Defying my fear of spiders in Bol, Croatia

It was almost 40 °C. Four hours of walking separated us from the top of Vidova Gora, the highest point in the Adriatic Islands. I tried convincing Hugo that going there was not a good idea, at least not at noon. “All we have to do is bring more water”, he replied, and by the look on his face I knew there was no stopping him.

Thankfully, an old man, sitting on his porch in the very last house before the mountain, joined my efforts of bringing Hugo back to his senses. He took a break from chewing a piece of grass and said, in broken English: “stop now. Now hot. Go back to beach”. To no avail.

“He’s a local, he knows what he’s saying”, I insisted, to which Hugo replied he’d grown up hiking with this father in the summer and everything would be fine. “Well, you might have, but I…” — and just as I was about to finish my sentence, I saw vomit on the floor.

“Okay, that’s it, I’m going back. If you want to continue, you’ll have to do it alone!”. The old man smirked, looking amused. There was no stopping me.

Hugo made me promise we’d come back at about 4:00 PM, when it would still be warm as hell, but a lot more bearable — to which I said yes. It’s not always rainbows and butterflies, it’s compromise that moves us aloooong

That would be the first time I’d ever walk up a mountain and, since I’m not the most active type, I wasn’t really looking forward to it.

Vidova Gora, Croatia
Feeling hot, hot, HOT!

Turns out the heat and physical activity were the least of my problems. Vidova Gora is full of HUGE spiders, hanging on their webs above our heads. Never have I ever been so thankful to have a hat on. I pushed it as deep onto my head as I could and never looked up.

Sometimes, a spider web — with said spider — would be right in front of us, blocking the way, and Hugo had to destroy it. Whenever that happened, I’d stay about 10 steps behind, looking the other way. What the eye doesn’t see…

What kept this arachnophobe couch potato going was the thought of seeing Zlatni Rat, also known as the Golden Horn beach, from above. Whenever the thought of a hairy spider walking up my legs would hit me, I’d just try and replace it with all those pictures of the beach I saw on Google Images.

Vidova Gora Crotia
Obviously not taken by me, as I don’t own a drone or helicopter…

And let me tell you: it was totally worth it!

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Once we got to the top, we encountered several people who had gotten there by car. None of them seemed to enjoy the scenery as much as we did. They would just look around, say “oh, that’s beautiful”, take a couple pictures and leave. But we, oh, we were stoked! After all, we had earned that view!

Vidova Gora, Croatia
Flexing those nonexistent muscles
Vidova Gora, Croatia
Me Tarzan, you Jane
Vidova Gora Croatia
Made it!
Vidova Gora Croatia weather
Did I mention it was really hot that day?

Since then, I’ve included at least one hike (if possible, up a mountain) in every trip I’ve planned. I know it sounds like a cliche, but the best things in life don’t come easy. They take time and you gotta work hard for them. So if there’s something I can do in my travels that will give me a similar feeling to graduating college, or landing a cool job, or finally going on a date after having a crush on someone for months… Of course I’m gonna do it! Those moments don’t come too often, after all.

Also, coming from a concrete jungle such as São Paulo, where so many people go by car to the grocery store around the corner, and all the exercise they get is on a treadmill, I guess I was just a nature virgin. Croatia is when it all turned around.

I’m still not so fond of exercising (I’d rather have my share of endorphin in chocolate, thank you) and usually walk the entire way wondering “what the hell was I thinking when I planned this?”, but as soon as I get to the top I remember there’s no beating that sense of accomplishment. No car put me there. I got myself there.

I guess it’s the same as traveling itself: is there anybody out there who enjoys the ‘traveling’ part? Having to show up at the airport two hours in advance, go through all the shenanigans at security, spend hours locked up in a plane, then take a shuttle bus to where you actually wanna be… Ugh, if there wasn’t something good awaiting on the other side, I’m pretty sure no one would travel!

So don’t miss out on doing things like this because you don’t go to the gym that often or because you’ve never done that before. I’m not telling you to put your life at risk or do extreme things that require training you don’t have, I’m just saying your body might be capable of more than you give it credit for. And, because you don’t believe in it, you’re missing out on unforgettable experiences.

Recently, a friend of mine from Brazil visited me in Utrecht and she ditched riding a pedal boat because it’d last one and a half hour and she is sedentary. Well, her loss. Utrecht is the cutest thing seen from water level and she certainly wouldn’t have died from it.

So thanks, Hugo, for being so annoyingly stubborn! Otherwise, I’d probably still be the kind of person who gives mountains and pedal boats a miss.

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By the way, the rest of Bol, the town where Vidova Gora and Zlatni Rat are located, isn’t too shabby either:

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