Monday, 17 August 2015

Mug #12 - Vis, Croatia

I completely fell in love with Vis, with the apartment I stayed in while I was there and if I had been single and considerably younger, I might have even afforded myself the luxury of falling in love with the young Croatian girl who lived in the house opposite.

It is virtually impossible for me to fully express just how much I fell in love with the island of Vis. However, as a "travel blogger" I will of course at least try. Vis is a truly magical place, a tiny little piece of heaven on earth and I enjoyed every single second that I was there.

So much so, if I had the money I would definitely buy a holiday home there (maybe even a home home). I would happily buy the apartment I stayed in. I would happily wake up to these views each morning:

Or even better, there was a big empty place on the corner. I would love to buy that and renovate it. It was a bit dilapidated, so it might require a bit more work than simply picking the right tiles for the kitchen, but I would definitely be up for the job. And I don't think it would cost very much in its current state of disrepair. Nice places only seem to go for between €100,000 - €250,000. You wouldn't get a shed for that in London! But obviously I'm a broke swimming teacher/wannabe writer and so I'm not going to be able to afford even that anytime soon.

Now the main reason for my trip to Croatia - particularly the 7 nights on Vis - was to relax. I had had a long and hard few months, where I had been working 7 days a week (which you can read about HERE) and I was still trying to get over the illness - or general feeling of being rundown - which had caused me to lose my voice (which you can read about HERE).

The idea was therefore to spend my time writing, reading, swimming and simply chilling out; enjoying the good weather and the healthy food. And that's just what I did (mostly).

I spent a lot of time staring aimlessly out to sea:

Or eating wonderful food. Including plenty of seafood and lots of fruit:

One morning I also went out early - just the once mind haha - and had this "Full English":

Vis truly was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to:

I had a very special time there. I had plenty of time to read and write and I went for a swim at some point - at least once - on each of the days that I was there. Enjoying the opportunity to swim in the stunning, clear waters.

Now as idyllic as Vis is, travelling around on foot would have been virtually impossible. Luckily for me however, the lady I was renting the apartment from - the stunning little apartment which cost only around £40 a night - also borrowed me her bike:

Which both saved me at least £10 - £20 a day in rental fees and also enabled me to cycle past the main, extremely busy beach and find these beautiful secluded bays where I could swim virtually all by my own for hours at a time:

Before leaving Split, I spent 100kn - roughly the equivalent of £10 - on the snorkel and mask that I'm wearing above and I have to say that it was most definitely the best 100kn I spent while I was in Croatia. I had an amazing time snorkelling in the Adriatic. I saw all sorts of amazing fish and all manner of different sea creatures, from hermit crabs to sea cucumbers. You can read more about my snorkelling adventures HERE and HERE.

Snorkelling was by far the most fun that I had while I was on Vis. But the most valuable piece of equipment that I had on my trip - more so than my snorkel or camera or even my swimming shorts - had to be the bike. How else would I have gotten around?

Thanks to that bike I was not only able to find beautiful bays to swim in like this one here:

and that one there:

I was also able to cycle up to the top of Fort George - a 19th century fort originally built by the British - to see this stunning sunset (which was a slightly lonely experience without having someones hand to hold. Still amazingly beautiful though):

I was also able to find my way to this amazing disused submarine base:

That bike really was invaluable to me while I was on Vis. It was a brilliant way for me to get around. However, Vis - like many of those little islands in places like Croatia and Greece - was extremely hilly, mountainous even. I would therefore suggest that if you are to travel to Vis or somewhere similar, renting a car or scooter might be a better option for getting around . Or even better still, consider travelling by yacht. That way you really can see everything that you want to as you hop from one island to the next.

Because bikes are great. I wouldn't have been able to see half the things that I did without that bike. However, unless you are a good, experienced cyclist (which I am not), a bike might not be the best form of transport on an island like Vis. And I say this from experience.

on the opposite side of the island, around 5-7 miles from Vis town, was another town called Komiza. Now there's a nice little cycle I thought to myself. Not too far. In fact a far shorter distance than the 8.5 miles I occasionally cycle from my house to work in London. How very wrong I was however!

Yes it was a short distance. What I didn't realise however, was that the cycle was uphill, all the way! And some of the hills were seriously steep. Trust me this is not the sign you want to see 45 minutes - of cycling uphill in blistering heat - into what you thought would be a fairly gentle 30 minute bike ride:

I have to confess that that hill was simply to punishing for me to conquer. Especially considering how tired I was even before I had gotten there. Unfortunately I didn't make it to the top without stopping. No, I ended up stopping several times during the ascent and in fact I even had to walk for part of the climb.

Upon finally getting to the top of the peak, I had a fabulous view of Komiza. However, as there was another 3km of downhill cycling until I reached the town itself, I decided to turn around and head back to Vis town. Sometimes you need to know when to quit for the day. I could have easily flown down those tight s bends all the way down into Komiza. However, if I cycled those 3km downhill, at some point I would have had to cycle them back up again and I just didn't have it in my legs.

So instead I turned around and cycled all the way back down to Vis town. I say cycle. Apart from a 20m stretch of flat road, it was downhill all the way and so - apart from that short stretch - I didn't pedal all the way back home. After cycling over 1 hour and 20 minutes up to the top of the hill, it took me just 14 minutes to come all the way back down.

It was a bit of a disaster. But I shrugged it off and went for a swim. The best way to forget all about it.

While I was on Vis, I also visited one of it's many nudist beaches - which you can read about HERE:

In fact I actually visited a nudist beach on my first proper day on Vis, but at the time I didn't realise that it was also a nudist beach. However, if you follow the link above you can read all about my deliberate trip to a nudist beach and find out whether I took all my clothes off or not.

On top of that I also attempted to swim to this little island:

which I will also be writing about on Year31Project very soon.

And on my last day in Vis I decided to do the tourist thing and take a boat trip - I had given up trying to see the whole of the island by bike - and see as much of the island as I could while I was still there.

The boat trip took us full circle, right around the island. Stopping off at several interesting spots along the way. Including the natural phenomenon Stiniva Cove:

Although I was quite disappointed that we were unable to leave the boat at this point and swim through the small opening into the cove itself.

We also visited the wonder that is the blue caves, which well and truly lived up to their name:

I had a great time on the boat trip. It was fun and very reasonably priced at roughly £20, plus another £5 for our ticket to see the blue caves. The only negative was that it was a little bit on the long side. We left the harbour at 9am and didn't arrive back until after 4.30pm. But I still had time for a late afternoon snorkel, which is all I was interested in.

There really was so much to do on Vis and I spent a serious amount of my time in water. However, I did of course find some time to go looking for the all important souvenir mug:

All in all the Vis leg of my Croatian adventure was a huge success. I didn't leave feeling particularly refreshed. This was mostly due to the fact that they threw me a huge thanks for coming, we're sorry to see you leave party - either that or they were celebrating Victory day and not just that but its 20th Anniversary - with music blurting out into the night until 2am. When I had to be up for my ferry at 5am, for my next and final stop - Pula.

I truly had the most amazing time on Vis. But I'm considering going around telling everyone that it was horrible and that they should never go, in a pathetic attempt - that is bound to fail - at keeping too many people from visiting. Because Vis was one of the most magical places that I have ever been too. Somewhere I certainly hope to visit again and again in the future. And although already a fairly popular tourist destination - it seems to be a hotspot for people sailing from island to island in particular - it has not yet become overrun and therefore destroyed by tourists - in fact it has only been open to foreign tourist since 1989, before which time it was a military territory - and it would be nice if it could remain that way for as long as possible. So don't go haha and if you do. Do it soon! Before it no doubt changes forever.

P.s There will be a video of my trip to Vis coming soon
and you can see more photographs from my Croatian Adventure on my Instagram:

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