Today we planned to leave the campsite early and take a day trip to the neighbouring island of Losinj. But of course, all the best laid plans ….. We started off well. Howard got up with the alarm and went for a run. He reported that the shower at the fat German’s shower block was much warmer and wasn’t on a push button timer, unlike the one we had been using yesterday. So, with intrepidation, I set off for my morning shower. Yet again, there he was, as bold as brass, naked from the waist down, this time chatting to two women. Another camper van had arrived late last night next to theirs – I can only imagine their surprise when they looked out of their window this morning! I averted my eyes, and scuttled off to the women’s section. Afterwards, Howard reported that said fat German had showered at the same time as him, but with his shower door wide open!
A little while later, they were up and gone. We wondered if perhaps the new neighbours had objected to his exhibitionism, or whether they were planning to go anyway. Howard compared the guy to the ‘Naked Rambler’. For me, he looked more like Robbie Coltrane with no pants on. But I will certainly be less apprehensive when I shower later.
After a quick breakfast, we put down the roof and wound in the awning. We put up the pop-up tent to delineate that it was our spot, and would be returning, got in the van, and started the engine. It was then that someone (not me!), realised that they had mislaid the plastic hanging number that they give you at reception when you check in. You are supposed to hand this on your rear view mirror, so that the staff know that you have registered. However, someone (not me!), had not hung it up, and now couldn’t remember where he had put it. We needed it to be allowed out and then back in the campsite. So we unstrapped our seat belts and started searching Oscar for it. Three quarters of an hour later, we still hadn’t found said plastic yellow number disc. Howard wondered if it had got thrown away in the rubbish last night, and went off to the bins to search for it. He returned, looking a little disgusted, saying he couldn’t find it. By now, our early start had turned into 11 o’clock. In the end, we drove to reception, and fessed up we had lost it. They took Howard’s passport as a guarantee that we weren’t doing a bunk, and told him that if we hadn’t found the disc before we leave, then we will have to pay 50 kunas. I think we both thought the same thing, simultaneously. For 50 kunas, it was hardly worth emptying out the whole van again – but maybe it will turn up tomorrow – we will see.
So off we set to Losinj, the island attached to Cres by a very narrow causeway. As we drove, the narrow road was lined with masses of yellow /green euphorbia, growing like weeds at the side of the road. This would cost a fortune in a garden centre back home, we contemplated. Then high above us, we saw a mass of about twenty massive birds circling in the sky. We stopped and quickly got the binoculars out. These were the endangered Griffon Vultures that are famous in these two islands. They were absolutely enormous, with huge wingspans, but pretty ugly bastards – with menacing long necks, and even at a distance, mean expressions!
Our first port of call in Losinj was the main town of Mali Losinj. It had been recommended to us by a friend who had visited last year. Our guide books gave mixed reviews. Lonely Planet reports ‘Mali Losinj is a stunner: a natural harbour ringed by graceful, gently weathered Mediterranean town houses and green surrounding hills’. Whereas Rough Guide reports, ‘Life in Mali Losinj revolves around the quayside, where rows of subtropical plants line a harbour front overrun with souvenir stalls and cafe tables’. In reality, it was a mixture of both. We found it a most charming place. The houses around the harbourside had a definite Venetian influence, and were painted in varying pastel colours, adding to their appeal. The harbour was a mixture of pleasure boats, expensive yachts and fishing craft. The water in the harbour was stunningly clear – we watched little shoals of fish swimming around, and many of the boats lines had mussels attached to them, a sign of very clean water apparently. Even the drain-covers had attractive designs on them. It vaguely reminded me of Dartmouth, with it’s painted houses and green slopes around. The water was eerily still was we walked around. Unfortunately, the weather forecast had been correct and it was very overcast, with intermittent rain, but nonetheless, it was a very pleasant way to pass an hour or two.
After an ice-cream, sat watching the boats come and go, we drove 5km around the coast to the smaller Veli Losinj. This is a bit of an oxymoron, since in Croatian, Mali means ‘small’ and Veli means ‘big’. The short drive along the coast was sublime. Despite the dull weather, the colour of the water in the tiny coves was a stunning turquoise blue.
When we arrived at Veli Losinj, we both agreed that we had found the real stunner. It was sublime. A tiny little harbour, surrounded on three sides by very picturesque coloured properties, like Mali Losinj, with a definite feel of Venice. It took no time at all to walk around the harbour, and by it’s small entrance was tied up a small craft advertising dolphin watching trips. However, according to the guide books, at this time of year, it is not uncommon for the pod of dolphins to come right into this tiny harbour. Sadly today, there were none in sight, but we still enjoyed a very pleasant coffee in one of the harbourside cafes.
It turns out we had visited at the right time. Tomorrow is the start of the mountain biking downhill season, and the first championship is to be held in Veli Losinj. The town was busy preparing for their visitors, although quite why such a sleepy, out of the way place had been chosen remains a mystery. Clearly though, it is causing great excitement in this tiny community of 900 people.
As we set off back to Cres, the rain set in, and despite looking hard, we saw none of the famous wild boar that are over-running the island. Back at camp, the rain has eased, my feathered friends have returned, and there is a strange man outside cleaning the windows!