The only thing better than enjoying a day of kayaking from Omis to Brac and cycling through olive groves and quarries is when you get to do all that in great company.
We had Brac welcome board come and greet us for our start in town of Omis. My dear friends Steka and Neven are joining Tea, Sajko, Mislav and myself for kayaking to Supetar. They've even left Sutivan for our Welcome adventure and put off all of their preparations for one of my personally favourite, most original events with the most positive atmosphere in the world Vanka regule festival.
The whole delegation from Brac came sailing on a boat, a real, original, the oldest „bracera“ on the Adriatic – traditional sailing boat "Roditelj". This boat, which is more than hundred years old, holds a name of the island where it was put together, and is just one of many fantastic projects to come out of Brac tourist worker's shop. Mr. Ivo Cvitanic and the Supetar Tourist board are really the ones responsible for the reconstruction and return of bracera to the island of Brac. Thanks to them and a couple of enthusiasts, the library, the town of Supetar and the Bracera association, Supetar has acquired a completely unique product with guaranteed success. There are some serious plans for „Roditelj“, which is under protection as cultural and historical heritage. There are traditional workshops set up, educational sailing trips for children, classic tourist cruises, exclusive parties, weddings and much, much more! This is a perfect example how old values can have a new life when clear vision and good organisation are put together. „Brac – island of culture and adventure – now that is a project with a great sounding slogan. The fact that all the tourist boards from surrounding islands gathered to work on this project should give you an idea of how fantastic it really is.
Rowing through the Brac channel, in great company aboard „Roditelj“, on calm sea... it was wonderful. I kept turning around and admiring Omis and the estuary of river Cetina, carved into cliffs of Mosor and Omiska Dinara. As if the scene wasn't magical enough, we were joined by a school of dolphins swimming quietly along. At this point Mislav said: „If I was seeing this in a film, it would be completely kitsch!“. Except this wasn't film and it was completely beautiful. Ivo Cvitanic met us at the docks in Supetar and treated us to a delicious lunch. There was quite a few tourists sightseeing, about twenty or so cyclists happily looking around, tour guides doing their bit... it is good to see this island of culture and adventure isn't just a dead letter on our Welcome journey.
We carried on from Supetar to Sutivan on our bikes. This small place with its pentagonal tower and a beautiful church-tower has an air of very special energy and peace about it. I've been coming here for over thirteen years, especially for the Vanka regule festival, where I have met many special friends and very dear people. I have in fact been wondering for years now what is it about this place that makes me feel so serene (apart from during the Vanka regule festival, for obvious reasons).
I found the answer one day, looking at a very elaborate monography on this town. First of all I was surprised they had managed to fill over 500 pages, but when I read all about its thousand year old history, culture, its people, sailors, fishermen, olive tree growers, I realized this book was just a scrapbook of a really rich and amazing history.
Sajko's cousin Zeljko and both of our coordinators, Cedo and Ivan, joined us in Sutivan. We took our bikes to the Blaca desert, our aim for the day. Very steep and long macadam made us all sigh a bit, even moan at times, but our spirits were up. We went through rich olive groves, famous quarries, and I'll admit, we passed by a bar and had some well deserved beer. Throughout this trip, though, we were witnessing this constant battle, or coexistence, depending on how you look at it, between man and island, only to discover the magnificent peak in the desert Blaca. In the middle of the canyon, accessible only through small hiking paths, there is a 16th century monastery, established by Glagolitic priests from Poljica that fled to Brac running away from the Turks (Glagolitic Order, named after Glagoljica – ancient Croatian alphabet). The monastery is closed at the moment, in part due to refurbishments, but also due to danger from escarpment. However, we were told by Jasna Damjanovic, director of Brac culture center, that it should reopen by the beginning of June, with some new access paths and visiting regimes. We switched off our GPS at Blaca. It was the end of our first day at Brac – the island of culture and adventure.
P.S. For all of you wanting more: from now on we have Sajko's blog filling in! Sportnet. Check it out!