Recently several of my friends have travelled to the beautiful country of Croatia. I can’t say that it was initially on my To Travel To list but after seeing their happy snaps, I have definitely added it.
The rugged cliff-face appears to go on forever, tiny seaside villages dotting the coast. A couple are taking a self portrait of themselves, grinning in front of the shimmering ocean. You throw one leg over the slightly rusted bike you rented and let the tyres lazily crunch over the stone and pebbles. You inhale deeply, letting the fresh air snake its way into your lungs and wonder if you’ll arrive in the village just in time for špica (the Saturday morning and pre-lunch coffee drinking ritual).
The sheer size and number of waterfalls in Plitvice Lakes National Park leaves you with your mouth open. It is a vibrant maze of trees, lakes and foliage in such striking colours, it almost feels as if you are walking inside a painting. The desire to jump under a waterfall and feel the crisp, cool water on your face is strong; but a glass of wine inside that cozy restaurant you spied in the city centre wouldn’t mean changing out of saturated clothes.
The dull orange lights bounce off the stone path, people chattering away to each other in foreign tongues. You wonder what they are saying, whether or not they’re tourists like you, admiring the baroque architecture and the night sky. The city throbs with music and revellers inside its bars, all with their own secrets spoken in foreign tongues.
The soft sand beneath you exudes a subtle heat through your feet, as you wiggle your toes wearing a small smile. The air out here smells so different, so fresh and slightly salty; nothing like the city, laced with smog and cigarettes. You let the wind whip around your face as you wander toward the ocean in all of its twinkling wonder. Being alone can be so rewarding in the right setting, and this is one of those moments.
The sound of laughter overpowers the slight crashing of waves, then gives in to another popular song, accompanied by a young man carelessly strumming a beat up guitar. You look around at your friends, all sipping champagne (or beer for the few “lads” present) and smiling while mouthing jovial lyrics. The sun is starting to set but nobody even bothers to glance at their watch, the evening is far too perfect for that.
As you flick over the page in the latest chick lit novel you acquired for Christmas, you notice movement out of the corner of your eye. A little boy, maybe 3 years old, is building what appears to be a sandcastle of sorts. His little brow is furrowed in concentration as he tries to create a castle similar to those he has seen in storybooks. Tiny hands grab clumps of sand and pat them together with the clumsy skill of an amateur sculptor. You smile over at him, remembering the innocence and delight of your own childhood, wishing it were still as simple as making the perfect sandcastle.
I have decided to start a new blog segment called IMAGINE. It will be the kind of post that you save for first thing Monday morning or at 4.00pm on a weekday to drift you off into another world and let your imagination wander with excitement. I hope to take your senses on journeys that will inspire you in some way and put a smile on your face after reading them. I’d love your feedback on the first post: ITALY.
Let yourself move away from wherever you are now and become enveloped by the delightful aroma of freshly baked pizza slices and the giggling of children playing chasey on the cobblestoned path. There is a little old woman to your left, sitting on steps outside of a gorgeous old beige building with rought iron railing. She furrows at you, as if she knows you’re not a local, but you can see the signs of decades of laughter around her eyes.
Rome itself is a weathered beauty. It’s buildings seem to heave with the effort of staying up, but the architecture maintains a certain historical charm that makes you close your eyes and smile. The city is busy, with cars and scooters whizzing by, but the people lining the footpath move at a leisurely place as if to say “Enjoy life, don’t rush it”.
Venice exudes a sense of mystery, its dark flowing canals and thousands of tiny alleyways begging to be explored. The wind delicately whispers the city’s secrets to you as you cross a small bridge that looks like it could barely hold your weight, let alone the five other tourists behind you. Dozens of quirky little shops line the piazza with ornate masks grinning from the window, their feathers and glitter coaxing you inside. You choose a tiny shop, half the size of your bedroom at home and smile gently at the shopkeeper. He grins back, welcoming you with a quick hello, hoping that something will catch your eye. Brightly coloured murano glass glistens as thin beams of light enter from outside, tempting you to buy a necklace or a brooch. The slight scent of coffee and tobacco hits your nostrils as you walk out and stroll into a nearby laneway, decorated with little white fairy lights.