The story of Odysseus stands at the base of European literature and it is one of the oldest myths ever. The return of this legendary Greek hero from Troy to his home on Ithaca took 10 years which in fact makes him probably the slowest traveller of all times. Mainly all historians that studied and interpreted the myth in the course of centuries have placed his adventures in the Mediterranean and very few dared to consider the Adriatic Sea, which back then was either not very well known or avoided. If we carefully look into Homer’s description of sailing, it shows us the poet knew about the winds and currents that scattered Odysseus and his crew around. Among those rare few Mohicans who claim Odysseus explored Central and South Dalmatia instead of f.e. Sicily, is Jasen Boko, the writer of both plays and travel literature, dedicated traveller himself, who published a book on the matter, a work based on his personal revelations closely following Homer’s clues directly from the epic poem. To summarize, Boko widened a path to a theory saying that one of the most famous travellers ever sailed for almost 10 years around the Adriatic and not the Mediterranean, and since we happen to share the passion for possibility of quixotic, different, or maybe just simply true, our decision was to sail there and see for ourselves, from a new perspective, the locations described by Homer situated right here in our neighbourhood.
The sailboat took us to places already familiar, armed with nothing but books, camera, enough red wine to steer up our imagination, and, one thing Odysseus and his sailors didn’t have – weather forecast. Having studied the lines from the poem we would compare them to real cliffs, bays and other places; try to establish the beaches and shores where Odysseus might have landed, discover palaces where he was welcomed, break through Scylla and Charibdis against the south wind, hear the Sirens, meet Calypso in her cave…
Did we find anything while chasing the legend?
Centuries have passed since the war and not even the glorious city of Troy offers much in terms of the architectural remains. The same goes for most of legendary locations, but after our ghost-hunting-like experience we realized that if the Trojan War had happened, and if Odysseus had experienced adventure sailing, it would have happened here in the Adriatic. Few days after they had left Troy Odysseus and his sailors were at the Peloponnese’s southern cape – the infamous Malea and they got caught in bura, (north-east wind), that threw them in the open sea, and then “stormy winds“ carried them for days. But where? “Stormy winds“ most probably refers to the south – east jugo wind that is, unlike bura or other winds known to blow for days, even weeks. In bura they would have ended in Africa, but in jugo nowhere else but in the Adriatic. Furthermore, “the old school theory“ places Laestrygonians, who according to Homer lived in a coastal city with steep cliffs at the mouth of a river, in a Greek town with no either river or steep cliffs?! On the other hand, in our route there is a town neatly fitting Homer’s description. And so on…
So, the answer is: Yes!, and would now like to share it in a form of a two – week trip designed by following the ancient epic poem, a more recent travel novel and a desire to discover new about old…

sea oddity-00

Odyssey started in Troy and we will start in Split…
– We get on our sailboat, meet the crew and set out towards Heraclea that hosted lethargic Lotus-Eaters, one of very few peaceful peoples Odysseus encountered in the Adriatic…
– Then off to find a cave where mythical giant Polyphemus, more known as Cyclops, captured the Greek hero and some of his crew to make them his lunch…
– After very hazardous self-rescue the fleet of Odysseus and his companions went to the island of Aeolus – the God of winds, and got favourable wind to get back home to Ithaca and almost arrived, but we know that almost doesn’t count so upon surviving a big storm they landed back to Aeolus’ island but confronted this time with the God’s fury they had to flee…
– Having passed through storms in the open sea for days, this time they decided to get to land and sail along it in order to avoid unpredictable conditions of the ocean. They rowed for 7 days only to reach “the steep city of Telepil“ where the most hostile tribe of cannibalistic Laestrygonians (yet to find out), made a fatal trap and out of twelve ships only one with the Odysseus onboard escaped the slaughter and maniacally sailed/rowed on to a new episode…
– Aeaea, the island of a witch-goddess Circe was the next stop and could have been last, too, but cunning Odysseus managed to outwit, (and charm), Circe who had turned his crew into pigs, and instead of sword he used another tool which pleased her enough to undo the black magic exercised on his people and that gave way to a romance. Not that he seemed to be in a big hurry to return to his wife Penelope or simply homesick, but still, after a year or so, it was time to leave…
– Sirens – the next temptation he was ready for and ordered the crew to tie him to the mast not to be lured by the Sirens’ irresistible call to sail closer to them and, eventually, hit the underwater rocks and sink down…
– No time to rest because Scylla and Charybdis, the deadly narrow straight, was waiting in huge winds…to be or not to be…they crossed the passage, not without a cost though – they lost six men and exhausted proceeded to…
– Thrinacia – island where Helios – the Sun god had its cattle that (according to Circe’s word of advice), were not to be eaten. But after a month of the first recovery and then perhaps idleness, while waiting for wind to lessen its force, Odysseus’ people got hungry, ignored the warning, made sure their captain was asleep and treated themselves with the meat of sacred cows and after six days sailed away home…at least that’s what they believed…in the meantime Helios complaints to supreme God – Zeus who strikes the ship with a thunder and sinks it…
– The last man standing, or better to say, floating was, of course, Odysseus holding onto the mast. The sea carried him again through the deadly straight, and finally after days on the verge of life and death on sea, waves washed him out on the shore of Ogygia. It is here where the voyage was on hold for seven years. But he didn’t spend his days alone, nymph Calypso welcomed him in her cave and he couldn’t resist her…
– Anyway, seven years passed and Calypso in the end helped her lover build the boat that would take him out of the Croatian territorial waters and back to Ithaca where his dear wife Penelope was still waiting…

This is where we leave Odysseus to his destiny and last stages of his return. Our chase ends, our ways part. He heads on to Greece and we set our sails to Dubrovnik to let our impressions settle down. Even though you may have already been to some of these places this time you will see them from a perspective of the time machine (in a form of sailboat) carrying us back into the forgotten past. The concept of the trip: we are on a boat, our host is an experienced skipper, and the guide (if available) Jasen Boko himself – the writer of the book that inspired the trip.
The plan is to sail to all the places we believe the Odysseus’ adventures took place following his route, except when nautically illogical. On different locations, as a part of the experience, we are going to hike, kayak, ride bikes (optional) in order to reach specific cave, hilltop, viewpoint, beach or restaurant and make most out of it.
When it comes to gastronomy Dalmatia offers many delights and we are interested in exploring them as well. On the route are some great local restaurants, wine makers or just simple and basic dishes in an outstanding ambience. Due to sometimes unpredictable or just rough conditions on the sea some of the itinerary may be changed, we may have to alter the plan or the course just like Odysseus, but even if so, we are supposed to explore the whole route as intended. And enjoy it… “…’cause the sea is stronger…“ from an old Dalmatian song