Growing up, I loved to watch “The Wizard of Oz.” Not just because of the story, but because of the colors. Each hue popped from the screen to my eyes, creating a world of colors that nearly existed in real life.
Then, I went to Solta, Croatia.
After an amazing night in Split, Katie and I checked out of CroParadise and headed back to the port to meet David and board the ferry to Solta, an island no one seemed to know about.
Solta was non-existent in our Lonely Planet books, locals looked at us funny when we asked … but from across the port in Split, we could see the mass of land jutting out of the Adriatic.
Of course, we wanted to go there. It sounded perfect.
While we were in Brela, Katie had done some research on the island and had found a Web site that listed apartment rentals. She and I sat crowded around her laptop analyzing the prospects for our Island Adventure.
We saw one apartment, 30 meters from the beach, and decided to give the owner a ring. It was the first interaction we had with Danica.
We sat on Skype with her, laptop held to Katie’s mouth so Danica could just make out what she was saying, and arranged our time there.
“Four days?” Katie asked, turning to me.
I nodded my head.
Four days on an island no tourists had really heard of? Sounded perfect.
Danica agreed to pick us up at the ferry, and then the plans were set.
We had bound back to David, who was still at our beach apartment and informed him of our plans.
“Sounds wicked,” he had said, smiling.
Two days later, Katie, David and I sat at a cafe, waiting to board our boat.
After an hour, we headed to the last boat at the port, a large car ferry, and climbed the metal stairs to the seating area.
Within minutes, we were off, the boat cutting deep into the clear blue water as we headed west towards the little island that grew larger and larger as we headed closer.
I walked out to the deck.
Fresh Adriatic air.
Outside, the wind whipped my hair as I marveled at the beauty surrounding me.
When the trip was nearly over, I walked back inside.
“We’re here!” I announced, peaking out the window to look at the island that would be our home.
After unloading the boat, the three of us stood outside at the line of parked cars.
“Which one do you think is Danica?” Katie asked as we surveyed the crowd of people.
To our left stood a woman with short deep reddish hair, wearing a summer dress and standing next to a red car.
“There,” I said.
On a guess, we raised our hands in the hair to say hello and she smiled.
Quickly, we went to her car, threw our bags in the trunk and packed ourselves into her little vehicle.
Immediately, we loved Danica.
A woman in her 60s, she radiated love and kindness.
As we wound our way around the island, she informed us what we were looking at.
“There, that’s Vis … and there, that’s Hvar … and there, Brac.”
The Dalmatian Coast is packed with islands, and we were at the front lines of holiday paradise.
All around us, the colors popped. Bright blue sky. Emerald green leaves on pine trees. Bluegreen sea. Gray rocks. Red tile roofs.
Each turn produced more and more vivid color. More and more vivid beauty.
Life in technicolor.
David, who sat in the front seat, turned to Katie and I and whispered a string of excited expletives, conveying his own appreciation for everything he was seeing.
We drove for 20 minutes, passing tiny towns with old stone churches, fields of olive trees, an olive oil factory … and then we drove down a mountain to another town. Danica’s town. The main road went right and left around the little harbor, lined with restaurants.
And, then we were there. At Danica’s. A gorgeous stone home with two apartments attached — one above with a large terrace overlooking the sea, and one behind.
We grabbed our bags and walked through the ivy-covered gate to her home.
“This is Shima,” she said, scooping up her little black and white shitzu mix.
A house dog!
“And this,” she said, leading us up the stairs to the large terrace, “is your apartment.”
We walked in and our jaws dropped.
“I was going to give you the smaller apartment, but I have another family coming in on Sunday, and then you would have to move. This is easier. And, it’s bigger.”
Through the front door, which included a wall of strings (like the beads people can hang in doorways) was a kitchen, then to the left was a dining room and two couches. Down the hall were two bedrooms and a bathroom with a washer.
David grabbed my shoulders.
Katie smiled wide.
“This is ours?” we asked.
For 30 Euros a night.
We lucked out.
“Enjoy,” Danica said, taking our passports and heading down to file our names with the tourist board.
The three of us immediately went to lunch, a delicious pizza place with the best olive oil I had ever had.
Before we could head to the beach, I needed to find an internet cafe to check e-mail and make sure everything was OK at home.
There was no cafe.
But, there was a woman who ran the tourist agency who was in town for another five minutes before she went to Split for the weekend.
I ran over there, told my family I would not be online but if they needed me to call David, and then started my four days of internet-free life. Taking a step back from my blog, from my connection to the rest of the world, riddled me with anxiety.
“D, you don’t need to always do stuff,” Katie said. “Just enjoy your time!”
She was right.
The three of us went to the water to take in the sun and water. The rocks were sharp in our backs, and the water freezing, but we sat there for a good while, talking, relaxing and enjoying a nearly people-free beach.
In the evening, Katie and I went to dinner and then brought wine home with us, spending the night outside on the terrace listening to music and getting to know each other even better.
On our way back to our apartment, we saw Danica.
When we were looking at apartments, her ad had said something about renting a boat. Well, the three of us really wanted to do that.
We asked her about renting the boat. We wanted to go motor over to Brac and have lunch on the island.
“Well, I was thinking of going fishing tomorrow,” she said, Shima in her arms. “I can take you and we can all go fish during the day.”
Fishing. On the Adriatic. It wasn’t island hopping. It was even cooler.
We didn’t even need to think about it. The plan was set — fishing around 5 p.m. the next day.
David, who had slept through dinner, would have something exciting to wake up to the next day.
So we could each enjoy a few days of private sleep, I took the couch in the living room.
That night, I went to sleep with a smile on my face and anticipating the next three days of technicolor living.