Ugljan is a small island across from Zadar, it takes only 15 minutes by ferry to reach the mainland. It is the island of my husband’s choice and the island of circumstance for me, and it took the longest time for it to become even a little bit mine.
There is nothing wrong with it – it has pine tree groves, the typically red soil commonly found in Dalmatia, strange and quirky people inhabiting it, crystal clear sea, a mix of tourism and island stubbornness, sandy and rocky beaches, hidden groves and magnificent lookouts, stone huts and awesome potatoes, Roman ruins and stunning sunsets.
- It is not Brač. It does not smell like Brač, therefore it does not smell like an island to me and my body does not believe it to be one, because a 15-minute ferry ride is a distance one could swim. An island should feel distant, dislocated and isolated, by the winds, and the smell of sea, saltiness, pine trees and resin, and nascent dangers of fire. Ugljan has no summer maestral. Its sea is warm, its beaches perfect for kids and not windsurfing, there is no mountain looming and the regular tourists speak with the wrong dialect of Croatian. It is not Brač and it is thus forever throwing me out of my summer reality. –
That’s what’s wrong with it! It also does not hurt like Brač. But that is another post, this one is about Ugljan, the island in the Zadar archipelago that my son will love like I love Brač.
Ugljan is the island that taught me how much I hate the summer heat and how much I loathe sand on a beach. One where I learned I really prefer to cool off in the sea, and not under air conditioning. The one where I miss the waves, but get so much more delighted about the occasional small ones.
It was Ugljan where I discovered one could go out at night, in July or August, in a strappy dress and not get cold. Where I could wear a hat and not get blown off. Play cards on the beach and not lose half the deck to the wind. Take 20 minutes and small steps to get into the sea only if it is April, but just walk right in if July or August.
On Ugljan, I also learned I actually like to ride a bike on an island, I just needed an island that was less hilly than Brač. Not having to walk very far to the beach on Ugljan, I discovered I do not like just lying on the beach. Swimming in various places through the morning is something I enjoy very much – I find it invigorating and interesting, even more so since I had a child who is as enthusiastic about swimming, snorkeling, cycling and exploring.
Ugljan is the island where I spent my last 20 summers, where I learned to make a mojito, and found new friends, and learned to be an adult. Learned to be my own.