How do you start to describe a place when it is so diverse and incredibly historically rich. I am actually not sure myself, but I will try to give you some sort of reference point when it comes to this stunning and arid landscape.
Right now I am sitting on the terrace of our apartment in Starigrad. I am starring at the dappling sunlight as it bounces of the crystal clear waters of the Adriatic Sea. There is a soft haze in the air and the heat shimmers off the distant hills. It is a dry and unforgiving landscape I am witnessing across the inlet.
As the temperature reaches a high of 30 in the sun today, a cool breeze blesses us as we relax and contemplate a late lunch. The produce here is fresh and plentiful. Seafood is the local prize. Specifically Mussels and they are without a doubt truly incredible. The cuisine we have been experiencing when offered has been authentic Croatian fare. Our host Milka has been preparing meals, most unexpectedly for us.
We arrived home on the second day and Milka had prepared a very localised dish called “Hobobotnica”. It is Polenta covered in braised octopus in a very rich gravy like red wine sauce with potato and octopus salad with green onion leaves (don’t knock it until you have tried it). Next was Manestra, a minestrone like think stewy soup. This included local dried sausage and rich pepper flavours. OMG this place is incredible, we hit the jackpot as far as accommodation goes.
Milka also invited us for dinner one night and we dined on butternut pumpkin soup for entree, striped sea bass, blitva (like spinach) and potatoes with tomatoes with paper and salt in Balsamic vinegar. Dessert was wild strawberries for the local hills with chocolate and vanilla ice cream.
This also included, grapa, schnapps and accompanying local wines, which are great by the way.
The changing geography of this remarkable country is something to behold. Driving out to Plitvice National Park we experienced mountainous regions for miles and then all of a sudden beautiful agricultural plains. The roads were scattered with market stalls of the local farmers. Selling their own brands of honey, cheese and organic fare. We stopped and purchased one and a half kilograms of cheese (thats the French influence on our diets).
We visited the ancient burial sights of the Velebit people. The customer is as follows: when the person dies, the body is then carried from its place of death to the local church and then up to the burial site. The body is not allowed to touch the ground until its final resting place. One thing did notice was how small the grave sites were and apparently the local people were quite small in stature. The place where the souls rest is called “Mirila” meaning “Measurements”.
To really enjoy Croatia, I think is really important to be in the countryside and drive around a little. Thats what makes it such an amazing place to be.
Its about exploring cultures and understanding their origins that make travelling a deeper experience.
– The author