Thursday, September 16, 2010

Peljesac Peninsula and Mljet Island, Croatia

A mountain on Korcula Island that we could see from the ferry.

Korcula Town, home of Marco Polo.

Riding all the way down the Peljesac Peninsula, down to Dubrovnik, and taking a ferry to Mjlet in a single afternoon did not happen. I let Davida's slow style suck me in and I was enjoying myself a bit too much to rush away. I did my best to make it, but it turned out my estimates were about 40km off. Also, they didn't factor in the first mountain, or the second, or third, or fourth. You get the idea. The coastal mountains just don't stop. You might get a brief break in a valley, but you have to get out of the valley sometime.

Orebic, Croatia

Looking back out to the cloudy sea.

As I neared the end of the peninsula, the reality that I was not going to make it set in. I resolved to just camp on the peninsula and finish up in the morning. As I was looking for my campsite, I saw a sign that said there was a ferry to Mljet from where I was. I did not know if there were any ferries left that day, but I certainly did not need to ride an extra 40km just to catch a different ferry. I found energy that I didn't know I had to make it to the ferry terminal. It looked deserted. There were five people around. I was not hopeful. However, after asking around I figured out that that was one last. I breathed a huge sigh of relief and commenced sitting around.

Their war memorials are a lot more violent than what I am used to seeing in the US.

This dog will be friends with you if you have food.

I filled the time getting my gear sorted. After a couple days of hard riding, my stuff had shifted around quite a bit. I made friends with the bar's dog when it thought I had food to share. I also made friends with some Brits who were on their way to the island and having their own type of adventure. Normally, they book lodging ahead of time, but were just winging it for the night. The problem was that the ferry terminal on Mjlet was 3km from town. If it was like every other tourist destination in Croatia, there would be someone there trying to get you to stay in their house.

Sunset at the ferry terminal at Prapratno, Croatia.

Sunset at the ferry terminal.

Unfortunately, it wasn't. The locals got their rides out quickly. There was no one selling rooms. There were no taxis. I biked the 3km up to town on a pitch black road. It was a dark night and I wasn't happy about it. My other option was sleep near the ferry terminal which was lit a little too brightly. A few kilometers past town, I grabbed a flat spot where I would be left alone. It was gravel. It was not the comfortable, but offered some great views when I woke up.

Sunrise in Sobra Harbor, Mljet Island, Croatia.

More war memorials.

Mljet Island mountians.

After I got moving in the morning, I biked 40km mountains to the park. I had hoped for flat, but no such luck. The guidebook mentioned a steep hill between the second ferry port and the park. I rode it. It was a joke, but that is because I have been riding so much and was only carrying my sleeping bag. I left the rest at park headquarters.

Islands near Mljet.

Clear water in Polace, Croatia.

The park was great. After the hill, it was flat. It will go down as the only flat ride I remember in Croatia. I rode through the pine forests along the water body they call a lake that really isn't a lake. It has an opening to the sea, which makes the whole thing salty. Either way, it was great to give myself and my clothes a good rinsing. We both stunk. Afterward, we still stunk, but less.

This car is available for your renting pleasure.

Biking Mljet National Park.

After my swim and a nap, I went out to the 'island' within an island which isn't that because it isn't a lake. Anyway, there is a church and some Roman ruins on the island. If I had been ambitious, I could have swum out, but they give you two free boat rides with your admission to the park and being lazy suited me fine. I locked up my bike and rushed to the ferry. The island was nice, but nothing spectacular. I preferred the 'lake' shores.

My napping bench beside the 'lake' in Mjlet National Park.

The abbey on the 'island' within the island on Mljet National Park.

When I got back, my sleeping bag was gone. This made me very unhappy. I could understand the bike, a camera, a wallet, and many other things, but a sleeping bag? Really? They probably were hoping for something more than a sleeping bag when they took it. I hoped that they would search it and drop the stinky thing somewhere near by. They didn't. The funny part about this is that Davida was paranoid about people stealing his stuff when we were biking together. I would always leave my bike unlocked in small towns to go into the grocery store for two items. He always insisted one of us stay outside. Before I met him and heard his warnings, I had no problem. One day after leaving him, bam!

Looking back to shore from the island.

A random house on Mljet.

Having my bag stolen put a damper on my mood. I went back to town and had a great pesto spaghetti that picked me up a bit. While I was eating, I got to watch a sailboat pull up to the wharf and watch the disaster that is throwing the line to shore happen three or four times before they got it. Ahh, I remember those days fondly. Afterward, I just waited to catch the ferry back to town. When it came, it looked like the exact same catamaran ferry as on Hvar, but this one allowed bicycles. I just had to pay extra. At least, that worked for me. Sleeping bag nonsense or not, Mljet National Park is a beautiful way to spend a quiet day. It was exactly what I needed.

Heading back to the mainland.

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