From Donkeys to Satellites: Google Street View Comes to Hvar
Croatia's premier island will soon be easier to discover, as the Google Street View car visited Hvar, the latest in improved mapping and communications.
The modernisation of Hvar continues with the arrival ofGoogle Street View, whose car was seen touring touring the island's roads on November 16, 2011.
The street mapping service will doubtless be of benefit to numerous users, and is the latest in a line of infrastructure and technological initiatives on the island, which have transformed its way of life for good.
The Contrasting Nature of Hvar
The arrival of the Google vehicle, which represents progress and accessibility of information, was in stark contrast to another Hvar newsworthy item this week, the delightful tale of a chance encounter with a lithe, naked harpoon-wielding fisherwoman in one of Hvar's numerous idyllic coves, which earned Dana Smith first prize in the Guardian Readers' Writing Competition.
With the majority of travel by donkey, and ferry journeys to other towns on Hvar often via Split at the start of the last century, the island now has a reasonable network of roads. Access to the southern resorts of Zavala, Ivan Dolac and Sveta Nedjelja was revolutionised by the opening of the infamous Pitve Tunnel (construction began in 1962) and the opening of the new road from Stari Grad to Hvar Town, which reduced travel time between the two main towns to just 25 minutes.
Road Signs and House Numbers on Hvar
A campaign to improve tourist information has resulted in the appearance of dozens of helpful, if somewhat ugly, yellow road signs on Hvar's otherwise pristine roads in the last five years, followed by an ambitious campaign to give the island's streets names and its houses numbers.
The process of house numbering is particularly chaotic - and quintessentially Dalmatian. Residents are now required to present proof of ownership to the local catastar, at which point large land registry maps are pored over and plots identified. House numbers are then randomly assigned, which could prove a challenge for the island's 15 postmen. In some locations, the new house numbers are temporary, and are subject to imminent change...
Idyllic Hvar: A Natural Paradise
The nature of Hvar is changing with increased tourism and better infrastructure and information, but the good news for purists is that the real Hvar - away from the nightclubs frequented by Prince Harry and beach clubs visited by Beyonce - has remained virtually untouched. While the appearance of naked harpoon-wielding octopus fisherwomen may be rare, the aromatic lavender and rosemary fields, and the island's hundreds of undiscovered coves remain as they were a century ago.
The natural heritage of Hvar is perhaps best exemplified by the UNESCO-protected Stari Grad Plain, the largest cultivated field in the Adriatic, with olive and grape production continuing uninterrupted since the Ancient Greeks introduced the practices 2,400 years ago.