A stroll around the streets of Vis is all it takes to reinvigorate the soul. Dear Vis, you have my heart, please don’t ever change.
This summer has seen a lot of international media attention given to the number of tourists and anti-tourist movement going on all around Europe. We have posted numerous articles about record-after-record being smashed in Croatia regarding tourism numbers and arrivals, I have written about party tourism and the madness occurring at Stiniva Bay, so you will have to forgive me for feeling a little disenchanted lately.
I am probably not supposed to say that, right? I mean, as well as delivering news and useful information, part of what we do is promoting Croatia. But, if you have been following Total Croatia News for long enough, hopefully, you notice that we try to remain as objective as possible and have writers who aren’t afraid to share their opinions. Which is why I have no qualms admitting this.
Tourism in Croatia is booming faster than the country can keep up with it, and while likes of the new Mayor in Hvar and Dubrovnik have already started addressing various issues related to tourism, I still have moments of feeling deflated, worrying that Croatia may lose its charm.
That was until yesterday.
A stroll around Vis town reminded me of just why I fell in love with Croatia.
Every island and destination hold its own appeal, charm, history, and culture. Like many of the Dalmatian islands, Vis has had a turbulent history from the Greek and Roman settlement to the arrival of Slavs in the 7th Century and ruled at various stages by the Venetians, French, Austrians and even the British in the early 20th Century. During WWII, Vis was a Military stronghold for Tito’s Partisans and only opened to the public in the 1990’s (perhaps why she has retained her authenticity).
However, you don’t need to be a historian to appreciate this island, a stroll through her streets will tell you just as much as any guide book.
Vis town doesn’t make any bold statements like Dubrovnik nor will you be battling with any crowds to line up for a ‘must-see’ attraction; she simply requires your presence. As you walk, she will reveal to you hints of days gone by. The Baroque and Renaissance architecture points to a flourishing period in her history, a gentle hush over the island whispers of an appreciation for the simple life (after such turbulence) and small boats bobbing in the harbour tell of a proud maritime history.
As we walked the streets I felt my disenchantment fade and was once again re-inspired.
Broken cobblestone streets, fading paint chipped doors, rusted stone, giant sleeping dogs, curled up cats… nothing seems out of place, every stone, every broken building, is exactly as it should be.
Every alleyway is bursting with colour and every courtyard begs you to peek inside. Locals leave their doors open and rather than being offended that you are taking photos in their street, they step out onto their doorstep to chat – ‘you like my town, how long are you here for, will there be rain…’
You will not find cheap souvenir shops taking up every free metre of alleyways (you could learn something here Split), rather, there are more boutique shops, ateliers, and artists at work…
Walking along the water’s edge, there aren’t hundreds of bars with loud electronic music serving one-litre cocktails, instead, there are simply stairs leading to the beckoning Adriatic or a cute café with Moroccan-style tiles playing soft jazz at 11 am.
Just a man and his shaggy dog.
Locals bike through the streets wearing warm expressions on their face, no one is in a rush and even though there are so many yachts docked along the Riva, I swear, we didn’t bump into any groups of tourists. It’s as if Vis somehow takes everyone into her arms, helping all to blend in with her surroundings.
It doesn’t matter what time of the season I have visited Vis town – June, July, August, September… I always get the same impression.
While all the other islands are beautiful with gorgeous architecture and a rich history, Vis is the only destination that really makes me stop and breathe. The kind of inhale that fills your lungs and soul with an exhale that releases all worry and tensions. Do yourselves a favour, don’t visit Vis to tick it off a list, visit Vis and just learn how to ‘be’ again. This is an island that will give you so much more than you bargained for if you let her.
Dear Vis, please don’t ever change, you are perfect just the way you are.