Peace and Quiet

Trip Start Jul 23, 2007
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Trip End Aug 23, 2007


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Saturday, August 11, 2007

At breakfast this morning, I overhear a guy in the kitchen, Josh, saying he is catching the 8:10am bus to the ferry station- the same as me! It turns out he's getting the same ferry as me as well, to Mljet island, a third of which is a National Park. The owner of the hostel offers to run us down to the ferry station to save us getting the bus, and while we're queuing to buy the ticket (it's very popular as a day trip with the Italians), we meet a fellow traveller, an American called Star. Josh had heard a rumour that there was a path you could take from the main town in Mljet, Polace, to get into the National Park without paying the 90KN fee, so we decided to stick together to try and find it!

Mljet island is a world away from Dubrovnik. So quiet that even when day trippers pour off the catamaran, they disperse within minutes and it's quiet again. I was quite worried about the likelihood of finding accommodation, but as I have done so far, I have a little conversation with God on the way to wherever I'm going, including setting a limit to however much I want to pay. My limit is getting smaller, and it keeps getting met, so I'm very thankful for that! Anyway, I didn't want to spend more than 200KN (20 pounds) on the accommodation for the night, but knew it was going to be busy so I made sure I was the first off the ferry and into the Tourist Information to ask for a room. She directed me to a room literally 1 minutes walk from the ferry dock. I asked unhopefully if they had any rooms, and was told that there were no single rooms left. Casually asking if there were any rooms for 2 people, it took a while for the woman to understand that I was willing to pay double just to get a room as her English was very limited! But in the end, she showed me up to her last room, with a huge double bed and views out to the forested hillside beyond, for the price of... 200KN :)

Bag dumped, I set off to find Star and Josh, who had both just come to the island for the day. We set off on a walking trail which winds over the mountain down to the main attraction, 2 lakes, in the middle of the island. The whole area is beautiful and incredibly well maintained. There are cycle paths, walking trails, and a surfaced promenade by the lake to walk or cycle around. It took us about 2 hours to walk to the lake, just going in whatever direction we felt like. It took me a while to adjust to travelling with other people- I couldn't stop and read my book wherever I felt like, or take that interesting looking train on the spur of the moment. But the trade in was company and conversation, so I didn't mind too much. We eventually found a quiet rock that wasn't already occupied, so I sat and ate my picnic lunch with the lake water lapping at my feet, reading my book. The circadas were buzzing, along with the distant sound of people splashing in the water and the sun filtered through the trees... You get the picture, it was beautiful and very relaxing. Josh and I looked at the map to try and find an alternate route back to the village.

We did get a little bit lost, and ended up having to follow the road most of the way, but there were hardly any cars, and it was still such a pretty walk through the mountains I didn't mind too much. Star got a bit stressed that she was going to miss the ferry though, so we had to walk quite fast. She wanted to go back the way she came, but here's a benefit of travelling in threes: there's always a unanimous decision one way or the other! So outnumbered, we kept going along the road, and got back in plenty of time. I had decided to go to another island, Korcula the following day, and Star had similar intentions, so we arranged to meet on the catamaran the next morning. I later found out that despite no apparent belief in God, she had prayed she'd find someone to travel with, as the cost of getting a double room all the time gets so expensive, so I was happy to travel with her for a few days.

Once the catamaran leaves for Split in the afternoon, Polace becomes even quieter. There really isn't much to do apart from sit in one of the restaurants and watch the boats bob up and down on the harbour, which is what I did. Not before I minor panic though. For some reason, while I was in my room, I suddenly thought about how much cash I had with me. I checked, and there was not even enough for the room, let alone a meal; and according to my LP guide, the only ATM was the other side of the island, a good 45 minute walk away. No buses went over there, especially not in the evening. I resigned myself to hiring a bike for an hour to cycle up the big hill to get there, but as I was passing the tourist information, glanced at around, and spotted a cash machine! I was so relieved I wasn't going to have to do any more exercise- the hike (in flip flops) had really taken it out of me! There was nothing to do after dinner, and I felt exhausted, I was asleep by 9pm.

As a result, I woke up at 5am the next morning. I considered restlessly trying to get back to sleep, but decided to get up to watch the sun rise instead. I went to sit on the stone beach, and watched, captivated, as the sun emerged from the mountains in the distance on the mainland, over the harbour. It was so peaceful, no one else was up, except me and a couple of fish. I then went to buy a pastry for breakfast and went back to bed for a couple of hours!  Apparently there had been a big storm in the night, and after I'd gone back to bed, it started to rain again, so I feel blessed it was perfect for me watching the sunrise. It wouldn't have been quite the same in the rain. I got on the ferry, met up with Star, and watched Mljet disappear into the distance.
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