I’m sitting above a beautiful bay on an inlet to an island off the coast of Croatia, on the Adriatic Sea. In a small village on this rocky edge of the island the houses line the hill side, which stretches around the bay creating a bowl of water below. In the distance the rocky barren mountains of the Croatian mainland sit like curtains across a stage. About 100meters off shore down in the bowl sits a super yacht, the same dimensions as one I once worked on and resembling something likes its cousin. From up here it is completely on stage: everyone in the town can see the only big boat anchored in the bay and any little thing that the crew on board set about doing.
Six years ago while travelling through Europe I stumbled across the opportunity to work aboard one of these floating hotels of the rich and famous and took it. For five months I lived aboard as a stewardess and normalised this quite extraordinary lifestyle of the wealthy being cooked, cleaned and ferried around the south of Spain and France. Many people have no idea this micro-universe of the rich and famous even exists, but it does – employing thousands worldwide as crew and many making good careers and great money out of a form of being modern day servants.
It’s a great feeling to sit here and observe this yacht from my balcony, like a box in the arches of a grand hall, knowing full well that inside that boat is a micro universe of relationships, cooking, cleaning, engines, rallying around for owners, and DVDs being watched by crew in air conditioned messes below deck to pass time. At this show, the audience is the real world on this island: unfolded and open with locals going about their daily tasks of swimming, fishing, trying to get tourists to stay in their little sobes, and living their life in tune to the time of the ferry landings. Sitting aboard the vessel that I worked on I was completely mindful of this but was also had the chance to see the other side of the coin – the viewpoint of the crew and the families on board. Despite that, I could not wait to be done with it. And now that I am on vacation, delighted to be one of only five travellers in this village this week, I certainly know what side I prefer to be on: here on this beautiful hill with the freedom of the sea for swimming, the local food and hospitality and the real world all around me.