Saturday, 21 August 2010

Croatia, Mlini

It wasn’t especially well sign-posted and predictably I missed the turn for Mlini and we ended up in the next village of Srebreno where there was a string of beach bars but no signs but after we asked for directions and established that we were in the wrong place we went back the way we had just come and this time found the turning on a treacherous unmarked bend and quickly found our accommodation, the Villa Carmen.

There were a lot of steps to negotiate but at the top we were greeted by Doris (good Croatian name!) who showed us to a nice clean room with a big private terrace in the sun. Kim was tired so rested for a while but I couldn’t settle until I had got some beers in the fridge so although it was mad hot I went down the steps and climbed the hill back to the main road to find a mini-market.

It was a small and simple little shop and I quickly selected a screw cap bottle of wine but at the beer fridge I couldn’t remember from last year which one I preferred, was it Karlovačko, Ožujsko or Laško? So I did the sensible thing and bought one of each so that I could try them all just to be sure. Back at the room I tried the red Karlovačko first of all and it might have been that one but I knew that I couldn’t really be certain until I had sampled them all.

After Kim had rested and I had finished the first beer it was time to investigate so we left Villa Carmen and walked down more steps to the beach where the sea looked so inviting that I had to go back up all of the steps another time to get the swimming costumes from the room. The beach was small and quite busy, no sand but white stones instead and tiny pebbles at the water’s edge that scrunched under our feet as we walked into the sea. It was surprisingly warm so there was no reluctance to dive in and enjoy a fifteen minutes swim in the turquoise water and then after thirty minutes to dry off in the sun we left the beach (because thirty minutes is quite long enough) and walked along a leafy coastal footpath back to Srebreno where we selected a bar with seats in the sunshine, ordered some drinks and sat back and just relaxed.

We didn’t stop that long but walked back and spent some time on the terrace in a lovely garden with ripening vines, pots of boiling geraniums, succulents and palms, and cypress trees all crammed randomly in and competing for space. As the afternoon slipped into early evening we listened to the cicada soundtrack as the temperature became more comfortable and with a high thin cloud the sky became a curious chalk white reflected in a calm milky sea that was disturbed only by the occasional boat splitting the water in two as it passed by.

We had decided to eat at the hotel family restaurant close by but before we did so we took the advice of the guests in the next room and walked first down the hill and to the village of Mlini just out of sight around a bend in the road. On the way Kim took some shots of the sunset with her magic camera (it takes a sunset picture even when there isn’t one) and then we passed old stone houses clustered around the tiny little harbour with little fishing boats, no more than rowing boats really, and then to the village centre.

The centre of the village was really pretty with little shops and restaurants, an old mill and a millstone, flower beds and a fast flowing stream coming down from the mountain behind and discharging into the sea. In the very middle was a two hundred and fifty year old plane tree that was home to hundreds of chirruping sparrows and as we walked underneath the outstretched boughs one got Kim with a direct hit on her shoulder and we interpreted that as a clear sign that we had last night’s winning lottery ticket waiting for us back at home.

There were some promising looking restaurants in the village but as agreed we returned to the hotel family restaurant and had a leisurely meal in a pleasant garden. We both had an excellent meal and during the time that we spent there I picked up a leg full of mosquito bites which started to itch furiously some time during the night.

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