We stayed on the Peljesac peninsular until the September 19th, a lot longer than we had anticipated. This was mostly due to two factors: the first, was that we found in Vedran a really exceptional dive guide who made us feel very welcome and confident when we dived. He took us on some wonderful dives and from the first dive we knew we wanted more.
We did however want to find another campsite as the drive to the dive site in Trsenik was not ideal, so tried to find another campsite a little closer. In doing this we found our second reason which was a lovely little campsite in the bay of Brijesta, campsite Vrela which again was right on the beach and very quiet. It was a joy to stay there.
On September 15th we met up with Vedran and Dived the wreck the S57 which was a torpedo boat in the second world war. Technologically advance for it's time it was extremely fast and so when the British damaged it during an ambush the skipper skuttled it to stop it falling into enemy hands. It was a great wreck to dive on, there were torpedoes still on it's skeletal deck, magazine clips scattered on the floor and a still movable anti-aircraft gun on the top of the wreck. Lots of sea life had now made homes in and on the wreck, including this Moray Eel which I managed to get some good footage of (you've got to see this!).
We surfaced and changed tanks ready for the second dive of the day which was a reef dive. Again there was a lot of life to see, notably some pretty big lobsters in a wall and also some ancient Roman amphora just lying discarded from a long-lost wreck.
After diving we went to check out camp Vrela and pretty soon decided that this was the place to camp for the night. We then sent a text to Vedran to organise some more dives for the 17th.
We spent the day chilling in the camp on September 16th, taking advantage of the campsite position literally 5m from the bay. Snorkelling was fun as there was a fresh stream that joined the bay quite close to the campsite and the combination of fresh and salt water created a crazy thermocline at no depth! We were used to seeing thermoclines at around 25m underwater but this was right on the surface. As you snorkeled, you could see one minute then it was as if the mask had fogged up the next only to clear again a second later! It was really trippy.
The bay iteself was lovely and calm and was also used to farm mussels and every afternoon we would see the mussel farmers going through and cleaning their catch.
We dived again on September 17th, making the shorter but somewhat hilly trip to Trstenik to see our mate Vedran. Again he took us on some wonderful dives with lots of life. Of note this time were some cool nudibranches (Flabellina Lila), a Fork Beard fish, and this funky purple starfish!
On the night we sat out on the campsite veranda with the site owner (Nedjeljko) and the other guests, two friendly couples, one German and the other Czech, drinking the owners own wine (produced on his family land for over 300 years no less) and it felt like a proper community of people joined by the purpose of finding some peace and quiet. Nedjeljko also produces his own spirits, olive oil and mandarins which are grown one the campsite as well as on the family land in the area. It was really interesting to talk to Nedjeljko about his family roots and how he could trace his ancestry back 300 years, to among other things the Ragusa Republic (the area of land from the tip of the peninsula to south of Dubrovnik) and how long his family have been producing wine in this region.
So the next day I was nursing a bit of a hangover, but nonetheless we went for a bit of a cycle round the area. We passed countless fig trees, rosemary bushes, pomegranate trees and other such delights not usually seen wild in Britain so we scrumped a little to augment our fresh stocks. On the way back we passed the mussel fishermen cleaning their haul and bought 2kilo of mussels for the equivalent of £1.40! Needless to say we hurried back to our van to cook them up and thanks to Rachel's culinary wizardry we were soon feasting on fresh mussels not 400 metres from where they were landed. Delicious. The bay is excellent for farming mussels because the bay is rich in plankton. This makes for excellent mussels! We had an early night after the seafood feast as we were due to meet Vedran for some more diving the next day.
However, when we woke on the 19th, the wind was howling. We decided to head over to Trstenik anyway to see what the harbour was like but en route we had a text from Vedran saying the dive was cancelled due to the weather. We soon could see why as when we arrived the waves were very lively. We decided over a coffee to visit the town of Ston at the very south of the peninsular instead and so hopped in the van and headed off. To get onto the Peljesac peninsular you have to go through the twin towns of Ston and Mali Ston. Between these two small ancient villages runs the third longest wall in Europe, which made up part of the defense of the Ragusan Republic.
When arrived in Ston in the middle of two events, the first was the annual "Marathon of Ston" - a race around the 5Km walls of Ston and Mali Ston - eventually won by a Briton - and a "Gastro Film Festival" showing lots of films about the importance of food and other considerations. It was a very informative day out as we got to watch a number of short documentaries on such themes as "slow food", GMO and it's implications (both economically, in terms of biodiversity as well as impact on human health and legal cover-up operations from the major chemical companies). It wasn't all factual and there were a number of fictional food films to enjoy also.
For lunch we treated ourselves to a Seafood platter from a restaurant called Backus in the town. It was incredible and no words can do it any justice.
Back at the site we again sat down to some wine and another spectacular sunset before wobbling off to bed.