We’ve made it to Vis and it is truly a gem in the Adriatic!
If you are a regular TIC reader, you’ll know that in 2015 I had a life-changing epiphany that would drastically affect my life’s trajectory.
TL;DR… that day, I basically realized three things:
- Life is short
- No one is promised a tomorrow
- There are things I still want to do in my life
Not sure why it took me 45 years to figure this out! Ha! Maybe I am finally maturing… one can hope.
So, the plan to move abroad was conceived. It morphed and took on several iterations including two earlier plans that involved living in Cuenca, Ecuador and Mediterranean France. Those plans didn’t pass muster. We paid off debt, we saved, sold a home, applied for Spanish non-lucrative visas, quit jobs, sold all our possessions, rented our condo, visited family across the U.S. to say our goodbyes, picked up our visas and here we are… just beginning phase 2 of the plan…
We are living in Croatia for the next four weeks!
The short answer… we came here two years ago in late 2017 on a scouting trip and fell in love. Croatia is breathtaking!
Croatia straddles the coast of the Adriatic Sea with Italy to the West and Greece to the South and Bosnia and Herzegovina to the East. Its long, beautiful coast enjoys a mild Mediterranean climate with cuisine and culture influenced by the Romans, Venetians, and the Muslim Ottoman Turks over the centuries. It’s recently bloody history only earned it it’s independence in 1991, although the Kingdom of Croatia dates to at least the 10th century, maybe older. The tiny island of Vis lies off Croatia’s southern coast near Split… the green dot in the center of the below map.
With the advent of our ‘move abroad plan’, our annual 2-week vacations from our corporate jobs in the U.S. slowly morphed into scouting missions. We not only did trips cheaper and cheaper over the years, but we did them more and more independently. Our first trip to Europe together years ago was a tour package with a group with the destinations, hotels, transport even meals and excursions were pretty much selected from a menu. That trip took us to the most heavily touristed cities in Europe. They were breathtakingly beautiful, but sometimes it was difficult to appreciate amidst the crowds! Our latest trips were booked from scratch by us, involved stays with Airbnb hosts, we chose more “off the beaten path” locations and transport was often local ferries and public transit like buses. This was a far cry from the trips we began with, but it felt right, more authentic. It gave us more of an opportunity to connect with the culture and locals.
I knew that I wanted to be in southern Europe for the warmer Mediterranean climate and Croatia, Greece and Spain were all places we had explored extensively and really connected with. These were places that felt as if they could become our new home.
During that 2017 visit, we stayed with one Airbnb host with whom we connected. We stayed in touch, became good friends and she presented us with an amazing offer that we just couldn’t pass up… she had a small apartment on Vis island off the coast of Split, Croatia that she was trying to prepare for Airbnb. Vis is not heavily touristed. To help get her Vis apartment ready for guests, she offered it to us for 4 weeks in the low season. We knew we wanted to go back to Croatia and spend as much time there as possible, so we jumped at the chance.
The Journey to Vis
We flew out of Los Angeles last Sunday with our freshly minted visas in our hands. We have no intentions of returning to the states for any lengthy period any time soon.
This was truly a milestone in the journey.
We had a brief layover in Stockholm before flying onto Split, Croatia. Having effectively lost a night’s sleep, I for one, was exhausted. We had to spend a night in Split since our flight didn’t arrive in time to catch the second and last ferry over to Vis island. That night in Split allowed us the opportunity to freshen up and get some sleep. It was drizzling rain around 10pm when we arrived at our apartment in Split. Our thoughtful Airbnb host met us on the street. We didn’t have an umbrella. I’m practical, but carrying in umbrella halfway around the world in the off-chance that you’ll need it, seemed ridiculous! Needless to say, it was not a good hair day that rainy night! Ha!
I grabbed a pizza at a local, authentic restaurant down the street and we had a quick bite before crashing for the night. No time to unpack, we showered, checked out, grabbed our luggage, a coffee and pastry on the way and boarded the large Jadrolinja car ferry bound for Vis Town.
What are my First Impressions of Vis Town, Croatia?
We have been in Vis Town on the island of Vis, Croatia for just four full days now. And we will be here for 4 weeks. We came here to slow down and decompress after a hectic last 12 months or so in preparation for the big move.
First impressions of Vis? I believe it will turn out to be a near perfect fit for what we were looking for.
Vis Town is authentic. It has not sold its soul to tourism, unlike so many other cities. My guess is it has not had that opportunity yet. It is still well off the typical tourist track… and that suits me perfectly. It only has a population of about 3,000 residents. It is very small, but the town has everything you could need and more. Daily life here seems to beat to the same drum it has for decades, even centuries. The church bells mark the beginning of each day at 6am and ring out every half hour throughout the day, fisherman bringing in their catches early every morning, children shuffle through the narrow cobbled streets to school every morning at 8am and back home again around 2:30.
Vis Town is gorgeous! Even in these cooler spring months. The narrow town sprawls around a beautiful harbor hugging the crystal clear waters and is penned in by dramatic hills. Much of the old town contains buildings which date from the early 1500s through to the mid-1700’s… all with the traditional red roof tiles.
With minimal tourism and only 3,000 residents, Vis town is very peaceful. A seawall borders much of the harbor. You can hear the sea lapping at the sea wall day and night. All but the most essential motor vehicles are prohibited from entering the old town area which makes a stroll along the Riva, a small waterfront promenade, a much more pleasant experience.
We are very grateful for having made it this far in our journey of discovery. We could not have imagined a better place to start. Vis, in all its beauty and tranquility, I think, is providing a foundation on which to build. If the rest of the journey is anything like this, there should be no lack of inspiration.
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“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.” — Marcus Aurelius