There was heavy rain overnight, and this morning there was a definite chill in the air, despite some breaks in the clouds. We packed up Oscar, and drove through the heart of Croatia, first skimming the borders of the National Park, and then heading across the mountains, back towards the coast. The scenery was gorgeous – green verdant pastures with a backdrop of mountains, many still with remnants of snow. As we got nearer the coast again, it started to warm up, and the sun re-appeared.
We crossed a huge bridge over to the island of Krk, and then made our way to the ferry terminal. By now, we are getting used to the Croatian ferries. They are a bit like the Caledonian McBrae ferries in Scotland, servicing the coastal islands. They seem incredibly efficient – you just rock up, buy a ticket, and you’re away. The crossing over to the island of Cres only took about forty minutes, and we sat on deck looking out over the islands.
Cres is allegedly the place where Jason and the Argonauts fled with the Golden Fleece. It is famed for it’s unique breed of Tramuntana sheep, which are particularly adapted to karst pastures. But this sheep farming is now in danger as their numbers have plummeted due to the introduction of Wild Boar by Croatian’s hunting lobby. The wild boar feast on the sheep and lambs, and wait for this – have even been spotted on the island’s campsites! The island is also home to the protected Griffon Vulture, which is also suffering due to the decline in sheep numbers. On queue as we drove off the ferry, we spotted our first Tramuntana sheep!
We had booked our campsite on Cres just for one night, expecting to move on to the island of Losinj tomorrow. However, we were instantly taken with this place. Driving off the ferry, we climbed a steep road over he mountains to Cres town on the other side of the island. Our campsite sits just outside the town, on it’s own fine shingle beach, looking out across the water. Being early in the season, we had a choice of pitches, and opted for one that was about a pound more expensive, but right by the water. It is enclosed on three sides by small shrubs and olive trees, and unusually, the pitch is on grass rather than gravel. We immediately got a good feeling about this place. It was blissfully quiet, with just the sound of birdsong and lapping waves. Within minutes of setting up our pitch, a little male chaffinch and a blackbird were sat next to me chirping to be fed. Well those of you who know me, know that I am a glutton for feeding birds, and within no time at all, I had two new friends at my side. Howard was a little puzzled when he returned from reception to find his groundsheet scattered in biscuit crumbs – but the poor things looked so hungry!
After a cuppa, we headed the twenty minutes or so round the coastal path into the town of Cres. What a pleasant surprise it turned out to be. A really charming little town, set around a working harbour, fringed with multi-coloured old Venetian buildings. It seemed rather like a Croatian version of Tobermory. There were attractive cafes and restaurants around the harbour, but filled with locals enjoying a late Friday afternoon drink, and not another tourist in site. It was quite gorgeous. We sat at a bar and enjoyed a glass of the local Grasevina wine, looking out as the fishing boats came and went – most enjoyable. We then headed back towards the campsite, stopping off at a pizzeria for tea. By now, we had decided that we would change our plans, and stay at least another day here. Back at the campsite, as we sat watching the sunset by the lighthouse, the lady in the bar told Howard that most days they see the resident pod of dolphins come in on the incoming tide to feed. So that clinched it – we will stay another day. There also seem to be plenty of walks and cycle paths in the vicinity, and Howard has already planned his morning run. So quite unexpectedly, we have stumbled across this glorious place, that initially was just a stop-over point for our real destination. Isn’t it strange how when travelling, it’s the journey that is often the best thing, rather than the end goal? Such is the case here. Frankly, I could put down roots in this place, but as Howard points out, give me another day of heaven, and I’ll start getting itchy feet again. Who knows?!
I leave you with a few photos of the day. You may notice a strange man in a cork hat! Perhaps the fashion’s catching on?