Following Celtic Ways

Ramblings and reviews by John Willmott as he travels the Celtic Ways and Waterways visiting hidden ancient Celtic temples, sacred wells, and provoking legends .... plus music and theatre along the way

Friday, July 01, 2005

Croatia: Day 5 - Journey Past Kornati To Trogir

by John Willmott of Celtic Ways

Each day, so far, has presented unexpected surprises. The start of this day was no exception as we jiggled through the narrow channel of the south west side of the main island of Kornat. The main island of Kornat is the most fascinating. Once this was a lush forested island but ancient Venitians and later tribes cleared the area to use the timber for boat building and perhaps the building of Venice. As there is little rain the land never replenished so the sight today is an intriguing and beautiful sculpture of limestone.

George Bernard Shaw wrote this. "On the last day of Creation, God wished to crown his work and made the Kornati islands out of his tears, the stars and his breath."

Some small communities still survive, as we noticed sailing by. For me, the wonder is the incredible collection of ancient cairns and later spiritual gathering centers such as derelict fortresses and medieval chapels. Like in Ireland, some of the cairns have been stripped of their capstones which are replaced by crosses towering over the ruined cairns like flags of victory. These are particularly concentrated between the tiny fishing villages of Lucica and Kravijacaca. In between the cairned mountains is a mysterious incredibly remote waterside chapel called St. Guspo.

The sea in front of this chapel must be one of the bluest in the world.

I have since learned that this area is known as the Plain of Tarac and the little chapel is known at the "Lady Of Tarac" or "Queen Of The Sea". If we had passed by on Sunday, just two days later, we would have been part of an annual boat procession that makes a pilgrimage to the Plain and the little church, built in the 16th century.

I would have loved to have stayed longer and captured local stories, but I gather local residents are now very few as the entire economy is from providing boats with supplies. Even the goods they supply to boats are imported in bulk from the mainland.

Arriving in the smallish medieval town of Trogir was quite a culture shock after the beautiful remote paradises we had visited. Trogir is about 10 miles north of the large city of Split.

The extremely narrow streets between the buildings had a similarity to Venice, but the buildings were cared for much better. The old medieval town is mainly a network of restaurants and cafes to serve the large population of visiting pleasure craft. There were many churches but all except one had also been converted into restaurants. At the tourist information office I discovered that Trogir's unique narrow streets was the set for a Harry Potter film.

Trogir's medieval town also has quite a large residential community. As their doors were open we noticed their unique home decor of linens and tapestries where we normally hang pictures and photos. The riverside market was a huge version of what we saw at Rovinj. Nobody could starve with their incredible prices. I bought an amazing Scampi burger, the largest prawns I have seen in my life in a huge local baked bun along with a collection of delicious local salad vegetables and pickles, all for under $2.00.

This was our last night on Cathleen and there was a little sadness that paradise may have been left yet we still had a few days adventures ahead and plenty to look forward to.

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