I had a little over a week from when I finished work at Camp to my departing flight from Rome. In that week I planned to relax, enjoy the final days of summer, and visit my sister Laurel in Florence. My cousin Jeffrey had also planned a Eurotrip and arranged to meet me in Croatia during my last week in Europe.
We left my small village of Pakoštane and headed south to Split to meet some friends and enjoy vacation. The week brought us from Split to Hvar Island, then across the Adriatic to Florence, Italy and lastly to Rome. A very quick trip, but I was able to return to some of my favorite places and explore some new ones.
After a quick ferry ride from Split we arrived on Hvar Island not knowing what to expect. None of us had been there before and it was surprisingly a new adventure for all of us. Google Maps lied to us and our apartment’s address was much farther than expected. We carried our worn luggage up gradual hills and steep stairs, drenched in sweat and thirsty for a cocktail.
Exhausted and slightly annoyed we arrived at our booked apartment only to find that we were going to be moved into a smaller one. Keeping with the Croatian lifestyle, we went with the flow and started small chat with our hosts.
Within the next half hour they had planned out our twenty-four hour stay in Hvar. They gave the boys mopeds and a ride to the grocery store to pick up food, treats, and beverages. Then they created an ideal itinerary so we could see as much of Hvar as we could.
The first quest on this adventure was to follow a narrow path to a hidden beach – away from all the tourists. We spent the entire time there playing in the water, truly relaxing and enjoying vacation. Our host, Maki, then kindly picked us up in his boat an hour or so later to take us through the islands and bring us to island beach bars.
We sped off and towards the open sea. The sun and our joy beamed off the water, a golden light surrounded us all. We rounded one island and found another little getaway, Laganini Lounge Bar. Cushioned chairs were staggered across the rocks and private boats were anchored and bobbing in the gentle waves. The rays from the late afternoon sun prolonged the day. Sitting in the shallow water, many thanks were said for this wonderfully serendipitous day. When we were walking up the second flight of steep stairs that morning with backpacks weighing down our stiff shoulders and salty sweat dripping down our backs, we had no idea that a day filled with boat rides, island coves, and unlimited energy was ahead of us.
Two hours later, on the dot, Maki rode in on his boat to pick us up and bring us to our next destination – Hula Hula Bar. As we boarded his boat the sun was starting to set and an amber glow was cast upon us. Like Icarus flying towards the sun, we headed straight for the burning star, without thought or abandon. Maki weaved through the Pakleni islands, giving us a private tour of the Croatia’s true beauty.
I have been blessed to witness many beautiful sunsets. All of which were special due to the company I was with and from the pure bliss felt in my heart. This sunset was one of them. The sky was painted with cherry reds, tangerine oranges, and sunflower yellows. The warmth in the heavens was a blanket on all of our shoulders, bringing us together and granting us familiar comfort. The divine mural was reflected on the glass waters and we were cupped in God’s hand.
As the boat pulled up to Hula Hula bar, we disembarked our front row seat to join the party. The quiet commotion of a blazing sky and chilled water dissolved into the present moment of carefree chaos. That golden ball of fire dipped below the horizon and cheers from the tanned and tipsy guests rose above the waves, sounding the signal for the nightly festivities to commence. A sunset is always something to celebrate in life.
The night carried us back home, with the one and only Tash in the ranks. We ate the typical traveling meal of sandwiches with a side of white wine. The last stop of the day was the elusive Carpe Diem Beach Club which is perched on a private island off of Hvar and does not open until 1am.
A water taxi brought us to this tiny island where time does not exist. We danced the night away in the largest open air club in Europe. With the stars above and Adriatic Sea around us, we were invincible.
Our heads hit the pillow, with the melody of waves and drums lullabying us to sleep, as the sun rose to bless a new day. Not one moment of that day was planned or expected. We lived the mantra of what will be, will be, and were rewarded for trusting in the universe. Hvar - the unexpected island filled with hidden lagoons, boat rides, an epic sunset, and all night dancing – reminded me of one of my biggest challenges: be at peace in the present moment.