Why is travel so unforgettable? Is it the new experiences? Do the foreign people and places make us see the world in a new way? Is it the sense of wonder reborn in us when finally realizing a world that we have long imagined? Or is it the fact that our everyday existence has been upended? One thing is for certain, travel sticks in our memory much longer than most other experiences. It is an unforgettable type of trauma that our mind portrays as a positive. Perhaps travel remains in our minds because it warps the way we experience time. Time ceases to exist for entire periods, as our senses are overwhelmed by different sights, smells and sensualities.
The hurry up and wait process that defines departures suddenly gives way to an unstoppable momentum, one filled with potential and full of promise. Time becomes mere numbers, rather than something that governs our lives as it ceases to enumerate our mortality. Travel is an opportunity to achieve immortality. When we travel, whether it is for long periods of time or a few fleeting moments, we become our true selves, who we were meant to be and who we always were. Travel is like reexperiencing the first day of life that we can remember. It is the beginning of something new, alive with possibilities. This was the feeling I had while boarding the Jadrolinija ferry for a five hour journey on the Adriatic Sea from Split to Dubrovnik.
Jadrolinija- In It For The Long & Short Haul
Being among the first to board the ferry, meant having the pick of a prime seat. There were no assigned seats, but unlike on buses, neither was there a fight for the best seats. The ferry was three-quarters full, but the interior was spacious and comfortable. The seats allowed for plenty of leg space, the aisles were wide and storing luggage was not a problem. It was the exact opposite of riding in a bus or flying on a plane. It reminded me of taking the train with one very big difference, this one floated on water. The only drawback was a reminder of my two week lament that Jadrolijina did not offer more long haul services along the Croatian coast. Later I would discover why. One of the most important missions of Croatia’s largest waterborne passenger carrier is to connect the mainland and islands. In this regard, Jadrolijina does an excellent job. I experienced this on the first full day of this journey by catching ferry from Dubrovnik to the island of Lopud. Such short haul trips take place each day all along the coast.
Jadrolijina is the successor to a lengthy historical legacy of passenger ferries that began in Austro-Hungarian times and continues right up through the present. Earlier on this trip while visiting Rijeka, I marveled at the grand edifice of the Adria Palace which is Jadrolijina’s headquarters. The shipping company formed in 1947 as a state owned entity in communist Yugoslavia. State ownership has been a constant in Jadolijina’s history despite the switch from Yugoslav to Croatian control. The fleet includes fifty-one ships, eight of which are catamarans. The latter included the ferry we were taking to Dubrovnik. Running ferries is a quite costly enterprise, hence the fact that Jadrolijina is still under ownership by the state. For locals the ferry system is vital, as it allows them easy access to the mainland where they can purchase provisions at much cheaper cost than on their home islands.
Floating Away – Catching The Ferry
Jadrolijina’s ferries are also a crucial part of the Croatian tourist industry. Owners of guesthouses, resorts and other heavily frequented tourist attractions on the islands rely on ferries to bring a steady stream of tourists to what these remote locales. For travelers such as me and my wife, they were an affordable alternative to the cheaper, but much more irritating journeys by bus. From my experience, I can state unequivocally that Jadrolijina runs a first class service. I am sure my opinion was biased upon the fact that they helped me avoid another exhausting journey by bus. What a joy it was to float in seemingly effortless fashion across the smooth waters of the Adriatic.
On this day, the sea was a deeper blue. It mirrored the cloudless sky that stretched westward toward an infinite horizon. Somewhere on the other side of the sea was Italy. Ironically, Italy was an afterthought when compared to the spectacle of mountains, islands and sea spray that could be seen on the islands throughout this journey. If only people knew what they were missing, Croatia would be packed with even greater number of tourists. On second thought, I am glad that many still overlook Croatia. The coast was already packed to near capacity prior to the pandemic. I am sure the same will be true when the pandemic subsides. About the only desirable result of such a trend from my point of view, would be a possible uptick in long distance ferries plying the eastern Adriatic. It took a stroke of luck just to find this one. Amid a pandemic one has to take whatever is available. In this case, that meant a Split to Dubrovnik journey that turned into a blissful island hopping trip on a near perfect travel day.
Beautiful Glances – Seduction In Progress
The only criticism I could make of travel on this ferry was that large portions of the windows were covered with droplets of water. It disappointed those of us looking to take snapshots of the scenery. That was something of a shame because the vistas unfolding before my eyes on this route were stunning in the extreme. Towering mountains, lush hillsides, thick forests, and quaint villages that sidled up to the sea. All these views were on offer while the ferry smoothly skimmed across the surface of the water. I got so lost in the enchanting scenes being constantly revealed to me on this waterborne adventure that time did not exist for much of the journey. I marked this journey by the islands the ferry made short stops at along the way. These would prove to be memorable despite, or perhaps because of their brevity. Island hopping in this case was like having beauty just beyond reach. It was seduction in progress. Offering the thought of what might have been or what still could be.