Croatia, stirring thy soul
Language is a powerful paradox. On the face of it, it just has functional utility of communication. But as you peel off the layers, you unravel an intricate art spun from words. Deep in this web are some words that are special, having the potential to stir souls as no one can. If there was one word to describe these words, it would be exquisite. Countries pose a similar paradox, with the layers indicating only the usage of countries for habitation but as these layers are peeled off, you see some countries that stand out from others. For their nature, for their gifts and for their beauty. Croatia is one such exquisite country.
Croatia thrives a lot on summer tourism. Hence, it was not quite the right season perhaps to visit Croatia since most places seemed empty. As we landed in Zadar among drizzles, we could hardly see anyone on the streets. The Adriatic Sea was standing there alone, continuing its mundane routing of splashing against the rocks noisily. Seas have personality and you can feel them — Mediterranean seems to be the calm one, peacefully retired in its corner, while Adriatic seemed to be the mischievous one, with its tides rising as high as its ambitions. But the Adriatic doesn’t just have its ambitions to fulfill, it plays background music while fulfilling them. Yes, there is a Sea Organ which is basically holes on the surface of the promenade which work as a trumpet to the sea waves, creating a camaraderie of music and nature unlike I have ever seen.
Next day we went to Split for our road trip to Plitvice. If Zadar was about the friendship between music and nature, Plitvice was about the love between seasons and flora. Trees show their love for Spring by wearing the green leaves as ornaments and putting up fully blossomed flowers as their smiles. These smiles turn into sorrow and the trees are bereft of ornaments during Autumn. But there is love in both these phases just as there is love in milan and virah. And this love had us spellbound, as we climbed down caves, marveled at waterfalls and walked on wooden aisles amid shades of red and yellow, with rainbows greeting us occasionally. Exquisite!
Who knew after all this wonder that the best part of the trip was yet to come! As I sat on the driver’s seat that day to drive from Split to Dubrovnik, all I had hoped for was some coastal stretch where I could drive along the Adriatic Sea. What I got in return was a 150-km stretch, holding mountains and villages on one side and kissing the Adriatic Sea on the other! Driving gives a form of introverted joy that very few other things are capable of giving. Add coastal drive to that with a splendid scenery, stops by the beach to relax and you feel you are on your way to heaven already! Quite befitting, since Dubrovnik turned out to be much more than the heaven I had imagined.
I had initially gone there hoping to some Game of Thrones stuff, but I was mind-blown by the narrow alleys and neatly-stacked red-roofed houses separated from the sea by huge whitish walls. I have never been so much of a fan of towns until I met Dubrovnik!
We explored the town by doing a tour on the city walls that offer the best view of the city and the sea. After stumbling upon some places used in Game of Thrones, we satiated our hunger at a nice Italian place, whose chef stood out as a charismatic Al Pacino of Europe. And while my non-vegetarian friends commended him on how delicious the chicken was, he just stole the thunder with “Chicken is meant to be like that.” However, the desi in me still found the better meal to be the Indian Paneer Tikka Masala we had had the previous night, in our exultation of liking the place so much!
When you travel a lot in a limited time, it’s difficult to give due attention to every country. From amongst the plethora of different jewels, Croatia came across as a glittering diamond, left unpolished. If the sea organ introduced us to this diamond, the autumn calm in Plitvice gave it its shape and the coastal road trip, together with Dubrovnik, bestowed upon it its exclusive shine. And when that shine glows up the compartments of your soul as a glimmer of ray lights up a dark room, such diamonds stop being objects of pleasure to become pantheons of hope, of joy and of life. And that is when I call them — exquisite!
P.S.  — Union and separation does not convey as much depth as these words :)