Magic Hour (or: FTODOTB)

I love this hour, when the day isn’t quite over but the night hasn’t begun; when the world catches its breath. I’ve heard it called magic hour, or golden hour. In Austria, it’s called Blaue Stunde, or Blue Hour. I call it FTODOTB (favorite time of day on the beach). Whatever you want to call it, it’s soul filling.

Moving On

Stunning waters of Cres

Dear Cres, Croatia,

It’s not you—it’s me. I’m over you. (Ok so maybe it is you.) It’s not that you’ve changed. Your simple beauty and authenticity is unaltered since the day we met. But maybe that’s the problem. I have changed immensely since I first started visiting you. I’m not the same person who first landed on your sparkling shores a decade ago.

Don’t get me wrong. It was love at first sight, absolutely. I was enthralled from the first ferry ride. But like all good things, our relationship must come to an end. But first, as a tribute, let me tell my readers what I loved about you.

My husband and I started going to Valun soon after we met. He had been going to this tiny fishing village since he was in his 20s, and he introduced it to me. The first time I stepped foot there I thought I had landed in heaven. I had written about the country a few years prior in my job as a copywriter, but to actually be there was completely different. The Adriatic Ocean with its seemingly endless shades of blue was a balm to the soul.

The village sits on just one mile of coastline and you can walk from end to end in just ten minutes. It has this quiet, unique charm that I had never really experienced before. There are a few small guest houses, a maximum of five small restaurants, one ice cream shop, and a tiny port for small yachts to dock.

Sometimes at golden hour, my absolute favorite time of the day on the beach, or FTODOTB as I call it, we’d see dolphins jumping in the distance. Every night we’d sit for dinner almost directly above the water and witness a hunting ritual: big fish snacking on schools of smaller fish in a fight for their lives. It was our nightly entertainment. (You may have figured out by now it’s definitely not a party destination.) I’ve never been to the Cote d’ Azur, but I imagined it as a mini French Rivieria, minus the skyhigh prices and glamorous tourists.

During one hellishly hot summer in Vienna, I was schlepping to work on the roasting, crowded Ubahn, and there were these enormous ads for Croatia that plastered the sides of busses, the walls of the underground—they were really just everywhere. I wasn’t able to take any vacation time then. It was such a tease. So when the next summer/ early fall, we were able to go to Cres, it was like a fantasy. We rented a little boat to visit the rock beach coves near our village. Looking down into the crystal clear water at the multi-colored fish felt like a dream. We had finally arrived! That was a few years ago and it was perfect—truly heaven on earth.

But alas, the dream seems to have faded. The last time we visited, it didn’t feel like my place anymore. It felt old, like a has-been. I felt like I was a different person and it was time to move on and explore new destinations. Leaving a familiar place can feel like a breakup. It can bring so much sadness with it. And yet: it also allows new destinations to come into focus. New spots on the horizon. New adventures.

Rituals and habits can be soothing, familiar … even hypnotic. But change is where true soul growth happens. So I guess I should see moving on not as finding something bigger and better, just more expansive.

My grandmother used to say, so simply but poignantly, ‘That was yesterday. Today we begin a new chapter.’ It’s time to let in what wants to be discovered. So my dear Valun: this is goodbye for now. Thank you for the times we had. I’ll never forget you.

Do you have any formerly favorite places that you’ve moved on from?