‘Can I get a ticket to Omiš?’
‘A return as well?’
‘Two one-way tickets to Omiš, that’s…’
‘Just one ticket.’
This was one of the times when I wish I had a camera strapped to the top of my head so that I could have snapped a photo of the expression on his face. It was one of pure, unadulterated confusion.
The group of tourists behind me in line burst into laughter, verifying the hilarity of his expression.
But let’s start at the beginning of my time in Croatia
Welcome to Dalmatia
I arrived in Split, Croatia on Wednesday evening. Knowing that my flat in Omiš would not be available until Saturday I chose to spend a few days in Split taking in the beauty of the second largest city in Croatia, the newest accession country in the European Union.
Although still in the thick of tourist season, Split is charming. The winding, narrow stepped streets impenetrable by car or scooter have a charm that reminds me of Greek village islands. Picturesque sail boats, fishing boats and ferries litter the harbor in wait to take tourists to nearby islands. While tourism is very much alive in Split, it’s not the type visible in cities where tourism has been well rooted for the last few thousand years. That type of tourism has the tendency to distort the culture of a city. Split remains beautiful with pristine waters, clean streets and friendly faces. From my few days (no worries, there are more to come 😉 !) in Split I am pleased to say that the sites, tastes and aromas are reminiscent of a more sincere and old Mediterranean.
As a former Yugoslavian country, the Homeland War (1991-1995) affected tourism in Croatia. I’ve been told, however, that tourism has been on the upswing in Croatia for about a decade now.
Arriving in Omiš
From Split I took the number 60 bus that goes between Split and Dubrovnik travelling on a road that follows the seaside. I got off the bus on the stop right after the Cetina River. A beautiful sight – as you see where the mountain and river in Omiš meet with the Adriatic. I was met by Dinkica – I had arranged with her cousin living in nearby Podstrana to rent a flat and Dinkica had agreed to walk me to the apartment and take care of the documentation needed for the rental.
After dropping my belongings off we went to the coffee shop just below my apartment for a coffee.
You are here for a long time but why Omiš? You are only one and after one month no one will be here. Won’t you be lonely?
Her confusion mirrored that of the man selling bus tickets in Split.
I need some peace and quiet so I can focus on my academics and writing. I’m an introvert, I like having time to myself.
This response was partially true, I need to focus. Because of the stress associated with the reasons behind my move, I decided to be kind to myself. If my research in Scotland couldn’t start now and I had to leave Schengen I wanted to be comfortable and productive. I wanted to be able to see the sea from my porch, have regular access to the Internet and I wanted to live by myself. In Split there was no way I could afford to have all of these things. I looked into living on the island of Solta but feared when the tourists left I’d feel a bit too isolated (I actually went as far as to research demographic information for the island – it’s an aging population in the off season).
My home in Omiš is bigger than I need, with an amazing view and many comforts I’ve lived without for years – it’s also in my price range. I’ve been here for less than 24 hours but have already noticed a steep decline in the price of food and drink. Last night I treated myself to my first meal out since arriving in Croatia on Wednesday – a beautiful Frutta di Mare pizza and at a fraction of the prices I was saw in Split!
Finding home in the unfamiliar
I’m ashamed to admit I haven’t done much unpacking. Upon arriving I went grocery shopping, took a nap, Skyped with a colleague in the ‘States, called my mother and then went out to wander about the narrow winding streets of Omiš.
There are two beaches within a four minute walk from my apartment – one North and one South. I hear the one to my South has rockier beaches but is less crowded and better for swimming. I love swimming and am desperately in need of a work out. I’m going to try and make this a daily thing.
Considering the stress which initiated this move I’m feeling quite fortunate to have the opportunity to spend time in such a beautiful place. I’m excited to see how this experience changes me because as I’m sure many of you know, travel and exposure to new cultures changes you in ways you never even imagined.
I’m new to Omiš and there are very few mentions of this village in the guide books (despite its interesting nautical history, complete with pirates!). Any suggestions on things to do/see/eat/or drink in my new home?