While trying to make the most of the lockdown this summer, re-organising our schedules, taking care of our health – physical and mental and cook/bake/cleaning on a repeat mode, I sometimes find myself reminiscing. Today, while sipping my ginger tea and peeping through the bedroom window, I travel in time to last year, same-ish time. My summer of 2019, which was spent amidst different colours….and also…in alleyways. The memories of our week-long trip to Croatia are still warm. It is really interesting to know when we look back in time, what is it that makes us feel cosy and gets us in the groove. So, without further ado, let’s get going!
A joy–ride to start with
27th May, 5:30 PM
I see myself travelling from the upper town to lower town in the Zagreb funicular, covering the distance in nearly “a minute“. This funicular is one of the shortest and steepest functioning public transports in the world. A protected cultural monument referred to as “the old lady“, and which has been running for over 120 years. To ride this toy-like blue car is great fun and has its own charm.
Some journeys are just meant to be short and sweet, yet steeped in so much history.
An artist’s work
28th May, 8:10 AM
There is drizzle in the air when we reach the Plitvice lakes national park. We rush to buy the tickets, waterproof ponchos, and grab a quick breakfast, almost in tandem. What unfolds next, is stunning poetry in motion .…. With every curve of the trail, we discover shades of blue-green of the lakes and the trees. The water in the lakes changing in colour from azure to emerald, like on an artist’s colour palette and, so clear as to spot the busily floating schools of fish. The park has lakes connected via beautiful waterfalls, boardwalk trails, dirt paths, and diverse flora. As we stroll around, we listen to the burble of the water, tittle-tattle of birds, try to spot a camouflaged frog, and give company to a random slug.
Our senses are so overwhelmed with this beauty of nature, in these 6–7 hours, that we almost forget that we have got to catch a bus.
Plitvice Lakes National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site, is stunning and if you ask me, it is worth spending a whole or even two days there. Open daily all year round and can be visited in any season. It can easily be approached from Zagreb, Zadar and Split by buses. There are accommodations near the park as well, which I would prefer if I go next time. Keeping hope alive.
29th May, 12 Noon
“Let me tell you, who you are looking at, is neither Gandalf nor your great headmaster from Hogwarts“, I overhear a guide telling this to a group of travellers, followed by their laughter. We are in Split, at the statue of Grgur Ninski, a medieval bishop considered to be the defender of Croatian culture and language. It is quite an impressive bronze statue, standing 28 feet tall and has a really amusing expression, that you won’t get tired looking at it. There is this belief that it brings good luck if you rub his big toe.
So, I too proceed to shine the toe further.
As Dory would say….”just keep swimming”
31st May, 11.30 AM
I am near Zlatni Rat beach with my partner, soaking in the sun, after our blink and you miss kind of dip in the sea. We are conscious of the chill in the water and of the pebbly beach. I hear giggling first, then I see a gliding movement and in an amoeba-like motion, there they are, in the blue. Their wrinkly warm and freckled skin showing through their bright coloured bikinis. One on her back, floating calmly with a smile on her face, and the other swimming vigorously forward, away from everyone, as if to touch the sky where it meets the sea (They must be our granny’s age … I think).
I want to swim and giggle like them, I want to be like them when I grow up…or… starting today.
We had reached the old town of Bol, Brac island, where this beach is, while island hopping from Hvar.
(Croatia has beautiful islands with beaches where one can swim to their heart, so always keep your swimwear and flip-flops/ aqua shoes handy, as most of the beaches are pebbly.)
Love at first bite
Same day, 2:30 pm
We are hungry which explains our crabbiness towards each other. I want to eat just that and won’t settle, so we browse restaurants along the coastline. We find our place soon enough, albeit not very friendly on the pocket. But, what a woman wants, the woman’s got to have….. I am talking about “Crni Rizot” a flavour-packed black risotto made using fresh squid or cuttlefish, the ink providing the black colour. A popular dish of the Dalmatian coast. It is like a complete ‘umami burst‘ kind of experience for the soul. A must-eat for seafood lovers.
( I had Crni Rizot for lunch and dinner, throughout my trip along the dalmatian region)
“Those who seek paradise on earth, should come to Dubrovnik”, said George Bernard Shaw
2nd June, 8.30 AM (Last day of the trip)
We start our walk along the city walls that encircle the entire old town. These sturdy stone walls are an architectural marvel in itself, dotted with forts and towers, and very well preserved. It is a bright sunny day and this is a long walk (around 2km) with spectacular views all around. The vast expanse of the lovely terracotta rooftops, the old port view, and the shining Adriatic captivates us. The houses, buildings, churches from the middle ages, and perfect narrow lanes delights us so to break into a song.
For a “GOT lover“, it is all the more exciting to spot places which feel like a second home to them.
These walls offer a glimpse of how charmed and old life in this city is, this ‘gorgeous city’ also known as the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’.
12 Noon onwards
Now, it’s time to loiter around, just mingling with the general vibe of the city. We find a speciality coffee shop on trip advisor and move around the winding alleys, for a cuppa. Getting lost in the pretty alleyways being my favourite activity, browsing through quaint little art galleries, spotting wall art, observing the workings of the eateries, and even watching the washings that people have put out to dry.
Altogether, a different world here.
We find ourselves sitting on the stairs in an alley again, some of us are quiet, while others are chilling with a beer and swapping stories with fellow travellers.
A perfect finale to an enchanting journey.
Looking back through these ‘snippets’ of cherished memories, I think of these lines by Terry Pratchett from ‘A Hat Full of Sky‘- “Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”
What do you feel? Does travel do the same to you? Does it change you or maybe just let you be! Do share…