Since arriving in Croatia, I've actively pushed myself to not hold expectations for any upcoming cities. So far it hasn't been an issue, but I never want to arrive in a beautiful place and be disappointed that it isn't as gorgeous as the city I just came from. When I boarded my ferry from Bol to Hvar, I went through the motions of trying to remove my expectations and prepared myself mentally for Hvar. I figured by now I was well overdue for a disappointment since every single city I've visited so far is nothing short of extraordinary. Surely every city I visit in Croatia can’t be incredible, there must be a "dud" somewhere. Fortunately, this is not the case for Hvar. It is an absolutely beautiful gem of a city that completely blew me away - Croatia is still bowling a perfect game in my book!
The Song of Hvar:
I honestly have no idea where to begin with this little town. The entire city is gorgeous! Every single square inch of it! The old city center is a joy to behold and I had as much fun walking around town as I did sitting in a cafe watching the world walk by me. It’s been a while since I made my last video game reference, but Hvar feels like real life version of Delfino Plaza from the old Super Mario Sunshine game (I think I'm dating myself with this reference). Everything about that fictional city feels like it was copied right from Hvar! The beautiful blue water, the small ports with their white cobblestone promenades, the numerous palm trees, the dozens of old stone buildings complete with red tile roofs and colorful shutters, the shaded cafes, and the local vendors selling trinkets all combine give the impression that I’m living in some sort of dream. I loved playing Super Mario Sunshine as a kid simply because I could explore such marvelous towns, but I never once did I think such a place existed in the real world. Now I find myself exploring the real thing; I can’t believe my eyes! Hvar is sublime.
There’s even a cafe here called "Delfin", so I'm sure this is the place!
My first few days in Hvar were frequently overcast and windy, but it did not deter one bit from this little town’s beauty. Compared to the seemingly deserted towns of Supetar and Bol I visited prior, Hvar is far more popular among tourists and, as a result, is considerably more lively. Even with the additional tourists, what I love so much about the old town is how the buildings are still in use by the local population. Granted many of the structures now serve as dual homes/hotels, but overall the city still manages to retain its unique character. There is a clear attempt in Hvar to retain the old-world charm of the city, but unlike in Bol and Supetar, there is not much remodeling visible from the streets. As I meandered through the town, I found it comical to see the juxtaposition of the various old stone archways against the modern, triple-paned windows and pressure treated doors that filled the openings.
The walls that line the uneven streets clearly show their years and depending on the size/color of the stonework, I could tell how recently the structure was built. Often times the only way to tell the difference from one building to another is by the change in the masonry or the type of stone used. Thanks to the numerous old barricaded doorways and windows it felt like I could peer into the history of this wonderful little town and see just how much has changed over the years. It is a genuine pleasure to walk around Hvar, but it is thoroughly exhausting as the entire town is built into the nearby mountain and I was constantly climbing/descending down stairways.
Fun fact: There are only 4,000 permanent residents in Hvar, but during the summer the city swells to over 50,000 people!
Hearing those numbers, I’m rather happy I’m here in the off-season.
From the center of town, there are miles of wall maintained walkways in both directions that wind through various little alcoves, nearby beaches, and neighboring ports. Each port along the way is wonderfully picturesque and the contrast between the turquoise water, white mountains, and rustic stone apartments never gets old. As pretty as the pictures I post may be, they do not hold a candle to the real thing. Several times a day, I'd catch myself staring for minutes on end, hypnotized by the beautiful vista before me in an almost meditative state.
I can’t believe it’s October and it still feels like I’m in the middle of summer here in Croatia! Even among the other incredible cities I’ve visited so far in Croatia, Hvar take the crown as my favorite city on this trip (sorry Split, you've already been demoted) and possibly in the world (I'm not joking on this one). Not only does Croatia take the cake as my favorite country, but it now also contains my top three favorite cities in the world. I've never had more of a desire to stay in a city before. Perhaps I'll just live out the rest of my days here in Hvar? I can certainly think of worse ways to spend my life.