets. After leaving the church we follow the path behind the monastery. A couple of reindeers peer at us inquisitively as we walk past them. Along the path memorial plaques depicting Jesus’s final journey guide us further into the woods. The sound of the chirping crickets get louder. We walk a short distance and retrace our steps back to the beach. The water taxi picks us up and after ten minutes we are docking at the next biggest islet in the group. 

Vrnik is the only islet in the group which is inhabited and is famous for its stone quarries. Stones from here have been used to build many famous buildings including the Capitol building in Washington. The water surrounding the islets are crystal clear and a bright shade of green. Secluded unspoilt beaches make these islands an ideal holiday destination for the locals and tourists alike. We walk around for a bit. Fallen dried pine cones crunch under our feet. 

The next stop on the water taxi route is Lumbarda, a village on Korcula island and seven kilometres from Korcula town. Once again we walk around for a bit and follow the path leading up-to a church on top of the slope. By the time we get back to the beach it is well past lunchtime. A restaurant with a canopied area on the beach front provides the perfect spot to take a well earned rest. Heavy breakfast and dinners mean that lunch is normally a very light affair. I order a dish of fried small fish with grilled vegetables. Whole anchovies dipped and fried arrive, with everything including its head, tail and innards. I have three options- to discard it, eat it or dissect and just eat the meaty bit. I try the last two options. It would have been a very tasty meal if it wasn’t for the bitterness from the fish insides. 

The couple sitting next to us is watching cricket on their tablet and getting very excited. It gets to the point when I have to interrupt and ask them who they are supporting. He proudly shows me his ‘All Blacks’ cap. The New Zealand couple have flown all the way to watch their team play next week in County Durham. They also have tickets to watch the final at Lords. “Rub it in” I say “rub it in”. I tell them how I tried to get tickets for some of the matches when it came up on the public ballot last year and failed at both the rounds. The conversation reminds me of Catherine, whose husband was the Indian ambassador to NZ a few years ago at his last posting when they had the opportunity to host the Indian cricket team who were playing NZ on their home ground. They stay to watch the rest of the match while we hurry to catch the water taxi back home. 

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