The Scientific Testing of Sladoleds

Continuing “Croatian Tapestry”

We woke up early in Hvar to proper gusts straining us back on our mooring ball and a half-chafed through bow line. I’d been up the whole night checking and half-expecting this, but the grim reality of having to cast off at 6am in the dark was an abrupt awakening nevertheless. We scooted across the choppy channel to Palmizana to meet up with the rest of the group (we were a bit scattered out because moorings were so scarce the night before). The wild wind on that short early morning ride got my adrenaline pumping and reminded me of our cruise down the Pacific Coast last year. It secretly felt good to have my blood pressure elevated like that again.

We tucked in to Palmizana next to the rest of the fleet at 6:30am and wandered up to the reception building, which wouldn’t be open until 8. The marina was huge and full of boats, but the early morning was quiet but for the howling wind. We walked along the shore of the densely forested island for a bit and predicted that a cozy day in from the weather.

Sure enough, when the rest of the group met at the only caffe, the majority consensus was to abandon the itinerary for the day in favor of staying out of the nasty weather. There were some who wanted to go joyriding in the channel–so they suited up in foulies and struck out to play in the spray for a couple hours. The rest of us dawdled on the docks, took much-deserved naps, and hiked across the wooded island to the far shore. At the end of our hike, I treated myself to our first ice cream–“sladoled”–in Straciatella flavor (whatever that is). It was absolutely wonderful stuff–light, creamy, sweet without being overly sugared. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t tasted it yet on the trip.

Sladoled, in fact, was one of the driving reasons we got underway at 6am the following morning, knowing that it would be a long 35 nm stretch to Korcula. Supposedly in Korcula, in the righthand corner of the main square as you’re facing the cathedral, is the BEST sladoled place EVER. Jean De Keyser, our trip leader, absolutely loves the stuff, and happens to be a very convincing salesman too (and certainly in the evening when we’ve all been drinking gin and tonics!). So with mouths watering, we wholeheartedly agreed to get up in the morning and go to Korcula–hurrah!–to continue what Jean referred to as “the scientific testing of sladoleds!”

Sladoleds aside completely, Korcula was well worth the windward passage to get there. Approaching the picturesque walled city through Korcula channel reminded me a lot of the Columbia River Gorge–Mediterranean style. Steep cliffs soared on either side of the channel, dotted with ancient castles and manors perched up in the hills. Windsurfers and kite surfers zigzaged across the water. Tacking upwind into the channel, we got great views of both shorelines from the edges of our course, and each time we turned the stunning skyline of Korcula grew larger.

My only regret from the whole trip was that we had too little time in Korcula (but there’s no use in arguing with the weather for long). I can’t complain about cocktails under the sunset on TOP OF A CASTLE. They even sent the drinks up in a little basket-pulley system over the edge! We spent the late evening strolling through the maze of stone streets, admiring coral jewelry, stopping for glasses of wine in alleyway nooks, enjoying the upward view of ancient steeples against a starry sky. And the sladoled results are in, and Korcula’s variety is empirically the best.

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