as i mentioned before, the coast of croatia is full of islands. there are tons of them, ranging from really big to absolutely tiny, and a lot of croatia’s tourism is at these islands. one of the things i definitely wanted to do while here is to check out one of these islands, and i chose one called Vis to go to. According to lonely planet, vis is one of the least touristy of all of the islands here. it’s really small, like 13 km across and is made up of pretty much just two tiny little towns, each of them only having around 1,500 people. although the tourism industry here does ramp up a bit during the summer, i think that during the end of october, there are pretty much no tourists here. the beaches were empty, as were the roads. a lot of the time that i spent walking around, i really felt like i was the only one on the island. i really rnjoyed the relaxed vibe here. there’s definitely something really cool about a place that’s so small and has so few people like here.
i read in my guidebook that the view from the top of the island is absolutely amazing. this island was considered a strategic spot by the ancient greeks and then by the british in WWII because from the top, you can see all the way to italy in one direction, and all the way to the coast of croatia on the other. according to the book, you could reach the top by either scrambling up a tiny path behind this monastary on the hill, or you could walk this long stretch of road. i decided to try the path. the monastary is up a hill, and i guess every year, the people here haul a fishing boat all the way up the hill to the monastary and light in on fire. weird eh? the monastary itself was really cool looking, and like everything else on the island, completely deserted. on the way up to the monastary, i passed all of these agricultural terraces.
i went around the back of ther monastary and started up the path… if you could call it a path. it was actually more like a tiny 8 inch wide stretch of dirt in between high grasses, flowers, and thorny bushes. the way uphill was a bit steep, but it was really cool. i think there was lots of lavender or some other flower around, so the air smelled awesome, and tiny lizards and butterflies scrambled and fluttered across the path every few minutes. i would also see a few snakes and these weird large birds w/ long tails (pheasants?) every once in a while. as i got higher and higher, the view back down towards the ocean and beach became more and more impressive. unfortunately, after a bit, i reached a gate blocking my way. now, most people would be satisfied w/ just putting a *sign* w/ skull and crossbones on their gate, but these people had an actual cow skull hanging from the gate!
so now i had a decision to make. do i just give up, or do i head all the way back down and take the road up? the problem was that i wasnt sure i had enough time. i only had about 6 hours before the last bus from komiza (the town i was near) left to go back to vis town (where i was staying). the road was about 8km uphill until it split off for about 5 more kilometers to the top. so basically, i would have to walk about 26km in 6 hours. i quickly did some math in my head, and seeing as i had no clue how fast i walk, and no clue how steep the road was, and at this point i didnt know that the extra stretch was 5km( i found this out later), i figured that i had no way of predicting whether i could make it or not. but whatever, i decided to go for it.
after scrambling back down the path i had just walked up, i strated walking up the road armed w/ just one tiny bottle of water… and walking… and walking… and walking. the walk itself (other than it being rough going uphill), was really awesome and scenic. in fact, it was hard to decide what looked better, the green lush mountains one one side, or the views down to the beaches below. as i kept walking, the beaches got farther and farther and farther… but somehow, the top just didnt seem all that much closer. hrm. eventually, i got to the split in the road. this was several hours later, and i was starting to feel pretty tired. should i keep going? i decided to press on up the mountain.
as i walked, i went past sevral tiny villages (so small they had like 10 or so houses and thats it). as i got farther and farther, i realized that there was one big problem. the weather wasnt that great, and the clouds/ fog were rolling in. the more i ascended, the closer i go to the fog, and eventually the fog was just above the treeline. at this point i realized, that at the top, not only would i not be able to see italy, but i probably woud hardly be able to see the beaches below… but there was no turning back now. i wouldnt give up.
at this point the road started getting steeper. i mean *really* steep. it was getting difficult to walk, and i was exhausted. not to mention, that i was extremely thirsty, and my clothes and hair were totally wet from walking through fog. i kept thinking to myself that i should just turn around, but i just wouldnt let myself do that. finally, i made it to the top. at the top, it was ridiculously foggy. i couldnt see anything more than like 15 yards ahead of me. there was this eerie looking chapel on top of the hill, and other than that, there was nothingness as far as the eye could see.
so i started going back down. i was starting to get sore. i looked on the tiny map i had, and only then realized that it was about 5km from the split in the road to the top. i had alreday gone a whole 13km, and now i had to do 13 more. i started plodding downwards. when i got to the split, i formed a new plan. instead of walking 8km back to komiza to catch the last bus, i may as well, just keep following the road the other direction for 10km and just walk back to Vis town. this would add another 2km to my trip, but i wouldnt have to waste time and money on the bus. so i turned and walked towards vis town.
eventually, by the time i had walked about 22km total and was completely worn out, i had a new problem. it was starting to get dark. there were no cities or lightposts, and w/ all the cloud cover, i was sure there wouldnt be any moon. i would end up walking in utter pitch black. i decided that at this point, i had no other option except to hitch. car were very few and far between, but every 10 minutes or so, one would pass by. i’ve never hitched alone before, and i was a bit nervous about what i would talk about w/ a croatian stranger, but i decided to go for it. soon enough, this guy pulled over and gave me a ride. sweet!! the guy was a sailor who lived on vis his whole life, used to work for the navy, and now is a harbormaster in komiza. i told him how much i liked the island, and he was so psyched. he talked about Vis w/ such pride! well, it ended up being a very cool ride back.
all in all, i’m really glad that i did the hike, despite not getting to see any view, and despite being very sore the next day. exporing the island was very fun, and i was pretty bummed that i had only one day here….