So last week I wrote about the first deven days of our three week holiday in Europe — a whirlwind of stops in La Spezia, Cinque Terre, Pisa, Lucca, and Venice. The scenery was all so very picturesque and divine, I couldn’t have fathomed just how beautiful and serene Croatia was going to be following the first part of our trip.
After meeting up with my partner’s sister and her partner once they flew into Venice, we each rented vehicles and set off for Split to meet up with his other sister and her partner. All originally from the former Yugoslavia, the three siblings used to take summer trips and vacations to the seaside all along the Adriatic Coast in Croatia when they were kids, so it was decided earlier this year that we would all meet up together in the same area and spend some quality time exploring, relaxing, and most importantly — eating.
A fabulous stone villa just outside the town of Omis, in an area called Medici was found on Airbnb.com, and for about $30 per night per person, the six of us settled into our little rental. Completely renovated from top to bottom, the house had all the modern amenities of a present-day accommodation, but retained all of the historic and charming details of a traditional Dalmatian stone house. Waking up each morning, overlooking the sea, staring out across to a far-off marble quarry on the Island of Dalmatia (yes, you guessed it — the dog originates from that area) was so utterly refreshing and peaceful. It was hard to believe that such beauty and such vibrancy was right at our fingertips.
Medici is famous for its numerous beautiful pebble beaches and pine forest that stretches all the way from the upper hillsides to the sea line. Surrounded by olive plantations, vineyards and the relaxing tranquility of the Mediterranean atmosphere, we each made daily excursions to neighboring villages, and soaked up the sun in front of some of the clearest and bluest of waters I’ve ever seen.
One of our daytrips included a drive to Plitvice National Park. I had been told I would be amazed at this natural wonder, but had no idea I was about to trek through what could have easily been a scene right out of the blockbuster movie Avatar! Crystal clear lakes, waterfalls, trees with intertwining and exposed root systems — Plitvice was incredible.
We were also able to drive down to Dubrovnik, a magnificent World Heritage Site dating back to the seventh century. Surrounded by enormous city walls, Dubrovnik is a maze of streets, courtyards, churches, restaurants, merchants, hotels, and little cafes carved right out of the stone walls, overlooking (and some even suspended directly over) the sea. Walking the perimeter of the city on the upper walls at sunset was definitely one of the many highlights.
The Diocletian Palace in Split (built by the Roman emperor at the turn of the 4th century), and the Amphitheatre in Pula (the arena was constructed between 27 B.C and 68 A.D., and is one of the largest six remaining Roman arenas, and the only Roman arena to still have all four towers and three architectural orders completely preserved in the world) were spectacular and absolutely teeming with history and local lore — walking through modern day city architecture and entering historic areas intertwined so seamlessly melded and intact took your breath away.
When you’re able to put your hands directly upon pieces of such fantastic history, be it a stone coliseum or ancient city wall, knowing that hundreds of thousands of other hands have been right where yours are over thousands of years.
The entire experience was emotionally fascinating.
Travelling to such beautiful and wondrous countries made it very clear to me just how expansive and under explored our world can be... and the saying about being "bitten by the travel bug" couldn’t be any more true — ideas for next year’s big trip are already in the works. So stay tuned.
» Crispin Butterfield owns Urban Theory Interior Design, and has been designing residential and commercial spaces in Brandon and abroad for the past 10 years. She welcomes your inquiries at designchick.ca
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 26, 2013