“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might has well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.”
Joanne Kathleen Rowling
Like most people I have had a few brilliant ideas in my day. Sadly those are the ideas that are quickly forgotten by family and loved ones. They tend to only remember my other ideas. Like the time I asked to be pushed down a two story staircase in a cardboard box and ending my journey smeared against the closed front door or the time I started a solo cross-country bicycle trip without a map. But you need to cut me some slack on that last one. It was 1975, I had just completed tenth grade and I thought I would be able to pick up a map at the Seattle airport. Ok, I couldn’t, but I bet you could now. So the idea wasn’t really bad just a little ahead of its time.
As I left the building I met the owner sweeping the steps. I greeted her with “dobar dan” (hello), shook her hand and said “hvala” (thank you). She replied with “hvala” followed by “auf wiedersehen”. I waved bye and headed to a cafe to review my options. Sitting at a table on the terrace I kept staring at the tourist map of the Croatian coast. It was a beautiful morning with blue skies and a pleasant breeze, then it came to me. I wasn’t ready to leave Croatia, I needed to walk along its coast for a bit. But once again I didn’t have a map. Mine was made for advertising not navigation so I headed to the tourist office. The young girls there were as helpful as they could be but didn’t know of any maps or formal hiking trails along the coast. However, one of the girls did do a pilgrimage with her church group along part of the coast and offered some advice. She recommended that I not walk out of Omis but take a bus a few miles east to Brela where the road walking was safer and there was a trail along the beach for part of the way. To walk the Croatian coast from Brela to Makarska without a map, now that’s a brilliant idea.
It was noon when the driver let me out at the Brela bus stop high above the water and about eleven miles from Makarska by road but hopefully I wasn’t taking the road. I followed a steep sidewalk down, down, down until it ended, then I walked along a quiet road. That brought me to a vacant lot, I crossed that then cut across someones patio, down their side stairs and finally to a paved road that led to a village. On the east side of the village I found what I was searching for, a path only a few feet from the sea.
The path varied between cement, stone and dirt but it was good footing all the way to Promajna where the trail stopped. I then made the long climb back up to the highway and walked for a couple miles until I saw the turn off for Bratus and hiked back down to the sea again. All the way from Bratus to Makarska the walk was along a path next to the sea. It passed by busy waterfronts with colorful beach umbrellas, parasails with happy faces painted on them and fluorescent orange bikinis. But all those man made distractions were trumped by the beautiful water of the Adriatic which continually changed colors based on depth, bottom makeup and the angle of the light. The route included a number of parks and undeveloped areas. Some of those areas had small patches of pebble beach tucked between boulders. The bather had to hike long distances from the east or west to reach those small patches but the reward was having a secluded private beach on the sea.
In the villages I would rehydrate with my favorite sports drink, mlijeko (milk). Under low hanging pines I would rest, write and gaze at the boats, swimmers and waves. At around six I arrived at the west end of Makarska and celebrated with a beer on the beach. Ready for a shower and a bed I went looking for a sobe (room). Only a block from the sea I found a third floor room with a balcony big enough to have a table and chairs. Again the owner spoke only Croatian and German but we communicated well enough to work out a deal that made us both smile.
Walking the Croatian coast from Brela to Makarska without a map – I don’t know if it’s an idea that family and loved ones will remember or not but I will.