Driving Bertha up and through the Sveti Rok tunnel we suddenly recognised the barren landscape and windswept heights from our travels along the Dalmatian coast four years ago.
That time we had missed out on Pag Island and its famous resident sage-eating sheep, and were determined not to do so again. We were over the bridge at the southern end before we knew it, and marvelling at the bizarre lunar landscape of rock, stone and dust. We drove through, and then above the island’s main town, Pag.
We pitched up at a busy campsite to the obvious annoyance of our new surrounding neighbours. Escaping their Germanic grumbling for the late afternoon we endured a couple of hours on concrete beach beds before enjoying the sunset with a drink in hand at the beach bar, making a decision to move on the next morning.
It was a gamble and by noon we had driven Bertha the entire length of the island in search of a blissful beach stop. Some small ‘autokamps’ offered idyllic surroundings but were situated at the bottom of steep stony paths and not possible for us to camp at, despite Bertha valiantly skidding down and then struggling back up from one (stressing the increasingly noisy exhaust rattle).
We spotted a group of sheep at a stony small holding, whose milk is used for the famous cheese known for the sage and salty flavour it has from the sheep’s island diet. At the far north end of the island the landscape was greener and dry stone walls were built around scrubby fields. At Lun we saw two thousand year old olive groves with large knotted and gnarled trees in fruit.
We drove back to the centre and pulled up at the largest campsite at Novalja. ‘Trip luck’ returned as the charming staff let us bag a huge seaside pitch under the shade of olive trees and with its own supply of electricity, water and wifi! Gratefully we meandered along the pebbly shore of the pretty cove enjoying the blues and greens of the clear sea and the picturesque horizon of islands and sail boats in the afternoon sun.
The next two days were spent on the beach reading and swimming. We were more than half way through our trip and in need of some time to slow down and take stock of all that we had seen and experienced. The weather was glorious and lent itself to a slow pace and the fellow German campers were equally relaxed.
Simon perfected the Balkan dishes of grilled pork and stuffed cabbage parcels and created delicious cheese pies with Pag sheep cheese. In between feasting and toasting the sunset we made plans for the remaining weeks of our trip.
It was with reluctance that we packed up on Monday morning after a disturbed night of high winds and crashing waves, so we greeted cheerfully the news that the island’s ferry and bridge links to the mainland were closed.
We were marooned on Pag for at least another day…