Imagine…. you are sitting in the lee of the light.
Sheltered from the seabreeze by the 1912 Sveti Ivan lighthouse, you soak up the sun’s rays as you share breakfast with the seagulls: your fingertips turning red with the juice of freshly-picked strawberries and the seagulls perched around you on the exposed rocks of low tide, squawking as they pick at urchins and anemones.
The water sparkles like diamonds, and the bright orange spinnakers of daysailers balloon in the wind, moving away from their 4th century port of Rovinj and out into the wide open Adriatic.
Lighthouses have a special allure: What storm stories could they tell? What’ll it feel like to sleep surrounded by sea? Will the room be round? Will the foghorn keep you up?
But Sveti Ivan, or Saint Ivan as we English might say, is even more special.
Isolated about 45 minutes offshore from the port of Rovinj on the northern Croatia coast, St Ivan offers a spot to savor the clear aquamarine waters in complete solitude. Well, the lighthouse keeper will be there, but otherwise, you have the rock to yourself.
Back on land earlier this morning, you had woken early to provision at the Rovinj Farmer’s Market – those berries, some arugula and a bottle of truffle oil. At the grocer, you picked up some finely sliced pancetta and goat cheese and good yogurt. And at the pescataria, you asked the fishmonger to weigh out a bag of mussels. These ingredients were to nourish you for the next 2 days while you were “out at the light”.
Then you met Captn’ Gordon. With his beauty of a blue yacht, he whisked you off the riva (or what might be called a malecon in other areas of the globe) by the Old Tobacco Company and out to St Ivan.
The day’s sky is a brilliant blue which, along with the sapphire Adriatic, sandwiched the bright green trees and cream-colored sandstone edges of the islets that you motored past.
Sitting on the bow of this pretty vessel and feeling a bit spoiled, you watched with great anticipation as St Ivan turned from a speck on the horizon to the white monument atop a rock, surrounded by a vast blue sea, with a Croatian pennant flapping wildly on its flagpole. With the wind picking up, Gordon’s docking was fast and a bit frenetic. Before you know it, your Osprey pack was tossed ashore and the captn’ was waving goodbye. With Gordon goes the last English you will hear for a couple days.
But Ronald, the keeper of the light, was full of smiles and gave you a warm orientation. You settled into your “apartment” which is big enough for a small family, and you promptly flung open every green casement window to the Adriatic, watching the white sheers whip around in the breeze.
“Do I really have this remarkable space to myself for the next 2 days?”, you marvel?
At low tide, you can circumnavigate this “rock” in about 18 minutes. You stop to photograph the lighthouse from different angles and the impossibly clear seaglass-green water. You’re tempted to take a dip. But for today, you sit in the lee of the light and write in your journal. You lay on the sun-warmed boulders in the spring sunshine with your fleece jacket as a pillow, and watch clouds go by. You join Ronald on a climb up the circular staircase to the very top of the light to check out the famous lens. And tonight, you will enjoy a hot freshwater shower and fall asleep with the lullaby of a lively sea-lapping waves, an occasional ship horn, and the soft wind.
But first, there is sunset. You prepare that sack of mussels, steaming them in some green spring onions sautéed in truffle oil and a splash of seawater from the Adriatic to give a hint of salt. You savor your small feast as the sea turns golden, then lavender.
Cheers, or Zivjeli! as the Croatians prefer, to sunset on the Adriatic!
“That was a trip of lifetime”, you say. “Let’s do it again next year.”
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