(This post is part three of the series Heading Out to Sea after the Coronavirus in Croatia, focusing on our sailing journey to the islands in the Adriatic after restrictions let up in Croatia.)
After our meeting with the Austrian/American couple the previous evening, we headed to the island of Silba from Mali Lošinj early the next morning to a crystal clear cove on the western side of the island. Staying in a cove (called an “uvala” in Croatian) is a great option when sailing the islands as you can tie up your boat to a mooring ball or anchor off the coast and just use a dinghy to travel back and forth to land. It gives you more privacy than a marina as the mooring balls are somewhat distant from each other (depending on the cove), and they are usually a much cheaper option.
We were meeting a German couple we had met a few days ago on Mali Lošinj in this cove as we had planned to explore the island together. The island has a rugged beauty with many beautiful flowers and interesting plants that grow wild. And that blue turquoise water is so refreshing when the temperatures are warmer.
The Gateway to Dalmatia
Silba, known as the gateway to Dalmatia, is a uniquely beautiful and relaxed place that boasts no cars or trucks and even limits bike riding to certain times of the day. Small tractors are allowed to deliver supplies and pick up trash, but their time is limited as well. Even the mail on the island is delivered by tractor.
The lack of vehicles gives the island a peaceful and romantic atmosphere and it was especially quiet in late May after the corona restrictions were lifted. A few locals sat having a pivo (beer) or coffee at a little cafe in the center of the island, but other than that there were very few people out and about.
The Romance of Silba
As testament to the romantic atmosphere of Silba, there is a 15-meter tower called the Toreta or the Tower of Love, that is right near the central part of the old town. The tower with its spiral staircase leads to incredible views on all sides of the island, and to be up there and look out at the sea as the sun sets is just pure magic.
It is called the Tower of Love because, according to the locals, the Croatian sea captain Peter Marinić built it in the late 1800s as a memorial to his love who he left and went to sea, intent on marrying her when he returned. It didn’t happen, but what did happen was his girlfriend grew tired of waiting for him and married someone else. Yikes.
Upon returning and finding this out he was very distraught, of course, but then he saw her daughter who looked like a younger version of his lost love. The story goes on that he waited for this girl to become an adult and then married her. It’s all there on the sign in front of the tower in Croatian, English, and Italian. It’s a little weird, I know, but it was the 1800s. And the tower is really cool.
Our newly found friends Franz and Eva-Maria, who we met up with in Silba, had never climbed the steps to the tower before, and while the tower is not that high, the steps can be a little daunting as they hug the edge of the tower and are very narrow. But the views of the sea on both sides of the island once you are up there are really magnificent. And definitely worth it.
They were glad they went up to the top.
Looking Back to More Carefree Days
The first time we visited Silba back in early June of 2019, the island was humming with activity as the families of many of the residents take the ferries from the Croatian mainland during the summer and spend their vacations on the island. We watched the big Jadrolina ferry pull up to the dock and family members welcoming their children or grandchildren or saying their goodbyes to them.
There was something very touching about watching these farewells and welcomes, especially being away from our adult children in the USA, who we miss terribly. I was misty-eyed when I saw it in 2019, but in today’s environment with people stuck on all corners of the globe separated from their loved ones, I think I would be bawling my eyes out watching people being reunited or saying farewells to loved ones.
Things have changed so much, haven’t they?
Tourists were plentiful and filled the beaches of the quiet island at that much more “normal” time in 2019. On this visit after the coronavirus, the island was much quieter and emptier. But still very beautiful. I fell in love with the hollyhock growing wild everywhere.
We had such a great afternoon exploring Silba with our friends and it felt strange that when we left them, we felt like we’d known them for much longer. Maybe it was the shared experience of living through the pandemic or just being fellow sailors. In the evening after a visit to their boat aboard our dinghy, we promised to catch up with them again when they passed through Pula later in the month on their way back to their home port in Vrsar. Eva-Maria sent me away with a jar of her homemade marmalade that I would stow away for our next sailing trip to the Kornati islands in late June. We said our goodbyes and felt fortunate to have met them in such uncertain times.
COMING SOON: Our next stop would be at the island of Zverinac on the way to our final destination of Telašćica National Park. It was to be an interesting and unexpected pleasure on this first sailing trip away from our marina after the restrictions were lifted in Croatia. Thanks for coming along on our journey and hope you will continue to follow us. Ciao!