I don’t feel that it is hyperbolic to say that this has been the most active summer of my life. Not to self-implicate, but as my friends and family can attest to, I haven’t always been the most outdoorsy person. All that started to change when I solo traveled for the first time last year (hey, it’s almost like travel changes you as a person!) and caught the hiking bug. And then I caught the canyoning bug. And now, ladies and gentlemen, it is with great sincerity that I report I have now officially caught the kayaking bug, too. Just be glad I haven’t caught bed bugs.
My kayaking adventure began in, obviously, the most exciting and trailblazing of ways: a perusal of the Airbnb Experiences section, thank you very much. Like a true adventurer, I carefully considered all of the experiential opportunities that lay before me.
With one touch of a button, I could book any number of memorable experiences: there was yoga on the beach (been there, done that, thank you Piran). There was a food tour of Split (because I haven’t eaten enough carbs yet, right?) There was a locally-run art class (okay, this one wasn’t going to happen unless the teachers were really, really liberal with their definition of “art”). And then I saw it. It was the experience of my dreams. It was the Split Sunset Sea Kayaking Tour.
Let’s backtrack a little so that I can fully describe to you the significance of this tour. My favorite time of day is sunset, easily. My favorite song is entitled Pink Skies, but even beyond that, there’s something about cotton candy clouds that gets me every time. Anyone who has begrudgingly received one of my 437 (approximately) sunset “vlogs”, in which I gleefully squeal “there’s pink skies today!” a do a quick flip of the camera to prove this true. My camera roll is filled with picture of pink skies, and over the past month I’ve captured snapshots of bright pink sunsets in Ljubljana, in Bled, in Piran, and in Zagreb. So as I arrived at the midpoint to my trip, I decided it was time to see the sunset with style in Split. Which means yeah, you better believe I booked the hell out of that experience.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Croatian coastal cities, Split is like the cultured, intelligent older sister in the family who can still let loose and have fun. Dubrovnik, obviously, is the posh yet wild younger sis that everyone thinks is really pretty. But we digress. What I’m getting at is that even though Split is probably better known for its ancient Roman ruins than its seaside, the city’s coast is pretty breathtaking. Split is right on the Adriatic Sea, where the beaches are rocky and the water is clearer than whatever that is coming out of your tap (unless you’re from California, of course). My sunset kayaking tour brought myself and seven other aspiring kayakers to one of Split’s most popular parks. Marjan Park is astutely named after Marjan Hill which towers over the grounds. Right in this area is Bene Beach, which sits on the winding, rocky coast and is pretty much any kayaker’s dream.
The sky turned pink. That’s when the sheer beauty of this moment really started to hit me: here I was witnessing the most beautiful time of day in one of the most beautiful places on earth.
We had the option of either kayaking alone or pairing up to form a team, but I have little confidence in my own upper body strength so I obviously opted for the latter option. I ended up rowing with an Australian teacher from Melbourne, who was on the tailend of her first big travel adventure. We swapped stories about weird hostelmates, travel challenges, and how our own lives had somehow twisted and turned until we both ended up here, on this kayak, in the middle of the Adriatic Sea. It was one of those conversations that kind of reminded me of why we travel: to connect with people who make you realize how similar we all are, at our core. But that’s cheesy, so let’s move on.
About two-thirds of the way into our tour, it was that time: sunset. Pink skies. The anticipation was making me practically giddy. We rowed deeper into the water, until the sandy beach was nothing more than a sliver of yellow out in the distance. As the sun began to climb lower and lower, I began to realize just how remarkable this really was. I’m lapsing back into cheesiness, but please allow me it because I’m honestly still processing the spiritual experience that was that sunset. As the minutes slipped by, the sun inched closer and closer towards the sea until it was pretty difficult to determine what was light and what was water.
And then something amazing happened: the sky turned pink. That’s when the sheer beauty of this moment really started to hit me: here I was witnessing the most beautiful time of day in one of the most beautiful places on earth. It was a simple thing, but an infinitely special one, and the wave of gratitude that hit me then was absolutely overwhelming. And this kind of moment reminded me of a reason why I travel: to remind myself of how much beauty there is in the world, and to reinforce how grateful I am to be able to see these slices of it. But that’s cheesy, so I’m going to end this blog.
Lydia packed two pairs of shoes for her travels in Slovenia, Croatia, and Montenegro. She is counting on her well-worn, well-loved sneakers to carry her through coastal markets along the Adriatic, majestic ruins of ancient cities, and Balkan national parks. She also packed a pair of festive sandals, intended for long walks on the beach and questionable hostel showers alike. She considers this an exercise in versatility. When she isn’t carefully curating the most austere of packing lists, Lydia enjoys crafting incredibly niche Spotify playlists and reminding people that she is from California.