Ston and Mali Ston, Croatia
Dubrovnik, Croatia is rapidly gaining global popularity as a world-class tourist destination, and rightly so. Being lucky enough to live here, my favorite days are the ones we spend exploring hidden gems nearby the city, including the village of Ston, and its sister village Mali Ston ("small" Ston). Both towns are fortified-- meaning they are surrounded by big stone walls, turrets and fortresses (originally created for defending Dubrovnik). Today they are peaceful and passed-over by most tourists, which is perfectly fine by me. It makes sense to visit Ston and Mali Ston on the way to the island of Korcula, or simply as a day trip from Dubrovnik (about 50 km Northwest). Tony and I visited many times during our first stay in Croatia, the most recent being when my Mom came to visit us in Kotor and we drove up from there.
Since we base most of our trips on food and drink, it was no surprise that we had a specific destination in mind once we reached Ston-- Restaurant Bota Sare. Tony's teammates in Dubrovnik had recommended it to us-- it's a favorite among locals and specializes in fresh seafood--so fresh that there is a paragraph printed on their menu stating that everything listed comes from within 1000 meters of the restaurant (see left).
We decided to walk around and explore the area before we sat down to what would inevitably be a long lunch. My favorite thing to do is walk along the 5 km stone wall that connects both towns. It is like a "mini" Great Wall of China-- massive, breathtaking and narrowly winding into the mountains. It's also relaxing to stroll along the shore and admire all the fishing boats bobbing in the clear water. You can always feel free to ask the owner of a boat if he will take you out for a little ride-- we have done this often throughout Croatia and Montenegro and found it's one of the best ways to explore.
Once we sat down to lunch it did not disappoint. The servers can help you choose from one of the many regional wines (we chose a white from Korcula) and then just ask what they recommend regarding seafood. We started with a type of clam that I had never heard of before, and they were delicious.
We had a prime spot on the large outdoor patio, and right next to us happened to be two tables of about 40 Spaniards, obviously celebrating some occasion. At a certain point during lunch, a few of the women got up and started doing an impromptu flamenco dance using the shells from a seafood platter as castanettes. The entire table burst into song to accompany them and their passion and enjoyment were infectious.
We lingered at the table not wanting our leisurely lunch to end. There's nothing like cold white wine, fresh seafood and good company in the hot Croatian sun.