Today we took a ride out to the island of Pag. Passing over the bridge at Ražanac,which connects Pag to the mainland is like landing on the moon. The hills are absolutely covered in limestone boondies. On the point the ruins of an old fort suggest that something on this island was worth protecting. It was hard to believe that the land would sustain much. The first dwellings we passed were pretty humble shepherds huts with a small herd of sheep grazing in the yard. The countryside was a little better as we got into the valley which runs all the way to the town of Pag and there were farms and cultivation. On the edge of Pag salt pans are segregated into pools and it’s here that the famous salt is produced at the local factory. There’s a shaker of it at the unit where we’re staying.
After a look around Pag we took a trip across the bridge and along the bay. It’s quite obvious that the biggest industry around here is tourism as there were heaps of new apartments locked up for the winter.
The ride over the steep hill overlooking Pag gave us a great view of just how marginal the countryside is. On the sides of the hill the limestone boondies had been piled into walls and piles in an attempt to make the land more usable. The only thing that could survive on this country is sheep. On the western side of the island there were areas where you’d wonder how anything could live.
You really have to take your hat off to the farmers who would’ve spent a lifetime picking up boondies only to find there’s still a lot more to pick up. Like veins on an emaciated body these limestone walls crisscross the landscape separating fields.
We rode through a few of the small coastal villages looking for somewhere to eat but like Pag they were pretty much closed for the winter. Eventually we found a small supermarket open, so we just bought some cheese, ham and fresh bread. Our lunch setting wasn’t too spectacular just the park beside the supermarket.
Back on the road we rode up over the hill, down into a fertile valley to the little town of Kolan, which is famous for its cheeses. Sirana Gligora at Kolan is one of the tourist stops on Pags Cheese Trail. Paski Sir, made from local Pag sheeps milk is the cheese famous around here. We purchased some as well as another cheese which was mixed with herbs. It was pretty pricey and as there were no samples we weren’t going to spend a lot of money for something we didn’t like. Thank god for that. When we tried at at home it was pretty flavourless and tough as old boots. It became our Parmesan substitute.
Riding back across Pag as the sun was setting we had a beautiful blood red sunset across the islands. Tomorrow we might head to Nin the old capital.