Mljet island is about an hour and a half from Dubrovnik, and home to a beautiful national park that houses two large saltwater lakes. It’s a sleepy kind of place, and the village we stayed in even more sleepy – a car passed through the village approximately 2-3 times an hour, if that.
The accommodation had been a bit vague about how to get to them from the ferry port, which is really just a village with a couple of bars and a minimarket on the far end of the island, but I figured things would work out. Once we got off the ferry, along with maybe 20 other people, I imagined a line of taxis waiting eagerly to transport us all around the island.
Well, not quite. There was one taxi, which also doubled as the transfer to the car hire place, with 8 seats, and the one taxi driver – who also doubled as a worker for the ferry, dealing with the cordons to keep the queues in line, and tying up as it arrived – corralled us all together and dropped us at places around the island. We shared with a German family and a French couple. Lauren had the one seat belt that worked. The roads were very narrow – in most places, not wide enough for two cars to pass – and we hurtled around bends and up inclines as if we were the only vehicle on the road. We weren’t, and there were a couple of sharp stops, but we made it to the village alive if rather shaken.
The village we stayed in was set on a beautiful bay and there were a number of yachts moored. At one end there was a playground and a small beach, and the water was absolutely crystal clear. There were a couple of restaurants and bars, one row of houses along the front, a minimarket, and a national park cabin that organized shuttles to the park.
As it was already evening when we arrived, and after a very late night the day before, we settled for a makeshift dinner in the accommodation and an early night.
The next day we visited the national park, including getting a boat out to an island and a hike around it, admiring the beautiful and (for once) litter free surroundings.
We had lunch at one of the waterfront restaurants – again, the multi-tasking of Mljet residents was evident, as the chef also worked attracting yachts to the place, by standing on the dock and waving his arms about, then helping to tie up and giving advice about the national park. Lunch was a great slab of pork done over an open fire, with some red pepper preserve. It took its time but that was fine by me – Lauren was over at the playground, I had my kindle and the comings and goings of the yachts to amuse me.
After lunch, we hit the beach, or rather, I perched on a rock on the deserted strip of pebbles and Lauren returned to the playground, coming back every 20 minutes to check in. She enjoyed the independence of being a few minutes away from me, but actually given the way the beach curved, I could see her the whole time.
After a supremely relaxing afternoon, it was time to get that one taxi again, and let’s just say his driving had not improved overnight.
We once again boarded the fast ferry, and made our way up the coast, stopping off at various islands and enjoying a beautiful sunset on the way. We arrived in Split after 8pm, and made out way straight to the train station (conveniently, straight across from the ferry port) and a super helpful woman at the international reservations desk sorted out our onward journey, which would be a mad dash across Croatia, Slovenia, Germany and Belgium to get to Brussels. Having spent so much time in the Balkans, our rail passes were about to expire. We only needed to be there three days later, to meet friends, but I couldn’t make the woman understand that we wanted to break the journey for a night before she issued the tickets, so next up we are facing a day and a half journey from Split-Zagreb-Munich-Frankfurt-Brussels. Heading north into a northern European autumn, after the sunshine and heat of an Adriatic one. I suspect we will soon be craving some sun `again.
Next up – Mad dash across Europe to Brussels and UK.