High expectations for any adventure, excursion, or experience is, usually, a recipe for disappointment, I find. However, there are some moments and trips that not only live up to one’s high expectations, but find a way of blowing them out of the water. Last month my Girlfriend and I took a 3-day road trip from her home in Slovenia, down to the Adriatic coast of Croatia, accompanied only by a popup tent, a small camping stove, and an air mattress. We wanted an adventure, you see, the like of which both of us have been sorely missing and yearning for during our time in the sprawling urban excess that is London. Therefore, to say that there was quite some level of enthusiastic optimism would be an understatement. This was essential for us.
The holiday was off to a less-than-promising start, with the day that we had planned to leave home greeting us with the assurance of storms, making for a potentially miserable and particularly challenging start to our journey. We began the day with a dog walk, as all days begin when at hers, through the fields of wheat taller than I, and around the edge of the forest. As soon as we were in the field, the heavens opened. Even with raincoats on we were soaked through. Thunder and lightning were rife, with her poor dog running and ducking for cover at every given opportunity. Needless to say, the last thing we thought it wise to do was drive for 2 hours to a lake, only to be holed up in the car admiring the extreme show mother nature had for us. So we called it a day, decided the only thing to do was make our home on the couch, and that we did.
The following morning was the polar opposite. Sensational would be a fitting word to describe the weather. Clear skies, a shining, but not too intense sun hanging above us, birds singing, and the typical pristine air typical of the alps. That was all we needed, so, bright and early, we bundled everything we would need into the car, and set off. A 2.5-hour drive has never been particularly endearing to me, I must say, as monotony typically takes hold very early on. This drive, though, set the tone for the remainder of the adventure. A non-stop sing along, from door to destination, over crystal clear rivers, through and surrounded by layers of mountains as far as the eye can see, sun beating through the windows, this was the start of something special.
Through Slovenia we drove, for what must have been an hour and a half, but flew by in a matter of moments, until we reached the Croatian border. Uneventful was this crossing, as we passed without a hitch onto the second leg of the journey. Seemingly moments into the country, a great blue expanse opened up before us, and my heart leapt. The sea (of course). We were close.
Our destination for the first few nights was to be Otok Krk, a large Island off the West Coast, connected to the mainland by a near mile-long bridge over the mouth of the sea. It was breath-taking to watch the rocky, ragged cliffs drop out from beneath us, swallowed up by the rippling blue below, for them to explode back underneath our feet not a minute later. As far as introductions to destinations go, this was pretty superb. Not the best on the trip, but pretty wonderful regardless.
Before we set off, we had, sensibly, done research on secret camping spots for us to make the most of on our excursion. We thought the best thing to do, once on the island, was to head straight to our first spot, get unpacked and set up, and head to the beach from there. Upon arriving, however, it seemed the spot was an open secret, as we had been beaten to it. Nevertheless, we parked up, considered our options, and let our excitement get the better of us. Stripping off on the road, racing into our swimming suits, we headed down the dirt track on which we parked, anticipation growing with every step. The road came to a close in amongst the trees and dry bush, with a meandering ‘path’ heading down to the shore. The beach was deserted. Rocky but surprisingly lush, and really rather manageable, we would choose to hold off on the mad dash into the water, and instead find the perfect place for us to spend the day. A secluded opening presented itself to us, shaded from both the sun and other potential holiday-goers, mere yards from the water’s edge. It was ours.