I love flying into a small airport of Split – an hour and thirty minute flight from Switzerland, where every hectare of land is carefully cultivated with cascading flower boxes, to Croatia where the first impression is if barren, rock covered hills, weeds, and rubble on the roadside, in yards and abandoned buildings or projects as we drive north along the coast in the direction of Zadar. My impressions include poor, empty hills, no yards or landscaping, and a general struggle to survive. In this place, 90% of the economy is based on tourism (four months of the year) and the remaining 10% falls to fishing.
What a change from the countryside in Switzerland, Northern Italy and Slovenia, where we have been the last three weeks. Driving each day from the ancient city of Udine to the stable through rich fields of grain and corn and hay – a rural delight! Slovenia is like a a country in a fairytale. Each house in the country has a functioning vegetable and flower garden between green hayfields, small herds of sheep and cows. And every house is garlanded with flowerboxes..
Croatia has more than 1100 islands, 60 of which are inhabited. It is awesome how many small protected bays there are along the coast, chock full of motor and sailboats. No wonder Croatia has become a country for tourism, with its pristine waters. There is very little industry to pollute the waters compared to other sea coasts.
Andre picked us up at the airport at Split. As we drive north from Split to Julian, to the village of Kukljica, I am typing this on my computer. Lovely harbor with a lot of big sailboats. Car ferry from Biograd on the Sea to Pasman Zadan where we passed through a town that was established in Roman times – more than 2000 years old. What is different from the areas in Switzerland, Slovenia and italy, is the rubble that we see around the houses in the older villages we drive through. Everywhere there are weeds and wild bushes and trees. It looks like there is a shortage of water because we saw no lawns or greenery around the houses in the 100 killometer drive north along the coast. Most of the hillsides are rocky and we passed olive orchards that look abandoned they are so unkept, and in one area a hillside was terraced with stone walls with very small plots that look like they were abandoned decades ago.
As we drive further north the hillsides are covered with new houses – sometimes standing alone, and in other areas mixed with dilapidated and abandoned structures – a fascinating and somehow exciting mix for future potential.
At Biograd we took a car ferry to Tkon on the island of Pasman and then drove over the short bridge to the small island of Ugljan where their 30 foot sailboat named Zarga, meaning Morning Sunshine – the first light of dawn- is docked at a pier in the village of Kukijica. I’m anticipating the pleasure of tracking our journey on Google Earth. We’re between latitudes 42° and 44° North and longitude 15° and 20 minutes east. It’s approximately the same latitude of Portland, Oregon so no wonder it’s on the cool side. Three days ago in Switzerland it was only a few degrees above freezing, the coldest September in 25 years.
What a treasure to be here with Darja and Andre. When Darja Znidersic spent a month with us in Hawaii last year and invited us to come sailing with them in Croatia we never thought we could take time to sail with them. To be here for four days is such a treat. You would think that since I make my own schedule I could find time for vacation, but it just doesn’t seem to work out that way. There are so many courses to teach in so many countries I just can’t justify taking time out to vacation. Except that I love to write and keeping up with emails takes a lot of time each day so taking time off from teaching does seem to make sense and I’ve been better in the last two years about leaving 2 to 3 days between training or other events.
Roland and I are here due to a change in schedule that just happened to coincide with Darj and Andre’s annual sailing vacation. I was scheduled for a photo shoot with Gabrielle Boiselle and Ingrid Klimke for my next book – TTouch for Dressage Horses (working title). But Ingrid is off celebrating her Olympic gold medal win with the German Three-Day Event team so we have the pleasure of this time in Croatia with Darja and Andre.
When we arrived just at sunset, Darja had a tasty dinner of home grown tomatoes, peppers, onions and noodles and ground beef spiced with the romance of being at sea in a small boat with two good friends.
© Linda Tellington-Jones