Rab/Arba is a small island, 22 km long and located in the northwestern part of the Adriatic Sea/Croatia, very easy accessible from Rijeka or Zagreb. When you reach the ferry port Stinica, it’s a ten minutes ferry ride to Rab. When you approach the island, first what you see is mostly barren terrain -karst on the northeastern side of the island, while the southwestern side is covered by one of the last oak forests of the Mediterranean, justifying its name: the Illyrian-Liburnian word Arb meant „dark, obscure, green, forested“.
I have been visiting the island of Rab every year for the last five years, always at the same time: the end of June. I always look forward to this short retreat, four days refuge from busy everyday life. This is my friends- time, me-time: my bestie owns a house in Banjol, and she hosts our „Ladies Weekends“.
We read books, meditate, take long walks, discuss various subjects, cook, sunbathe, swim, talk a lot and sometimes just sit in silence or coach each other. Everything we do moves in flow, effortlessly and with ease. Oh yes, our weekend lasts four to five days!
I love islands, that much you already know about me. Why? Well, because most of them – when you move away from the busy ports and bigger cities – are still wild at heart, still without any light-pollution and never overcrowded.
What to I feel first when I step out of the car on Rab?
The scent of immortelle. Fields and fields of immortelle in karst. By the end of June, its blooming time is almost over, it’s the scent is not overly dense and overpowering. Warning: if you go picking immortelle flowers, do not pull. Cut. If you pull, you might pull out the whole plant with roots. Collecting immortelle is regulated by law, be kind to Nature and protect it!
Lavender. It is in full bloom. The scent of sea and pine trees rolling in gently with an evening breeze. Scorched red earth at noon. Laurel, olive, lemon and fig trees. The scent of palm trunks in the afternoon, suntan lotions and creams on the beach.
Oleander flowers, bright pink and deep red mostly. Sage, rosemary, and basil in the garden. A pitcher of lemonade on the table. Freshly baked cheesecake my friend just took out of the oven. My own skin, salty after swimming in the sea, hair becoming more and more curly after each swim…
While you are visiting the island, do try „Rapska torta“ – yes, this island has its own cake, made with almonds and Maraschino liqueur. There are many small shops offering chocolate with lavender, immortelle oil, lavender oil and differents products, olive oil, dried figs etc.
Visit the city of Rab: the town has a long history that dates back to 360BC. There are many churches and historical sights, Gothic and Renaissance palaces and the town itself is in the form of a ship. I personally do prefer to go there before June 15th (an unofficial start of the full tourist season…) but if you like big fieras, do not miss the medieval Festival (Fiera), held from 25th to 27th July, when Rab celebrates its patron St Cristopher.
Rab is called „The happy island“: it is perfect for a family holiday, hiking or biking trips, or lovers escape…as it is recorded that on the 11th of August 1936. King Edward and his future bride arrived at the island of Rab, anchoring right in front of Banjola beach.
They took a boat ashore where they were met with various dignitaries of the town of Rab and visited the sights. After the official part of the visit, King Edward and Lady Simpson got naked and dived into the sea in the bay of Kandarola on the Frkanj peninsula.
Naked swimming is still so much fun. On beaches marked “Nudists beach”, of course.
In the western part of the island, there are beaches with cliffs, in the southern part gravel shores and in the northern part there are many sandy beaches. The most famous one: Paradise Beach.
Summer, sea, sand and…Scents, scents, what were you thinking! 😀
And perfumes. I took with me one of my Acqua dell’Elba perfumes: Elba is a little bigger than Rab but really very similar. The Mediterranean climate, plants, trees and Nature tie these two islands more than either will ever confess 😀
Essenza di un isola – Acqua is a fragrance for women and men, great for hot weather and so compliant with surroundings on the island of Rab: salt and citruses, myrtle and jasmine with red algae, summery bright, light blue… It really smells exactly like my days on Rab! It’s kind of more Adriatic Sea related perfume than the rest in their collection…and during cold winter days it serves as a reminder of summer…for me, but my husband and son spray-on abundantly too 😀
I am a fan of Acqua dell’Elba perfumes ever since I visited Elba, you can read more about their perfumes and an interview with one of the owners here.
Since Croatia has more than 1000 islands, I don’t really think that I will report from each and every one I visit(ed): if you do, do let me know where did you go and what olfactory impressions did you take home!
The Plum Girl
Photos: The Plum Girl
Samples provided by: Acqua dell’Elba
Opinions of my own.