International Writers Magazine: Vacations in Croatia and
Yes, this is probably
not the best time to boast of our holiday snapshots taken in Croatia earlier
this year. I am happy to look through the pictures alone since the memories
are still fresh and vivid. Memories of sharp rocky mountains growing from
a blue sea into a blue sky, colour of which perfectly reflects in sea
waters. Happy memories.
- unknown known place
is probably not a good time to write about Croatia following its
football victory over Englands in the Euro 08 qualifier
At times of such
big football matches everyone in the country becomes a football
fan. At work I even felt
sorry that my Russian football team went into the finals
looking at how much distress this fact has caused.
I do like going back to Croatia in my thoughts, and would like to do so
again in reality. My husband Richard has so much fallen in love with the
countrys landscapes and delicious watermelons that hes added
Croatia to his list of possible future retirement locations.
While in Croatia we
met no British tourists and only one Irish family whether this
is unusual is for you to decide. It seemed surprising to us as son many
people in England mention Croatia, but we certainly did not meet them
is difficult to say now why did we choose to spend our three weeks
summer holidays in Croatia. Difficult even for me who actually booked
on the internet a two-bedroom villa in Komarna (knowing nothing
of where and what was it).
It seemed an unusual choice of a sea destination at the time. How
exotic Europe, even outside the EU, could be? Adriatic does not
sound as adventurous as, say, Antarctic..
However, we liked it.
Many places of our exploration were located in Bosnia or via it. Thats
Yes, while holidaying in Croatia we spent most of our time in Bosnia.
Even on the way to Dubrovnik we had to cross the Bosnian border twice
through custom check points. The village we stayed in was 100 km from
Split and just 9 km from a string of Bosnian land cutting through Croatia
and giving Bosnia access to the sea through "ghastly" resort
of Neum (as commented in the Rough Guide). I suppose this is to an extent
correct because being the only Bosnian sea town it is overcrowded.
We were lucky because the owner of our holiday villa provided us with
a comprehensive information guide of the surrounding area both
in Croatia and Bosnia. The area was an amazing bouquet of cultures and
historic sites and unspoiled landmarks such as Illyrian grave yards, signs
of Turkish invention, Roman and Greek remains. Mejdugorje, the famous
place of Virgin Marys appearance in 1981 was also in the area, on
Bosnian side. On quiet backroads we stopped occasionally to move basking
tortoises to safer spots. We ate an idyllic lunch on a tiny gravel island
in the Buna River twenty Euros for four, including drinks.
A link to his website is attached should you wish to learn more about
The beaches here are pebbly and rocky, rubber shoes are essential for
enjoyable and fulfilling time at the sea. Croatian beaches might be not
perfect places for sand castle engineering but are great fun for snorkelling.
The water is crystal clear. If one prefers fresh water swimming - there
are also Busina lakes in the area.
day we visited Kravica waterfall (which, surprise, surprise (!)
is in Bosnia). This was an amazing site, even more impressive than
Niagara Falls and more enjoyable experience than Thorpe park (believe
it or not). The waterfall is an isolated place hidden deep in Bosnian
countryside. You drive for miles and then you come to a forest where
you discover this wonderful place water comes from the forest
(seemingly from nowhere) and cascade 25 metres down onto rocks creating
multiple pools of spring water like Jacuzzi baths. At the foot of
the fall, water gathers into a natural lake and then flows further
as a river. Its a definite must see we couldnt
resist the temptation to visit and dip into its waters twice.
Another must visit place in Bosnia is Mostar. The towns multi-cultural
architecture is striking. Sadly many buildings still bear the marks of
battles fought in 1993 across the Neretva river, which now divides the
town into two - Muslim and Christian - parts. Muslim and Christian graveyards
alike bear many headstones dated 1993.
The famous Mostar bridge (Starii Most - most means bridge, and stari means
old - hence Mostar ) connects the two recovering parts of the town. The
old bridge was an architectural marvel dating back to 1400, the time of
Turkish occupation. It was destroyed during the war and like Phoenix came
back to life in July 2004 - it is a symbol of the town and its tolerance.
I found it touching to walk along the bridge, its steps were slippery
because of newly polished stone... Colourful market stalls situated across
it on both sides of the bridge reminded us that life goes on and is a
wonderful place after all.
It is best to hire a car to be able to get to numerous places of interest.
However, driving in Croatia can be tricky.
I consider myself an adventurous person because I like trying on different
things while abroad (like tandem skydive in Australia or dinning deep
fried jelly fish in Malaysia). But driving along Croatian narrow shore
roads snaking in between rocky mountains and cliff edges wasnt just
the buzz for me. It took me twenty minutes of test drive to realise that
there is only one choice between driving close to oncoming traffic (constantly
expecting someone to drive into you from around the corner - overtaking
on zigzagging roads happens for all the time whatever you call it: bravery,
faith, stupidity or national character
) or driving into the rock
mountain the choice was to stop the car and to allow my husband
to be in charge of the wheel. It was nice to be a passenger admiring the
beautiful landscapes and looking for nice places to eat on the way.
For those who like fish and shellfish, Croatia is heaven. The best place
weve dined at was Mali Ston just at the entrance to Peninsula.
Local specialities here are fresh oysters, lobster kebabs and even frogs
legs (actually domestic, aka grown on premises, are more expensive than
just frogs J) Here one can also try Dalmatian stew (my son asked: "is
it made from Dalmatians?"). No, this is the Dalmatia coast
gave a name to a new type of dogs not vise versa. The stew is worth trying
It is easy to pay the bill - both Croatian Kuna and Euros are accepted
but can make currency conversions complicated. Be careful though
these are a post Soviet block countries and it still feels in local people
attitude believing that Westerns are richer and can be cheated upon. For
example in one little coffee shop, which didnt even have a menu,
the bill mounted to something higher we could have paid in a decent restaurant
in the UK. Actually it has to be said that eating out was generally not
as cheap as one could expect. However, things like that can be accepted
as a local feature.
Language is also not a barrier. English was accepted the same way as my
attempts of speaking Russian to locals. I felt Slav connection between
Croatian and Russian people through some similarities of our languages.
Croatian people are much mixed with Italians and Turks through centuries,
but Slav roots flourish through Croatian language. I noticed common use
of many old fashioned now Russian words like "Otvoreno" (means
"open") from deep down of treasuries of Slav language Puskin,
the great Russian poet, drawn his poetic wonders from. I tried to make
conversations on just my knowledge of Russian but not sure if it helped
bonding with locals..
Anyway, three weeks went quickly. We swam a lot in the clear blue waters
next to shoals of fish unconcerned by our presence. We climbed endless
mountains which was inevitable because of the nature of Croatias
Adriatic coastline. We returned back very healthy and fit. Now I know
why Croatian football team is so strong...
Our last couple of days became quite hectic when we realised how much
was still to see. We wanted to visit Diocletians palace in Split
and also lavender island of Hvar (this will be another story). Next time
Looks like we need early retirement because of Croatias tender
sun, sweet wine and affordable house prices the country seems to the best
option to unwind and enjoy life.
Activities and sightseeing around Komarna:
© Natalya Popova
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