Following Celtic Ways

Ramblings and reviews by John Willmott as he travels the Celtic Ways and Waterways visiting hidden ancient Celtic temples, sacred wells, and provoking legends .... plus music and theatre along the way

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Croatia: Day 4 - Journey To Telascica Bay

by John Willmott of Celtic Ways

It started soothingly choppy as Cathleen started its journey through the straits of some of over 1000 islands along the Croatia coast, but soon our journey returned to crossing quite still waters. We saw many hopeful sailors struggling to get a few drops of wind into their sails.

Many of the islands are solitary with singular communities usually on a hill and surrounding a church. Their survival and economies are a mystery. There is no sign of farming as the islands are left wild and no animals visible. No fishing boats are at the harbours and no evidence of regular sea or air transport. Their origins were obviously monastic and I have heard of their abundance of stone age and bronze age remains.

Dugi Otok is a long island, maybe 35 miles, with several inner lagoons and a population of only around 1800. Absolutely no sign of tourism and certainly not accommodating for tourism which is a benefit for anyone visiting with an adventure spirit. One reason for low population is probably due to the island not having any rivers, though most of the Croatian islands have a similar problem. Water is obtained by careful collection of rainwater from rooftops which is filtered by a sand bed and kept underground to reduce evaporation. The water is then obtained by pumping when needed.

Dugi Otok does show signs of survival from agriculture. As we sail past the north end there are signs of vineyards, orchards and sheep.

Situated on the south eastern tip of Dugi Otok, Telascica Bay this must be one of the most beautiful natural harbours in the world. We sailed into the end of its long lagoon and anchored. On the shore of this seemingly uninhabited island was an enchanting stone cabin with outdoor grill ovens and eating veranda. We were able to rent a scooter and rode over the mountain road to the other side down the narrowest lanes and into a delightful tiny fishing village, Sali, with the largest community on Dugi Otok, around 1000 people. Apparently the community developed due to a salt mine, which has long closed.

There we sat and absorbed the peace, tranquility and naturalness of it all. The local people were obviously delighted to se our fresh faces and provided wonderful hospitality. We enjoyed the best coffee I have ever tasted, that dream coffee that coffee drinkers are always searching for.

Unfortunately our stay at Sali had to be short. Sadly there was no time to visit the local medieval St. Mary's church with its unique medieval art.

As we returned our scooters to the cabin we were offered some North Croatian white wine. Incredibly fruity smooth and delicious. As I tried to capture relevant wine lovers information, even just its name, the response was, "oh its just wine". The jolly owner then appeared to serve black risotto, a local traditional dish, to some local customers plus a 3 litre bottle that he described as "Croatian Coca Cola". It looked like flat coca cola, but was his own brew of the local "poteen", home made Croatian brandy, incredibly delicious and made Remy Martin taste like an amateur brew. A wonderful experience.

We remained jolly through the sunset in that remote beautiful and incredibly blue logoon. Swimming was a joy too. Very salty so we were very bouyant too, but the water was warm and very, very relaxing.

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