Mljet (2 June 2013)
We got the chance to visit another island when we were in Dubrovnik. This was the island of Mljet, which is a very popular tourist destination it seems. There was a long queue for ferry tickets and I was half afraid that we would not get any.
There is a school of thought, and I suspect this school finds its biggest support in Croatia, that Mljet was the biblical Melita on which St Paul was shipwrecked. Nowadays however, many people come to Mljet to visit the Mljet National Park situated on the western side of the island. And the main reason people visit the national park is to enjoy the two lakes there. These two lakes, Veliko Jezero (Great Lake) and Malo Jezero (Small Lake), are saltwater lakes connected to each other and to the sea by narrow passages. There is a little island of St Mary in the bigger lake on which a 12th century Benedictine monastery stands although the monastery is no longer used as such and now houses a restaurant. The monks on the island then were the reason the two lakes are now saltwater ones. They had dug the connection to the sea to ease transportation.
We disembarked at the little village of Polače, the nearest port to the national park. Actually Polače looked more like a strip of houses than anything else. We made for the national park straightaway.
There is a free shuttle that takes visitors between the park entrance and Polače. We however chose to walk in instead. We bought our park entrance ticket first and then started our nice walk through the woods to get to the lakes. It was a long walk, and we had to share the road with the occasional cars, but we did enjoy it. And we even had a guide.
This gorgeous little dog started walking in front of us from the moment we left the ticket office, as if it were leading us to the park entrance. It maintained a distance of about 100 m in front of us and whenever it found that we were lagging behind it would wait for us. When we reached the park entrance however, it disappeared without a trace! How curious!
Although we were quite distracted by the dog, we managed to catch the scenery of the island along the way. It was quite a green island and I loved it like that.
We went to visit the monastery first. The boat ride to and from the island can be taken from outside the information centre at the park and is covered by the park entrance ticket.
We did have a relaxing time on the island walking around, with many trees shading us from the strong Mediterranean sun, and looking inside the little church next to the monastery.
But of course it was mainly the scenery outside the church that we paid most of our attention to.
We took the boat back to the information centre after a good lunch on the island and decided to burn off the calories by walking around Malo Jezero.
There is a swimming area between the two lakes which we passed by as we were starting our hike around Malo Jezero. E and I mused and discussed a little about how white people seemed to enjoy swimming a lot. I do notice also that it is very common for guidebooks, on any section involving a body of water or a place with a body of water, to provide information on the possibility of swimming. It looks as if white people want to swim in every sizeable body of water that they come across. Come to think of it, they will travel for miles just to get to a body of water to take a dip.
E suggested that maybe it was because they lived in places with climates that did not allow much swimming. Or their waters were just not suitable for swimming. That might be true for the northern Europeans, but what about the southern Europeans and Australians who seem to love swimming too. There was an Australian lady (I knew she was Australian from her conversation with her friends on the ferry. I will just point out that I did not have to try very hard to hear her. I even found out that she was a lawyer.) who came to the island on the same ferry as we did and she was swimming.
I do swim but I do not get in every time I come across anything wet. But then again I often do not enjoy the things that most people do. I suppose swimming for white people is like Asians going to foreign countries only to eat and shop and take photographs of themselves in front of landmarks in all sorts of silly fad poses but not bothering to find out even a little about the landmark they were blocking the view of.
Being at a lake area, E and I could not help but compare it with the Plitvice Lakes. We also could not help but be underwhelmed by the two lakes on Mljet after having seen the Plitvice Lakes. Nonetheless, it had been a pleasant day trip for us.