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Introducing Kolocep’s most hospitable host


Serjeo, blind in one eye and not walking as well as he once did, stood waiting for our ferry to dock in the port of Donje Celo, on the small Croatian island of Kolocep. He seemed to know instantly we were his guests as he waved warmly at three young English women, struggling to dismount awkward suitcases off a wobbling ramp. He greeted us with a hug and we walked with him along a narrow path that followed the water’s edge. We climbed up the steps, which led directly to Serjeo’s house.

Offering us a drink we sat at his table on the outside terrace, looking out at a view that stretched across the bay. In the darkness, the lights from the boats and hillside houses reflected brightly off the Adriatic Sea. After sitting for some time, listening to his seafaring stories in broken English, we were presented with a bottle of local white wine. A gift from our host.

The retired captain of a cargo ship, Serjeo spends his summers in his self-built home, renting out the four upper floor apartments and in winter retreats to live in Dubrovnik. Kolocep, he says, is desolate in winter. The weather is bleak and storms blow frequently off the Adriatic Sea. But, in summer, the tranquillity of the place seeps through every part of it, from the consistent soundtrack of the chatter of crickets to the gentle sound of waves hitting the shore. Scented with the sweet aroma of a cornucopia of flower species; their vibrant colours contrasting vividly against simple white and terracotta buildings, butterflies colourfully floating by.

The nearest of the Elaphite Islands to Dubrovnik, only a half an hour ferry ride away, Kolocep (known to locals as the island of Kalamota) is a tranquil car-free haven. With two small villages and a plethora of rocky beaches, the island is made up predominately of verdant, subtropical landscape and the only way to cross the island is by boat or sea catamaran. The main pathways though, will take you most of the way.

The hour-long walk from the port area of Donje Celo, to the village of Gornje Celo on the southwest side, will take you past a number of tree species: limes, apricots, dates and olives grow in abundance. On route are two exquisite Pre Romanesque churches; the tiny terracotta Crkva na Kalamoti church sitting on a hilltop is particularly special.

Arriving in Gornje Celo finds you in a bay with a small sandy beach, with the best ‘konoba’ (family run inn) on the island. Built into the hillside, it serves fresh fish and seafood overlooking the sea. The restaurant’s owner and only member of the waiting team was not overly forthcoming when we ordered, but as we tucked into an al-dente, herb infused seafood risotto and plate of garlicky steaming mussels, we warmed to her frosty demeanor and upon leaving, thanked her enthusiastically for an excellent meal.

The sea that surrounds Kolocep is a deep translucent turquoise and the rocky exterior makes the water perfectly deep, to jump straight in. An ongoing issue for Croatian beaches is the presence of sea urchins, which are treacherous for swimmers. The urchins are in abundance in parts of Kolocep, so either wearing waterproof shoes or sticking to the sandy areas are recommended.

Returning to the apartment and meeting Serjeo at the door, he nodded enthusiastically towards a large wooden donkey, placed precariously close to the balcony edge. “You can ride on him and take pictures if you like.” He said. Nearly full sized and carved completely out of wood, he patted its back as he spoke: “I was just like this donkey, carrying everything up hill on my back to build this house.”

It took him over thirty years to finish the house which made his continual enthusiasm for it even more understandable. Like a fortress, it can only be reached by ascending steps, in this case thirty from the main thoroughfare.

Our apartment, one of four in the building, was at the top of the house, reached by climbing two more flights of stairs. A complete contrast to the outside, it was light and modern. Comprising of a well laid out kitchen, bathroom with bath and shower, huge double bed and large additional sofa bed with air conditioning. The ceiling made completely out of timber, was reminiscent of a Swedish sauna, but looking out of the window you are greeted by a perfect sea-view.

Serjeo described his apartments as “fifty star.” Not quite I thought, but I liked his confidence and if holiday accommodation were rated solely on the individuality and hospitality of its host, then Villa Kalamota apartments would definitely reach an extremely high grade.

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