Greek Islands - Mandrakia Milos - Dodd Family Adventure Blog
Greek Islands
August 22, 2020
April 5, 2023
Greek Islands - Mandrakia Milos - Dodd Family Adventure Blog
Greek Islands
August 22, 2020
April 5, 2023
Show all


Day 1-2: Cavtat

The first stop on our southern Dalmatia tour was Cavtat (pronounced tsav-tat) with its enchanting setting wrapped around a pretty harbour bordered by sparkling blue bays and lush swathes of pine and cypress forest. It was like something on a chocolate box.

We dropped our bags at the apartment and headed towards the harbour front where fishing boats jostled with gleaming yachts the size of battleships (we are talking serious moolah). Cobbled streets with red-roofed houses climbed back from the waterfront towards the local market, a golden blaze of papayas, melons and the gorgeous knobly lemons that also dripped from the surrounding trees like blobs of yellow candlewax.

Our first two days were all about relaxing with no fixed itinerary. We were just grateful to have such a fabulous ‘green list’ option available to us at short notice. Cavtat is made for wandering - we ambled around the shaded peninsula dotted with rocky bays, the occasional bathing platform and shack-like cafés such as our personal favourite, Beach Bar Little Star. We climbed the stairs to the Racic Mausoleum (Cavtat is great for the thighs and calves) and visited the beautiful baroque Orthodox Church of Saint Nicholas which houses valuable works from European artists.

But most of all we ate and swam – a morning dip in the swimming pool followed by impromptu leaps from rocky outcrops or wooden jetties. After much dabbling, we found our favourite bar, Café Posejdon in prime sunset viewing position at the southern end of the harbour. From here we also watched the local water-polo team practising. Apparently three members of the Olympic medal winning team trained here. Our youngest was inspired. He’s aiming for Team GB, Brisbane 2032.

Day 3: Dubrovnik

Just a 40-minute boat ride away from Cavtat (hold on to your hat & anything you ate in the last hour) lies Dubrovnik, an exquisite mixture of medieval walls, Renaissance churches, Venetian palazzos and carved fountains.

'If you want to see heaven on earth, come to Dubrovnik.' We couldn't agree more with George Bernard Shaw. It is virtually impossible not to be charmed by Dubrovnik’s old town with its hipster coffee shops pouring above-average java, and serious cocktail bars shaking up quaffable libations. You may also recognise the ancient city walls from the mega fantasy series, Game of Thrones. You could almost imagine Daenerys Targaryen looking wistfully out to the glistening Adriatic Sea (minus the dragons and gory battles).

In a whirlwind two hours we visited Big Onofrio's Fountain, Rectors Palace and the Franciscan monastery, home to one of the world's oldest pharmacies (yes, that’s how we roll). After copious amount of ice-cream, we hit the city walls around 5pm to escape the worst of the heat. We took our time strolling the 1.2-mile stretch, pausing at the various towers and bastions with a bird’s-eye view right over the terracotta roofs into the homes and gardens of the city’s residents, with little snapshots of their everyday life.

We ended our day sat on the stone walls outside Ploce Gate, while a bride and groom posed for their wedding photos. No one would ever know that a British family were slurping Asian noodles just out of shot! According to the newspapers, Jack Grealish stood on the same spot 24 hours later. The boys were gutted to say the least.

Day 4: Cavtat

Our last day in Cavtat was dedicated to all things aquatic. The kids hit the swimming pool in the morning and the inflatable ‘wibit’ in the afternoon. What fun we had, sipping mojitos, whilst our slippery offspring were hurled high into the air from an inflatable launch pad.

After a quick change of clothes, we were off to meet Mario, our sea kayaking guide. We absolutely love sea kayaking and jumped at the chance for a sunset paddle when the opportunity presented itself. We travelled along the shoreline towards the nature reserve islands of Mrkan, Bobara and Supetar and on to the Old Town promenade where we could impress that evening’s European socialites with our low brace turn. Along the way we met Mick, the resident dog of Supetar Island who judging by the number of discarded bones was firm friends with the towns butcher.

It was a late dinner at the local pizzeria then back to the apartment to pack our bags. We were off to Korcula Island the following day.

Day 5-7: Korčula Island

After picking up our hire car, we headed north towards the Peljesac Peninsula. We stopped for lunch at Ston, where delirious tourists climbed hillside-hugging fortifications in the midday sun. It was a 1-hour drive from here to the ferry port where a 15-minute sailing brought us to the island of Korčula, lush with dark pine forests, dazzling ocean vistas and endless vineyards - a place for serious oenophiles.

We were staying in the picturesque, cyan-coloured bay of Zrnovska Banja. Our accommodation was a Hockney-esque dream of cube-shaped buildings dotted around a swimming pool. We spent the rest of the day at the local beach club being entertained by youthful Europeans creating the perfect Instagram shot in a way even a Kardashian would be proud. Our gaze averted; we provided a hearty dinner to the local mozzie population. Possible karma for our inner ridicule?

Days 6 & 7 were dedicated to exploring the island. We headed south to Lumbarda and across to Vela Luka on the western side of the island. We visited the villages of Čara and Smokvica to bar-hop between traditional Croatian outposts and headed along the north coast to Radisce in search of a seafront taverna. Despite being July, the place was deserted with even a passing lizard trying not to catch our eye for fear we might ask him to make us an omelette. We retreated back to the beach club to grab some pizzas and paddle boards and head out onto the silk-smooth bay.

We spent our evenings on Korčula Island in the heart-achingly enchanting old town. This is the island’s fairytale citadel, a confection of medieval, Italianate and shuttered stone houses encircled in 14th-century fortifications. We aimlessly wandered the narrow, cobbled streets, happy to people-watch only stopping occasionally to visit the towering St Mark's Cathedral and the fascinating Marco Polo Museum. When our aching feet could take no more, the seafront konobas provided us with salty octopus and juicy fried squid. It was an idyllic few days.

Day 8: Mljet Island

From Korčula, we took a speed boat over to Mljet Island for the day. Cloaked in fragrant pine forests, marvellous Mljet is an island paradise with its entire western section a protected national park, home to cobalt-blue lakes and world class dive sites. This is as far off the radar in Southern Europe as its possible to get with residents in a permanent state of siesta, cats & dogs virtually comatose.

We disembarked our boat in the pretty fishing village of Pomena just a few minutes’ walk from the gorgeous forest trails. It was a hot day and after a 20-minute hike we were rewarded with the perfect swimming spot by Malo Jezero (the small lake) enticing us with its teal waters the temperature of a warm bath. We swam for a good hour whilst the kids enjoyed the lazy river. After drying off, we hopped on the ferry across Veliko Jezero (the large lake) to St Mary’s Island. It was an eventful boat journey involving sudden toilet troubles, unscheduled stops and unusable ferry tickets. Nuff said.

After eventually arriving on St. Mary’s Island we poked around the Roman ruins and the former 12th-century Benedictine monastery. An ice cream and impromptu lake swim cooled us off before heading back to Pristaniste to complete our island circuit by bike. A fresh seafood dinner from a seafront taverna in Pomena provided the perfect end to a perfect day. We departed Mljet in a state of happy torpor.

Day 9-10: Lopud Island

Another day, another island. This time, we were heading just off the coast of Dubrovnik to Lopud, one of the Elaphiti islands. Lopud is like an Adriatic stereotype given life. Carpeted in forests of ancient pines, speckled with citrus orchards and olive groves, it has sandy beaches and a smattering of tourists. It is also the perfect holiday island, car free with a seafront promenade lined with stone mansions and tavernas. We were to spend our final two days here.

Our time in Lopud essentially consisted of swimming and eating. We embarked on a 2-mile hike over the forested slopes to Sunj beach before the midday heat got the better of us and we hopped in one of the golf buggies that constituted the local taxi service. We spent a blissful few hours on the beach with its rare arc of silky sand and aquamarine shallows. The boys amused us over lunch trying to successfully negotiate a hammock. To escape the heat of the day we visited the shady Ɖorđić-Mayneri Park, with its botanical specimens from around the world and the Franciscan monastery which lies impressively on a rock above the promenade.

In the evenings, the town pier was a hive of activity, with fish deliveries an improvisation. This was probably the same fresh fish that we enjoyed at one of the cosy seafront restaurants a few hours later. Fresh red snapper and sea bass accompanied by a chilled mojito and a blazing sunset. The perfect way to end our fabulous tour of Croatia.

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