They Come from Sydney: ‘The Bench’ is Jelsa’s Newest Hit International Tourist Attraction

Total Croatia News

It is the tourism jewel that Jelsa has yet to fully exploit.

Known by various names – the Island Wikipedia, the Original Google, the Font of All Knowledge – there is no doubt that The Bench, located just below the Mayor’s window in the town’s municipal building, is the real seat of power, a place where the weightiest conversations take place in this decidedly male bastion, whose members assemble daily, and whose membership is strictly by invitation.

Followers of Total Hvar over the years will have noted my mild obsession with The Bench, and my stated remaining ambition to one day have a seat next to the wise elders of the town. 

To the untrained eye, the members of The Bench seem to go about their life quite lethargically, with nothing seemingly getting them too excited. 

Unless, of course, a Czech fashion model happens to be in the neighbourhood.

Or worse, a Czech fashion model doing a teasing walk by The Bench, almost within touching distance of the town’s finest and wisest minds. 

And then, inexplicably, after just 13 years, the highlight of my life in Jelsa – an invitation to sit on The Bench! I can now die a happy man. 

Word about The Bench quickly spread, and several visitors to The Office paid homage to The Bench before leaving Jelsa, but when Aussie Croatian bloggers Chasing the Donkey Instagrammed a selfie on The Bench, complete with ice cream break for our wise men, it was clear that The Bench’s international tourism pedigree was there to be developed. 

I get many emails and messages due to the Total Project – mostly abusive – but some positive, and the occasional one requesting a meeting. And so it was that today’s morning cold one was with Mariana from Sydney, who has been a Total Hvar follower for sometime, her brother the proud owner of a copy of my last book, Lavender, Dormice and a Donkey Named Mercedes. On holiday in the village from where her family hails near Imotski, she decided to make the day trip to Hvar to catch up over a coffee at The Office, but with strict instructions from her brother back in Australia.

Hvar’s legendary sunshine was on holiday sadly, and the light drizzle proved a little too much for the wise men of The Bench this late morning, which left all the more room for us. 

From Sydney to The Bench, and as luck would have it, a reporter from Slobodna Dalmacija just happened to be walking past and obligingly took this photo, as well as taking some notes for a possible story in the regional daily, which could make The Bench even more famous for the 2017 season.

Now, who is going to come up with the innovative suggestion which could make The Bench the hit tourist attraction for Jelsa next summer?


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