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New Europe

Day Eleven: Hvar to Medugorje, Bosnia & Herzegovina

Igor's restaurant 
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Igor's eccentric restaurant in Starigrad, Hvar. The slow food is well worth the wait.
Michael Palin - New EuropeAt the compact little port of Sucuraj, on the south-eastern tip of Hvar, I leave for the mainland on an equally compact fishing boat. Nets, with their black marker buoys attached to them, lie along the deck like giant jellyfish as we sail out of the harbour beyond the outstretched hand of St Nikolai, patron saint of fishermen, whose statue on the sea wall is, in both senses, the last image of Hvar.

As he rolls the nets out the captain tells me that, contrary to much of the rest of Europe, Croatia's waters are still plentiful. He can bring in 200 kilos a day, but they're mainly scampi, for which the price is low.

'Too many Croatians eat meat,' he grumbles.

The Dalmatian coast, where fish is taken seriously, is eclipsed by Zagreb, the capital, around which half of Croatia's four million people live. And all paid-up carnivores, apparently.

The nets out, our captain produces fresh bread and a dish of anchovies in his own olive oil. He delves around in a locker and brings out a bottle of local wine called Vinka, in a bag of ice. We bob around in the sunshine. The food is simple and satisfying. Ahead of us is the narrow coastal plain and behind it the tall grey limestone wall beyond which are all the troubles of Europe.

By late afternoon we're crossing the Neretva River and turning north through the rich market gardens of its swampy delta into the ancient land of Herzegovina, which, with Bosnia to the north and the Republika Srpska (pronounced Serbska) to the north and east, is one of the components of the fragile state of Bosnia & Herzegovina, or BiH, created and tended by the United Nations.
Boat to Bosnia 
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Another lunch. My fisherman friend checks the wine cellar on the boat to Bosnia.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: New Europe
  • Chapter: Day Eleven: Hvar to Medugorje, Bosnia & Herzegovina
  • Country/sea: Croatia
  • Place: Sućuraj
  • Book page no: 29

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