Friday in Korcula
I open the curtains and the door to the balcony. Has the sun forgotten to switch on his alarm clock? We are going to the National park in Mljet today. With no sun, have we chosen the wrong day for boat trips? The temperature yesterday was in the low thirties, just a stone throw away from getting uncomfortably hot. Maybe a cloudy but warm day would be more tolerable.
The minivan arrives promptly on time to take us to the Old Town port where we get on a small boat, which then takes us to Orebic. Here we get on a grander looking wooden boat with upper and lower floors. We opt for the comfortable looking shaded lower area. Croatian cheery folk music is being pumped through the speakers. With a puff of smoke and roaring of engines the boat starts moving. The cream coloured stone houses, apartments and resorts with terracotta tiled roofs disappear into the distance and we are soon surrounded by the islands and islets of the Dalmatian coast.
The bigger mountains are covered with oaks and pines and at higher levels the green vegetation peters out exposing the limestone cliffs. As the boat steams forward the foamy white bubbles from the boat’s motor pushes away the grey blue waters. A wide blue canvas opens up in front of me. Every shade of blue from the palette has been used to fill the view as far as the eye can see. In the horizon the islets look like silhouettes of mountains. The distant ones taking on a ghostly look. The sky changes from a pastel blue to a darker hue as the eye moves up with cotton woolly white clouds breaking the stillness and bringing the canvas to life. The whole picture takes on a renaissance period atmosphere and I wonder if cherubic angels will be popping their heads from behind the clouds at any moment. The sun finds its way through the clouds and now the water is glistening as if glitter has been sprayed on to the surface.
The ticket collector brings us a shot of drink each and explains the itinerary. Was I meant to down it in one or sip it, I do the latter. It burns a hole in my gullet as it passes through me. We reach Mljet where we have over 3 hours to spend.
A short walk up the hill and we reach the entrance to the national park. A cobbled stony pathway leads us to the smaller of the two salt water lakes in the park. A pristine clear lake with a turquoise tint comes into view. A yellow butterfly flutters around us. Birds chatter, the whistling sounds interspersed with twittering ring out loudly. At the bigger lake we wait for the hourly boat trip which takes us around the lake with a stopover at the small islet of St Mary, which is situated right in the middle of the lake. A Benedictine monastery from the 12th century can be seen here and it is now a restaurant.
It is too hot to walk around the lake or venture into the forest. There are numerous walking and biking trails but the midday heat is getting unbearable. Ruins of a Roman palace and an underwater cave, ‘Odysseus’s cave’, are other attractions, but we decide not to go looking for them. Afternoons like this are not meant for exertion but to sit back and admire the views while sipping a pint in the shade where there is plenty of breeze. We are by the beach and that pint is beckoning. We don’t want to keep it waiting.