Croatia's Biggest Welcome Crosses the Peljesac Peninsula to Ston
Day 48 of the innovative tourism project to create the world's biggest welcome leaves Korcula and crosses the Peljesac Peninsula via kayak, bike and hiking.
Croatia's Welcome Projectcontinued south on May 30 2011 by a combination of kayak, bicycle and hiking to cross the Peljesac Peninsula and reach the historically significant town of Mali Ston.
The project, which began on April 5 on the northern tip of Croatia's coast in Istria, is an ambitious attempt to highlights the country's stunning and diverse natural beauty, while promoting the numerous adventure sports on offer. Using a combination of kayak, mountain bike, rafting and other means, the 2,500km route has been designed so that it spells 'Welcome'. The Welcome will be visible from Google Earth, enabling Croatian tourism to claim the world's biggest welcome.
Rest Day with Dolphins on Korcula
Day 48 was preceded by a rest day for the Welcome team, who were recuperating after finishing the letter 'M' in welcome. With just the letter 'E' to go before a triumphant entry to Dubrovnik by kayak on June 3, it was a final change to recharge the batteries.
As guests of the Korcula tourist authorities, the Welcome team spent the day sailing through the scattered small islands around Korcula, 18 in all, accompanied by dolphins who swam close by. The owners of the 100 year-old authentic engine-powered sailboat, Stonac, are a young family from Lumbarda returning to Korcula and determined to live off the sea. Their warm hospitality and expert navigation made it a memorable day.
Kayak from Lumbarda to Zuljane
Day 48 meant a return to the kayaks for the 21km crossing from Lumbarda to the small village of Zuljane on the Peljesac Peninsula. The peninsula is a 65km strip of land jutting out from the mainland, a popular and more affordable holiday home area within striking distance of Dubrovnik, and purveyor of some of Croatia's better wines.
Peljesac has more recently been in the news for its controversial bridge project, an attempt to connect the territory of Croatia into one contiguous unit. Currently the area near Dubrovnik is cut off from the rest of the country by the so-called Bosnian Riviera, a 23km strip of coast centred around the town of Neum.
Bike from Zuljane to Ston
From Zuljane, the kayaks were exchanged for bikes and a 26km ride through the heart of the peninsula, with its hilly vineyards and old stone villages. The entrance to the Peljesac Peninsula is guarded by the stunning walled town of Ston, which boasts the second longest defence walls in the world (5km).
Climbing the Historic Walls of Ston
The final leg of the day's travelling involved hiking up the town walls, which stretch as far as the neighbouring port town of Mali Ston. The walls rise sharply into the hillside and hikers are rewarded with stunning views of one of Ston's other famous claims, its saltworks.
The elevated view gives an excellent view of the nearby salt pans, a patchwork of fields interspersed by low square stone walling. Ston is one of the most important salt producers in the Mediterranean region. Its documented production dates back to 1272.
Dubrovnik in Sight, but Heading North through Bosnia
The normal route from Ston to Dubrovnik is a straight run down the coastal road, an hour by car, but such simplicity would betray the aims of the project. In order to form the next part of the letter 'E', the next stage involves heading north instead, through Bosnia by bicycle and then rowing down the River Neretva.