TRIP TO PAŠMAN
For our first trip to the Dalmatan Coast and Pašman Island we chose to travel by the ordinary roads rather than auto routes. We felt that it would be better to see something of the countryside and get a good idea of the geography rather than just zipping along and not being able to stop when we wanted to see things.
Leaving home we travelled via Ljubljana (and its total lack of signs for anyone not using the ring road and auto routes) then on to Ribnice and the Croatian border at Brod na Kupi. Ribnice is well known for its wood products and the new museum and workshops had lots of things on display to see and buy.
Once over the border we headed for Delnice and over the mountains to gain the coast road near Selce. The coast road is sadly very dull and tiring to drive down. With the the sea to our right with what looked like quite barren, rocky islands not far off shore and mostly cliff to our left, the road winds seemingly endlessly following the cliff l
ine. The sight of the rocky islands made us wonder what we were heading to. Travellers are treated to kilometre after kilometre of signs for accommodation and tiny camp
sites that are squeezed onto any available plot of land. Arriving at Stara Paklenica as night fell we found our accommodation.
Sad to report that although the bed had clean sheets the rest of the apartment was not in a good condition. The whole building smelled of tobacco smoke and was in need
of a good clean. Washing up had been left in the sink and the crockery was stained and chipped. We hoped our final destination would be a lot better.
We spent the second day on the road in Paklenica National Park. A wonderful place in the Velebit Mountains. It is a magnet for climbers and hikers this lifted our spirits and
gave us an excellent day of walking and taking in the grandeur of it all. Although it was quite busy, there are paths aplenty either up the larger gorge as we went, or a track
up the smaller gorge which we have left for next time. Facilities are very good with places to eat and drink spaced not far apart in the lower section and mountain huts which
can shelter hikers overnight (booking necessary).
Paklenica National Park
We set off as the afternoon ended to head for Beograd na Moru and the ferry to Tkon on Pašman Island - also called the Peace Island. Stopping to pick up some
essential bits and pieces in Zadar we got an idea of the lie of the land and decided we needed a whole day to explore later.
<p ">Our first real view of our destination.
Following the signs for the ferry (trajekt) at Beograd na Moru we arrived at the slipway and joined a small queue of cars. I bought the ticket for a car and 2 people and
was surprised that it was not as expensive as I expected. We had almost an hour to wait for the last ferry of the evening so went and ate at a nearby restaurant.
Fresh Sea Bream, potatoes and blitva, and a large Karlovačko beer each restored our walked off energy and we boarded the ferry to enjoy the crossing by the setting sun.
Finding our apartment was easy enough, although the town of Kraj is spread along the main road a bit further than we expected. Asking a lady in her garden if she could
point out the house had her jumping into her car and we followed her for about 600m or so to the spot. The keys were in the door and all was ready for us. A cup of
(English) tea, unpack, shower and we fell gratefully into bed. The apartment was clean, spacious and comfortable. Our host, Frane, helpful and friendly. The shore was
a short walk away and we had a view across the smooth Pašman Channel toward the mainland and the Velebits looming over the coast from our balcony. The mountains
shone lilac and pink in the evening sunsets. We cannot say what dawn was like as we slept very well in the fresh sea air and dawn was too early for vacationers.
Pašman Island is green, very green. It is joined to its neighbour, Uglian, to the north by a bridge across a narrow channel. Where Pašman is called the Peace Island,
Uglian is the Olive Island and a bit of exploring showed why. There are many Olive Groves either side of the main road running the length of the island.
The roads are good and finding our way around was easy. Like Pašman there are a number of small towns and villages on the landward side of the island and
inlets, coves and bays to explore. On the seaward side of both islands access is less easy but if people are prepared to use the unpaved tracks they are rewarded with
fantastic views of the Kornati group of islands that are also a National Park. The places to relax, sunbathe or swim are secluded and when we were there, not crowded at all.Of course we went when the tourist season was just about to get underway and we have been told that it can get quite busy in July and August. Judging by the last
minute preparations we saw going on we believe it.
Pašman Channel, Beograd na Moru and Velebit in the distance
The restaurants and bars we went to were of good standard, the food well prepared and presented and priced we feel, fairly. Coffee is hot and strong, just the way
I like it. A coffee with milk was also hot, a pleasant surprise after getting used to the warm-to-cold way we get it nearer home. The fish were fresh and vegetables we were
told were all grown on the islands. Staff were friendly and helpful and advised where we might see interesting local features, such as the Franciscan Monastery on Pašman
- to name but one.We crossed Pašman to the western shore up a track that led us to Lanđin Uvala. There is a collection of holiday cottages and houses there around a sheltered cove that
has a narrow channel from the sea and as a result the water was as smooth as a millpond. Happily it was also warm enough for a swim. We spotted several boats coming
in and mooring up near a large building across the cove and this we thought to be a bar and restaurant. On asking a couple cleaning their cottage ready for guests and
after glasses of rakija (homemade spirits) we set off on a five minute stroll round to see what was on offer. The couple have as well as 200+ olive trees, a smallholding where
they sell vegetables, eggs, rakija and home pressed olive oil on the left side of the road from Kraj toward Tkon. They have a big sign saying ‘Jaja’ near the road sign ‘Ugrinici’. Pull in on the road at the side of the house.The boaters turned out to be German holiday makers who had been coming down to Zadar and around for over twenty years. A good recommendation if ever there was.We asked for a menu and two beers and was told that there is no menu the fare is ‘fish, today it is Bream or Orada with boiled potatoes and blitva or pomfrit’, we could have ‘a salad or pickled sardine starter’ if we wished. We had Bream and pomfrit and chunks of bread. The fish was grilled in one of two huge wood ovens and the smells of the cooking was wonderful and made us feel even hungrier. The meal did not disappoint.
Lanđin Uvala and the restaurant across cove In an Olive Tree
We enjoyed it so much we went back again one evening to find we were the only diners but the fire was lit and fish cooked, beers were drunk and I tried the pickled sardines – they were perfect.In Pašman town itself, which we walked to with ease along the shoreline from Kraj, is a shop called ‘Matulic’. The owner, Ana, makes soaps and cosmetic preparations from all natural ingredients as well as a small selection of spicy and herbal oils and various preserves. We bought some things there and can recommend the fig marmalade especially.It was a bit too warm to walk the island from end to end along a track for hikers and cyclists. We did however take some other, shorter, shadier walks. One in particular was very good (despite passing by the island dump). From Tkon it goes south out to a ruin called Pustograd on top of a hill and then down to Prolaz Druce where it is possible swim/snorkel across to the small islet of Žižanj.Another walk along the landside shore took us past the famous heart shaped island seen in the advertisements etc., for Pašman and surrounding islands. While we speak of advertising and so on, we should mention that there are Tourist Information Offices in Pašman town, and on Uglian where there are maps for the islands and a cycle map can be obtained. When we were there everything was being unpacked and so we have probably missed getting some good, informative publications although we got enough information for our needs.
To visitors to the islands of Pašman and Uglian we recommend taking the time to explore the side roads and take in the extraordinary views, enjoy the sunsets, take things slow. You will be rewarded by these special islands.
A day in Zadar was interesting, went via Beograd na Moru as it was more convenient but there are ferries for cars or another for foot passengers only from the north astern tip of Uglian at Preko direct to Zadar.
Venetian Lion gate Roman remains
Sadly the Famous (and the world’s only) Sea Organ was away being repaired (in Canada!) so we are not able to report on its music – but, another time. The old part of the city is easy to get around and a walk along the defensive walls gives a great idea of the grid layout of the streets and alleys. A lively market was underway with a wide variety of fruit and vegetables. We however, had bought our supplies from the roadside stalls belonging to the houses with large gardens. There are also a large number of shops in the old centre as well as places to eat and drink.
Things of note in Zadar include the Roman remains and a selection of churches of various dates containing important artworks and sculptures. We spent most time though at the Museum of Ancient Glass. This is a real treasury of glass from antiquity. Egyptian, Roman, Greek and much more. Lots of explanation around the different rooms and wonderfully displayed. Often so that pieces could viewed from all around. On the top floor demonstrations of glass blowing are given and pieces made there are on sale in the museum shop along with other souvenirs and mementos. This is well worth a visit. Educational, entertaining and not the usual sort of museum at all.
Museum of Ancient Glass
The day of our departure came around far too quickly. We had arranged to spend two nights on our way home in the town of Korenica, so that we could make a return visit to Plivitčka Jezera. We went there for the day the first time we came to Slovenia on the recommendation of a friend. To say it is spectacular undersells it. Open all year round, the park has a series, indeed, a stairway of lakes that is truly amazing. Water, water everywhere and plenty of paths, walkways and viewpoints to please visitors. A visit is an experience. It needs a whole day, get there early, wear walking shoes make sure the camera batteries are fully charged. That is all we are saying.
Leaving Plivitčka Jezera behind, we headed north to Slunj and the wonderful Rastoke. Another watery place. But with mills that have the unusual feature of ‘Spoon Wheels’. A fascinating couple of hours here broke the journey nicely.
From Slunj we took the road to Karlovac and back over into Slovenia, Novo Mesto and on home.
Was it worth the driving? Yes. Will be going back? Most certainly. There is something very special about Pašman and Uglian that has captured our hearts. Next time though, we’ll go on the auto routes.
Two last views of the rugged and wild beauty of Pašman Island. I couldn’t resist an homage to a certain iconic poster.