I’m a planner.
When my college roommate and I spent a week in Croatia in July 2013, we hit the ground with all transportation booked, rooms reserved, and Google Doc itinerary filled.
We planned to arrive in the coastal city of Split, spend a night on the nearby island of Hvar, and return to Split for the next night so we could leave at the crack of dawn the next morning on a bus to Dubrovnik.
We’d spend the rest of the time there, broken up by a day trip to Montenegro and a half-day trip to a nearby beach island (it ended up being Supetar).
However, when the ferry docked in Hvar on our second morning in Croatia, we quickly fell in love. Our hotel had run out of room and bumped us to a sister hotel that happened to be much nicer than the accommodations we’d paid for.
Everywhere we looked there was something beautiful — sea, sun, sailboats, yachts — and every minute spent lounging in the sun was addictive.
Bursting with excited energy, we climbed the hill from Hvar town to an old fortress where the sunlight turned grey stones nearly white against an obscenely blue sky. We wrote postcards from our balcony overlooking the harbour, and wandered through the town square beneath the enormous shadow of the Cathedral of St. Stephen.
That afternoon, draped lazily over lounge chairs on terraces by the sea, I made an extremely out-of-character suggestion: “What do you say we cancel tomorrow night’s reservation and extend our stay here for another day?”
“Absolutely,” my friend agreed, and we went back to lounging. Maybe we took a swim.
Changing those plans, however, wasn’t cheap. That night, we asked the hotel if we could extend our stay and, luckily, they had the space — but it would cost the full rate, as opposed to the $US116 we had paid the night before after being bumped. It was about twice the price of the first night.
We lost the $US144 from our Airbnb reservation in Split. Plus, we decided to go for broke and pay $US35 each for admission to the private beach club we had spied from our lounge chairs in the public area the day before.
And it was totally worth it.
Inappropriately early the next day, we planted ourselves at the beach club. We got banana smoothies for lunch and occupied ourselves alternately dipping our toes in the sea and sighing, “Isn’t this nice?” It was more than worth the money, and at the time, I wished I could have stayed longer. Looking back, I still do.
If I’m really going to reflect on it, I could say that the best money I ever spent was my college education, or the money to live in New York City the year after college for an internship that got me my first job, or just about any trip I’ve ever taken; I could say it was the bag I carried all through college that still, five years later, I use for the gym, or the Jack Rogers shoes I buy every other summer and wear until they break, or the inflated grocery prices I pay at the corner supermarket to avoid going blocks out of my way after work.
But for some reason, when I think of the best money I ever spent, those sun-drenched afternoons on the Adriatic are the first thing to come to mind.
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