As you may be aware we are already working on the arrangements for the CLS summer school on the Elaphite Islands next June. As this is such a popular holiday area, we appreciated that we needed to be quick off the mark and so in early October Linda, John and I set off on our fact-finding mission.
Having overcome the first hurdle of the collapse of Monarch Airlines just days before our planned departure, we all managed to meet up as arranged in Dubrovnik, where we had an appointment with Alberto Frka. For those of you who were with us in Istria, you will remember our redoubtable guide, Ljerka, and it was she who recommended that we contact her fellow guide Alberto, who is based in Dubrovnik. Friday morning found us all enjoying the sun on the terrace of the Gradska Kavana eagerly describing to Alberto our plans and requirements for an interesting schedule of excursions, which hopefully will cover new ground even for participants who are already pretty familiar with this part of Southern Dalmatia. We are looking forward to receiving his suggestions and will keep you posted but we intend that our focus will be on the three inhabited Elaphite Islands of Šipan, Lopud and Koločep plus a trip to another island and a couple of places of interest on the mainland. In addition to this, for those who fancy it, we are planning a spot of yoga each morning, to keep us in shape and ready for the day ahead.
Our meeting with Alberto finished in time for us to catch the early afternoon catamaran to Šipanska Luka. In the meantime, the bura had blown up and the glorious sunshine of Dubrovnik gave way temporarily to more blustery weather with cooler temperatures and some rain overnight. None of this detracted from the beauty that greeted us on our arrival and we were able to walk along a stretch of the deep protected inlet as well as clamber over a headland to enjoy a vista of dramatic rock formations and wild seascapes.
On Saturday we were back down to business taking a tour of the Hotel Šipan, where we had spent the night, and then catching a bus to the other end of the island, where we investigated the possibilities available to us in Suđurađ. We spent the whole day checking out the suitability of the options before settling on a small family run outfit situated in a wonderful location with a terrace enjoying glorious views over the sea and the mountains beyond. Believe it or not, after the rain of the previous night, we could see that snow had settled on the distant mountains of Konavle, which were just visible from our vantage point.
We were made very welcome by our hosts, who showed us around their property. A few steps away just above them, other members of the same family run a restaurant with rooms and just minutes further along the coastal path is a four star hotel while the centre of Suđurađ, with a range of private accommodation and a couple of bars and restaurants, is a few minutes’ walk away in the opposite direction. Having viewed the property and discussed the options, we felt this would be a very suitable location from which to run our summer school next year. Just to make sure that we had done the job properly, we stayed on for an early dinner at the restaurant above, named Tri Sestre on account of the fact that this branch of the family have three, now grown-up, daughters. The food was home-cooked and delicious and we felt that this would be a great asset to have on-site for all of our participants. At the end of the evening, our chatty, hospitable host even went so far as to drive us back to our hotel at the other end of the island.
By Sunday the bura had passed and the water in Šipanska Luka had taken on a lovely turquoise translucent colour. It looked just too inviting to be able to resist taking a quick dip before enjoying lunch at a waterside restaurant while awaiting the arrival of our catamaran back to Dubrovnik.
We are now all back in London and continuing to work on our plans for what promises to be another memorable CLS summer school. Keep an eye open for further details and, if this has whetted your appetite, do let Linda know as there will be a limit to the number of places available, some of which have already been taken up less than a week after our return.
Apart from the inevitable task of trying to improve our command of this language that we are all aspiring to master, I have a feeling that our greatest challenge next June may be trying to keep our eyes on our books rather than letting our gaze wander out over the amazing views from the terrace of our chosen home for the week.