On Saturday we arrived in Croatia, sleep-deprived after a club music-thumping overnight ferry ride, in tow with every PYT in Italy in route to Europe’s hottest holiday destination. Crowded, unreserved deck seating, that’s what happens when you book last minute and you’re on a tight budget. If not for the captain and crew, we might have been the oldest people on board (as you could guess from the earlier Michael Jackson reference.)
And, let me tell you, these ultra-stylish youngsters can party. But still, somehow, we managed to get a few winks of sleep. Actually, for reasons largely unknown to us, we seem to have no trouble dozing off almost anywhere these days. Maybe a sign of being relaxed? An indicator of growing older? Or, maybe just the right amount of good vino every day?
Arriving at dawn in Zadar (more on this vibrant city soon,) we walked a couple of miles with our packs to reach a hostel. Staying at a hostel at this age? Yep. Reference back to budget + last minute booking.
Bunk beds in a hostel. (Just in case you think it’s all glamorous out here.) Reception wouldn’t open for a few hours, so we slept on the porch – and we weren’t alone, there were a few night-before partyers already splayed out.
Around 10 a.m., I nodded awake to find a stoned Aussie playing guitar in my ear (In my 20s, I might have swooned.) Within a few minutes, dance music kicked on the outdoor speakers, and the party was on again. During the three days, we somehow managed to get some sleep there too. Plus, we met a few new friends and had endless laughs watching the scene.
On a four hour bus ride north yesterday, when we weren’t catching up on sleep, we talked about how lost and dazed most of those “kids” had seemed and agreed we wouldn’t trade ages with them for a second. For many of our contemporaries, I know the way we travel sounds like living hell. But, I have to tell you, it’s pretty grand to be forty-something traveling like a twenty-something. Maybe it’s not quite as easy to lug around a backpack, but we have more patience and confidence – not to mention wisdom and good humor, than when we were younger. We don’t sweat the small stuff. We like a good drink, but getting hammered isn’t our aim. We’re here to immerse in the culture and community, not just the party – although that’s fun sometimes too.
We enjoy having the freedom to go where the wind and good public transit takes us. We’re traveling light (relatively) and deciding each step as we go. There’s no rush, there’s no pressure.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all sunflowers and double rainbows, some days are downright hard when you’re this age and have well-seasoned expectations, but we have an appreciation for the whole process – good and bad – that I couldn’t have grasped when I was younger.
When we arrived to our home for August, a budget-friendly apartment in a tree-lined neighborhood of the gorgeous city of Zagreb, we both instantly felt at ease. There’s a small garden, a 1950’s era kitchen, funky old-school tile in the bathroom, and no AC (it’s in the upper 90’s this week, yay!), but it’s ours, alone. We can crank up dance music any time, when we choose – and we will, often.
Also, we can also sleep; deep, luxurious sleep.
By the way, it’s a two bedroom – who’s coming to visit?
*And, as a disclaimer let me say, I know there’s some generalizing here. When I’m referencing the “lost” partying twenty-somethings, I’m speaking of the ones we encountered as well as how I, myself, behaved at that age. I know many of you are much more mature than I am now, and probably ever will be.