Day 3 of our most magnificent Croatia Blog Week. Unfortunately the Croatian football team got kicked out of the European Championships by Italy yesterday, but that’s not stopping me from offering you a new Croatian gem: Mljet. I know, Croatia should think about putting more vowels in their island names (you wonder how they play ‘Wheel of Fortune’, don’t you?), but we’re gonna let bygones be bygones. Because we love Mljet. Yes, people, we do. And we’ll soon be wearing ‘I <3 MLJT' tees, because it'll make us look cool.
If you look at the map all the way at the end of this blogpost, you’ll notice something went wrong. Blame Google Maps! For some reason, with Google Maps, you can’t take the coastal highway from Drvenik (where you take the ferry to Hvar) to the Dubrovnik area, because you have to cross Bosnia-Hercegovina. This is nonsense! I did it twice, you just drive towards Dubrovnik, show your passport twice, try to look not too suspicious and keep on going. Then Google Maps makes another mistake. Apparently you can’t go by car from the peninsula northwest of Dubrovnik to Mljet. Nonsense, I tell you! You can take the ferry in Prapratno to Sobra, which is right in the middle of pristine Mljet.
Anyway, back to the awesomeness. Mljet is Croatia’s greenest and lushest island, covered by dense pine forests, beautiful lakes and yellow butterflies. According to Greek mythology, Odysseus was trapped here for seven years. Boo hoo, poor Odysseus, being trapped in paradise like that. I pity the fool! The western part of Mljet is all national park, with two “lakes” as its main attraction. You noticed the “” there, didn’t you? Yes, they’re not fresh water lakes, they’re technically not even lakes as they are connected to the sea. Potato (Am. Engl.) potato (Br. Engl.)!
To enter the park you will have to pay admission of 90 Kuna per person, about 12 euros. Well worth it! Most tourists stay in the villages of Polace or Pomena, which are close to the lakes, but you still have to take bikes (or do a pretty long hike). That’s why I decided to stay in the only accommodation in the national park itself, in the town of Soline. It’s actually not so much of a town, more a street with about 10 houses with rooms or apartments to rent. To go there, you need to ask permission from the park ranger, so you can drive your car to Soline and check out what it has to offer. You need to get your accommodation papers filled out by the hosts and bring them back to the park ranger, to prove you have found a room or apartment to stay in. It’s a bit of a hassle, but still: well worth it! Why? Because you get the lakes all to yourself. Honestly, there are almost no tourists, you just swim where ever you want to, clothing optional.
Anyway, if you’re expecting parties and other craziness, you will not find it on Mljet. This is where people come to get back on their feet after a few crazy nights in Hvar Town. By the way, on Tuesdays and Saturdays you can also take a ferry from Hvar Town to Sobra, so you don’t have to drive the coastal highway south. I would recommend the highway though, it’s one of the most beautiful scenic drives of Europe, especially the part between Makarska and Dubrovnik.