The next day we were taking a day trip to the third Elafiti Island, Kolocep. Tickets were booked from the lady in the Jadrolinija office and we went to wait on the pier for the MV Postira to arrive. There was the now familiar sight of a collection of local business people with trolleys laden with packages to go on the ferry. Other trolleys were lined up to collect things being off-loaded. When it arrived we noticed that the boat tied up at different places along the dockside and now we were able to see why. It was all a matter of the direction of the wind. The decision was left to the captain which meant that no one seemed to know where it would come to rest. As the ropes were thrown overboard there was a last minute scramble by the trolley operators to get the best loading/unloading position. The foot passengers were pushed aside to make way.
For the twenty minute journey we decided to sit on the top deck, not a place we had been to before. The seating was utilitarian but totally fit for purpose. We sat and watched the deserted east coast of Lopud and then the approaching Kolocep. This was the smallest of the three islands with a population of little more than 150, mostly living in the two communities of Donje Celo where the boat landed, and Gornje Celo, where our walk would take us. The words “donje” and “gornje” translate to “lower” and “upper” which was hard to understand as both were at sea level. The walk from the pier took us up a paved path between walls with houses on either side. Some of the houses had very attractive gardens with flowers and colourful shrubs. As we reached the higher part of the village, there was a school complete with miniature games pitch and a building signposted as the ambulance station. What the ambulance looked like was anyone’s guess as there were no roads only a narrow concrete path just wide enough for one golf-style buggy. The few buggies we did see had two seats at the front and the back was open to carry anything from groceries to stones. The route now followed the buggy track and, after 10 mins or so, came to the Sv Nikola, the Church of St Nicholas. This church was clearly in regular use and the large graveyard was presumably the main burial place for the whole island. Up to this point the track was generally uphill but for the next couple of kilometres it was level with forest to the right and cultivated fields to the left. Then Gornje Celo came into sight. It was a little smaller than Donje Celo. The path descended steeply to a bay with a small hotel, a sandy beach and a marina. We walked down to the harbour and found a small café where the ritual glass of white wine and half litre of beer were purchased.
Suitably refreshed we then set off to cross to the other side of the island, a grand distance of about 400 metres. The route took us past small rows of cottages and a few villas and always uphill. Then suddenly the path came to a stop at a fence which protected walkers from a sheer drop over cliffs into the sea. Very dramatic. There were voices coming from down below so we walked along the cliff edge a short way till there was a route dropping steeply down towards some rocks near the water. We could now see that the voices were coming from a small group of sun-bathing teenagers. Not a place for old fogies. The cliffs were not particularly high, maybe between 60 and 80 metres, but they were very impressive. By walking a short way in each direction, we found there were viewpoints where full splendour of the cliffs could be seen. Looking out to the open sea, the water had a quite a swell as a result of the recent strong northerly winds. Somewhere out there, beyond the horizon, lay Italy and the port of Bari maybe 200km distance.
To get back to Donje Celo there were a couple of options but we decided just to retrace our steps. And so after an hours stroll we got back to the ferry terminal. It was still some time till the boat was due and our stomachs were indicating that some food would be a good idea. There were a few place to choose between but the café used by the locals seemed the best choice. A pizza to share washed down with some wine and beer filled the gap and nicely took up the time till the ferry appeared nudging its way into the bay. At the time we didn’t know, but this was to be our last journey on the MV Postira, a boat we had come to love over the last week. It really was a workhorse making several round trips a day between Dubrovnic and the islands. It seemed to start and end its day in Sudjeradj so that it could take early morning workers and market customers to Dubrovnik. To ring the changes, this time we sat in the outside gangway beside the main saloon, a good place to observe our fellow passengers moving about the boat.
Back in Lopud Town we had arranged with Gaby to have dinner at Konoba Peggy. It was the kind of meal that made you wish you had eaten there the first night and every night thereafter. The piece de resistance was a beautiful sea bass freshly barbequed on the balcony. The quality of the food was outstanding and the service was that great mix of attentive and unobtrusive. Gaby’s son had learned well from his parents.
It was now Sunday and our last day on Lopud. The ferry taking us back to the mainland was not until late afternoon and we were told we could have the use of our room until then. There was one more walk to do, the less than invitingly named Rat peninsula. It turned out to be a great walk. The Rat was easily visible from the town, a headland out to the northwest. The route went along the promenade passing all the shops and guest house and, of course, the Lafodia Hotel & Resort. It was really a self-contained holiday destination where everything one might need was provided including all meals, drinks, a beach and water sports. Being just past the peak season it was not overcrowded but still busy. Although some Lafodia guests did venture into the town proper, there was plenty of room for the independent travellers.
Continuing past the Lafodia, we found a real curiosity on the wall in front of Villa Vesna. Dr Ante Ramljak, a renowned scholar of the language Esperanto, had lived here and had written in Esperanto along the top of the wall using large concrete and pebble letters the phrase “one language for humanity – a destiny for mankind”. Quite striking. Passing on along the track one or two new, or under construction, villas were evident. Then we left the town and walked through woodland with the sea below us to the right. As we reached the headland, the belvedere came into view. It was a circular tiled-roofed structure with stone seats round the outside and inside. Sitting on the outside about thirty metres above the shoreline, we had great views in all directions. We sat there for a while enjoying the sunny day and the passing marine traffic.
The route then ascended the spine of the peninsula with steep cliffs to the right. At regular intervals there were strategically place seats just far enough back from the cliff edge to be safe, but still with a feeling of exposure when you sat down. At one point, a building site partially obstructed the path, where it appeared either a large villa or a small hotel was being constructed. It being Sunday there were no workmen around. We continued a little further up the path till it made a left turn and started to descend towards the back of the town. We turned round and went back the way we had come both to experience the views from a different angle, and also to extend the length of the walk. Back in Lopud Town, a stop at one of the bakeries got us the ingredients for a late lunch which we ate sitting on a bench overlooking the bay. Very relaxing and civilised.
So our walking holiday was coming to an end. There was just time to go back to the pension, have a shower and change into travelling clothes. Tonight we would be back in Dubrovnik and tomorrow on a flight to London. But first we had to finish the packing and say farewell to Gaby. She had been a superb host, a fount of knowledge and a lovely person to have met.
As for the walking, none of it was overtaxing but, if we come again which we may well do, it would be better to visit at the end of September once the fierce heat of summer has subsided. Also, now we know how efficient and frequent the ferry system is, we would make Lopud our base and just visit the other two islands on day trips. And we would avoid the horrors of Dubrovnik and its myriad of tourists.
And finally, a bit about On Foot, our trip arranger. Their pre-trip organisation was first class. All questions were answered promptly and the information pack provided was very comprehensive. The walks they suggested were for the most part well documented but the timings were very optimistic and seemed to assume that the objective was more to get from A to B rather than enjoy the scenery and the places of interest. The GPX route maps for our smartphones had to be requested after we had left the UK. I couldn’t get them to load and, as we were already travelling, it was too difficult to get the telephone assistance that was needed. Next time we will make sure that they arrive well in advance of our departure and that we get any assistance needed before leaving home. Having said that, we liked the flexibility of the On Foot style of holiday and the way in which it fitted into our dates rather than the other way round.