We leave Split, once again with our excellent driver Marin, and our van carries us along on a sunny morning to the small town of Ston, known to be one of the oldest and most intact of ancient villages in the region. It has a very long stone fortification wall up around the mountainside which was built by its Dubrovnik rulers to protect the lucrative salt pans situated nearby. At the end of the town is a Franciscan Monastery, closed to visitors and I don’t know if it is still functioning with monks at this time but it appears well maintained and in some use.
Ston, and its nearby and even smaller sister village, Mali Ston (or “Small Ston”), are also known for their shellfish farming and fishing. It is a strange town as there is one main street and then narrow streets branching off with very old small 2-3 story homes abutting each other in a solid line. But about 1/4 of the homes on the narrow residential pedestrian only alleys are abandoned. Many are boarded up and the next door neighbor is using the completely collapsed derelict interior space for storage or hanging laundry. But many are standing strong with flowers in boxes out front and are obviously occupied with the small of cooking soup wafting out of windows.
We eat at a restaurant in Mali Ston facing the water, Jack enjoying the oysters, mussels and clams, for which this area is known. And then we head off for our final stop on this tour toward Dubrovnik. Everywhere we drive, the hills are green and rich, with good roads and drivers who appear to obey the rules. A lovely place to be in peaceful times.
We are now settled in at the Sun Garden Resort, North of Dubrovnick, in a truly gorgeous hotel with 3 large pools and attached 2-3 bedroom apartments which are filled during the summer months to capacity. There is a small marina and area for swimming, although Jack reports the beach and the area into and out of the water is painful pebbles. I can see why it is popular as they have wonderful options for children, great food, and, as Melanie and I can attest to, a high-end spa with different saunas, jacuzzi and treatments. It is hard to check out in the morning but our tour of Dubrovnick awaits.