Summer was waning. It became apparent as we passed through the fortified walls of Dubrovnik’s old city after 34 hours of travel from Sri Lanka. Softer light with golden hues, bronzed skin increasingly covered with fabric, cafes closing a little earlier each night, opening a little later each morning. The careless free spirit was morphing into a more relaxed rhythm.
This transition, from bright summer into soothing autumn, paralleled our transition from an extended journey – free, unfixed, shifting – into a more conventional, predictable form. My mind was slowly shifting back towards life at home, inevitably different from the one I left, but still containing the familiar emotional patterns that accompany a job, family, routine. That’s probably why it only felt natural to create our own daily routine as we moved up the Adriatic coast, finishing with an unplanned detour to the Istrian Peninsula (thank you, Slovenia, for turning us away at the border).
Taking advantage of the cozy guesthouses and fresh produce so prevalent throughout Croatia, we enjoyed a different rhythm, centered around cooking for ourselves. Only the twisting, cobblestone lanes of ancient seaside towns reminded us that we weren’t back home whipping up weekend meals. From the fortified walls of Dubrovnik to the spectacular views over the Bay of Kotor on a day-trip to Montenegro, to the crumbling grandeur of Diocletian’s Palace in Split, and finally up to the picture-perfect town of Rovinj, each day unfolded slowly and easily, nothing rushed or hurried.
Jumping into the sea, knowing that in just a few weeks (or less) it would be too cold, made each swim that much sweeter. Likewise, traveling through Croatia, knowing that in less than a couple of weeks we would be with family (an entirely different dynamic) followed by setting our sights on Los Angeles, made our days that much more precious. This was the time to be connected to each other, without any distractions.
Even in travel, the middle can get blurry while the transition points remain vivid. Croatia just happened to be our location during one of these transitions, no planning on our part, but we couldn’t have chosen a better spot.