“History, heritage and splendid nature, how lucky you are to live here,” commented the couple from Germany as we sat sipping wine in a family vineyard in the heart of the Pelješac Peninsular. I couldn’t argue with them. It had been a few years since I travelled across the Pelješac Peninsular and onto the island of Korčula. To be honest I don’t know why I had waited so long.
Famous Legends of Pelješac and Korčula, that was the title of the excursion I was on with Gulliver Travel, just the headline intrigued me. Just to set the scene for those of you who have never been to this region of Dubrovnik. The Pelješac Peninsular stretches out like a green finger into the turquoise Adriatic Sea for around 40 miles, it is in fact the second longest peninsular in the whole of Croatia. A long, thin slice of land indented by a mountain range, the mountain runs like a spine through the centre of this green paradise.
Our day-trip started in the town of Ston. Located at the very joint of the peninsular with the mainland Ston has a rich and fascinating history, for a relatively small destination it has so much crammed in. The second longest defensive wall runs from one side of Ston to the other, you can even walk part of it, and then there are the salt pans that were so important in the times of the Republic of Dubrovnik. Yes, that’s the reason why they built such an impressive wall. “In the height of the Republic in the 15th and 16th centuries salt was almost as valuable as silver,” stated our friendly guide. We had a short break in Ston, enough time to explore and grab a coffee.
Back onto the coach and now we were entering the green heart of the peninsular. The views from the bus are wonderful, rolling vineyards cling to the mountain sides, on the left is the sea, and then it appeared again on the right. “It is probably safer to be driven than to drive,” I commented to English couple behind me. They knew exactly what I meant, the view was extremely distracting.
Orebić was our next destination where a boat was waiting to whisk us across the Korčula Channel to our island discovery. Sometimes described in guide books as “Little Dubrovnik” Korčula seems to float on the Adriatic Sea. In fact the portrayal as Little Dubrovnik might be a little unfair, yes historic walls surrounded the old city, and yes terracotta roofs fill the skyline, and yes Korčula had an important role in the history of the whole region. But firstly there is a different feel about Korčula and secondly, and more importantly Korčula doest deserve the description “Little,” in any sense of the word.
The old city is a criss-cross of cobbled streets, a medieval labyrinth, and a city with a soul. “Korčula has had a rich and at times turbulent history,” added our guide as we entered the gate into the Old City.
A tour around the city, an introduction into the legend of Marco Polo’s influence on the city and the island and then some free time to explore the city by ourselves and an excellent lunch in one of the many restaurants, we would recommend the seafood. “It seems that everywhere we go we are met with amazing stories and breathtaking nature,” smiled the German couple whilst we enjoyed a cappuccino in the centre of town.
We spent around three hours in Korcula, but I get the feeling that we could have quite happily spent all day. Back onto our boat and the short trip across the channel where the coach was waiting for us. The organization was running like a Swiss clock.
A short drive back across the peninsular, this time with a view from the other window, and we stopped at a tradition family vineyard for a wine tasting. The family had lived in the same estate for centuries, generation after generation had produced wine and olive oil, these guys knew what they were doing, it certainly showed. We waved goodbye, loaded down with a bottle of red and a bottle of white, the perfect end to a perfect day. “We will remember this day for a long time,” concluded the German couple as we parted, again I couldn’t disagree with them.
The Famous Legends of Pelješac and Korčula is a full-day excursion offered by the Gulliver Travel agency. For more information, including prices, dates and how to book, please visit the Gulliver Travel website here.