Guide to Croatia

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Something about Croatian greenmarkets

One of really cool things in Croatia are green markets.
They offer fresh produce seasonally. People bring from their farms and gardens amazing variety of fruits and vegetables.
Recently there are more and more tomatoes from covered plantations( Dutch or some other resistant seed, commercially accepted, well advertised and with yucky taste, big red, not juicy...horrible)and more people are reselling big,lousy and watery onions or in summer season somebody very inventive will even import plastic tasting figs/killer for any palate/ although local are delicious and tasty.
It is a very funny market with uneven and absolutely not standardized offers.It is really shame that these "new" seeds started taking of seriously. Good part is that people remember how things are suppose to taste and look for it.
Green markets in Zagreb are biggest and they do not lack in anything. Main one has amazing selection of apples ( small , big, disproportional, not pretty) from the villages near by.With apples it is almost like with the world of mushrooms/and one can find amazing mushrooms in season/they come in very different forms-you can still recognize it as an apple -and bring thousand for cider, one for strudel, a bit tart, one for pie, one for munching on it and so on and on.Many of them had never seen a pesticide or anything chemical.
That is another great thing about so called remote,poor or old households and farms.....avoiding chemistry.
Pears or peaches from wine yards are fruits of randomly placed trees-maybe strange looking to an eye used to giant shapes of commonly seen peaches or pears...but with mouth watering quality.
Some of the potatoes still come from 50 or more years old seeds just well accustomed to local climate and slightly changed by it.
Carrots and other greens for soups differ a lot from one stand to another but still follow basic standards and it is almost impossible to find a bad bunch.
Spinach and green peas can be tricky and one has to know the "source". Green peas can be so amazingly tiny and a perfect snack.
Lettuce can be accompanied with numerous wild leaves and grasses/some sweet and some with more serious bitterish flavor/.They will either come in mixed form or separately and they are all common ancestors of that one green head of your choice called-lettuce.
Squash, beans/dozens of different kinds/, egg plant, kale, red beats are common thing to be seen. They are all tended by hands which are envisioning different final product. And when it comes to plums and apricots....Vow.
There is a diary section. And butchers and dried meat sections.There is a fishers market and flower market/ and some of them are eatable in candied or other form...You can decorate table and cake with for example candied pansies/and bakers and so on and on
Before I go -without control- and cover everything,it is an experience one has to have.
It may not be life changing but enriching it definitely is.
Point is-if you have an opportunity to cook while in Croatia do your own shopping and do it with things from green market.
It is loud, mainly in open, clean and well maintained,make your selection and trust your instincts.
Taste what is in front of you and do not judge book by the covers.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Why long term rental in Croatia can be good for you??

One of rarely mentioned advantages of rentals in Croatia. If one is retired or enjoys all opportunities free lancing jobs are offering renting in Croatia presents in itself great chance for nicer and/or more luxurious life Earnings and average standard of local people is below prominent members of European Union. It means that food, services etc comes significantly cheaper. Not to mention that renting price always covers utility bills. Following that reasoning an individual can spend better part of the year in nice climate, surrounded with all essentials of modern society (but still with slower and more natural pace) and save money. Dividing time between "home base" and location in Croatia can be beneficial for standard and life planning. It may be the way to avoid harsh winter, renovation at home, swapping places with friends and relatives. Combinations are without end and it's easy to establish persona approach - whatever goes. Half year here, half there, 8 months in Dalmatia, 4 somewhere else and so on and on.
Everybody who starts with this pat should think it over seriously. It may or may not seam easy but it is good, logical, and still not explored enough area.
If person discovers that "it works" than one should consider something more permanent like long term switch or buying property.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

More about previous...Velebit

First things first....posibbilities and suggestion are so numerous that it is easy to get lost. If you decide to encounter size and mass of this huge and vast space you will have to make your choice in advance according to something what is going to trigger initial impulse in you.
How one picks where to go exactly is very personal.
Only suggestions to deliver are about time of the year, time span of the tour or hike and some practical tips.
If you are not staying in hotel or private accomodation late fall, winter and early spring are not an option. Climate is cruel up there.
Idea is that great hike will last few days or more. In that case some info about shelter or refuge has to be at hand. There is almost 30 of them in diverse parts of the mountain. On average their capacity is limited and it is important to get informed in advance. There are so many places aproachable by car and after the spot where you parked your car real wilderness starts.
All roads on Velebit are great choice for biking. They go up and down. twist and turn from easy to difficult sections in no time.
It is very untamed, wild and deceitful place. Cliffs, cracks, canyons, lovely meadows,and more are all so eye-pleasing that some people neglect to recognize dangerous specifics of the mountain.
For somebody who is just feeling adventourus there are numerous places connected with "civilization". They are not on the road, they are not spoiled, majority of them is deserted by people ( that fact is true to the whole of the range except of the fringes on inner and on the Adriatic side ) and one can in fact meet shepards in summer pastures, and some full time inhabitants here and there.
Velebit is without doubt longest mountain range in Dinaric Alps. I have lifitime long
experience with Southern and better part of coastal side of the massif. Some of its paths I walked many times, many of them never....they just remained noticed and left for future. I just love the place.
Coastal side is much higher than the one facing inland. It is rocky , and rugged, and kind of terraced no matter how you look at it( from top to bottom or vice versa).
In terms of accessability I would like to start with following-
Baske Ostarije is in fact mountain pass /cca 900m/. It has continental- mountain- Alpine climate.On the North it opens via Takalice to direction of Lika, on the South there is a tunnel opening with an amazing view on Pag ,and surrounding islands. How vegetation differs from continental to Mediterranean just depending from which side you aprocah Baske Ostarije is amazing and not short of miracle.
Baske Ostarije is funny name. One has to know local dialect to "get it". Baske comes from Bag or Karlobag as an adjective. In direct translation Baske would mean -belonging to Bag, or near Bag-. Ostarije stands for Inn,Osteria, Motel....something of that kind.Place for travelers to rest and change previous times, of course.
I picked this place in the middle of everything because it may be considered good starting point for the first time visit.
Baske Ostarije are in the spacious field. It is surronded with mountains, cliffs and some gentler mountain slopes. There is a hotel there. Nothing fancy, but decent and nice. There is a water source ( Ljubica) and some all year residents, although village is shrinking more and more. This place presents great opportunity for biking. There is an asphalt road, there are some unfinished roads ( I belive they were made for military purposes) and there is old Austro Hyngarian road leading in the mountain , down south. Some sections of the one last mentioned are really narrow and covered with overgrowth....., but what experience that is. Either with bike or just with good pair og hiking boots one can take literally any direction from the middle of that field and discover some great stuff. Possibilities are endless and the best one cannot be found or recomended. There is no such a thing.