When I first booked my trip to Croatia, months in advance, I knew only a small handful of people who had been. Most of them had Croatian ancestry too, so they totally knew the secret years ago probably.
Suddenly in the months leading up to my trip, my Instagram feed was filled with every second person I know sidling up and down history laden cobbled alleys and quaffing rosè beachside by the bucket full. Their relaxed heads screamed “check me the hell out” while sunning their buns on pebbled beaches by azure seas in images that boasted “I’m summering on the Med while you’re freezing your tits off at home, sucker.”
Their insta feeds served only to whet my appetite and inspire the roads I would shortly travel, as my anticipation and excitement grew. This was the first trip I would take with my man, sans children.
Yes siree, this trip would be the first time we had spent a serious chunk of time together, two weeks, with no distractions. We all now that this can go two ways. You come home mega loved up or… single.
Luckily, we still fancy the pants off each other. Trip was a roaring success.
We spent seven nights (SEVEN NIGHTS!!!) on a Sail Croatia fancy pants boat. I’ve never considered myself to be a ‘cruise’ type of gal but this was not a cruise per se. The boat was only 19 cabins or something, and instead of 40 average restaurants, three theatres with has-beens, seven nightclubs and a water slide, this was a more modest affair. There was one bar, one dining room and an open-air saloon with views as far as the eye can see.
Uptown. Just like me.
We’d sail in the morning giving us enforced relaxation time up (read: triage for hangover) on the top deck sprawling in the deck chairs with the ocean breeze blowing on us. I’m shit at relaxing generally, so I took multiple journals, workbooks, meditation apps and podcasts, however, I found my groove on day one and just chilled the fuck out.
I think the thing that struck me about Croatia the most was the boundless history. They were raped, pillaged and conquered more times than the entire Game of Thrones series, and you can even throw in some devastating earthquakes. Oh, and Romans. You mustn’t forget those industrious, power hungry Romans who seemed to have the run of shit for a good few years before Italians became known as lovers, not fighters.
But Croatia has a chilled out vibe despite all this. Most people appear to work hard (seven days a week) in the summer doing shit to make tourists happy, and then in the winter they tend their olives, pigs and grape vines, and cure meat and make rocket fuel liquor for the following year.
My favorite thing I learned was fjaka (pr: fyukka), which is the serious art of zen. To want for nothing, to aspire to nothing and to simply be.
To the untrained eye, it could easily be mistaken for laziness, but it is not at all. It is true contentedness, of the kind my frazzled brain can only dream of attaining. It is said that in countries such as India people fast or meditate to reach this heightened state of “chill, Winston,” however in Dalmatia, you’re just born with it. Hence why I love Dalmatia, cos I need to give less fjaks about the shit that doesn’t matter.
Whether it was the friendly locals, the fabulous food we sniffed out like little truffle pigs, the stunning waters or the pre-lunch cocktails that seemed to get earlier every day, the entire experience was positively blissful.
I left all my worries behind and was totally present where I was and soaked up every last drop of the experience. Parents don’t often get two weeks holiday sans fams where they can just relax, and I fully appreciate that this may not happen again until the kids move out of home.
One thing is for certain, my guy and I realised we make sterling travel companions and we decided that regular travel is a life goal for us. So much to see…. but even more to eat and drink.