I've come to realise that 'summer holidays' aren't really my thing, despite years of sunny trips and desperate attempts to come back to school with a real glow, as opposed to a badly-applied 'gradual' (it was never gradual) tanner. I don't tan, I just burn. I get impatient with spending so much time sat in one place, overheating. So, when my mother asked me if I wanted to tag along on a trip to Croatia (for September sun, rather than to wander Dubrovnik), I thought about just seeing what the British weather would throw at me instead. Luckily, I decided a week with my family would probably do me good, and, it did. We arrived in Croatia in darkness, packed ourselves into a car and then onto a windy boat to cross the Peljesac Strait to our quiet apartment on the island of Korcula, a couple of kilometres from the old town.
We arrived in Croatia in darkness, packed ourselves into a car and then onto a windy boat to cross the Pelješac Strait to our quiet apartments on the island of Korčula, a couple of kilometres from the old town. We dragged our suitcases past the slightly crumbling hotel in the dark, and wondered what we'd wake up to. The next morning, we explored rocky beaches fringed on one side with olive trees, and beautiful, perfectly clear water on the other. I dusted off my snorkel gear and hunted for crabs in the rock pools - even my nan donned a mask to have a look underwater. We made friends with the generations of resident stray cats, and spent the rest of the week regretfully shooing kittens from inside the moment a door or window were opened. I even stopped writing my daily to-do list.
A slow meander along the coastal path took us to Korčula Old Town. Right in the centre of the medieval walls lies the Katedrala Sveti Marko, around which the town's buildings fan out, stepped streets branching off like the veins of a leaf. We sidestepped the Marco Polo Museum and headed instead for the tower of his (supposed) birthplace, with views across the rooftops to the sea. The tiny Icon Museum holds a small but beautiful collection of original Byzantine icons from as early as the 13th century, and later ceremonial items, plus an unexpected gem - the Crvka Svih Svetih. Accessed via a tiny stone walkway from the museum, the church houses a spectacular painted ceiling, relics and beautiful sculptures.
The highlight of the trip for all of us was the boat trip we took on our last day. We spent a few hours coasting around Korčula, chatting to our host Mario about life on the island and sampling grappa and red wine from Mario's own family vineyard. We jumped off the boat, snorkelled around tiny islands among silvery fish and bright yellow sea sponges. At sunset, we moored up in the bay opposite the Badija monastery amongst the yachts, and ate hand-caught fish grilled on the back of the boat and washed down more red wine. After the sun went down, we headed home in darkness aside from the stars.