MESSAGE – Croatia *Video*
Zdravo! Hello in Croatian!
TV advertisements for Croatia describe it as “Europe as it used to be,” which is pretty accurate. This incredibly beautiful country has an amazingly rugged coastline, picturesque islands in the clear Adriatic waters, and medieval walled towns with their Gothic character still intact.
We spent one week sailing the 1,000+ miles of Croatian coastline. Alas, with more than 1,000 islands (only 66 inhabited), we only touched a few of these gems. Here’re my 7 insights into this quaint country.
MEET (Cool Meet Ups) – Split’s Local Market. Our Croatian cruise was on an ultra-luxury Seaborne ship, which meant we got to enjoy numerous perks. One of the benefits was a shopping expedition with Executive Chef Rajat in the town of Split.
With one of the local crew who grew up in the area, we perused the local fruit and vegetable market, buying bagfuls of yellow beans, ripe figs, and fresh cheeses. The old women who worked in the stalls were delighted to see us (or rather delighted that the cruise Chef would be buying in bulk that day). We were likewise delighted to taste the fresh produce and traipse through the market, witnessing the spirited negotiation process.
EAT (Tasty Eats) – Mixed Grill. Croatia’s food reflects its centuries of domination by other countries. Turkish, Italian, and Austrian influences can all be detected. Surprising for a country with such a long coastline, Croatia is a meat-eating nation: grilled meats, sausages, skewered pork and veal. Have no fear, we still got our fill of fresh seafood too, especially calamari.
SEE (Must-see Sights) – Dubrovnik’s Old Town. To quote George Bernard Shaw: “Those who seek paradise on Earth should come to Dubrovnik.” How right he was!
A UNESCO World Heritage site, Dubrovnik’s old town was protected for more than 700 years by a mile-long wall built during the 14th century. The wall is 20 feet thick in places and features 15 towers, 5 bastions, 2 corner towers and a fortress.
The best place to start your circle of the city ramparts is Pile Gate, the main entrance into Old Town. As you cross the wooden drawbridge, you walk across the town’s main thoroughfare, the Placa, which is tiled with the same light colored stones of the houses standing alongside it. All around you is a perfect medieval city caught in time!
SHOP (Gotta Have) – Historical Maps. Croatia is all about all things lavender, so you can certainly get your fill of sachets and pillows. Me, I’m a girl that likes maps, and as a one of the great seafaring and navigational nations, Croatia has a great assortment. I picked up a hand-colored reproduction of the coastline dotted with fierce-looking sea monsters.
ACTIVITY (Gotta Do) – Kayaking the Coast. I was lucky enough to jump ship one morning and kayak a bit of the Adriatic Sea. Possibly my favorite way to start the day!
I have to say, the waters here were some of the clearest dark blue I’ve seen, which is amazing, with all the boat traffic and fishing industries that rely on the sea.
GIVE (Greatest Need) – Rebuilding Tourism. Croatia has had a complicated history, having been part of the Napoleonic, Austro-Hungarian, and Yugoslavia empires (just to name a few). In 1991, Croatia broke away from the Yugoslav Federation to become an independent nation for the first time in 900 years.
Unfortunately for them, Serbia didn’t want to see them go, resulting in a bitter war of independence for the nation. After four years of fighting, including a particularly brutal bombing siege of Dubrovnik, Croatia’s historical towns suffered an immense amount of damage to their local industries, urban infrastructure and the life-blood of the economy: tourism.
How can we help the country best rebuild? Pick Croatia as you next vacation destination – you won’t be disappointed!
ENJOY (Extra Fun) – Visit Hvar! Known as the loveliest of Dalmatian islands — which his saying a lot — Hvar is an island made in the sun. Magnificent!
Here I am at the top of the town’s mid-16th century Venetian fortress overlooking the Hvar harbor. The fort’s panoramic views are breathtaking: a Gothic town perched on the edge of the sea, surrounded by lavender fields. Pretty much perfect!
Can’t see the video? Click the link here: Erin in Hvar
Croatia is one of the best all-around vacation spots I’ve visited: great food, friendly people, spectacular scenery and a rich history. All with a certain island chill that keeps it all relaxed. Why not check it out for yourself?!