Authentic Fish Market Trogir

        The Cat and Mouse Game at the Trogir Fish Market

Smiling flirtatiously, the blonde, elegantly-dressed woman approached the man behind a table lined with mounds of anchovies, sardines, squirming lobsters and bright-orange shrimp.

Immediately the seductress, playing a “cat and mouse” game in this Trogir, Croatia fish market, she mischievously asked, “What can you offer me that is  right out of the sea, something really good for my husband?”

Trogir Fish Market
Trogir Fish Market

A place for gossip, romantic liaisons, and heated arguments, Ribarnica is more than a mere market. This historic, red-tiled institution only a short drive from Split on the Adriatic Sea, is a raucous, often salty-tongued “playground.”

Beyond the shouts of “fresh fish, fresh fish scallops that will change your life tonight,” the emotional, passionate, and even volcanic temperament of Croatian people becomes very evident.

“Pretty lady, I have something very delicious for you, I am here just to please you,” laughs the fish seller, grabbing a lobster and rather provocatively dangling it close to the woman.

“I am here just for you, speak to me, how can I help you,” he quickly adds, reaching for a long knife, and adding, “try this swordfish. So perfect for grilling. So are these sardines. Believe me. Eating them with some good wine will make your husband a new man.”

The thinly-veiled innuendos—and acerbic repartee that eventually entails haggling over prices—evokes the fun and entertainment of a Middle Eastern bazaar.

Very crowded around the stand
Very crowded around the stand

“It’s always a knockdown fight, a contest of wills between egos and pocketbooks,” observes an elderly man in between sips of coffee from a nearby cafe.

“Everyday it’s different here. Who knows, always exciting, sometimes a dog barks, and sometimes a rabbit runs. Tomorrow that money thing could change. The rabbit, not the seller, will have a good day.”

Visitors win everyday. Ribarnica is theatre. There are so many verbal acrobatics, jousting for position, give-n-take over tables filled with exotic-looking creatures, this colorful market has a distinctly earthy Mediterranean flavor.

But “dangers” still lurk. Especially from stampedes.

Provoking this wild, very amusing spree, a fisherman yells, “Skuša, skuša, mackerel, the freshest, heavenly mackerel. Come! Come! Now!”

Dozens of housewives and men over-burdened with packages start dashing towards the fisherman’s stand.

“What’s the price of your unbelievable mackerel?” scoffs a wry skeptic.

“100 Kuna (13 Euros). That’s nothing. Very good price!,” barks the fisherman.

“100 Kuna? Are you crazy?”

“You don’t like? Then go home to your wife with no fish. See what that gets you tonight”

The banter continues. Soon there is no more mackerel. It’s been  good day for this particular “barking dog.”

One more day is over, one more Ribarnica story has been written.

A meeting place for women to secretly talk about their husbands; a rendezvous point for lovers; and a convenient, relaxed setting for arranging business deals; Ribarnica is all about anger, love and mystery.

If only its’ stone walls and tiles could talk.

Or perhaps not.

Maybe it is far better to savor some grilled sardines, and to allow those mysteries to remain hidden.

What do you think? Please let us know!

 

The Sweet Seduction

Written by Anita Palada, Edward Kiersh

Photos by Anita Palada, Goluzarije

“The seduction, the magic, begins with the hands, the kneading, the stretching,” laughs this modern-day Michelangelo sculpturing another sweet masterpiece in his cozy Split patisserie.

“Of course my perfect strudels also need eggs, vanilla cream, the top ingredients, the very best almonds, nuts, yogurt mix and how I interpret various secrets, Croatian recipes from the past,’” continues Ivan Matić, 43, frenetically reaching for heaping amounts of sugar and gloriously-tart cherries.

 

“But the real secret to making great strudel is the hands. Mine are filled with love. They are very sensitive. Perfect for making wonderful Strudel.”

His colleague, baker Eleonara Višić, enthusiastically agrees. Standing alongside him, his partner in sweetness, she emphasizes just how critical hands are to preparing dough for kneading. An equally-experienced artisan, schooled by her beloved mother and grandmother, she compares her work to a much-revered painting, the always-crowded, sweetly-scented Guluzarije bakery to an artist’s studio.

 

“When I see dough I see a blank canvas in front of me,” she passionately explains. “I’m a painter with a brush in my hand. I have an image of the dough, how I will transform it with creams and fillings, how I will mix these vivid colors. I completely immerse myself in the dough so my hands and spirit are giving life, love. The dough then gives me a lot of great scents in gratitude.”

But this duo’s deeply-felt passion—and ambitions—go far beyond strudel. While they meticulously sift flour, mix sugar, and stretch the dough into just the right flaky thickness for strudel, these tradition-minded Croatians are also faithfully “recreating the specific smells and tastes of people’s childhoods in Dalmatia”— offering classical desserts that have long disappeared from bakeries.

Welcome to Goluzarije Patisserie
Welcome to Goluzarije Pastry Shop!

“The real people of Split are proud of their culinary traditions, rich and full of sweetness,” insists Ivan. “Fritters are a traditional cake in our country, made for hundreds of years, but they could not be bought anywhere. I want to evoke happy moments spent in homes with families, so I am making Brač Hrapoćuša, Trogir rafioli, apple and cherry strudels, vanilla rolls. Menus from a lost time.”

Matić’s devotion to the past has spurred dreams about the future. He hopes to open two more “fairy tale” patisseries. In the meantime, patrons animatedly chat with Eleonora about concocting a strudel crust coated with melted butter, and seek out more than baking advice from Ivan.

The Best Fritters In Split
The Best Fritters In Split

“People know I have a big heart like a bus, that I know all about love,” says Matić proudly, keenly eying his oven to make sure the dough bakes for 30 minutes at 180 degrees.

“I tell them that love goes through the stomach first. Eating fine food, it is one of the ways to seduce a woman, and to maintain love beloved woman is smiling and happy, and I always want to see her that way. I want to treat my guests to the same beautiful experience, to eat deliciously, and to love each other.”

Now that people are increasingly flocking to Guluzarije, Ivan thoroughly enjoys seeing people laugh with every flavorful bite of his strudel. Their smiles are making him—and Eleonora-even more committed to offering “absolute perfection.”

“Pastries are happiness, so here dough is our love,”says Eleonora. “When I prepare cakes I am transported to a different dimension, another state of mind. I am happily divorced from reality.”

It’s a wondrous realm both of these bakers want to share with each of their strudel lovers.

Goluzarija Joyful Team
Best Regards From Goluzarija Joyful Team!

 

Vučica Winery

Love and Seduction in a Croatian Vineyard

Walking alongside his “angel” on the small Kaštela hillside, the young Croatian winemaker sounds like an obsessed Romeo talking about “love and attachment.”

“When I come to the vineyard I feel every vine,” says Josip Vučica, 27, one of several artisanal winemakers who are now giving Croatian wine new international prominence.

Vučica Vineyard

 

Naked to the waist while weeding vines in the late afternoon sun, he shares a smile with his partner Anđela Buljan, 25. She is his  “angel” who is now helping him navigate the admittedly-arduous cycle of cultivation and production.

“Wine is very hard work. Very hard,” he continues, tending to indigenous Crljenak Kaštelanski red grapes that will ultimately yield wine more commonly known as Italian Primitivo or American Zinfandel.

“But the earth and the vines are alive to me, like a body that breathes. When I am in the vineyard I can see life being born… the first fruits, it is so beautiful. After picking the vine remains naked, I am sad, yet still aware I am preparing for a new birth.”

Cheers!

Similarly seduced by the romantic notions surrounding wine, a new generation of risk-taking winemakers are profiting from Croatian grapes’ widening popularity. Graševina, Pošip,  Malvasia and other grapes are winning plaudits from critics, Decanter magazine, and in Zurich, Bordeaux, and at other world competitions.

In sea breeze-swept locales such as Kaštela, and Hvar, the “Island of Wine” where white varieties Kuč and Maraština flourish, those accolades have prompted impassioned growers to return to family-owned estates. Here they are experimenting with organic farming—and also honoring centuries-old traditions.

Vučica Wine Celler

Such work certainly demands a deep-seated zealotry. While it’s enjoyable to see grapes mature, and to welcome visitors, Vučica must also cope with the vagaries of farming. Yields are always uncertain due to capricious changes in the weather—and to climate change.

He worked with an oenologist to better understand the mercurial aspects of the production—monitoring the grapes’ growth invariably impacted by the weather, extracting their juices and dealing with the uncertainties of the aging process.

It’s a sensory experience yielding great promise, yet at times, also a stressful one.

 

Then there’s Anđela. Relationships are often complicated, and this one is sometimes strained by two opinionated wine enthusiasts working so closely together.

“There is tension at times, yet we are very dedicated to our work and know what our priorities are,” declares Angela, who plays a vital role in Vučica’s operations, its’ two-acre, 14,000 vine estate.

Josip & Anđela

“Like any couple we sometimes quarrel,” admits Anđela, who still understands the couple’s main priority. “We still don’t let anything affect the business…so we soon reconcile…and that gives our relationship a new lovely note.”

Now the challenge is to give their wines even more enchanting notes—flavor “complexities” that will help them weather greater competition.

The increasing appeal of Croatian wines has radically changed the wine-growing landscape. Now wineries are being totally modernized to become tourist-friendly. There are new varietals, new organic wines, and to remain competitive Vučica must continue to be in the vineyard “for good morning and for a good night.”

As he talks of being proud about “seeing the drops of young wine,” Andela affectionately grabs his hand. It’s now clear that this couple is making more than wine.

They are writing a love story.

You are welcome to One Tasting degustation at Vučica Winery
Šibenik

The strange disappearance of Brad Pitt

Asked if she had seen Brad Pitt, the waitress in the Fafarinka cafe just looked at me as if I was crazy.

Šibenik Archipelago Dalmatia Croatia The best beaches
Šibenik Archipelago

“A man told me Pitt, the actor, had been here, have you seen him?” I continued, waiting for the waitress to put my ice cream on the table, and to stop staring at me as if I had been out in the sun too long.”

“He’s disappeared, has he been here, to Šibenik?”

Still looking amazed, the waitress  responded, “I like him, he is an interesting person, but nothing special. He is blond, I don’t like this kind of man. I prefer black-haired ones, tall with muscles. They are very seductive.”

What a revelatory moment! Now this woman’s deepest love life secrets were being revealed to me. She started to laugh, but I was no closer to solving the mystery.

Šibenik
Visit Šibenik

After Brad Pitt had visited the Croatian coastal city of Šibenik a few years ago, the rumors and speculation swirled. TV reports. Newspaper stories. Everyone was abuzz here and in the neighboring beach towns.

Brad Pitt, the winner of last year’s Oscar for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, was considering investing in a beachfront, 800 million Euros tourist-residential complex that would transform the outskirts of Šibenik.

The area was divine, a rather undiscovered retreat known as the “gateway to the Kornati islands”—a place for discovering Adriatic lobsters, fine wines, and secret coves with crystal white sand.

Šibenik Archipelago Dalmatia Croatia The best beaches
Šibenik Archipelago

But Pitt was not just scouting lovely and secluded area beaches like Tijat, Zmajan, and Žirje where swimming with the fishes in the transparent sea is bewitching—or savoring the homemade chocolate ice cream with hazelnuts at Fafarinka.

According to the gossip, unproven stories circulating among the townspeople, Pitt wasn’t just thinking about real estate. It was rumored that he had fallen under the spell of a Croatian beauty.

“Yes Pitt was here, it was interesting because of  the rumors, that he had found a real secret gem in Šibenik, real secret,” laughs Fabijano Baranović, the manager at the luxurious King Krešimir Heritage Hotel.

Heritage Hotel King Krešimir The best hotel in Šibenik
Heritage Hotel King Krešimir Šibenik

Handing me a menu and insisting, “We make special dishes from black pigs in Lika, pig medallions, prosciutto, and sausages are our specialties.” A true pig lover, he finally adds, “gossip, gossip, we made fun of discussing Pitt’s feelings.”

But despite Baranović’s ardent passion for pig sausages, the mystery still lingered—where was the elusive actor? Could he be at the Michelin-starred Pelegrini restaurant famed for its’ lamb and veal dishes? Or would he be found admiring the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Gothic cathedral, or just strolling through Šibenik’s charming winding streets?

Not finding any clues, I headed to Zablaće, a seemingly-endless white beach about 5 km. from Sibenik. Dotted with stunning villas, it is just the storybook type of escape mega-investors could be attracted to.

“Have you seen Brad Pitt here?” I asked a swimmer. “You know, the actor, the blond in Ocean’s Eleven with George Clooney?”

“Brad Pitt? No, I didn’t see him.”

“That’s a pity,” I sympathized. “He might be interested in talking to you. Maybe you could tell him where to find an authentic locally-prepared Šibenik lunch.”

“HaHa, meet me? He’s a big movie star. He likes the best restaurants, not meals in my simple home.”

Pelegrini restaurant Šibenik The best restaurant in Šibenik
Pelegrini Restaurant Šibenik

I moved on. Maybe I could find another sunbather who had seen this very socially-conscious Hollywood heartthrob.

Only receiving some more astonished looks, I returned to Šibenik, questioning my detective skills.

To boost my spirits, I stopped at Koka, a clothing shop near the famed St. Jakov cathedral.

After admiring the dresses, I had to ask, “Have you seen Brad Pitt? A woman told me that he had been here. That he bought a dress here.”

The owner looked confused, and gave me another of those unsettling looks that suggested I was mad. I feigned a smile, but before I left, a well-dressed woman looked straight at me, and said, “Of course I saw him. I came here to buy a lovely dress just for him.”

“What?” I could only mutter.

“That’s right. I must look beautiful!He’s at my home now. I am going to make lunch for him, shrimp and mussels.”

It was now my turn to be dumbfounded. Speechless for a few seconds, I finally summoned the courage to ask, “And what will the side dish be?”

Typical of the welcome awaiting visitors to Šibenik, the woman quickly laughed.

“Me! What do you think? Me!”

Thanks a lot for collaboration and photos to:

Tourist Board Šibenik, Heritage Hotel King Krešimir, Koka Boutique,

Pelegrini Restaurant, Farfarinka Cafe, Ms. Jasenka Ramljak, Ms. Brankica Dominis Mišić

Written by Anita Palada, Edward Kiersh

 

split dalmatia croatia

        Split continues to be enjoyed for its’ high-voltage

Beware, once seduced by the floral scents and “secret recipe” sensations, temptation quickly takes over. It’s all too easy to feel bewitched, even helpless.

Marinko Biškić made one-ton chocolate bar
Marinko Biškić made one-ton chocolate bar

Casting a spell that promises only joy and playfulness,   Marinko Biskić, a former Guinness World Record holder, boasts a special gift. In Nadalina, his pint-sized Split boutique, this artisan meticulously and zealously creates hand-crafted pleasures—chocolates infused with lavender, rosemary, fig and olive oil.

“They are love and passion,” extols Biskić, standing behind a counter filled with pralines and chocolate bars. Ardently discussing how his concoctions are made from the choicest Peruvian and Domincan Republic cocoa beans, he continues, “We are the only ones in Croatia to roast the beans, to not use ready-made chocolate. We mix spices, sage, anise…always experimenting with new flavors, to me chocolate is for the palate and the soul.”

Mirroring Biskić’s infectious enthusiasm, a wild and artistic bent that compelled him to celebrate Nadalina’s 25th anniversary by producing a 101 sq. meter, one ton chocolate bar, Split is similarly mischievous, unpredictable and exciting. Unlike that devoured chocolaty slab (which was the Guinness record holder in 2015), Split continues to be enjoyed for its’ high-voltage, adrenaline-fueled nightlife, partying and festivals, especially the Ultra Europe music fest.

Always throbbing with laser lights shows and cocktail extravaganzas, Split has had a pronounced BUZZ ever since Roman Emperor Diocletian sought refuge on these sun-caressed, Adriatic shores in A.D. 295. He built a must-see palace (a UNESCO World Heritage site stuffed with treasures), along with a labyrinth of bedeviling cobblestoned passageways—and to appreciate strolling,  first find some sustenance.

At Krafne kod Mate—where marmalade, vanilla creme, or chocolate donuts are artfully baked by Mate Bajamić. Using only choice flour, he insists donuts “expressing love” can only be made by bakers “coming to work in a joyful mood.” So feel the energy in this minute space, and discover that the chocolate donuts are pure happiness.

Arterija brings other types of dazzling pleasures. Located inside the palace, this bold, cutting-edge “concept store” attracts modish fashionistas hoping to find attention-grabbing necklaces and earrings, simple yet provocative and unconventional dresses. Here there is a powerful, even defiant feminine aesthetic—and under the ownership of Gorana Gulišija, “fashion is passion.”

Arterija Shop

Instead of breaking with tradition, the Uje Deli Shop pays tribute to the past, particularly Croatia’s rich  agricultural heritage. Besides offering a dizzying array of locally-sourced olive oils—there are savory, golden-green varieties from Hvar and Brac—Uje boasts an abundance of carefully-curated wines from Dalmatia to Istria, Slavonija and Zagorje. Enjoy one of them with some sardines and the shop’s famed anchovy pie.

Adjacent to the Diocletian Palace, the always-thronged Bokeria Kitchen & Wine offers its’ own alluring specialties. Here the vibe is decidedly young and casual, and the gastronomic flourishes from the bruschetta to the grilled octopus and swordfish are a wonderful mix of Croatian and Mediterranean influences. The Red Roga, a type of pepper with minced meat and creamy mashed potato must also be savored. It’s divine!

Bokeria Kitchen&Wine Bar
Bokeria Kitchen&Wine Bar

So is Dvor Restaurant.

Dvor Restaurant

Commanding views of Solta and Brac islands from its intimate outdoor terrace, the serene, highly-acclaimed Dvor is a Michelin Guide favorite. This restaurant/bar is surrounded by towering pine and tamarisk trees, and its’ very diverse menu also reaches flavorful heights. Especially the seabass pate, freshly-baked olive bread, the mushroom risotto, fish dishes wrapped and roasted in salt, and of course, the fudgy and heavenly chocolate lava cake. It’s a taste Explosion!

But Split’s delights never seem to end. There’s also Os Kolač, Tea Mamut’s pastry shop that is renowned throughout Croatia for its’ green violet cake made with pistachios and blueberries. Every bite of this sweet-sweetie is a thrill, and the same can be said about her vanilla and chocolate cream cakes.

Oš’ kolač – Pastry shop

They sparkle, just like Split!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Row…row…faster…faster – 3, 2, 1…Bombaa!!!!

The water violently smacked into the boat, lifting it, cradling the raft for a few seconds in the crisp mountain air.

Then Boom!

Back into the ferocious rushing water, the rubber raft pirouetting and bouncing between two menacing boulders.

Every roller coaster plunge created an explosive spray of water—and my breathing sigh of relief. I was  alive, braving the capricious Cetina River rapids in southern Croatia, and still feverishly rowing, hoping to avoid colliding with those massive rocks.

“3, 2, 1…Row, keep rowing…Bombaa,” yelled the raft’s skipper Josip Matijevic, the experienced, seemingly unflappable white water guide.

His forceful commands emphasized one ominous, but still exhilarating fact—me and my rafting partners in this small boat were facing lightning fast waters along with merciless, submerged rocks, and every move with our oars  had to be remarkably precise.   Or else!

So I banished those thoughts from my mind, focusing on the challenges that lie ahead, forgetting the fears I had obsessed about the night before this adventure.

“Row…row…faster…faster, get to the left, the left…3, 2, 1..Bombaa,” the tanned, very confident-sounding Matijević demanded each time we approached a dip in the rapids. Then there would be a predictable “Boom” once we descended a wall of waves and foam, and each time my heart sped up. But always calm, Mateijevic never flinched.

I always did.

My life seemingly resting in his hands and keen “river sense,” I tried to completely  forget my nervousness, about this adventure. To trust his instructions. That was difficult.         While he had diligently prepared us for the demanding 10 kilometer river passages—one of the most challenging in Croatia—I was still intimidated by the Cetina’s roar. I had heard it numerous times walking alongside it, but actually “riding” these waves, feeling its’ force, the churning power that generated loud “Craaaacks” was a whole different, exacting experience.

And also a supremely exciting one.

As Matijević barked, “Go left…go right…watch out, here comes another falls,” invariably another avalanche of chilling spray crashed over me. Always passing only a few feet from giant rocks, I sensed how fickle the Cetina was—calm one moment, a time to appreciate all the natural beauty, then moments later recognizing there was imminent peril. That if we merely brushed into a boulder it would mean tumbling over and over into the water.

I still managed to calm my fears, to enjoy the unique thrill of confronting the rolling waves. It gave me a sense of power, a feeling of being very alive. I was no longer stressed by the everyday world. I was free.

Interrupting my brief moment of thinking about myself, and how I was meeting the Cetina’s constant challenges, Matijevic yelled, “We are going to the cave,  there is very freshwater, only 7 degrees, don’t go there if your body is not ready for temperature shock.”

Successes, not insecurities, now further emboldening me, I jumped into the water, allowing the icy whirlpools to excite every pore of my body. Hardly feeling the cold, the sensation of being totally chilled, I spun around and around, playing like a child. It was total bliss!

We finally had to leave this grotto, and while feeling energized, my “survival” was still in doubt. Could I summon enough nerve to climb to the top of a 10 m high cliff, and then jump into the water? After taking so many lashes from the waves, and quelling all my previous worries, did I have enough adrenaline—and self-confidence—to take one last plunge?

One of my rafting companions hurried up the cliff, and without a moment’s hesitation, she jumped. So I quickly followed. Once airborne, time stood still for a few glorious seconds, and when I surfaced, I thankfully realized my body was still intact.

Content, I frolicked in the water, and heard the woman pleading, “Can we please do this again, please, just one more jump before we finish? Just one more  jump.”

I could only smile. I knew she had overcome her own self-doubts, and was now feeling jubilant exactly like me. That we had both turned our initial anxieties into a sort of  freedom-loving awakening. We mastered the Cetina, and were more than ready to return here. We were now looking forward to taking other risks—life’s “leaps of faith.

 

Trogir Dalmatia Croatia

Trogir – discover the little gem by the sea

Stirring her magical boiled dish of squid, octopus and cuttlefish in black ink, the aromatic sensation that transports her patrons to gastronomic heaven, chef Marija Hell smiles delightedly.

Clearly excited by the alchemy she is performing in her  Pašike restaurant, Hell gushes, “We want our guests to taste a part of Dalmatia and our traditions. To enjoy dishes that caress the palate—the happiest of moments.”

Reputed for such “taste explosions” as pasticada, and the delectable almond cake Trogirski rafiol,” she is well worth a visit to Trogir, an inviting town with a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation only 17 miles from Split on the Croatian coast.

Trogir Dalmatia Croatia
Trogir Croatia

Surrounded by 14th Century walls, the “Stone Beauty,” or the Little Venice of Dalmatia” merited that UNESCO tribute because of its well-preserved Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance architecture—a veritable city-museum of enchanting stone buildings and maze of streets that evoke Medieval life.

But a visit here means more than celebrating an illustrious past; cobbled streets promising mystery and romance, a vaunted cathedral, a fairy tale-like Cipiko Palace, and a third century BC relief.

Trogir
Trogir Croatia

One of Dalmatia’s greatest “secrets,” Trogir also flaunts a visual, very playful version of Marija Hell’s “spicy, extra explosion of flavors.” Combining historical streets and vistas with an intensely modernist vibe, the town offers,  along with the neighboring waterfront at Ciovo, all sorts of indulgent hedonism.

Choose your pleasure.

Charter a sightseeing boat and venture out to a diverse array of bewitching, palm tree-lined islands.

Down glasses of locally-produced grappa together with grilled fish at either Restaurant Capo, Restaurant Riva or Restaurant Kamerlengo. These and other seaside places epitomize taking Life Very Easy while feasting on wines and seafood.

Of course there are more “energetic” pursuits at hand.

Stroll in the Old Town among the enchanting stone houses. Then walk  on the Riva embankment, dine at any of the numerous restaurants, or go to Caffe Bar Smokvica, Caffe Bar Trogir or Corte Bar for innovative cocktails, high-decibel music and great people watching.

Trogir Dalmatia Croatia
Trogir Croatia

If more adventurous, and ready for an all-out binge, hop in a taxi and go to Laganini, a Labadusa beach club-cocktail bar that sways to a lulling seaside beat.

Here there’s a beach with lounges, massages for every ache and part of your body, and very devilish cocktails, most notably the elderflowers and crushed raspberries’ burst of wickedness. Yum! The perfect way to greet the night—and AM hours.

Split and other Croatian getaways also pulsate at night. So why go to Trogir?

Get away from the crowds. Trogir offers countless courtyards and terraces for less jarring, more intimate experiences than in nearby Split and the always jammed (but beautiful) Dubrovnik. It is stately, subdued, and waiting to be explored—a homage to history and to the new inventiveness in its’ kitchens

Trogir Dalmatia Croatia
Trogir Croatia

“There is not much philosophy in Dalmatian cuisine, everything is cooked in olive oil, onion, parsley, garlic and wine,” says Hell, who also owns a four star Trogir hotel by the same name. Still intent on extending “love” in every dish, as her very popular almond cake, she adds, “So all the rafiola pieces are there, but several completely different. In this way we respect the traditional cake but give it a modernist look, an extra explosion of flavors.”

Or in keeping with the holiday atmosphere in Trogir, a boundless burst of “happy moments.”

So discover this little gem by the sea, its’ secrets, and sensations.

And be ready to be charmed by “Little Venice’s” magic.

Trogir Dalmatia Croatia
Trogir Croatia

 

 

Mala Velika Paklenica

Discover all of Paklenica’s natural glories! 

Written by: Anita Palada, Edward Kiersh

Surrounded by massively-large boulders, a stunningly green mountain peak in the distance beckoned to the adventurer inside me. Even if the path towards this spire meant braving the narrowest of trails, and then ascending through a steep gorge lined with unforgiving and intimidating-looking craggy stones, the prospect of taming this wilderness kept me going, even high-spirited. Knowing there was breathtaking beauty ahead, I didn’t surrender to my fears, and continued walking, determined to overcome all challenges, and to discover all of Mala Paklenica’s natural glories.

A legendary, Croatian National Park Paklenica in northern Dalmatia, abundant with spring-fed streams, torrents, endangered bird species, and 300 meter high canyons, the Mala Paklenica has long stirred fears and the imagination. Its’ gorges and ascents can be treacherous. But hiking with Jure and his skilled helpers, I was mentally getting ready to hook myself to steel cables and to expend all my energy to reach that green summit.

National Park Paklenica
National Park Paklenica

While surrounded by majestic, towering trees of every variety, and chirping birds cavorting above me, I was still surprised when encountering a dry riverbed. One of the park’s scenic wonders, especially when the mountain runoff cascades down the cliffs, it was clearly the victim of the dry winter, or far more worrisome, dry because of climate change.

I still pushed ahead, entranced by the almost supernatural silence—the other-worldliness calm that greets Paklenica’s visitors. There are so many different ecosystems, flowers, and animals, to marvel at, there is no time to think about life outride the park. Here there are only caves to explore, rich vegetation, and panoramic views of fascinating rock formations.

But Mala Paklenica remains a terrific physical and mental challenge—for colossal boulders often confront those who hike these narrow goat trails. Where to put your foot? Will the gravel hold your weight? What should I do with my hands? These critical decisions must be made in split seconds to get past the boulders. So my instincts had to take over,  fueled by a mighty rush of adrenaline.

Totally focused, knowing success means finding new survival skills,  I take a breath and summon the resolve to go forward. One small step, then another on our intimidating path. There can be no respite. Too many of Nature’s miracles await us.

National Park Paklenica
National Park Paklenica

Specifically, the vast meadow below the Velebit mountain range. Abuzz with bumblebees and songbirds, this vast field seems like a rainbow glistening under my feet, covered with wild, flourishing roses in every conceivable color, dark reds, violet, yellow, peach and Kelly Green. It’s Mother Nature’s coming out party, her warm-hearted greeting, saying “Come, feast on my riches. Walk here, and taste the delights.”

Hypnotized by this streaming rush of colors, and the soft breezes enveloping me, I gazed at the Adriatic Sea in the distance. “What could be more beautiful?” I asked myself. “This is Creation, the real soul of life.”

Amazingly, there was one more marvel to enjoy, the Velika Paklenica canyon, a geological must-see. It too contains a striking array of plant and animal species, including falcons, eagles, deers, bears and lynx.

But sunset is quickly approaching. After eight hours in the Park, it’s best to collect our memories, impressions that may have even changed our notions about beauty, and to wind our way down the gravely goat trail towards the  “real world.”

What an experience!

Yet amid all the roses, canyons, and wild animals, I also discovered something besides scenic wonders. I found a power inside me, the conviction that I could encounter hazardous obstacles, and without any prodding, keep on moving, keep on climbing. Towards that rainbow!

Whether it was finding a field of wild flowers, or fulfilling some life’s ambition—that reaching this goal was indeed attainable.

Photos were taken by Anita Palada

Bol Zlatni rat

Explore the most beautiful beaches in Dalmatia

Written by Anita Palada, Edward Kiersh

In the Land of Enchantment, there are so many idyllic, sun-blessed beaches close to secluded, picturesque coves, visitors face a constant dilemma.

Where to go to find a beach of one’s own?

Croatia’s Dalmatia region , a coastline caressed by transparent turquoise waters, and freckled with scores of sandy, pearl-white beaches carved out of surrounding cliffs and verdant hillsides, is a sun-worshipper’s heaven.

But even for me, a long-time native familiar with exploring coastline paths and the always soothing small island retreats, choosing one destination is just too difficult. There is so much intoxicating magic on the Radica Peninsula–where the sea-n-sun played mischievous games with the pebbled beaches, white rocks and shallow bays–there is only one way to solve this dilemma. All adventurous attempts to discover beaches untouched by the demands and constraints of time have to start in the old, charming town of Primosten, “the City of Beaches.”

Located between Sibenik and Split, this charming enclave of stone houses and secret nooks is close to ten seaside playgrounds.

Each of these beaches is near restaurants, coastal paths winding through luxuriant vineyards, and is kissed by waters that promise relaxing swims in radiant sunlight. All of them offer a distinct experience, celebrate “wellness,” and seem to be magically enveloped by pristine scenery which lulls and soothes the senses.

June Beach is totally secluded, surrounded by mighty cliffs to protect its’ aura of mystery. Here one can feel totally alone; a “secret” place where the senses are revitalized—and time stands still long enough to luxuriate in the sun, to daydream, and to gaze at either the glimmering blue water, the frolicking seagulls or passing yachts.

Dagna Beach, a tiny spit with its’ massive, pink-tinted boulders, and Marina Lucica, expansively sweeping around a cove with crystal white sand offer their own ambrosia-styled delights.

Primošten beaches
Beach June Primošten

 

Another unique experience awaits visitors on the uninhabited island of Smokvica Vela, a pristine isle only an 8 minute boat ride from Primosten. A veritable Garden of Eden with luxuriant vegetation, typically embraced by the gentlest of breezes, this pint-sized haven has become a go-to haven for nudists. Its’ magnetic appeal is understandable, for the flavorful scents of pine and assorted flowers  cast a spell over the island, as if the breezes are saying, “Come, savor our sensual delights.”

Other Dalmatian islands offer a similarly enticing welcome.

Even if this bounty makes singling out favorites difficult, I feel totally blessed by having such beaches near me, invigorated by the mere thought of their striking beauty. A nature lover, always swept away by the color green, I also feel energized by the color blue—the special blue sea in Croatia. It relaxes me, takes away all my stress.

So the sand and surf is more than a mere transitory getaway. They give me hope. They will transmit the same positive energy to Croatian visitors—if they explore and discover their own favorite place in the sun.

Zlatni rat Bol
Zlatni rat Bol

One glorious spot I often go to is Zlatni Rat. Invariably hailed as one of the loveliest beaches in Europe, this sugar-white pebble expanse known as the “Golden Horn” sits near Bol harbor on the southern coast of Brac Island alongside Hvar Channel. A slice of Paradise bathed by calm, blue and green waters, Zlatni is all about relaxation, indulgence—and adventures, as the westerly winds make this the quintessential escape for airborne windsurfing acrobatics.

High energy is also rules at Zrce, a beach known for bungee jumping, innovative cocktails, high-voltage techno music, and dancing in “bubble baths” until dawn. Offering madcap hijinks with raw electricity, Zrce is adrenaline-fueled, “wild and free” beach clubbing, festivals and frivolity—a place where the partying never stops.

Zrće Beach Novalja

Be heroic! Test yourself. Come here and see if you have the stamina-cum-courage to swim in the sea all day, and to enjoy hedonism all night.

That Pleasure Principle is Croatia, its’ gleaming Dalmatian Coast.

Come! Bask in its’ delights and diversions. You will be swept away by the magic.

Photos: Zrće beach – Posada agencija/ Primošten Sunset: Anita Palada/ Primošten Beaches: Tourist Board Primošten/ Zlatni rat Bol/Tourist Board Bol

Thanks a lot to Tourist Board Novalja, Tourist Board Primošten, and Tourist Board Bol for the provided photos.