Our rule of not going back to the same place twice has been broken again and with great results.
We stumbled across Lumbarda on the island of Korcula in Croatia, accessed via the stunning peninsula of Peljasac last year and because of our brief but wonderful experience there, we recommended it to friends for their holiday this year.
A small town with a strong sense of community and evident pride in their locality and all it produces from traditional music and dance to wonderful white wines, from fresh fish and tasty cheeses to melt in the mouth meat stews, Lumbarda and the neighboring medieval town of Korcula did not disappoint on our second visit.
The approach via the Peljasac peninsula is easy from the mainland, we travelled south passing through a curious strip of Bosnian coast, unavoidable but most welcome, with a great lunch of spit roast lamb and Cevapici at a little road side grill.
Back in Croatia and onto Peljasac we avoided the tourist trap/mussel farms at Ston that we had unfortunately trapped us in on our last visit and found extremely disappointing (though admitted later that that the amazing fort there would probably make a great mooching day). We tried to find the winery making and selling our favourite Peljasac red wine (a 15.6% Dingac with amazing fig, nutmeg and date aromas) but after driving up and down a few narrow tracks, a weathered local told us that they do not sell direct to the public anymore and so the next supermarket had to suffice.
We were amazed again at the landscape of Peljasac, so vast, hilly and verdant with vineyards and olive groves in every direction yet still leaving room for wild, untouched valleys (where signed frequently warn you may see wild boar crossing!) and saving the best, most spectacular views, till the end as you drop down into Orebic.
Orebic, our destination for the ferry to Korcula, a funny balance of lilo carrying, sun-worshipping tourists, enthusiastic windsurfers and busy locals. Anthony Boy camping was the last option after we had investigated all others but actually turned out to be the best spot, great views of Korcula across the bay, right by the sea and lots of space for everyone. A lesson to us not to be put off places by their name!
We were excited and apprehensive about returning to Lumbarda but we needn’t have been at all, Sanja at Mela Postrano camping, remembered us and welcomed us again to their sunny field, peppered with olive trees and the very occasional motorhome drifting through. One star camping just as we like it, a bit like wild camping but with toilets.
The next few days we became so relaxed and rejuvenated by the place and the weather, we actually managed to get up and run each morning. This enabled us to see more of the locality than we saw last time. The lighthouse looking out to Mljet island, the next bay along with a nice Botnia Targa 44 motor cruiser and of course the lovely beaches, quite special before anyone arrived.
In the evenings, a national holiday meant we were treated to several charming local events, that despite being tailored for the tourists, were clearly taken very seriously and enjoyed most by the local community. Delivered with immense pride and organisation: traditional dancing, by what seemed like the whole town, on one evening, traditional music on another, the summer Friday fisherman’s market and live music at the Beach bar on Saturday. The local band played a contemporary mix of passionate Croatian songs and some we knew, our hearts and legs finally felt like dancing.
In the heart of Lumbarda is a an expanse of vineyards that produce a wonderful white wine called Grk. It’s served everywhere in Lumbarda and nowhere else, seemingly extremely restricted to the locality (the restaurants in Korcula just 4 miles away cannot sell it and none of the supermarkets sold it). For me it is a little like Chenin Blanc, vanilla, rosemary and a little hint of oak, it really is very special. We drank it with a Lumbarda pizza with goats cheese and anchovies, all an unlikely but amazing combination and another lunchtime in a winery looking out across the vineyards to the sea and mainland mountains beyond, we enjoyed it with Prsut (Dalmatian smoked ham) and Dalmatian smoked goats cheese.
Lumbarda will always be one of our places, the clear blue water, the variety of vistas to absorb you, the food and wine, the people and the easiness of being there. I’m sure we will break our rule again.