Hvar Island’s original inhabitants were migrants from the Greek Island of Paros in the 4th century BCE who created the settlement of Pharos, from which the name Hvar is derived. It too has been overrun like the rest of the former Yugoslavia, by Slavs, Venetians, Habsburgs and now tourists. It is a lovely island for relaxing, exploring the nearby Pakleni Islands, and traveling inland to the lavender fields and prolific (and happy!) vineyards. And we ate lots of delicious, fresh fish and seafood.

In the town of Hvar, in one of the more unique museums, are displays of elaborate, intricate lace products. For nearly 120 years, the Benedictine nuns at the Benedictine Convent have been using strings from locally-grown agave cactus plants to painstakingly weave these amazing delicate patterns. In 2009 they were recognized by UNESCO.

We took 2 different day trips. The first was by a “zodiac” speedboat to the island of Vis in the Pakleni group, where there are famous sea-caves, the most well-known of which is the Blue Cave. Inside that cave, sunlight bounces from outside to stunningly

light up the sea to literally glow turquoise blue. We had a fresh fish lunch in a tiny cafe off a rocky beach, then bounced around the rest of Vis in our speedboat and returned back to port since the Adriatic was becoming too rough to visit more Pakleni islands.

Our 2nd day trip was to the inland of Hvar, up and over the mountains on terrible roads in a jeep, where we visited traditional villages, lavender fields, olive groves and an ancient olive oil press, and vineyards. We stopped for lunch at another tiny cafe to eat our first (only) taste of Peka-cooking.  One of the most popular meals in Croatia’s Dalmatian region is “peka, “a blend of vegetables (especially potatoes) and meat, drizzled with olive oil and herbs then baked for hours, often over a fire grill, under a bell-like metal dome. Four of us shared a lamb peka and veal peka that were tender and tasty (as long as you remember that meat here is often not aged/tenderized). We continued our drive through more vineyards and lavender fields, as well as to an old fortress.