GIRL’S WEEKEND ON ISLAND VIS… Another of the Dalmatian islands that we all adore..
Enjoying a few nips of Rakije (Grappa) Orahovica, Travarice, Višnje, Medica..putting a spring in our step!!!
In late April I was invited to join a group of vibrant young women on a weekend getaway to Island Vis, the westernmost island, 45 kms from the Dalmatian mainland. Packing some casual clothes, toothbrushes and a few necessities, we were soon on our way, catching the 10.30 am car-ferry from Split and arriving into Vis harbour at 12 noon. The weather was warm and gloriously sunny, really perfect Spring weather. We had’t planned much, we had places to go and people to see, but apart from that we decided to relax and go with the flow.
A BIT OF HISTORY…
It was the ancient Greeks that settled and developed the first colony on the Island of Issa (Now Vis) back in 397 BC, but even before that in 323 BC, the Greek historian Theopomus wrote about an Illyrian called Ionios from the Island of Issa and his figure was shown on the first coins of the colony. Vis later switched to Roman rule in 46 BC, then the Venetians took over in 997 AD followed by alternate rule between the Venetians and the Hungarian /Croatian kings, until King Ladislav of Croatia sold Dalmatia to the Venetians in 1420. After the fall of the Venetians, Austria took over, and then France entered the picture but in 1811, 4 years later, following a battle at sea with the British, the French sailed home defeated and the British set up a base, building several fortifications. Once again in 1918, the Italians were back for a couple of years and again in 1943 during the second World War, but only until Mussolini capitulated and Tito, protected by his allies, took over and created Fortress Adriatic, the main base of the Yugoslav Army and Navy. Tito closed the island to the public and it remained that way until 1989. FINALLY, in 1991 Croatia became independent following the Homeland War and break up of the former Yugoslavia and Island Vis is open to all who love and appreciate the natural charm of this almost forgotten island.
ARRIVING INTO VIS HARBOUR….
Driving my car off the ferry in Vis Town, we found a parking spot very easily and decided to take a walk along the waterfront towards Kut, the northern area of the bay where we’d decided to have lunch at the very well known traditional restaurant called Pojoda since Villa Kaliopa was still not open for the season. We sat in a delightful courtyard, ordering some very traditional cuisine of Vis, together with the indigenous wine varieties of white Vugava, and red mali Plavac. We shared a variety of dishes and all agreed it was a delicious lunch.. Soon we were driving up the winding road with spectacular views over Vis Town to our accommodation in the village of Podstražje. We all ‘oohed and aaahed’, totally delighted with our ‘home away from home’ complete with attic and rooms with delightful views and loads of old world charm.
AN UNEXPECTED ADVENTURE..
Late afternoon before sunset we decided to take a walk to the next village of Rukavac. As we strolled along admiring the myriad of wildflowers and perfumes of wild herbs, we came across a sign..’UNDER THE PAINTBRUSH- IMANJE POD KISTOM‘..Curious and full of a sense of adventure we wandered closer to take a peek..To our amazement we discovered an art gallery in a beautiful garden. As we tentatively ventured further into the property a car pulled up and it was the well known artist JOSIP KARAKAŠ who was soon introducing himself and inviting us into his home! Meeting Zorica his wife, we were overwhelmed by their warm hospitality and soon the rakija (grappa) was being poured and we were treated like a group of old friends..We discovered that Josip and Zorica’s apartments accommodate 25 guests and they specialise in Yoga and Cooking Class retreats, as well as normal accommodation for those who love healthy food and an exquisite environment..The apartments are beautifully designed, and Josip’s art really enhances the overall ambiance!! Thank you Zorica and Josip!
At Under the Paintbrush / Imanje Pod Kistom
DRIVING FROM VIS TOWN TO KOMIŽA
After a late breakfast we headed 22 kms west across the island to the town of Komiža to visit a friend and check out the renovations on his beautiful old Stone house in the heart of the old town on the beach. The houses of the late Renaissance and Baroque period in Komiža are very interesting. On the way, we drove through the narrow Dračevo plain, and stopped at the Aerodrom Gostionica Winehouse located on Velo Polje where an aerodrome was built during world War 2. The style of the winehouse is very retro and a favourite with many who have passed this way..Highly recommended!
On the way to Komiža we stopped at a very rustic countryside eatery, GUŠTI POJA which translates to ‘Tastes from the Field’. My friend Tanja Kezić, chef and author of ‘DALMATION FLAVOURS’ cookbook, had been singing the praises of this place and as far as 5 hungry women were concerned, it surely lived up to it’s reputation! We were hoping to taste the famous salted sardine flatbread of Vis, which is something like pizza with sauteed onion, tomatoes and salted and torn fillets of anchovies sprinkled with parsley and sometimes also with capers, but on this day it was not available so we settled for an assortment of very traditional dishes.
KOMIŽA …HOME OF THE FALKUŠA FISHING BOATS…..
Photos of falkuša boats in Komiža by Ivo Pervan
These boats were built specifically with fishing in mind. The best catches were found out in the open sea around the outer islands of Palagruža, Svetac and Jabuka, and this resulted in a sturdier type of boat being built with 5 oars, 9 metres long and 2.9 metres wide, high 9 meter mast and wooden falks, (Wooden additions ) that were added to the sides of the boat to protect it from waves on the way home with their rich and heavy haul.
Not many of these old boats remain, because every year on the 6th December, (the Day of St. Nicholas protector of the sea and sailors) one of these boats is burnt in commemoration in Komiža, a tradition which has been performed for centuries in honour of their patron saint.
SENKO KARUŽA …THE ROBINSON CRUSOE OF ISLAND VIS
At Konoba Senko Karuso on Mala Travna Cove
We had heard about this famous character, Senko. Everywhere we had been on Vis, people had mentioned his name! The question on everyone’e lips, “Have you been to Senko’s?” It was therefore a foregone conclusion that we would visit him and check out his kitchen and the cuisine that everyone was raving about! We headed for the cove of Mala Travna (Molo Trovno) to meet a real legend, poet, author, and brilliant Dalmatian chef at his Konoba Senko Karusa.…
Yes! He’s all of these things and he delighted us with his warmest hospitality, and freshest fish on the grill, served with his own vintages of red mali plavac..(little blue) a day to honestly remember. We had called and booked lunch ahead of arrival, and driving on a winding dirt road we slowly descended the hairpin bends down to the cove, parked the car and walked the remaining 200 meters to an almost makeshift abode, outdoor tables haphazardly arranged, overlooking the most stunning azure turquoise waters of Mala Travna Cove. A white bearded man in his late 50s (I think) welcomed us like an old friend. We all felt we had known him forever. A real Robinson Crusoe character that certainly didn’t fail to impress us with his wisdom yet down to earth humour and culinary expertise!
Sailing back to Split late afternoon on the Jadrolinija ferry, we all decided our girl’s weekend away had been had been a superb adventure, and we’re looking forward to our next getaway sometime soon.