I’m certainly not of the belief that money can buy you happiness. Never have been. Never will. In fact, for those who know me well, would know that I’m usually doing everything I can to save a little cash. I’ll often pack a lunch, instead of eating out; arrive by foot, over taking a cab; and, for a good 90% of my travels, I’ll set up camp in a hostel over a flash hotel any day! But sometimes, just sometimes, it’s nice to recognise the moments where spending a little extra could just make for the most incredible memory of your life. Or, to notice that a little splurge may just save your soul. It’s about thinking to yourself, ‘When else am I going to be in this place, at this time, with these people?’ And then deciding, ‘What the hell? Who cares how much it is?!’ Twice, during my visit to Dubrovnik, I made these decisions, but I’ll come back to that later. First, let me explain more about this popular destination.
Dubrovnik is a famous city located on the edge of the south coast of Croatia. To view this town from the water is breathtaking! Positioned on a cliffs edge, the traditional terracotta colours of the city roofs peak above the tall city walls. Above it all lie the domes of the town’s cathedrals; the sound of its bells echoing out to sea. You can also enjoy stunning views by walking along the town’s city walls or hiking above to the Fort Imperial. Initially, we entered via the main gate, which takes you via a small bridge over the old moat. As I walked under the extravagant arch way and stepped onto the stone of the main street, I immediately felt transported back in time. Hundreds of stairs lead up narrow paths. Beautiful Spanish steps ascended towards stunning churches. The city was beautiful! I tried to imagine how the town would have looked over 200 years ago; the people that would have lived here; the busy markets that would have filled the streets; and how Dubrovnik would have looked and felt without the thousands of tourists that now feed through its gates everyday!!
Over recent years, tourism in Dubrovnik has increased by 10%, seeing 1 million tourists enter its gates during 2016. The already popular destination has seen its popularity increase since the launch of the famous series, ‘Game of Thrones’, which uses Dubrovnik for a number of its film sites. And, although the city walls make the site perfect for the series, they can make you feel claustrophobic at times, as they trap thousands of people within their borders. Thankfully, my girlfriends and I found the perfect way to escape the crowds… Which brings me to the first example of how money bought me happiness in Dubrovnik.
I had always dreamed of doing it, but somehow it ended up being better than I had ever imagined. We decided to hire a boat. A private boat. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, let that statement sink right in, because that’s not something you’re going to hear come from my mouth very often. The occasion was my friend’s 28th birthday and the four of us decided to celebrate in style! With Kate behind the wheel, we sped off into the ocean, skipping across the waves. We couldn’t help but laugh and cheer as the wind swept our hair back and left a permanent smile on our faces.
The trip obviously exceeded the daily budget, but never was there a moment of hesitation. Like I said, it’s about recognising those moments and this was certainly one of them; a moment I will always look back on as one of my favourite from my travels. We popped bottles of champagne, enjoyed delicious platters, jumped off the boat’s edge and sung along to cheesy old school tunes. We discussed travels past and present and swapped stories of ex-partners and future potentials. We then talked about the “Now.” I mean…we were in the Adriatic sea. On a private boat! We couldn’t believe how lucky we were to be doing such a thing. We all wished that we could do this more often. How great would it be to splurge like this all the time? But then, suddenly we stopped ourselves and thought….
Would we really want to do this all the time? If we experienced this frequently, would we still appreciate it like we did that day? Or, would we take it for granted? The question stemmed to other discussions about gratitude and how thankful we all were to have the experiences we’ve had at such a young age. It was a nice way of putting the remainder of the holiday in perspective and reminded me to practice gratitude daily.
So, I’ve mentioned about recognising the moments where money can bring happiness by creating lifetime memories, but what about recognising the moments where you’re incredibly uncomfortable and, as a result, your mentality goes down the drain? Now, I don’t mean giving up at the drop of a hat when things get challenging! No – I’m all for building strength in these situations. But, when you’re travelling for an extended period of time, it’s important to look after your physical and mental health and at times that means slowing down, relaxing and getting some decent hours of sleep; something I was seriously lacking after staying at our Dubrovnik hostel.
It’s the first time I’ve ever walked out of a hostel, but if I was to stay just one more night, I think I would have snapped! I knew it was time to seek refuge and although it felt wrong to walk out, it was the best decision I could have made. By paying just that little bit extra, we escaped the crowds within the city walls and stayed in an apartment out of town. We had our own space, with a kitchen and comfortable beds, which we used to rest and recharge. The result? Complete relief, happiness and a great night sleep! It left us feeling ten times happier the following day and provided us with the energy to continue feeling excited about our travels.
Dubrovnik – you may have cost me a little more than my standard holiday but my goodness you were worth every cent! You’ve left me feeling grateful and re-enegrgised. Now I can’t wait for the next adventure to come!