Croatia – Day 5
28 August 2012 – Tuesday
Today we got up almost at the crack of dawn to take the trip to Elaphiti Islands. As it was expected, people were picked up from various hotels and taken to the port of Gruž. That’s where we boarded a 16th century galleon (well, a copy of one, of course). Altogether, there were at least 150 people on the galleon, coming from virtually every country in the world. And there were four guide girls, each speaking a different language: English, French, German and Russian. The guide for the English speakers was Ivana, whom we had already met, and since we found here very knowledgeable and nice, we decided to join her group.
So, back to the Elaphiti islands – only three of them are inhabited, and we visited all three. The first one – Koločep – is absolutely tiny, with a population of 50 people. Actually, there wasn’t anything to do on the island, neither were we given much time to explore it. We walked up the street (the only one here possibly?) a little bit, and hurried back to board the ship.
Before we got off, we had been told that everyone could change places after coming back, so seats shouldn’t be reserved. At the same time, it was allowed to leave bags and other belongings – and of course, everyone left them where they had been sitting. So when we tried to move to the upper deck (previously we had had really bad seats) returning from the first island, we encountered the stormy displeasure of a Russian couple who claimed that they had left their things under the seat, therefore it was theirs. So we realised that after the next stop we better look for seats which have no bags on, next to, or under them.
We really enjoyed the sailing, but I can’t say that the coast was of an absolutely marvellous beauty. Once again, these were no Norwegian fjords.
The next island, Šipan, was marked by the abundance of churches and olive trees per capita – for a total of 600 inhabitants there are tens of thousands of olive trees.
As we were told, there are very few people constantly living on these islands – there are almost no jobs, so the islanders mostly work on the mainland, and come here for the summer and weekends. Especially that there are only primary schools here, and also no regular medical care – the doctor looking after the islands only visits each once or twice a week.
We went up to the Church of the Holy Spirit, which looked much like a fort – it used to serve as a shelter from pirates, and the big bell was rung in case of this danger. Today, the bell signals either someone’s funeral, or that there is a forest fire.
The view along the road was very beautiful, with spectacular fields, orchards and olive groves. Overall, a very stereotypical Mediterranean view, I should say.
As we came back, there was a very nice light lunch served right on board: grilled fish, coleslaw, water, and dry wine.
And the next one – the main destination for the majority – was the Lopud Island, famous for its sandy beaches, which is quite a rarity for these places. Here we were given about three hours of free time, and we decided not to waste them looking for a taxi to get to the famous Šunj beach on the other side of the island, but to settle on the closest one. So, we had plenty of time to swim, tan and get all covered in sand. We hadn’t taken any towels with us, and there was nowhere to get them, so we had to allow ourselves some time to get dried off.
By the way, captains of ships used to settle on this island – provided, of course, they were rich enough to build sturdy stone houses.