We had such a good time with these guys in Split (and I have a camera full of images to prove it -- you can bet I'll be sharing some of those later). After we said good-bye to them, we headed up the road to Trogir (so, yeah, we barely moved, 20 kilometres) where we've been very relaxed. Good wine, copious seafood, a desultory walk in the morning before it gets too hot, another in the afternoon after it begins cooling down again, some exploration of the wealth of architectural history here, retreat to our charming little hotel room with books during the siesta hours, and more sketching and writing in my journal than I've had a chance to do for a while.
Honestly, I had to struggle a bit to give us permission to take this pause, but it's what we needed to get back to our own comfortable travel rhythm, to experience this new place in our own idiosyncratic way. There are so many places in Croatia that I'd thought we might get to, and many of those are within easy day-trip distance. Or we could have spent one night in Trogir, then moved on for another closer to, for example, Plitvice Park with its beautiful lakes and waterfalls -- I'd thought for sure we would have visited those. I'd solicited a list of suggestions as we planned the trip and I thought we'd have done a better job of ticking them off the itinerary.
Not our style, though, I've reminded myself. We've been watching tour group after tour group traipsing through the squares of this beautiful little city (a World Heritage Site for its historical architecture). They hit all the high spots very efficiently -- most of them managed to get in and out of Saint Lawrence Cathedral in ten minutes, their listening devices swinging from the red or blue or green tour-group lanyards that identified and unified them. But we saw very few people in the narrow, cobbled streets that twisted quiet trajectories behind the hotel and shop façades and café terraces of the more expansive and open spaces.
And those narrow, cobbled, winding lanes revealed their secrets quietly only to those of us willing to slow down, to sit with a coffee or a juice or water or glass of wine at the table of a smaller venture. Sit and watch, sketch a window detail in a journal that no one but me will ever see, listen to the screech of swallows swooping for insects above us, marvel at the occasional one speeding through these architectural canyons at door-lintel heights with Star Wars élan.
This is not to say there isn't a time and a place for both kinds of travel, nor to scorn those tour groups. At our usual slower pace of travel, we wouldn't have managed to move through four countries in three weeks, getting a taste of Slovenia, a slightly more sustained impression of Croatia. Three days in Venice wasn't enough, no, but if we'd waited until we could spend an entire week there, we wouldn't get to it for some time. On the whole, this trip has involved more moving than I'm truly comfortable with, but maybe travel shouldn't/can't always be comfortable, maybe there's an inherent discomfort that's eventually worthwhile, even productive.
And we're moving back into that more speeded-up travel for our last days of this trip, with one driving day, two different beds in two different cities, and two flights (one short, one long) before we're home again. So for now, as sorry as I am that I missed so many of the Croatian sites and sights I thought we'd see, I'm glad we took advantage of an opportunity to slow down. . . Balance, right? It always comes back to balance, doesn't it?
Note that while I'm not posting many photos on the blog right now, I post a few each day on Instagram, where you're very welcome to follow along.