I live a busy life. It's not by accident and almost everything I take on is a labor of love, but sometimes, like everyone, I just want to get away. In these moments, the image above is what usually pops into my head first; sitting in a chair, admiring the Mediterranean at Falco Bar as rhythmic euro-groove plays in the background.
Johanna and I visited Hvar Island as part of a larger trip along the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia (full report here!) and the connection was instant. Just a short ferry ride from the bustling town of Split, Hvar is something altogether different.
We visited at the beginning of high-season, meaning the jet-set and part-set had not yet come in full-force. Consequently, we found Hvar Island a calm and relaxing environment. We took daily walks from our rented apartment to the seafront promenade leading into town and sometimes in the other direction to Falco at the far edge of the walkway.
Other times we walked up through the city streets of Hvar Town and up to the fortress guarding the marina below. Everywhere we went, the crisp blue sea was on display and the scent of lavender and pine hung in the humid, summer air.
It's the same in other parts of Hvar Island, but also different. The quiet port town of Jelsa doesn't even pretend to be a club scene at night, but offers boats and fishing nets and other vestiges of the sea. There are the necessary cafes and resto-bars to quench ones thirst, but also a very real feeling that little has changed in this place.
Travel inland and to more remote parts of the island and Hvar is practically ancient. Single-street towns hewn of stone stand the test of time as do the residents. They have goats and grapes and lavender and rosemary oil, but most of all, they have been blessed by the limitless bounty of the sea.
It's easy to ignore the harsh winters these islanders endure, the isolation turning from idyllic to daunting. These people are also struggling to continue a simple life threatened by development and modernization, so the things I dream about Hvar are a comfort to me. It's good to recognize that the island has imparted its wisdom of simple living and that it has taken hold.
Life may be full of challenges and opportunities and trappings, but Hvar will always be in my mind when I need a moment by the sea. That is the power of travel.