(This is the last of a six-part series on Heading Out to Sea After the Coronavirus Restrictions were Lifted in Croatia. It’s our final days of our sailing journey on the islands and at sea in late May 2020).
Entering Telašćica National Park
After our late night in Sali plagued by plumbing and strange shrimp noises, we decided to leave our boat in the marina another night and become land lubbers for our visit to Telašćica National Park. (Don’t even try to pronounce the name of the park. You won’t be able to.)
You can enter this beautiful national park by land in Sali or by sea by sailing south from Sali to the very southern tip of Dugi Otok. Without a car, our only option by land was to walk, taxi or rent a bike/motorscooter. Since Lake Mir, a prehistoric saltwater lake that we wanted to visit, was about 8 km away, we decided to rent bicycles at a nearby store. We could easily handle 8 km there and another 8 km back, right?
The bike rental place we used was called Gelateria Conteš. It was a multi-purpose operation that sold gelato and coffee and rented out various sorts of bikes, scooters and boats. You bike and you get gelato at the end. It’s a win-win. You have to purchase it, but still. And the people that worked there were extremely kind. I highly recommend the place and by the end of this post you’ll see why. They really went above and beyond. Literally.
We jumped on the bikes and our first destination was to the beautiful scenic lookout to see Lake Mir and the surrounding vistas. Which meant of course a lot of uphill biking, but some flat and level places also. As we climbed higher and higher up the mountains, I was ruing the decision to not rent a motor scooter or even an e-bike. It was extremely challenging for someone like me who is not used to doing a lot of uphill biking, so be warned. But nevertheless, I persisted, helped by my husband who really had no problem with the uphill schlep.
There were even some portions where I stopped to take pictures and Mike walked the bikes. God, I love my husband.
But when we got up to the top of these mountains, at least 161 meters above sea level, it was truly incredible and worth all the huffing and puffing and burning quadricep muscles. It was an amazing lookout as you can see from the photos. And you can drive straight up to the lookout, so don’t let my biking story put you off of visiting there.
Wimping Out and Saving Face
We then biked to Lake Mir which was another few kilometers away. It was getting harder to bike as there were many ups and downs and bumps in the road and we were both a little tired by now.
But we kept moving on. Along the way the beaches were beautiful at Uvala Mir, which is the cove before the lake, and the waters of the Adriatic were so clear there that I saw sea anemones just peeking into the water from above.
We traveled on to salty Lake Mir which wasn’t really so beautiful up close, but the fact that it was a lake created after the last ice age caused by the water rising up through the karst or limestone was interesting and worth seeing. It supposedly has special healing properties, but we didn’t go swimming. Then we continued on the bikes. An on.
Until I literally told Mike that I didn’t see how I was going to get back up those hills again to get back to the bike place. I know, I know. What a wimp! Mike knew we had work to do when he got back to the boat (remember those plumbing issues the night before?), and we both were a little exhausted by the week’s sailing activities. When he said he’d call the guy from the biking place to come pick us up, I almost did a little happy dance.
But when he called, the guy unfortunately said he couldn’t come get us as he was having car issues. He asked Mike if the bikes were okay and I thought, “no, it’s the people on them.” Darn, we tried. And we started cycling back. We still had a ways to go to get to the actual super steep uphill parts. Still there were some parts that were up rocky little inclines just to reach these steeper areas. We would just have to stop a lot along the way and take breaks. So we pulled up at a cove before we got to the major uphill parts and rested.
And then a car pulled up.
It was the guy from the bike place. What? He had had a flat tire and was driving on a spare, but he still came and got us. I was floored by his kindness and I’ve never was so happy as when we put the bikes into his trunk and climbed into his car. We traveled up, up, up the high mountains and drove a little way until we got to a point where he stopped the car.
Oh no, I thought, he’s going to kick us out.
And he did.
But only because it was all downhill from there and he wanted us to see the scenic portion that we had missed on the way up. We zoomed the final few kilometers all downhill, and we got to save face as we pulled up to the Gelateria and ordered three scoops of gelato each.
That’s customer service! I told Mike that maybe we don’t look like I am 57 and he is pushing 60. It’s possible (or probable) that that is wishful thinking, but I do think we’ve earned the right to wimp out now and then. (By the way, the gelato was really delicious!)
Heading Back to Mali Lošinj
After the day’s events we slept well, despite some bad weather and our boat rocking in the harbor. The pistol shrimp snapped their hearts (or claws) out, but we weren’t worried anymore.
The next day we sailed to Molat, a smallish island that isn’t especially accommodating to tourists, but still was pretty. The few restaurants there were all closed because of Covid-19, so we ate on the boat and left early for a cove on Mali Lošinj heading back north to our home near Pula.
Uvala Krivica on Mali Lošinj
The cove was called Uvala Krivica and it’s one of many on the island that caters to the boating industry with mooring balls scattered throughout their beautiful turquoise waters. (About 250 kuna a night or $30 to tie up). It was warm enough to swim finally being the first of June, but just barely. The Adriatic waters are never super warm and in the spring that first plunge can be a little chilling. But after the chill wears off, it’s sheer bliss.
What’s unique about these coves is what you find near them on land. This cove especially was interesting as they had a popular restaurant advertised that you could walk to from the boat, Restoran Balvanida. We called the restaurant in advance because we wanted to make sure they were open considering many were still closed because of corona. This one was open and we made reservations because of their popularity.
Then we boarded our dinghy and motored to land and began the 30 minute journey through the woods. We walked through multitudes of stone fences, olive groves, broken-down stone homes as well as a few nice ones. And then we walked some more. It was refreshing to be on land in the cool forest, although I was a little wobbly from being at sea for 8 days.
We came upon a pasture of sheep grazing and some more stone fences. And then finally in a clearing a restaurant oasis appeared with a gorgeous terrace covered in grapevines and beautiful flowers planted in a garden around the place. It was Restoran Balvanida. The grass was green, green and it looked well taken care of. And the owners were definitely animal lovers as there were animals everywhere: some dogs in the yard nearby, some cats that came to look at the fish that was to be our dinner and then even Bambi made an appearance.
In addition, in the middle of nowhere on an island in the Adriatic, this place had two brand new standing automatic hand sanitizer machines for visitors before they entered the terrace. Really impressive that they were so up-to-date on Covid-19 measures. The fish was delicious and welcomed after so many restaurants being closed on this journey. Then, as if the skies knew we had left the windows of our boat open, it began to rain. We let it pour for a while and then took a brisk walk back through the forest to find some wet cushions and soaked towels we had left to dry outside the boat, but no major damage.
And then as if to signal the end of a very pleasant sailing journey, a rainbow appeared.
We slept soundly bellies full of orada, grilled vegetables and Istrian wine and had a brisk sail back to our home the following day.
Thanks for coming along! I hope you’ll join us on our next trip out to Kornati National Park, Krka National Park and Šibenik at the end of June. Stay tuned.