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Remembering Croatia: A Surprise Klappa Performance

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Waking up in Korcula, we had breakfast quayside before departing for Vela Luka, where a dinghy ride ashore to a shingle beach was the beginning of a fine adventure. From the shingle beach, we climbed the hill to find the road that would eventually lead us to our lunch spot. Some time later, we arrived at a small property by the name of "Gulin", owned by an Australian Croatian who has developed a way of bringing Croatian culture within easy reach of visitors: we took in the farm by foot and admired the homestead’s gardens before taking our seats at a long table set up in the courtyard and shaded by olive branches carefully laid across a pergola.

Everything looked so appetising and we were soon serving ourselves from platters of fresh seafood; cold deep-fried sardines dipped in lemon and served with apple, quince and rosemary, barbecued mackerel and barbecued sardines served with salad greens.

There were pitchers of delicious organic wine placed along the table and before long, we were feeling very much at home! Partway through lunch, in what appeared to be an impromptu performance, our host and the various "farm hands" who had been there to greet us formed a small circle and proceeded to sing.
Looking at the faces, we saw that the skipper of Tajna Mora, Ivan, was one of the surprise performers. . . and so we gathered that it had been planned as a surprise.

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The singing was sweet and melodic, and we all sat in silence as one traditional "Klappa" song after the next took us deeper into the country's culture.

It was one of the most beautiful performances I have ever witnessed and our eyes were brimming with joy as we listened. . .. surely they would never run out of songs to sing! We just had to hear more! It was later that we learned that the farm’s cook, who wore his apron while singing, had once been a famous Klappa singer. This gentle soul had lost his voice some years ago, only for it to come back. Klappa singing is straight from the heart: very healing!

The rest of the day was heaped-full of surprises: we pulled into port in Hvar and met the Mayor, Pjerino Bebic, who was charismatic and funny and with whom we clinked champagne glasses while a photographer snapped away. The late afternoon sunset was viewed from the tallest turret of the fortress above Hvar, and was exceptional - such an inspiring panorama, with such history at our feet!

The day came to its conclusion with a very memorable dinner aboard the TAJNA MORA, where it was our turn to surprise our host, Ivan: we did a slightly new take on the famous song, "Guantanamera", replacing the "tanamera" with "Tajna Mora", and Ivan was honoured. It started our dinner off on a high note (pardon the pun) and the conversation then flowed ceaselessly through a beautifully prepared and presented meal, punctuated, of course, with laughter and the constant clinking of glasses.

We happily returned to our yacht, NAVILUX, where a dance party was already underway and we learned that Hvar was the country’s party capital.

By Victoria Hamilton Boz

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14/08/2018

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