DAY 6 | KORCULA
ABOARD THE MV AEGEAN ODYSSEY– Another morning on my deck with coffee and croissants, this time with a view of truly charming Korcula harbor. The blue water is so clear that the harbor bottom is visible and the cream houses with orange tiled roofs are under a cloudless blue sky. The croissants and other pastries have been quite good on board, but I have found the coffee poor. I have come to appreciate good coffee over the years. I actually carry my own French Press with me when I travel, as there are some things that I am unwilling to sacrifice to the uncertainties of travel.
Korcula is a sun drenched island in the Adriatic Sea in the Dubrovnik-Neretva County of Croatia. The island has an area of 108 square miles; 29.1 miles long and on average 4.8 miles wide — and lies just off the Dalmatian coast. Its 16,182 inhabitants make it the second most populous Adriatic island after Krk. The population is made up of mainly ethnic Croats (96.77 percent).
An early walking tour of Korcula introduces us to this most attractive settlement along the coast, jutting out from the mountains on its own peninsula. Surrounded by medieval walls, the Old Town is laid out with narrow cobblestone streets. Several small lovely churches are on our route, as well as restaurants, artist stalls and ice cream parlors.
We are told that Korcula is the birthplace of Marco Polo; perhaps, maybe, there is no guarantee. This uncertainty has not slowed sales of Marco Polo paraphernalia of all sorts throughout the Old Town.We are docked right across a small cobblestone street from the town itself which wraps around the harbor. Another, larger ship is anchored out, sending a steady stream of tenders from the ship to the pier. It’s taking them hours to get in, while we simply walk off into town. Our small ship does have an advantage.Following our tour we are left to wander the ancient byways of the town until noon, at which time the Aegean Odyssey pulls out for an evening arrival in Dubrovnik.
After a fine lunch in the Terrace Café, during which we sat in the shade while watching our departure, we moved on to the Ambassador Lounge for an afternoon lecture by Dr. Nigel Ramsay entitled “The Croatians: A long Wwait for Independence.” Dr. Ramsay takes us from the independent kingdom in the High Middle Ages, through its nearly half century as part of Yugoslavia to its current status as an applicant to join the European Union. Dr. Ramsay is an excellent, well prepared and informative speaker.
At 5:45 we were provided with an excursion briefing on Dubrovnik followed by an evening lecture by Dr. Candace Weddle entitled “Saints Alive! Piety and Pilgrimage in the Middle West.” Dr. Weddle uses her subtle humor as she tells us of how canny entrepreneurs of the medieval period did a brisk business discovering, buying, selling, trading, stealing and even outright fabricating relics of saints. Her lecture related some of the fascinating and often comic stories of the saints and their holy bodies and explained how fragments of famous men and women inspired soaring cathedrals and extreme acts of faith.
TRYING OUT THE SHIP’S LAUNDRY
Today was time to utilize the ships laundry and I was a little concerned. All but one of my shirts was silk, with tags stipulating that they needed to be hand washed. A careless laundry attendant could easily ruin them, leaving me with a very limited wardrobe and an expensive loss.
I filled out the laundry/pressing form found in the cabin and placed them on the bed in the laundry bag provided. “In by 9 this morning, back by 5 tomorrow.”The next afternoon they arrived. I gingerly took each hangered shirt out of my wardrobe and inspected. Relief! They were clean, pressed and as good as new and the charges were not exorbitant either. Shirts: $3, Trousers: $5. Underwear: $1. Socks: $1. For the ladies, Dresses: $7, Blouse: $3.50, and a Skirt: $6,This evening I had dinner in the outdoor section of the Terrace Café to watch our arrival in Dubrovnik. “The Tapas on the Terrace” serves the same food as the Terrace Café and consists of a variety of food selections from a circular self-serve buffet. There is a carving/grill station at the end. Trays are then collected by the wait staff and carried to where one wants to sit, either indoors or outdoors on the Tapas. A wine waiter makes the rounds with the day’s offering of Italian wine.
This evening I had grilled a mahi-mahi fillet served with hollandaise sauce, chive potato and romanesco and a selection of pastries from the dessert station. The desserts are fresh and always good, with a wide selection. Several flavors of ice cream are also available.
Later in the evening local Kappa singers “Ragusavecchia” performed local folk songs in the Ambassador Lounge.
OTHER VENUES ON THE SHIP
One deck below is the smoking deck; it is the only place on board where passengers are allowed to fire up their stogies, pipes or cigarettes. It’s a large area furnished with tables and chairs, but less than charming. Better outdoor furniture including some rattan couches and comfortable side chairs would be a great improvement.
Several decks above is the Lido Deck. Here the Aegean Odyssey has one small outdoor pool anda hot tub. There are wooden chaise lounges with pads (that need scrubbing) around the pool. Above and forward is the Observation Deck, which is nicely furnished and has a bar. Passengers gathered here for cocktails and the view when entering or exiting ports.
Aft of the pool on the same deck is a small exercise room equipped with several treadmills and a single weight machine. Given how much walking is done on tours, it seems to me that a treadmill is an unusual choice for exercise equipment on board. A steam and sauna is available along with men’s and women’s shower/bath rooms. Yoga and Pilates classes are held nearby on the open deck.