I arrived to Zagreb yesterday afternoon, ran some errands in the city, saw a couple of old school mates and accidentally run into a friend whom I haven’t seen since our university days in England in the mid 1990s. She incidentally lives in Bangkok. Small world, and strangely connected.
As I pack for my month on the seaside (an annual summer tradition), which kicks off tomorrow morning, I realize I am eager to leave town. Zagreb, while a pleasant and charming pocket-size capital to spend a few days, turns ghost-empty in late July/early August. This is when the entire city population seems to depart for the seaside and the islands. The main square, typically jam-packed with promenaders, bikers, coffee-sipping folk and people waiting for streetcars, today had just a few passersby. I’m more than happy to join the mass exodus to the Adriatic shores.
So I thought I’d share my travel itinerary here. Tomorrow morning I am driving with an old friend to Split, a buzzing port city in southern Dalmatia, the second largest in Croatia. From the Split harbor, I will catch a Jadrolinija ferry to the island of Korčula, a three-hour ride away from the mainland. A friend will be waiting for me in Vela Luka, the town where the ferry disembarks.
My annual ten days in heaven officially start when we arrive to his family’s house in the seaside settlement of Prižba – right on the sea, with a terraced garden stretching some ten steps down to a beautiful small beach and a hammock underneath fragrant pine trees. So if you’re wondering where I’ll be in the coming days, just picture this hammock (see photo), a scent of pine and sea salt, and the intense blue sea below. If not reading or napping in the hammock, I’ll be out swimming (every year, I try to do a morning and late afternoon lap to a designated buoy), eating fresh seafood, watching the stars from the terrace or playing games with old friends. I call it perfect life – with no wants, wishes, could/would/should haves, if onlys… It’s really about the here and now. Knowing that it happens only once a year for a limited number of days, it becomes all the more special.
After the bliss on Korcula, I’ll head back to the mainland and off to my family’s little beach house in the seaside village of Rogoznica. This is where the extended family gathers every year, including many cousins and their kids and my brother with his wife and son from Barcelona. I look forward to spending time with my 6.5-year-old nephew, swimming, playing games and just hanging out. We usually take a side trip to the lovely little seaside town of Primošten, half-an-hour’s drive from Rogoznica, for a stroll around and a gelato.
I’ll be spending time with family in Rogoznica for some ten days or so, to then move to my next Adriatic stop, the island of Brač. Here I’ll visit my dear friend Renata, a talented video artist who’s currently doing an art residency in Maine but will be back in Croatia in time to hang out with me in her favorite place on earth. I haven’t been to Brač since I was 17 so it’ll be amazing to see the island through Renata’s eyes (she calls it “her island”).
After Brač, I’ll head to Rovinj in Istria, a triangular-shaped peninsula in the northern Adriatic. This is where another friend will be vacationing with her four-year-old daughter so I’ll stop by for a few days and say hello. From here, we plan to visit my favorite spot in Istria’s interior, the magical town of Bale – see my Lonely Planet video about it here.
And that takes me to the end of August. I will then return to Zagreb for some city time, with a few relaxing days thrown in at our ancestors’ home (see photo to the right) in the countryside. This is the time I’ve set aside for reconnecting with my roots and contemplating my place in this world.
I hope to be writing updates as I move along but forgive me if I slack – I really need a holiday, even from writing!