The island looks on a map like a kitten that yawns and extends in the morning and expects to be cuddled. It lays parallel to the Croatian coast, in line with Zadar. The 45 kilometers from one side to the other this island show an abundance of rocks, Mediterranean low herbal life, olives and pine trees. There is only one road that runs from one side to the other, from Veli Rat, an “oh so famous” light house on the north, to Sali, a closest village to Telašćica – the National Park.
If you ever wanted a real vacation, with a scent of old Italian movies, slow and cozy life, connection with the locals who chat with you about local wine and olive oil and the fish they caught that morning or an octopus they found in their net, occasional swim and maybe a hike in the nature, or a bike tour, this is the place. Ok, maybe this was too specific, but you get the point.
A couple of villages along the shore are fenced inside the little rocky bays, which feel like your own private world. The first thing I noticed when we settled in our airbnb and chatted away the afternoon swim was the peace and calmness.
It seems to me that only a photo or a video can explain a place. But here I am trying to write about it. I just need to express my thoughts, because it feels the memory will stay stronger if I enhance the photos with words. The problem with photos is that I don’t bring my phone or my camera with me when I go out. My brain clicks and easily starts to indulge in the atmosphere though. Here are the places I visited:
I was in Sali in June, when I came with my Kilimanjaro crew. We came by a sailing boat and anchored there. That’s when I fell in love with the island. I came here again hesitantly as I didn’t want to ruin the ideal picture I had. I was afraid I was too subjective as everything was extra beautiful when we sailed. But, no. Sali is as beautiful as I remember it. Nothing too fancy, a place where people live and breathe and eat and fish and swim, and where children play, and older people chit-chat in front of their homes in their musical accent of Dalmatian Croatian. Teenagers of what seemed to me like locals were sitting in a local library, which was the liveliest library I have ever seen with some music, and a very hipster-like interior. I don’t know about you, but I did not sit in the library in the evening with my friends. None of the kids had a phone. And all the girls were dressed the same as boys, simple t-shirts, shorts and sneakers.
Telašćica is a national park that used to be called Tilagus, meaning – three lakes. It seems it looked to somebody like it’s a place of three connected lakes. For me it is actually only one lake and the others are bays. What made me interested is a hiking tour, of course. The Park is a haven for donkeys, though I haven’t seen any. You go from that one lake up, up and get to the point where the cliffs reminded me of Cliffs of Moher. Only here it was warmer. Like 20 degrees warmer than in Ireland. Chalky cliffs slope into a azure sea, standing 80 meters tall above the sea, where waves were breaking below. I am thrilled by the height and I couldn’t resist but stand close to the edge. I’ve seen this place in June and it still had that whirling scent of waves and the wind they lift. What was the best was that we continued to go along the cliffs, and the lake, and we ended up on something I supposed was a beach. It showed up at the end of the lake and when I saw it made me entrench. It caught me off guard. My consciousness expanded.
The Inukshuk beach
The logo of my blog is 4 stones on top of each other. It’s a cairn in English, an inuksuk in Inuit, steinmann in German and steenman in Dutch, ometto in Italian. It’s a “stone man” or an “imitation of a person”. The Inukshuk is a symbol of the human spirit. It reminds us of our need to belong to something greater than ourselves. It is a reminder that our individual responsibility is to invest our efforts today, so that we may all have a better tomorrow. I saw it on Gran Paradiso, I saw it on Kilimanjaro, occasionally in Montenegro and now here. It looked like an ancient city where people stood petrified to become these creatures. I couldn’t help but walk around for some time and admire the creatures almost ignoring the knowledge that some real human beings built them.
That place has something that is called a beach, but it’s a very rocky approach to the water. Many people were swimming there, but they were also snorkeling. I realized, to my astonishment that the 80-meter cliffs of the Telašćica ended here deep into the water. And I got terrified. It looks like swimming in the shallow water and then suddenly a huge hole below you opens. The deep blue well gapes at you and looks amazing. When I gathered some courage, I went and swam above. I couldn’t see the bottom. I promised myself “I’ll be here next year with my snorkeling equipment”. It’s an amazing place and you can’t find it online.
When you see a photo of Veli Rat and its famous lighthouse, you expect a fancy and crowdy place with fancy hotels and fancier people. But Veli Rat is actually at the end of a road that seems like you are driving to the end of the world. It gradually becomes shabbier and narrower and then it stops. There lies a camp. And a beach, a real pebble beach with a sign which forbids you to take the pebbles home. It’s heaven. It feels like the time has stopped there somewhere in the fifties of the previous century if you don’t count the inflatable pink flamingos on the beach.
To come or not to come?
There are only 1000 people living on this island. It had 5000 inhabitants 20 years ago. The kids older than 15 go to school by a ferryboat. There is only one gas station on the island and no pharmacies. No pharmacies. The water comes from water tanks. There are no springs or pipes. Just well organized water delivery. But I fell in love with it. It felt that if the end of the world ever comes it will skip this island and people will continue with their lives just as nothing happened. Maybe we should all come :).
Natasa is an avid hiker, but still discovering herself and the world of hiking. This blog is a place where she shares her thoughts of the mountains.
An economist by education, Natasa is the chief marketing officer of Domain.ME, the international tech company that operates the internet domain “.ME.” She’s spent her entire career at the intersection of airline, banking, social media, leadership and technology, and is constantly trying to figure out the secret to being in three different places at the same time.