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Trip Report T/R - Croatia, Dubrovnik. Elaphite Islands - Lopud

In this Trip Report we’re visiting the island of Lopud in the Elaphite Island group. The islands are just off the coast to the North West of Dubrovnik and reachable via short rides on the local ferries all year round – great candidates for days out on the water, the beach or just looking at old Croatia as it was.

As we mentioned in the Sipan review, the Elaphite Islands have been on my short list to return to for years since back in the 60s and 70s, when this part of the world was called Yugoslavia and I used to come here with my parents. I remembered sailing here on the local mail boat that is the life line for these islands. Everything travels on this boat. So now, a few years later, we have a home in Dubrovnik, Croatia and Absolutely Dubrovnik guests wanting to know about “the Islands”. Look for the trip report to Sipan elsewhere – a very quiet and different island.

Today, on a glorious winter day, 59oF (150C) in Dubrovnik, we're heading out on to see the island of Lopud, not knowing the beautiful place and wonderful people we would encounter.

Getting there:
As people live here and commute, there are 4 sailings a day throughout the year. The trip we'd planned called for a visit to Lopud first, and then a stop at Kolocep on the way back. This gave us a couple of hours at both islands. The 10.00 am departure from Dubrovnik gave us the opportunity to maximize the day, and still return in reasonable time. The Sipan review contains more extensive information on the Ferries and how to get to the port.

We purchased round trip tickets at the Jadrolinija office opposite the ferry in Dubrovnik’s new harbour of Gruz for 38kn each and boarded the “m/b Postira”, a ferry that has probably handled the Kolocep, Lapad and Sipan sailing for the last 50 years – it’s very “authentic”... The Postira has seating on 3 levels, both indoor and outdoor. The main deck level has a café/bar called "Caffe m/b Postira” where the waiter carefully makes a great steaming milky coffee - “Bijela Kava” in Croatian. They make a great cappuccino too! This boat immediately goes up in my popularity rankings due to the coffee, and after quite a few rides this month, will remain there : )
The weather is idyllic as we sail out of Gruz, past the car ferry and the beautiful new bridge over the river. The Dr. Frano Tudjmann Bridge is the largest stay cable bridge in Europe. The ferry’s main deck and café are full with locals coming and going, all who seem to know each other (but there again on a set of islands of maybe 1,000 people, that’s probably not difficult... The groceries, (no chickens like the Malaysian boats) are evidence that many had been to the local supermarkets and shops in Dubrovnik. To be returning now, they will have come into the city on the early boat around 6am. The front deck of the boat handles larger freight items – roof tiles on our trip. We remained on the boat as we briefly stopped in Kolocep.

Island of Lopud:
When we arrived at the small harbor on Lopud Island we checked with the lady next to us if this was the correct stop – this started a whole new friendship and introduction to “Life on Lopud” lessons by Franka :) From that moment onwards we were adopted like stray cats by Franka, her daughter Vanda and the dog Viva, who came to meet Mum off the ferry. As we helped her with her weeks shopping from the mainland, Franka took us over to her recently renovated 400 year old stone house for tea - just back from the waterfront and harbor with a gorgeous garden, stone patio and barbeque. In turned out that she has been in the travel industry for years and now on the Island, organizes small group tours of Croatia and the Balkans. Franka showed us incredible Croatian hospitality, even to the point of inviting us in for dinner. We ate the most delicious shark, freshly caught that morning by her fisherman friend – superb.

Walking around Lopud with Franka, Vanda and Viva, it seemed we met everyone in town, including the priest. Lopud actually had 30 churches in the 14th century. The main church dates back to 1483. He performs mass at 3 churches on the island on alternating Sundays. We strolled along the waterfront passed fishing boats and cafes, through lovely old botanical gardens, past renaissance churches, chapels and Romanesque ruins - Island life at its best. Lopud is a lovely Island with incredibly welcoming people. The majority of life appears to reside around the harbor and bay. There are a couple of small hotels on the harbor front with terraces on the water, cafes, three restaurants and two small sandy beaches. Another larger beach, Sunj beach, is a 20 minute walk away on other side of the island. There is also a golf cart taxi for the less energetic that is reputed to be a hair raising experience!

Sadly leaving Lopud on the ferry “Postira” later that afternoon, we knew we would miss this Island and looked forward to our return. Hvala Franka!

Chris Davies - Absolutely Dubrovnik

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