Last night during my last supper here in Split, I honed down the growing grudge forming in my psyche. With Bokeria manager Marko shouting down the walkway after being turned away by the hostess, “fully booked.” They find a lone stool and seat me at the bar. Moments later, with a glass of chilled posip in hand, a British woman takes a seat next to me.
Rebecca arrived in Split just a few hours ago from London. Her friend who should have been on the plane and joining her on this long-planned trip could not find her passport and had to stay in England. Rebecca was sulking because of her woes. I shared my story of the hooligans who ripped me off, and we both agreed to let go; to change our attitude and with it our perspective. I now have a lighter motorcycle; she now will embark on a solo adventure.
Well traveled and with lots of stories, Rebecca and I chat over a couple of glasses of wine and fine food prepared by the Bokeria kitchen. Rebecca tells me she booked accommodation on the island of Vis for tomorrow. “That’s where I’m going,” I tell her while laughing about the coincidence. We exchanged WhatsApp numbers and agreed to try to connect over the next few days.
Split is the second largest city and the biggest port in Croatia. Arriving at the ferry terminal, I learn that although this port is the busiest for travelers visiting Croatian islands, I find it to be unorganized, ad hoc, and confusing. At the direction of a uniformed official, I ride doc to the end of one of the long docks, and I have to weave in and out of pedestrians dragging rolling luggage, baby carriages, and heavy-looking backpacks. There’s hardly enough room to turn around at the end of the dock after I surmise I cannot buy a ticket on the boat—especially since the one at the end of the pier is heading to Hvar.
I spot a few people in line outside a small, nondescript portable building. There’s no signage save a few papers taped outside of two windows used for ticket sales. With a ticket in hand, I find a long line of vehicles waiting to board the ferry to Vis. With the advantage of a small profile and footprint of a motorcycle, I’m directed to the front of the line. Yes! I will board first.
The ferry is moderately full, but I’m able to find a table to work on my laptop, while on either side of me guys nestle in sleeping bags and blankets on the floor; they’ll catch a few winks during the nearly two-and-a-half hour cruise to Vis, one of the furthest islands and longest ferry rides from Split.
There are over 1200 islands splattered throughout the Dalmatian coast though many are uninhabited or only accessible by boat. Ferries serve only the most populated and developed islands. So, many enterprising captains with sailing ships hawk seagoing adventures from the ports of Split and Dubrovnik. I could not convince either of the few salty sailors I chatted with to let me load Doc, my motorcycle, on board. So I choose to go as far as I could go from Split by ferry boat. I will continue my healing and mindful restoration on the far-out island of Vis.
Without accommodations booked, I roll off the ship at the port in the biggest town on Vis, called Vis. I’m not ready to commit to anything, so I motor to the western part of the island. There are few roads and practically no traffic. In just thirty minutes I’m at the other end of the island. Komiza, the only other town on this island, sits at the bottom of rocky a cliff along a tiny bay. A small port here serves as a port for fishing boats, those small private sailing tours, and local Komiza tour operators.
With a population of about 1,500 locals, there are only a handful of hotels in Komiza. Most visitors stay in apartments, guesthouses, and homes. The maze of cobblestone walkways that zigzag down the hill and along the bay are nary full enough for a motorcycle and a few pedestrians, let alone any car. I’m self-self-conscious with the rumble of my still noisy bike. The town is serene, quiet, and quaint. I feel as if I’m now disturbing the peace.
I try to find my way back up the hill but run into a few dead ends. One is so narrow I have a hard time turning my motorcycle around, moving the heavy machine by hand in what would be the equivalent of a 10-point turn. I realize I should walk rather than ride through this town. But the only hotel I found so far, is further from the center of town and has a cold, stark vibe. I resort to Booking.com and find a small apartment, and within an hour a woman meets me on a scooter and guides me to her apartment, just 300 meters from the center of town.
Once settled, I walk about the town. Just outside the center of town and off a small alley, somewhat secluded, I come across a few nude sunbathing women stretched out on a large rock jutting into the bay.
The entire serpentine waterfront stretches just two hundred and fifty meters, with casual bars and cafes at one end and a fortress and fishing museum at the other end. In between are a handful of restaurants, tour operators, and ice cream and souvenir carts. This is perfect, I think to myself; the ideal place to relax and watch the world while continuing my writing and planning.
Feeling scruffy and unkempt, so I take advantage of the slow-paced vibe of Komiza to make an appointment for a shave and haircut by Zoran, the legendary stylist who owns ZOKY Barber Shop. He’s meticulous, amusing, though he doesn’t speak much English, and his small shop hardly has room enough for two barber chairs. I set my camera on the extra chair, but during my cut and shave; a local shows up, moves my camera while Zoran trims his mustache, nose and ear hairs before continuing with me; Zoran the multi-tasker.
Now refreshed, relaxed, and well along with my path toward reconciliation and harmony, I take a seat just a few meters from the water at Restaurant & Wine Bar Hum. Here I have my first glass of vugava, a white wine made from grapes grown here on Vis. Also known as bugava, it’s fruity, slightly sweet wine that’s low in acid but serves as a perfect pairing to fresh tuna tartar.
Between courses, the sommelier and manager take me on a brief tour of Hum’s wine cellar and Croatian wines. You can see the video here.
With a tummy full of good wine, and a reawakening, for me, of Croatian hospitality, I make my way back to my apartment and settle for a restful sleep.