Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Retreat to Vis - The Balkans (D6/7)

I like a change of pace as I travel so I would, where possible, include some less-trodden or low-key places and while in the Balkans, that retreat came in the shape of the island of Vis. The furthest of the main central Dalmatian island from the coast, Vis served as a military base and was closed to visitors until 1989. The isolation  preserved the island from development and drove much of the population away, leaving it underpopulated for many years. I rented an apartment from a lady who meet newly arrivals at the port. It was a great place at a great price - a minute walk from the port, adequately equipped and furnished and a spacious balcony with a splendid sea, port and Vis town view. It was easily my favorite accommodation choice of the trip. I spent the rest of the afternoon lazing off a nearby beach. The water was still cold but that did not stop me from taking quick dips. That evening, I walked along the scenic harbor side promenade to Kut for dinner. It seemed like everyone recommended this restaurant but I found it to a bit pricey and the portion small. The quality of the service and food was good though. I had the grilled squid, scorpion fish and local white wine.

peka octopus - simply the best
 After a hearty buffet breakfast at what seemed to me like the only hotel in Vis Town, I paid another visit to the medieval neighborhood of Kut. I did not linger for long as I had arranged for a car with driver for a late morning pickup to travel to various parts of the island. First stop was the town of Komiža on the western coast. Komiža is a small pleasant fishing town on a bay with a bohemian feel about it. We drove up to the hills for a stupendous view of Komiža and the coastline before heading off to the beach. It would be a shame to leave Vis without visiting one of its fabulous beaches and there are actually quite a few to choose from. My choice was the Srebrna or silver beach situated on the south-eastern side of the island. Srebrna is an astoundingly beautiful pebble beach with unusual, large pebbles that glare under the sun. It was nice and quiet, the way that I like it but the water was too cold for a swim. A short stay later, it was off to lunch at a konoba that specializes in peka cooking about 4 km outside Vis town. Peka is a cast-iron dome, placed over coals, which they use to slow-roast octopus (or kid lamb). It comes with potatoes, optionally carrot is added. My pre-ordered peka octopus was so tender and stickily caramelized melting in the mouth... divine. Back in Vis town in the mid afternoon and decided that it would be a great idea to walk off the incredible meal to nearby George III Fortress. After some uphill walking, I realized that I had missed the turn to the fortress and ended up at the rogacica instead. To get to the ruins, there was a thorny scrubs covered slope to overcome but the view was certainly worth all the nicks on the shins and effort.

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