Chapter Four – Island Living…
… is yet another thing (after drinking wine) that I have learned to love in Croatia. What does ” island living” mean? As told by many Croatian islanders it’s basically taking things slow and as they come. Not fussing about the time or being on time. Get up whenever it suits you and start a day off with a glass of pear liquor… To put it simply island living is a bliss. Dolly and I have visited three of the many islands along the Dalmatian coast of Croatia and each one of them was somehow unique and different yet they all had something in common – they were all absolutely beautiful.
First on our itinerary was the island of Korcula – the birth place of Marco Polo (yes I know- we thought he was Italian too). I don’t usually play favourites but if I did I’d have to say that Korcula was mine. We stayed for three days and during those we saw as much as we could on foot, on bikes and even on a kayak. We embraced the island living pretty much the moment we arrived. A glass -sorry a bottle of wine with an early lunch? I don’t mind if I do! Seafood for dinner every night – well that’s just what we do! Going to sleep at 9pm ? So what ?!
The next stop was the Sipan island– a place that marked the highest point we have cycled up to during our entire trip. It also marked the earliest we have started drinking during a day. I believe it was hardly midday when we order our usual bile vino accompanied by a glass of Kruskovac. The island was so tiny we managed to zig zag out way through it all in just a couple of hours before heading back to Dubrovnik. Even so I will always remember it for its peaceful atmosphere and friendly people. We have scored free drinks at the local restaurant and didn’t even have to join the table (and that is something one gets to appreciate after having lived in Dubai for some time:).
And last but not least – The Island of Mljet, which is known to the rest of the world as a national park and a place of extreme beauty. To us it will always be the Half-Island. For some reason our tour-operator didn’t think it would be necessary to give us the full map of the island. Maybe he didn’t think we were hard-core cyclist enough to take on the full length of the place or maybe he just forgot. Who knows… All I know is that we figured that out after having cycled for about 30 km (mostly uphill) and finding ourself facing even more hills and having no idea what we were cycling towards or to. We have quite literally came to end of the map. We considered our options and then decided to do what we did best. Yes – indeed- we had some wine and then turned back. And a couple of hours later that has turned out to be the best of decisions because the hell has opened and massive storm came upon us. But by then we were already all cosy and comfy on our balcony watching the storm happening above the Adriatic Sea. With a bottle of wine of course. The next day we got up nice an early and went for a run (yes believe or not it wasn’t all just drinking and eating!). We have just gone far enough to make it worthless to go back when another storm has started. And honestly it was a Storm with a capital S. The road we were running on has turned into a river and my T-shirt into a full length dress. We got so soaked no car even bothered to stop and offer us a lift. The drivers must have thought we were crazy which we probably were since we ran 8k in total. My longest outdoor run yet. I wish I had taken a picture but my Iphone was safely stored in my undergarments to prevent it from drowning. You just have to take my word for it!
But the time we got back and dried off the weather has cleared in a matter of minutes. We have decided to try and explore the unmapped (well at least to us) part of the island once again – but this time with a little engine help and rented a scooter. If there was something I felt was missing (which I didn’t) this has definitely covered it. I was in heaven cruising around and repeating “yes- this happening! Croatia baby!” in my head and possibly also aloud a couple of times!…
Oh damn.. I got so distracted by that storm and scooter story I forgot to talk about the national park thing! Ok so basically- Mljet is a very famous island, apparently even Homer was there (as in the Greek one) and mentioned the island in his Odyssey and stuff. The park is mostly all about these two salty lakes and their surroundings and it is pretty spectacular ! You can’t really cycle or walk the whole way around them because as our half-map said “the roads turn to dirt and then disappear”. And they actually do! But since it was just a half – map we decided to not believe it and see for ourself. It did turned to dirt. And it did end. But what the map didn’t say was that the view at the end was totally worth having to cycle all the way back. It also didn’t mention that you don’t HAVE to necessarily go back since there is Charon – well that’s what I decided to call him anyway. It’s this friendly guy manning an ancient little boat pending between the narrowest point of the Big Lake and taking you over to the other side. That’s him:
At first we were gonna cycle just for the sport part of it. But then – just look at the guy! Could you resist him? 🙂 Anyway here are some pics of the national park :Chapter Five – Domestic food.. and domestic wine
… ok – Dolly and I have come up with many theories about the origins of the expression “domestic food” that the Croatians just LOVE to use. Many of them – ok all of them- we came up with after at least of bottle of wine and they are therefore not to be published. Ever. Thankfully we have also made some Croatian friends during our time there and they have kindly explained the whole thing. “Domestic” in croatian means “home-made” and also “local” and “traditional”. So why use three expressions when you can just use one, right? It’s shorter, to the point and very very VERY catchy. I can assure you that at the end of our holidays both of us REQUIRED at least one serving of domestic food a day otherwise we weren’t fully satisfied. “Home-made” just wouldn’t do. It would have to be “domestic”. “Domestic” food is to be found everywhere in Croatia – you can get domestic bread in bakeries, domestic cakes in restaurants, domestic tea at the airport if you wish. And then there is the domestic wine of course since every lucky Croatian seems to be in possession of their own little vineyard and a small winery located near-by. I was never much of a wine drinker. Well – people change and so did I. And I only have Croatia to blame for that. It’s the sun, the sea, the air, the simply everything beautiful that one can taste in every sip of every wine we tried. And we tried a lot trust me. And none – N O N E – tasted bad.