It’s one of the rainiest summers on record and in dire need of some sun and warmth, I was still wary about traveling during this Covid pandemic. I was invited to join dear friends on their annual trip to Croatia, but my mind went around in circles: Is it selfish to travel during this time? Should I stay at home? But I need sunlight and warmth… In the end I decided to go, and I’m so glad I did. Preparing for the trip and filling out what felt like hundreds of forms was a nightmare, but in the end it was worth it.
As a child we used to visit Istria in summer, something my mother did in her childhood. I have memories of sitting on pebbled beaches, swimming in what I though were shark infested waters of the Adriatic Sea, drinking yogurt and eating the tiniest of pears for lunch, watching fireflies at night and feeling the terror of seeing a scorpion. This was during a time when Yugoslavia still existed. I hadn’t been there in around 30 years, and when the possibility of a visit arose I yearned to return.
We drove to the island of Krk, the largest Croatian island, and the warmth engulfed us. I opened the window wide and breathed in the sea air as the smell of the maquis shrubs still warm from the hot summer sun, flowed freely though the car. My eyes hungrily picked out olive and fig trees, grape vines and huge blooming oleander and bougainvillea bushes.
We spent most of our days on the beach in the town of Krk, soaking in the sun and the warmth and swimming in the sea. I snorkeled, looking at sea urchins, big and little fish and sea cucumbers, and I floated on my back, letting the sea carry me, watching the bright blue sky above me.
Krk is one of the oldest towns on the Adriatic Sea and has been inhabited since before the Roman times. I loved exploring the small streets and alleyways crisscrossing each other.
I also spent a fair amount of time photographing the two harbors and walking along the coast.
We also ventured out and visited a few other places. One was such place was Košljun, a small island off the coast and inhabited by group of Franciscan monks. We never figured out if the island was naturally an almost a perfect circle or if it had had some help. It’s a quiet place, the vegetation a mix of olive and oak trees.
We had originally thought about spending the day at the beach in Baška but the lack of shade disturbed us and after enjoying the view from above, we opted for the beach in Punat where we settled under a plum tree and enjoyed the delicious fruit.
Another memorable outing was dinner in Vrbnik, a town established during medieval times. Of course we had to walk through the world’s narrowest street, Ulica Klančić, which is about 40–50 cm (1.3–1.6 ft) wide. Vrbnik is perched above the sea, but it’s an easy walk down to the harbor.
My week there was over much too quickly, and I left my friends to enjoy their second week in the sun while I flew back to go back to work. I returned refreshed and happy. My cup is full!
And for those of you wondering: yes, the beaches are still pebbly, there are still plenty of sea urchins to step on if you’re not careful, I didn’t see a scorpion (or a shark), but I spotted the tiny pears at the market and drank yogurt for lunch. I won’t wait another 30 years to return!
Where to eat:
We mostly cooked at home, but did go out to eat a few times.
Konoba Šime (Krk): Popular restaurant on the harbor serving good fish dishes.
Katarina (Krk): The best ice cream. I know because I had two scoops every day.
Nada (Vrbnik): Also very popular and very easy to understand why. The food is superb and the view is fantastic.