Finding Home (Once Again) on Croatia’s Dalmatian Islands
In 2003, I bought an old stone house on the Croatian island of Hvar from a fellow named Mikšić. I agreed to pay his asking price in cash, but when I inquired about bringing a certified check to the closing, there was polite laughter. A piece of paper purporting to represent money isn’t really money, he told me, as an adult would disabuse a child of a silly notion. Which is how I found myself on a flight to Split with a big wad of cash rolled up in my sock, like a proper grown-up.
Before Communism blew itself up in the early 1990s, much of Eastern Europe came to this stretch of coast to play. In summer, the Serbs would make a beeline for the beaches of Yugoslavia, which in those days encompassed Croatia and its immediate neighbors. (Even after the Balkan wars turned friends into enemies, many sober-minded Croats still missed the Serbs’ wild parties and big tips.) Czechs, Poles, and Hungarians rattled down in their Ladas and Škodas. East Germans packed up the camper, hit the beach, and promptly took off all their clothes, which explains the abundance of Croatian beaches designated FKK, or Freikörperkultur, for Germany’s nudism movement….