Vis: Put It On Your Bucket List! Part 1
Vis Island is an incredible place. I somehow knew that even before I set foot on it. If you asked me why I thought so, I wouldn't know the answer, but my expectations came true the first time I met the island and the people. That was in 2011. So, I decided to come back this year, infatuate others with it, and see how things are going.
We merged our Vis travel plans with a trip to the most charming wine festival in Croatia, Dalmacija Wine Expo in Makarska. Why not do some extra travel while down south? May is the perfect time to roam around Dalmatia, as the weather is pleasant, it isn't too crowded AND most of the restaurants are open. Our plans included discovering new Vis winemakers, checking out the old and trying out some new restaurants/konobas as well as taking a military tour of this ex-military no-go island. Generally, imbibing island's special atmosphere, which includes sitting in a cafe or konoba for hours after the owner left you the keys and took off for his afternoon siesta.
The fact there's something „different“ about this island is confirmed when you meet Xania and Craig, a British couple that decided to settle down in the small village of Rukavac, after teaching and traveling all over the world. In 2006, they bought a stone house and started turning it into a home. A few years after, they've transformed it into a wonderful place that now seasonally becomes a home to many people from all over the world.
It's a fusion of its own kind, so you can literally smell the symbiosis upon entering the shared second floor of the house that leads to a wonderful open terrace. It will welcome you with scents of coriander, lemon, basil, rosemary, thyme and whatever's cookin'. At that point you’ll somehow feel both at home and „somewhere else“. I suppose that's how Xania and Craig feel on Vis.
"But, there was no time to just frolic around the Wear’s house, exploring awaited..."
Thanks to our special guide, Dini from VIS IT agency, we had the opportunity to listen to stories about top secret military locations while driving in a Land Rover Defender around the island. Amongst other things, we found out there’s more than 30 abandoned military bunkers, mines and tunnels all over the place. One of the most impressive ones is definitely the huge submarine hiding mine Jastog in Parja bay. Considering there are so many abandoned, empty and ruined mines around the island, it’s a pity only one local winemaker (whom we visited the next day) is allowed to use them as wine cellars . In our minds we pictured the whole island as an ex-military-wine-producing-theme park!
This time we decided to try fish (red gurnard) under the peka iron lid, as we usually used to have octopus, lamb or veal. Our gurnard proved to be an excellent choice, and we finished soaking bread in the remains of the juice (activity locally called "toćanje"). After we caught Oliver, who was running all over the place doing his chores, he told us about his plans on building a new wine cellar, as the wine is currently produced in a garage next to the restaurant. He persuaded (to put it gently) his father to let him take over completely, so who knows with what will Oliver Roki greet us next time!
Dini knows the best way to end a day, so we ended in konoba Roki's, in Plisko polje, where the star of the menu, peka, is accompanied by the owner Oliver's Bugava wine. It is made from the indigenous variety Vugava using organic methods. A somewhat eclectic place is also the epicenter of the island's cricket activities. We missed the international tournament for only a day!
The evening ended with a few glasses of Roki's Plavac Mali wine, and we were ready for the new day, when we visited the only winemaker whose wine cellars are in an ex-military mine and dined in the most beautiful terrace on the Adriatic. We also found Paradajz Lost...
Photos by Lada Radin & Ivan Vrban Enogastrobrutal
The second part of our Vis adventure is HERE