We’ve reached a landmark moment in our travel: the farthest eastern point we’ll travel to. It’s the point we turn around to start our journey towards home. Not that there’s any great hurry. It’s our longest trip yet – there are still around 50 days to go before we make it home. I did wonder whether we’d tire of it, but bar a few pangs on missing Spring at home, there’s no sign of it. Left to my own devices without a deadline, I probably would have suggested pushing through to Greece. It’s very possible I come from the school of “more is never enough”.
The rain Google threatened today shows no signs of appearing – though grey skies portent its eventual arrival. I’m so glad I saw the coast in its splendor reflected under bright blue skies on our arrival. Without the sun, the colour palette is unrecognisable. Beautiful still, but elegant vs vibrant. It’s a black malliot, a cocktail and a good book by the pool vs bikinis, surf and sun kissed noses. Both good, but in very different ways.
We back track a little first – the coast road is the only way in and out. Other than being annoyingly on the wrong side of the car for photography, there’s still so much to see.
We see the enormous defensive walls of Ston, in the distance. At 7 km in length, taking over 200 years to build, they are the largest defensive walls in Europe.
We pass market stalls full of local produce: mandarins are in season from the surrounding orchards, long plaits of garlic, pickled chillies, home made fruit liquors and honey are all on offer.
At lunch time we stop in the Bosnian section of coast. Chris has his first taste of chevaps in a pogaca roll, I try the spit roast. Both are good, but the local bread, the pogaca, is a star. A lightly enriched dough, home-made: it’s what is made here when you need bread in a hurry. It’s a classic way of serving chevaps too.
Further on, back in Croatia, the coastal area produces wine. With its steep vineyards, excellent drainage and hot climate, it’s a style of wine we particularly like. We stop at Rizman wines for a tasting and lighten Chris’s wallet a little.
I take the opportunity to buy a mandarin liquor (think limoncello, but with mandarins instead of lemons). I’m thinking of creating a martini, blending the two with vodka and calling it “The Dalmatian”.
Along the way, we find a coastal walk into Podgora. It satisfies not only my need to be near the water, but also gives us a glimpse of life outside of busy season in a small town.
All the toys lay unused: sun lounges, parasols, para gliders, water craft.
Locals fish off the shore. I’m sure they’re all breathing a collective sign of relief. I get to take a few photos and explore local wildflowers.
Our walk is framed by a white stone beach – the sound the waves make tumbling over stones is quite magical, more soothing than any meditation I’ve tried. (I am most excellent at meditation. I can manage it for, oh, at least 8 – 10 seconds at a time 😂😂😂).
Laden with local treats, drunk on the beauty of the coastline, we meander further than we intended. I want to stop on the water, but quite a number of motorhome stops are now marked in various apps as “not here any more, site now under development”. It’s understandable – the demand for tourism/real estate space would be fierce here as land is at a premium, sandwiched as it is, between mountains and sea.
Our day ends late, in the town of Omis. It’s the point at which the river Cetina carves its way out of the gorge between two mountains, into the ocean.
We’re right on the water for a well deserved afternoon drink. A lazy night follows with pizza for dinner. They’re skilled in pastry in the Balkans from the paper thin filo for burek and pita, pogaca and bread. Our pizza is no exception, fluffy and light.
Nearby, a wedding is being celebrated with a light show, energetic singing and music. Car horns sound loudly – a local custom. In the old days, guns would have been shot into the air too. Thank goodness they don’t do that any more.
The long promised rain comes at 1am – fat drops with thunder and lightning. The storm sets in and rages all night.